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Temple Hotel in Beijing

The Temple Hotel, BeijingToday the Wall Street Journal published an informative article about a temple-turned-into-hotel. The story has a bit of a fairytale: While cycling through a hutong in Beijing’s Dōngchéng District (东城区) a Belgian business man discovered a run-down temple from the mid-18th century. With the help of two Chinese investors he renovated it, transformed into a boutique hotel, filled it with contemporary art (James Turrell !!), and included a French cuisine fine dining restaurant that even makes the Chinese floating in.

 

WSJ article

Temple Hotel Website

China prospects at the Cote d’Azur

Nice red cars in front of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France

 

The ILTM Cannes 2013 report

 

 

After a heroic helicopter flight to Cannes, France, which was followed by a fabulous turbot at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc (it was a wild one, according to the menu), JSB last week attended the official opening of the leading luxury fair ILTM (“International Luxury Travel Market“) at the city’s famous Festival Centre. Besides talking about “luxury as the new religion“, they denied the existence of an economical crisis there. And they preached a “living instead of owning“-lifestyle. We were sure to be at the right place at the right time.

 

On the following days (Dec. 3rd and 4th) an exclusive crowd was allowed in to meet up to 1,450 luxury tourism exhibitors. We got one of the sought-after festival passes and especially looked out for Greater China news. We didn’t have to search for long, as the international brands’ run to China is unbowed.

 

Read more

Promising hotel openings

 

For the Mandarin Oriental hotel group China is already the second largest source of business (17 percent), and it will presumably soon overtake the US market in importance. At present there are four future mainland China properties in development. The one in Beijing is scheduled to open next year, followed by Chengdu (2015), Chongquing (2016), and Shenzhen (2017). Furthermore there will be a new MO in Taipei soon.

 

An up-and-coming brand is Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. They plan to double their properties (currently 18) within the next five years. They recently opened at a top location in London (near the Royal Opera House) and just announced to take over the prestigious Hotel de Crillon in Paris in spring 2015 (believe it or not: Marie Antoinette took piano lessons there). The future top player also reaches out for China: Early 2014 they will open an arty hotel in Beijing’s Chaoyang District (朝阳区), right across the CCTV Tower. Its homepage already looks extremely promising. The Rosewood Chongqing will be the group’s second China opening (2015).

 

 

Hot springs / Individual travelers booming

 

After plastering the main cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong) and hoisting flags in China’s secondary megacities, the Chinese luxury market has finally discovered the beauty of nature. Last year we already reported about the Six Senses plan to open a sustainable resort at Sichuan’s Qing Cheng Mountain, which now is scheduled to open in June 2014 (we promised to stick to it, remember). There is more to come: From early 2016 on the Six Senses Wuma will play on Taiwan’s hot springs near Taitung. Hot springs will also be the main theme in Ninghai (near Ningbo, Zhejiang province). The group however is cautious with announcing an opening date (“The sooner, the better”).

 

Other resort brands joined this trend. Thailand based Anantara – a pioneer in terms of conservation activities – opened this year the Anantara Xishuangbanna, which is the first five-star resort in Yunnan’s scenic pu-erh tea region. Next month the group is furthermore planning to open its third property (there is another one in Sanya already): The Anantara Emei will be located right on the foot of the Emei Shan, which is considered one of the four holy Buddhist Mountains in China (Sichuan province). Its Buddhist statues are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

 

 

Banyan Tree is another rapidly emerging company (headquarter: Singapore) that considers sustainability an important part of its philosophy. After hotels in Shanghai (2012) and Tianjin (2013) it opened its first Chinese hot spring resort in Beibei near Chongqing this year. More than a dozen hotels are scheduled to open within the next four years. Listed for next year are spa resorts in Yangshuo (Guangxi province) and Huangshan (Anhui province). Under its Angsana brand Banyan Tree also launched a resort in Tengchong. It will be followed by the Angsana Xian Lingtong (Shaanxi province).

 

This wave of new resort hotels shows the growing importance of individual luxury travelers in China. According to David Spooner, Banyan Tree’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, already 63% percent of the Chinese travel individually, many of whose are under 35 years of age.

