Hotel Photography – The Manadalay Hill Resort and Spa – A Classic in Mandalay
Sometimes you have a special bond with a particular place. In my case that bond is definitely with Mandalay, the ancient Burmese capital in the north of the country. In fact, this is the third time that I went there to shoot the same hotel, the Mandalay Hill Resort and Spa. Now a new acquisition of Accor Hotel Group under the Mercure brand, this resort lays at the foot of the hill since the end of the 80’s, being then part of Novotel group. Since the turn of the century the property has been purchased by a Thai business family. They recently leased it to Accor.
Since the first time I went there, in 2003, things have not changed much in Myanmar except for the daily growing number of cars speeding around. Things have changed a lot in the Resort though: a new terrace with a restaurant and a theatre, a new luxury Spa area with four separate buildings, a new sitting area by the swimming pool, a new Executive Lounge. In short, the management’s efforts to keep up with the growing flow of guests has been second to none.
Shooting for a firmly established hotel corporate like Accor is not a light task. They have strict requirement on shooting angles, lighting, style, lifestyle, models dress code, curtain and so on and on. They even give you a detailed guideline on what, when and how to shoot. The guideline is very helpful but of course it is somehow restrictive on your creativity. It is therefore quite a challenge.
On top of all this, due my previous assignments I already have many shots of the resort. Obviously I didn’t want to replicate myself. All this was buzzing around in my mind when I boarded with my assistant to fly to my assignment.
On arrival I immediately met with the manager to set up a tight and suitable shooting schedule. I take a special care to consider the motion of the sun. Where and at what time it rises and sets. This is because I want to avoid the intrusion of direct sunlight in the rooms because it casts unpleasant shadows and highlights. Too much contrast is not suited for hotel interiors. They are certainly not in the list of Accor priorities.
Planning the shoot
I also have to plan when to shoot exteriors. It’s at sunset that you get those much coveted hero shots so precious to marketing guys.
And you don’t simply get out there at the right time and simply set the camera and click. In the case of a such big hotel as the Mandalay Hill Resort and Spa everything has to be planned carefully with the manager.
A day has to be fixed and on that day, at the right time, the parking lot has to be cleared. The ground floor has to be swept from leaves and gravel. Flags have to be set up at the same height and in the right order. Vases have to be filled with fresh flowers and flowerbeds need to be trimmed and refreshed. The fountain has to pump at full power with all the lights on. As far as possible all windows in the façade need to have open curtains and all room must be lit. This means that on every floor you have to work at least with two attendants to ensure everything is perfect at just the right moment.
It’s a hectic hour of panic and rush but the concerted effort will deliver the perfect shot without fail. Accor Hotel Group can now promote its new acquisition the Mandalay Hill Resort and Spa with world-class eye-catching imagery.