Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sedona GM in trouble over rates

Sedona Hotel general manager Saman Sarathchandra in his office last week. Yu Yu Maw / The Myanmar TimesSedona Hotel general manager Saman Sarathchandra in his office last week. Yu Yu Maw / The Myanmar Times

The general manager of Yangon’s Sedona Hotel last week described the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s decision to push for his removal as a “miscommunication and misunderstanding”.

In a letter to the hotel on July 23, the ministry announced it would not allow Mr Saman Sarathchandra re-enter the country for six months because the hotel had failed to stick to a US$150 room rate cap put in place in June. It also requested the hotel replace him as general manager for the six months.

“We found that Sedona Hotel Yangon failed to comply with the instruction. And we accept the complaint from travel companies that Sedona Hotels is charging too much for basic standard rooms so we give a little punishment to him,” Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Tint Hsan said on August 8.

The cap was put in place in late June after room rates at Yangon’s handful of foreign-owned hotels tripled in 12 months on the back of strong demand from tourists and, in particular, businesspersons and delegations.

But Mr Sarathchandra said Sedona Hotel had been “basically complying with the government’s request” and he hopes to resolve the dispute without having to leave the country.

“I have been here for 13 years. I was really surprised when I heard that and received the letter. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism usually strongly supports us. They are very cooperative with us,” said the Swiss national, who has not been forced to leave the country and has continued working despite the order from the ministry.

Mr Sarathchandra said there was confusion in the industry over what rate should be charged as representatives of foreign-owned hotels in Yangon had met with the ministry on June 26 and been informed the maximum room rate would be $170 for a standard room.

“The next morning, the ministry announced that the basic room rate would be US$150 so that I can say this is misunderstanding between us.”