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.