GM Brian B. Connelly

Powerhouse of ingrained hospitality
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte


His strides are purposeful and he shakes your hand in a comfortably tight grip. His grin is infectious and moves about with an easy gait. For our scheduled meeting, he looked dapper in a charcoal gray suit; the sombre tone echoing the heavy nimbus clouds that have been pervading the early July skies of late. A Hollywood denizen might mistake him for Oscar-winning thespian Philip Seymour Hoffman.
We tell him about being the doppelganger of a famous celebrity; bearing an uncanny resemblance in face and form. The same portly mass and jovial face sans the freckles, we say, and he chuckles. He then starts to speak and the resemblance slowly disappears. He is seasoned hotelier Brian B. Connelly, general manger of the Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila.
“I walk the line between the property owners and the operator, the Oakwood company. I'm landlord, salesperson and asset manager rolled-into-one; striking a balance between the operator's requirements and the dictates of the brand's trademark. You can say I'm a person who wears many hats,” enthused the very amiable GM.
He has had 32 years of global hotel experience from stints with the Sheraton, Hilton, Inter-Continental, Fairmont and, ultimately, Oakwood. He started as a corporate trainee at Sheraton and swiftly moved up the corporate ladder, assuming the position of general manager with the same company at the young age of 31. His success in the United States eventually brought him to the Middle East and then Asia, where his credentials were further enhanced with stints in various types of properties, including international hotel chains, corporate and convention hotels as well as opening a five-star hotel in China. His assignment to Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila is his first in the Philippines.
“My father was also a general manager of a hotel in the US Virgin Islands. So, I practically grew up in that atmosphere. So this calling is a natural progression for me,” he shared.
“Oakwood is a home away from home. And people do really feel at home here: expatriates, balikbayans, the leisure crowd, and businessmen. We provide the comforts of home so people can be productive at work; giving our guests a safe environment, for them and their retinue to enjoy. Plus, of course, everything is here!” he added.
The 45-storey edifice is the first and only serviced residence awarded the prestigious “Deluxe” classification by the Department of Tourism, the highest in travel accommodations in the Philippine hospitality industry. The property greets residents with fully furnished units, offering a unique combination of hotel-like facilities and amenities, modern home conveniences, plus a 24-hour guest service and security, all under one elegant environment; providing a total living solution for the modern lifestyle, encompassing business, dining, recreation as well as fitness & wellness.
“We actively provide our guests with innovative programs and the Gold Standard of service amid the convenience, luxury and exclusive comforts within. The brand exhibits an international design spirit so that every guest feels comfortable in Oakwood as his temporary residence, regardless of nationality or country of origin. We are a classic! As such, we are timeless and appropriate to a variety of tastes and preferences. For instance, we have state-of-the-art Life Fitness equipment. The environs are immaculately clean with well-maintained facilities that follow international standards. And our staff at the Health Center consists of physical therapists and nutritionists who are professionally-trained to give the proper advice to members and deal ably with their concerns. Topping it all, the Filipino hospitality comes naturally. It is not a phase that comes and goes.
“We had a guest who was scheduled to go for therapy sessions in a hospital to heal a shoulder injury. Being in-house, he worked out in the fitness center and consulted our staff regarding his condition. He was delighted that they understood his concern and taught him appropriate exercises which eliminated the need to go to the hospital for therapy and thus enabled him to save time, money, effort and other related costs,” he informed.
As part of CSR, the brand's micro-site will be lending a helping hand to provide shelter for those in need. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity to spread the joy of its golden anniversary this year, US$5 will be donated from every materialized booking; going towards developing communities for people in need. The partnership will provide housing wherein those without adequate shelter will work side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent homes.
“We are in a prime location; very central to other cities and to offices of big corporations. We are surrounded by malls offering comfort and convenience yet never overwhelmed by traffic and people. Guests still enjoy a sub-urban feel. Our pool area has a very relaxing atmosphere in an all-blue color scheme with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that provide a feeling of expanse and a stunning view of the city. What's more, it is the only pool in the country that boasts of underwater music! We are offering a lifestyle experience. Guests not only have access to the gym, pool and spa facilities, but their privileges also include gift vouchers for accommodations, dining and other services.”
All the aforementioned virtues come in perfect consonance on a single person – warm and welcoming – and very appropriate in helming the 233-room apartment property. Truly, a powerhouse of ingrained hospitality.
Connelly is an American who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel management from the Oklahoma State University. He is a wine aficionado, enjoys cooking, traveling, reading and engaging in fitness activities.
“Our residence units are designed to provide the ultimate experience in modern service living. Its exceptional features offer numerous benefits and advantages for discerning guests, whether they be for business, leisure and home renovation or relocation. Our clients have high expectations in terms of product and service. The brand is tailored to their needs; combining spacious floor area with basic home requisites and modern indulgences. The Filipino guest in particular is very familial. It's very normal to see three generations together that's not often seen in many countries. You see a grandma, mother and daughter sharing their love for food at the dining table.
“I love to cook myself and in no other hotel can you find your own kitchen inside your room. Every refrigerator is a mini-bar! These amenities spell satisfaction; making customers happy. And a high level of guest satisfaction means another repeat customer, not to mention the good word-of-mouth they share to other potential guests. We come up with a lot of events to eradicate the stigma of the infamous coup in Makati that's associated with the brand. Over time, the association will fade and people will forget the memory of the old one,” Brian said at the end of our colloquy.
Oakwood is a global leader and provider of furnished and serviced apartments. For one need or many, local or around the globe, the brand offers flexible, easy-to-use, custom solutions to meet any temporary housing need.
A wide range of inventory and supplier management options allows the company to provide the optional housing solution whenever and wherever needed. With more than 3,000 associates worldwide, nearly 15,000 operating apartments and over 4,000 currently under development, Oakwood can meet any need and delivers with reliability their clients can trust.
Oakwood Asia Pacific manages some of Asia's finest serviced apartments for business and leisure travelers in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. An additional 23 properties are scheduled to open by 2014 in strategic locations across the region and the Middle East. The brand operates Oakwood Premier, Oakwood Residence and Oakwood Apartments in 11 cities across 7 countries; with the Oakwood Premier Resorts and Oakwood Resorts opening soon.
The Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center in Manila is conveniently located along ADB Avenue inside the bustling Ortigas Center complex. For more information, simply visit their Web site www.oakwood.com.

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