There was a time when staying in high-end hotels was low priority for many Chinese travelers, even considered frivolous by some. But times have changed. Wealthy Chinese travelers are evolving toward more aspirational travel and staying at a luxury hotel is part of this evolution.
China’s luxury tourists are striking out like never before, says China Daily, heading to the desolate wilderness of Antarctica as well as the familiar comforts of Sanya. What do such vastly different destinations have in common? Excellent hospitality is waiting for them upon arrival. Ever-improving cruise lines and a panoply of high-end hotels are luring more and more would-be travelers away from home.
Bradley Brouwer, regional manager Asia Pacific for South African Tourism, reports that rich Chinese tourists sally forth on approximately 3.2 outbound trips a year. He says that Chinese tourists make 80 million international journeys and spend $80 billion annually.
Domestic travel is increasing significantly as well. Alison Gilmore, exhibition director for International Luxury Travel Market, says that when international tourists take inbound luxury tours, demand is good for high-end Chinese hotels. “Whether they stay in a Chinese or an international brand hotel, they still want to feel they are in China,” she says.
Travel experts know the rule to pinpointing growth in the Chinese market: hotels arrive first at emerging tourists destinations. By the end of 2012, Sanya hosted 31 international hotels, including Starwood, Marriot, InterContinental, and Hilton Worldwide. Twenty-three of them hold a five-star rating.
As incomes and interests increase among affluent Chinese, Gilmore believes the tourists will seek satisfaction abroad. “Current developments in luxury travel include a lot of aspirational and inspirational travel – cruising, going to places like Antarctica and Africa. That kind of travel will see huge growth among the Chinese,” she says.
After doing a brief internet search, Gilmore discovered 96 new properties slated to open across the mainland over the next three years, none of which are located in Shanghai or Beijing. To her, the future of high-end hotels looks promising: “Obviously, the high-end hotels would not be investing so much money in development if they didn’t believe the growth and business was there,” she points out.
photo credit: royal begonia, sanya