 

Pearl of the fair

 

Besides the above mentioned hotel brands we found an exquisite independent property that opened very recently in Beijing: The Lv Garden Huanghuali Art Gallery is – as you can already tell by its name – a hotel with a museum-like character. The architectural theme undoubtedly is the Forbidden City. It only has 38 rooms, all of which are decorated with original traditional Chinese art and classic huanghuali furniture. The hotel restaurant follows a farm-to-table approach and serves what it calls “Yan Cuisine”: traditional food presented in a modern way. It is a member of the Preferred Boutique hotel association.

 

Year-round moon festival in HK

Hong Kong’s so far only Design Hotel, the Mira in Kowloon, got a sister these days: The Mira Moon is located on the island side, in the buzzing Wan Chai District. Like the Mira the Mira Moon is owned by the Henderson Land Development Company, the third largest Hong Kong real estate developer. The hotel will be lead under the baton of Martin Lee Ka-shing (李家誠), who is the son of the Henderson owner Lee Shau-kee (李兆基).

 

The central theme in the playful interior design  is the jade rabbit from China’s Moon Festival myth (click here to read more about this story). AB Concept and Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers are responsible for the public spaces, whereas Marcel Wanders (in partnership with the yoo design studio) designed the guest rooms.

 

In Hong Kong terms, with 91 rooms the Mira Moon is quite a small hotel and hence will probably create a private atmosphere. Among the amenities guests will find a complimentary minibar with soft drinks and beer, an iPod docking station and complimentary Wi-Fi. There is no spa area, but a 24-hours fitness room. And floor-to-ceiling windows, of course.

 

There is also an opening offer until Dec. 31, 2013.

 

Mira Moon on the Design Hotels homepage

Whizzkid castling at Caprice

Fabrice VulinA job castling is currently happening in one of the Chinese world’s best restaurants. After eight years in Hong Kong as executive chef of Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel, and after capturing the peak of three Michelin stars without stepping down, Vincent Thierry has decided to accept a new challenge in Bangkok.

 

Thierry will be replaced by another French whizzkid: Fabrice Vulin, who has been sucessfully defeating two Michelin stars at the Relais & Chateaux hotel „Château de la Chèvre d’Or“ in Eze (South of France) for three years.

 

The cuisine is expected to maintain its current cuisine style, which is creative French. As Thierry has left Hong Kong already, in the meanwhile the remaining team is waving the Four Seasons flag. It consists of Jeremy Evrard (director of restaurants ), the Caprice sous chefs Cyril Boulais, Aaron Li and Chun Wai Law, and the Caprice pastry chef, Marike van Beurden. Fabrice Vulin is expected to start his service in November.

 

Caprice @ The Four Seasons Hong Kong

 

New h(e)aven for connoisseur drinkers

Yún Bar & Lounge Looking for a sundowner or a night-time cocktail in Beijing? The Peninsula recently opened a rooftop bar there, on its 15th floor.

 

With cocktails and long drinks the Yun Bar & Lounge is about to become a new bon vivant’s meeting place. One of the signature drinks is called Beijing Emperor: Strawberries and lemon juice are mixed with vodka and filled-up with Peninsula champagne (produced by Deutz). Adventurous connoisseurs might instead go for a cocktail with Chinese herbs or with a juice from the Shān Zhā (山查) fruit (which is said to fix blood pressure problems). Of course there are plenty of classics on the list, too.

 

“Yún” (云) means cloud. The venue is opened daily from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

 

Yun Bar & Lounge @ The Peninsula Beijing | Homepage 

 

Eatable gems at the Ritz-Carton HK

Ritz-Carlton's Damiani afternoon tea

 

Although very much changed since the Chinese took over in Hong Kong, some of the British heritage is still left. Besides disciplined people in waiting lines at double-decker tram stations there is another beloved custom that Hong Kong people would never allow to die. We are talking about the afternoon tea, which almost always comes with a three-tier plated tower set filled with delicious goodies.

 

The lobby café of the Peninsula Hotel offers the most classic afternoon tea atmosphere, but also countless other places keep up with this tradition. Some hotels create themed afternoon tea festivals, like the MO Bar at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, which regularly co-operates with fashion designers.

