The Grand Ho Tram, a Vietnam resort with foreigner-only casino, is using high-profile events to help drive its gaming and hotel business. That is according to Walt Power (pictured), chief executive of The Grand Ho Tram Resort and Casino, speaking in an interview with GGRAsia.
A latest example was the “Fight Mania” night on Saturday, by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Asia Pacific, with a six-bout card featuring some of the brightest talent from the region, and including fighters from South Korea, an important target market for The Grand Ho Tram, according to its CEO. The event was held in the property’s 1,254-square-metres (13,498 sq. feet) ballroom, and broadcast on Vietnamese television, to an audience said by the ring announcer to be in the “millions”.
Such events are “critical” to the property’s success, explained Mr Power, in helping to attract the likes of martial arts fans and others to make the two-and-a-half hour road trip from Ho Chi Minh City, to Ho Tram on Vietnam’s southern coast. The executive, a veteran of Macau casino operations, has been in his current role for four years, and said he immediately recognised the value of expanding his property’s events roster to drive its trade.
While The Grand Ho Tram’s casino (pictured below) is not currently authorised to serve locals, Mr Power says expatriates from South Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere, with business interests in Vietnam and based in cosmopolitan Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis of more than nine million, are an important component of its clientele.
Mr Power stated: “When we have these special events, whether it’s boxing, MMA [mixed martial arts], casino VIP events – we’ve had horse racing on the beach recently – the casino performance goes way up. The numbers speak for themselves.”
Combat sports events “have the highest [casino] drop for a weekend period,” he added.
The major investor in The Grand Ho Tram is private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, and so the property does not make public specific operating numbers in the manner of publicly-listed casino companies. Vietnam-focused investment manager VinaCapital is also a backer.
The fact The Grand Ho Tram is some commuting distance from Ho Chi Minh City, works in the resort’s favour when it comes to keeping people at the property overnight, following an event, said Mr Power.
“It’s typically unlikely that somebody’s going to drive out here and then drive back on the same day. So, when somebody comes out for an event, they’re here for at least one night,” he observed.
Pre- and post-event, the quality of non-gaming facilities is also important, said the CEO.
Golf course, cinema, beach sports
The resort’s The Bluffs Grand Ho Tram golf course designed by golf legend Greg Norman, and opened by him in 2014, is a key element. Many of The Grand Ho Tram’s Friday overnight guests were observed by GGRAsia as taking an early breakfast on the Saturday of the WBO boxing event, in order to get out on the golf links before the temperature rose to a daytime high of around 33C.
Mr Power notes that after the complex opened the Holiday Inn Resort Ho Tram Beach in 2022, “that brought bowling”, and a two-screen cinema, the Beta Ho Tram, offering an aggregate of just under 200 seats and “first run movie releases”.
“I was always proud to say that when ‘Top Gun Maverick’ opened worldwide, we had the opening here on that same day as every other theatre in the world,” he told GGRAsia.
The Holiday Inn tower, and the original hotel tower from when the resort opened in 2013 – subsequently branded InterContinental Grand Ho Tram – offer in aggregate 1,100 rooms, according to information on the complex’s website.
The resort also has a “Ixora Ho Tram by Fusion” condominium hotel and villas complex (pictured below), with plans for a second phase announced in November. The second phase is due to be completed by 2025, the management clarified to GGRAsia.
The resort’s buzz of activity was also maintained outdoors at night as well as in the day, said Mr Power.
The property was “creating activities on the beach…. parasailing… having DJs at the pool, something as small as having a lobby band playing on weekends,” helping to create memorable experiences for its guests.
Saturday’s boxing event included a buffet dinner with free-flow drinks offered throughout the gathering.
Mr Power stated: “It doesn’t take a lot of creativity to realise that casino VIP banquets work. They work in every casino in every country and every continent on the planet. So why shouldn’t they work here? … That was an easy low-hanging fruit.”
Disclosure: The GGRAsia reporter was a guest of The Grand Ho Tram in Vietnam.
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