The first-ever female General Manager of Accor Philippines is making history not just for her gender, but also for taking massive strides in the midst of a reeling hotel industry
One of the industries most hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic was tourism. Hotels, resorts, and accommodations all around the world either closed or lent their spaces for quarantine purposes, losing months’ worth of what would otherwise be expected revenue. In such a tough situation, Accor Management and Araneta Hotels Inc. rested one of its most belovedspaces in the country in the hands of a young leader with a stern mind and apassion for hospitality service. This leader is none other than Maria Manlulu-Garcia, who, beyond just being the first woman to be a general manager of an Accor Hotel in the Philippines, is also making true history with her own ability and merit. Discover what she brings to Novotel’s tables, as well as the vision she has in store for the new normal.
A hotel of firsts
Before her appointment last January, Manlulu-Garcia explained that she was actually focused on her endeavors for another pre-opening Accor hotel, wherein she was initially gearing up to become the General Manager. After a few circumstantial twists, Maria and her team, whom she affectionately refers to as “heartists”, enjoyed a pleasant surprise when they discovered her appointment as the new General Manager of Novotel Manila Araneta City.
The jovial leader quickly explained that her promotion was something to be shared, as she was able to take her team and their support with this new beginning: “It was a good feeling and it makes it more special knowing that my promotion is supported by my team. The day it was announced, I was actually on my day off, our heartists were all calling me and screaming and jumping, telling me: ‘Miss Maria, we finally got it!” it makes my heart smile.
Sadly, the celebrations would be short-lived, as the new position brought with it a unique set of challenges. Equipped with more than two decades worth of experience in the industry, Manlulu-Garcia was quick to make the necessary adjustments and adaptations, with the newly crowned General Manager primed to show that she is in fact, the woman for the job; creating various avenues for history-making firsts for the hotel.
‘’We have suffered significant losses during this pandemic—loss of life, loss of job, loss of freedom, loss of business and loss of security but we should not lost our sight. We have to be resilient, creative, and compassionate. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Novotel Manila General Manager Maria Manlulu-Garcia assesses the situation she has dealt with since taking charge of the hotel
The General Manager was quick to reiterate that while external factors could not be controlled, she was able to maximize the internal factors she could take charge with throughout the crisis, which has allowed her to focus on the safety and wellbeing of guests and staff alike, sharing: “We have adapt to the changing times of technology and listening to the voice of today’s generation is a must, [and] it is a continuous education for me.”
These adjustments included the creation of various history-making avenues that allowed for various revenue initiatives, such as a wide breadth of hotel delivery services in “Take Me Out by Novotel Manila”, “Memorable Moments”, “Meetings on the Go”, and “Events Remix by Novotel”, all of which is anchored towards the ALL Accor Loyalty Program and Araneta Synergy.
A mother’s touch
Of course, it can be surmised that Manlulu-Garcia’s administration was not installed just for Novotel to survive the pandemic.
As she steadily steers her ship away from the abyss of the pandemic, the tenured leader explains that she is exercising foresight in how Novotel should look like once the tourism industry returns to a sense of normalcy. Such foresight comes hand-in-hand with what she believes is her top specialty, which is opening hotels. The General Manager warmly shared that she treats each hotel that she opens as if it were her own child, adding a motherly touch and love in every detail of preparation.
Manlulu-Garcia’s familial flavor comes as no surprise, as when she was asked what makes Novotel so special as a hotel, she immediately pointed towards the top-notch service of her “heartists” as the best thing the hotel can offer, adding: “I think one thing that we will be proud of is the way we serve our guests. It’s feeling at home and feeling that you are part of the family.”
There will always be women who are born to lead, and Maria Manlulu-Garcia is a trailblazer in that regard. Her decisive leadership and invigorating empathy has allowed her not just make history with her innovative decisions, but also touch the hearts of every person who walks into Novotel Manila. When asked what tips she could share to those who dream to be like her one day, the General Manager filled us in on her timeless secret of dreaming big and striking the balance of having a graceful heart and an iron fist, declaring: “The next generation of the female leader needs to be at the forefront, creating a woman-empowered workplace. We need to be able to shatter the glass in our minds and believe that we have capability. Let us not let anyone dictate our limitation. Dream big and work hard for it!”