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A Robe? In the Casino? Lessons from a Resort SVP

A Robe? In the Casino? Lessons from a Resort SVP

High-tech tags, a team of robe testers, and a pile of XXLs at the ready. Ivaylo S. Ivanov is a seasoned robe warrior.

With nearly 1,000 rooms, suites and villas plus two spas, an indoor beach club, three swimming pools, a casino and an iconic fountain on 100+ acres, the Okada Manila resort has ordered a whole lot of robes since opening in 2016. Ivaylo S. Ivanov, senior vice president of hotel operations, was kind enough to share his expertise—plus some colorful tales.

Basics first. What Boca Terry robes does Okada Manila use?

Ivaylo S. Ivanov: We have different styles in various room categories and in the spas. As the luxury level goes up, the robe gets better. We stock the custom Kimono Lined Ivory, Shawl Collar White, Microfiber Plush-Lined Bathrobe and Microterry.

RR: Why Boca Terry?

II: The company has a great reputation. My past experience with Boca Terry in Beverly Hills, California, earlier in my career was very good, and we like the quality, luxury feel and durability of the products.

RR: What did you do with the resort’s robes during the pandemic?

II: Okada Manila has its own laundry facility near the resort. It’s one of the most technologically advanced such facilities in the world. We took the robes out of many rooms and stored them. When we took them back out, they were as good as new because they were properly taken care of.

RR: What gizmos does Okada Manila have that most hotels don’t?

II: Every single bathrobe has an RFID chip sewn in, meaning we can track when a robe was first registered, how many wash cycles it has been through, when robes are old enough that they need to be removed from circulation, and when to reorder before running out of stock. We can do inventory quickly, which saves the operations team a great deal of time. We also track when each robe has left the laundry facility, which is 45 minutes away, and arrived at the resort—there are no Pirates of the Caribbean antics along the way.

RR: What celebrity citing has Okada Manila had that involved a robe?

II: Dr. Vicki Belo is a Filipino dermatologist, TV star and nominee for the international Influencer Awards Monaco. She recently stayed at the Okada Manila. For Valentine’s Day, her husband had us custom-embroider names on matching shawl robes for her, him and their daughter. The family enjoyed wearing the robes and had a great time.

RR: Embroidery? How does that work?

II: Okada Manila has more than 7,000 employees, so we have our own wardrobe department and that includes engraving machines. We can personalize a bathrobe in a matter of minutes.

RR: Surely guests want to pack your robes into their luggage …

II: We encourage guests to purchase robes at our signature gift shop. If they help themselves, we email a note saying essentially, “We know you really like our robe; unfortunately it’s not one of the complimentary amenities.” Then we seek their consent before adding the charge to their credit card.

RR: Do you ever sell logoed robes to event groups?

II: Yes. We offer robes as part of a welcome or departure gift package, often engraved with each person’s initials. We offer a special rate to the event planners, since we’re selling several at once.

RR: What do you do when robes are too small for some guests?

II: We don’t have that issue much in Asia, but we do keep robes from kid-sized to XXL in stock. If a front desk team member notices that a guest checking in is more heavyset or tall than usual, housekeeping will be notified and will deliver an appropriately sized robe with the turndown service. Otherwise, the guest can request a different robe through Resort Services.

RR: What’s a robe-related challenge at your resort?

II: We are a casino resort. We have guests show up at the slot machines and game tables in bathrobes. You never know who’s wearing what underneath. [Laughs.] Of course our security team politely explains that proper attire is required at all times.

RR: What changes have you seen in the robe industry since starting your career?

II: The materials have evolved so much. At home, a luxury bathrobe can last a long time because you don’t wash it every day or two. Bathrobes for commercial use are a completely different animal. At the resort, we need materials that are extremely comfortable and feel luxurious yet are very durable. A hotel or resort cannot afford to constantly replace robes. We’ve tested beautiful luxury robes that shrank or discolored after five washes. We had to dispose of them. Today manufacturers are finding materials that are comfortable, luxurious and longer-lasting. Many have microfiber on the outside but a different material that shrinks on the inner lane. That won’t happen with a great robe. I think Boca Terry has done really well in this area. The outer and inner lanes don’t shrink, or they shrink at the same level. The robes last longer.

RR: How do you select your robes?

II: During the pre-opening days of Okada Manila in 2016, we put together a special committee of experts from the hotel and also casino operations, entertainment and other areas. Panel members tried different robe samples. We then sat down, shared our opinions and voted, narrowing the choice to three. Then we sent the robes to the laundry facility for test washes, and next wore the robes in the office—in front of everybody. The goal was to evaluate which felt great, didn’t shrink and would best complement our resort. We made the right decisions. We haven’t changed the robe manufacturer since then.

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