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Posts tagged Kempinski

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

 

A monolith of luxury

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Kempinski Suzhou

 

How different was the Kempinski to the Pingjiangfu, where we had stayed before! Located in a high-rise building way out of Suzhou’s city center, the Kempinski hotel tries to show off with its dimensions. Everything is enormous there: Its very own garden at the Dushu Lake, the 50 meter indoor pool, the water wall in the lobby, and the chandeliers in the ballroom with its gigantic Swarowski chandeliers. There is even a golf course nearby, at least for a maximum of 20 hotel guests per day.

 

Most of the guests stay for business purposes – about 80 percent, according to the hotel – which might be the reason for the missing of the fruit basket, which has become an enjoyable habit in the majority of five-star-hotels around the globe. Apart from the welcoming lobby the architecture could generally be described as stone-cold sober, especially in the hallways.

 

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I was allowed to move into an executive suite, which unsurprisingly had a business look, nevertheless it had all someone could wish for: a lot of space, a marbled bathroom, a panoramic view, and – most importantly – a perfectly cozy bed. Being accommodated in a suite, I had the chance to visit also the Executive Lounge. It’s nice there, but due to the restricted time periods for alcoholic drinks (only three and a half hours per day) it is not the best place for neither a good-morning bubbly nor a good-night beer.

 

 

In Europe I had stayed in several other Kempinski properties before, where I learned to appreciate the brand’s generally high level of customer service. Although the staff in Suzhou was smiling friendly anywhere in the hotel, they obviously had not have been trained in flexibility. It needed a lot of arguments to add the price of the swim cap – which you can’t lend, only buy in order to use the gigantic pool – to the room bill. Furthermore buying a simple train ticket via the concierge became quite an extensive project. Again, it was not possible to add the expenses to the room bill. The concierge only accepted cash, so I had to go back to my room. When I came back he said that he needed my passport in order to make a copy of it. I refused to go up again and asked him to get it from his colleagues at the reception desk. He told me to come back in the afternoon to pick the ticket up. I already felt too exhausted to ask why he would not send the ticket up to my room. Anyway, in the afternoon there was no ticket, but another concierge. The new concierge did not know anything about my ticket, so I had to explain everything again. He found the envelope of my order, still with the cash in it, so obviously nothing had been done. He asked me to come again the next day in the morning. On the next day of course I met a third concierge, who did not know about my case. To make it short: I finally got the tickets, but the whole procedure was quite vexing.

 

But let’s focus on the positive things: Beer lovers will enjoy the “Paulaner Brauhaus” (Paulaner brewery) on the ground floor. The beer is brewed on the spot, with German barley malt and Chinese water. However, we were rather looking for something local and had dinner at the Wang Hu Ge restaurant (望湖阁中餐厅) which turned out to become definitely one of the best food venues we visited on the entire trip.

 

 

The dinner started with a discovery: Sweet lotus roots, cooked and sliced, with glutinous rice in its holes. It was followed by a couple of traditional Suzhou dishes, like the famous “squirrel fish” (松鼠桂鱼), a sweet and sour mandarin fish (Chinese perch) presented with its mouth-opened head and striped tail fin facing upwards. Little flat chestnut cakes were served in union with fabulous Dong Po pork. This dish is said to go back to the poet Su Dongpo (蘇東坡). At the Kempinski the pork belly comes sliced in a pyramid shape, with bamboo shots inside – as shown in the video below (in German, sorry guys!). A tofu stew included Chinese mustard leaves, and the Lion Head dumplings (狮子头) seemed to consist of crab meat only, replacing the pork meat in other places. As dessert we chose a Thousand Layers Cake. There were no layers, but a lot of Azuki beans inside (红豆千层糕). What else should I write about this yummy place…choose the Kempinski for your stay in Suzhou or not, but in any case go to the Wang Hu Ge restaurant!

 

 

Hotel website

China: A core pillar of current development

 

China’s dynamic market was allusively one of the key topics on this year’s International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) in Cannes, France. Held in the city’s Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – famous for also serving as the venue for the Cannes Film Festival – from December 3rd to the 6th it brought together around 2,700 VIP buyers and sellers, making it probably the most important luxury tourism fair on earth.

 

Nearly all of the leading luxury hotel chains were there, some of which presented their future plans at the Media Centre to a selected crowd of luxury travel editors and writers. One of them was Duncan O’Rourke, Chief Operating Officer of the German-although-Thai-owned Kempinski Hotels. He proclaimed the group’s ambitious plan to become “the global market leader of food and beverage”. Furthermore he announced that Kempinski is planning to open 85 (!) new hotels in the next twelve months, 18 of which will be in China – i.e. in Chongqing (重庆), Taiyuan (太原), and Yixing (宜兴). And as if that were not enough, he announced the creation of Nuo. This new Asian-Chinese-concept-hotel-brand will focus on the needs of Chinese business leaders and will start from 2015 in the primary cities Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. O’Rourke agreed to give JSB an interview in the near future in order to talk about these breaking topics in detail.

 

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Ritz-Carlton informed about a new co-operation with Mercedes Benz: From now on Chinese Mercedes Platinum Card holders will receive a very special papering. This will include among others an upgrade to a suite by booking “only” a club room.

 

After hard times Regent Hotels & Resorts are trying to get a lasting food back into the global luxury market. Their president Ralf W. Ohletz pointed out an architectural impact of specific requirements of Chinese tourists: The balconies of future hotels in China’s secondary cities will provide constructional sun protections, instead of opened balconies that are generally common in the West.

 

Paul James, Global Brand Leader of three luxury brands under the Starwood Hotels and Resorts umbrella (St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels) pointed out his idea to classify the “new” global locations as part of a modern Grand Tour. New openings of The Luxury Collection in 2012 included the hotels Twelve at Hengshan in Shanghai and The Royal Begonia in Sanya. A new W hotel is scheduled to open in Guangzhou in the first quarter of 2013.

 

A much more moderate expansion policy is pursued by the Peninsula Hotels. This exclusive group will open only one new hotel next year, and this will not be in China. The reason is worth the praise: The company does not only manage all of its hotels, it also owns them, which wisely leads to smaller but more enduring steps. Nevertheless there will be China related Peninsula news in 2013: The legendary Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong will finish a 55 million Euro renovation in April 2013. From then, all the rooms will provide a state-of-the-art design that was inspired by contemporary jets & yachts. Besides that, local artists were involved in designing the new interior.

 

Furthermore I had an interesting chat with Marie Giuge Perry, Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Six Senses Resorts & Spas. With a new property opening in 2013 near Chengdu they want herald a new age of sustainable tourism in China. An interview with Mrs. Giuge Perry will be published on JSB very soon. Stay tuned!