 

Another hotspot is the Lounge and Bar at the The Ritz-Carlton, whose helicopter-like-view alone would be worth a visit. The hotel recently announced a future collaboration with the Italian jewelry brand Damiani. Upcoming September the hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef Richard Long will oversee the creation of savory bites and mini pastries inspired by Damiani’s Belle Epoque collection. The tiny artworks will come colored like gems that you otherwise find on jewelry and include – among others – a five-textured limoni tea cake, a golden Sicilian pistachio and raspberry croissant and a tiny ring shaped “illy” tarte.

 

The Damiani afternoon tea will be available through whole September 2013, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is priced at HK$ 388 for one or HK$618 for two persons (plus a 10% service charge).

 

Homepage of The Lounge & Bar at The Ritz-Carlton HK

 

One more Lady in Red in Shanghai

This week the Kempinski brand announced the take-over of the former Gran Meliá Hotel Shanghai in Pudong, Shanghai, which had been operated by Meliá Hotels since its opening in 2010. It seems that the owner company of the property, Shanghai Suncuba Co. Ltd, was not all too much satisfied with the performance of the Spanish hotel management company. However, we understand it’s pretty hard not to succumb to the red dressed ladies’ charms, for which the Kempinski’s lobbies have become well known. From now on the property is called Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai, being already the second Kempinski hotel in Shanghai besides the extra-exclusive ONE Executive Suites in Puxi.

 

Press release

 

Hotel website

 

News: Silks Place affected by landslide

Taroko landslide | © 胡香香 (via Facebook)Today we received the news that the Silks Place (reviewed on May 2nd) is currently closed down due to a huge landslide after heavy rain. Internet and telephone are broken at the moment. No one was injured inside the hotel.

 

The China News reports that 600 people are trapped in the gorge at the moment. One rock hit a car and injured two people. The road is estimated to be open again next week after clearing out some big rocks and mug.

 

[Update from May 21st: The hotel re-opened today, but nevertheless the landslide area (Highway No. 8 at 181.4km “Baisha Bridge” ) is still under construction and opens for only 3 times a day for passage: 07:30-8:30 / 12:00-13:00 / 17:30-18:30. If you plan to travel to the Silks Place, then have a look at the latest updates on the hotel website.]

 

The China News report

Tempting promotional offer at the brand-new Mandarin Oriental Pudong

Mandarin Oriental Pudong, outside viewVery short after opening its second mainland China property in Guangzhou, the Mandarin Oriental group will cut the next red ribbon on April 25th in Shanghai. The hotel is located right on the banks of the Huangpu River in Pudong.

 

It is very likely that it will not only become a checkpoint for picky tourists and businessmen but also an outstanding culinary centre for locals. Among the six food and beverage venues the Yong Yi Ting restaurant will serve regional Jiang Nan cuisine (“south of the Yangtze river”). There will also be an exclusive French grill restaurant called Fifty 8° Grill, and the Qi Bar will show off with creative cocktails.

 

Until the 30th of September the Mandarin Oriental Pudong is seducing Shanghai visitors with two special offers: By booking one night guests can either choose to stay for a second night for free or to receive a spa or dining credit instead.

 

Hotel website

 

Shangri-La’s third property in Shanghai will open in June

Jing An Kerry Centre  | © Shangri-La Hotels & ResortsThe Shangri-La group recently announced to officially open the Jing An Shangri-La on June 29th. Jing An is the name of a district in Puxi (West of Hanpu River), Shanghai. Together with offices and shops the 508 guest rooms will be part of the new Jing An Kerry Centre, which is located near the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. More precisely, the hotel will occupy the top 29 floors of the main tower.

 

The Jing An Shangri-La will come up with some original features: The staff costumes will be designed by Han Feng (韩枫), who regularly creates costumes for international opera productions. Large-scale artworks of Zeng Fanzhi (曾梵志) and Zhou Chunya (周春芽) will furthermore increase the value of the interior design.

 

Besides that, 80 silk laterns will float inside the Summer Palace Restaurant, a Shangri-La brand serving Southeastern Chinese cuisine. Another restaurant called 1515 West will offer a “ranch to table” concept to the guests, with Australian prime beef grilled in an open kitchen. Guests of the Grand Premier Room category will have a 360-degree panoramic view of Shanghai from the Horizon Club Lounge on the 55th floor.

 

The Jing An Shangri-La is the group’s third property in Shanghai, in addition to the Pudong Shangri-La and the Kerry Hotel, Pudong.

 

Pre-opening information on Shangri-La’s website