Luxury hotel group Relais & Châteaux plans to get more Asian clients.
Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of 475 of the finest independent hotels and gourmet restaurants in 55 countries. Established in France in 1954, the Association’s mission is to spread its unique art de vivre across the globe by selecting outstanding properties with truly unique character.
Most if its 400,000 clients are European or American. Asians account for 5% up from 0% in 2008, but “the share of our Asian clientele should triple with the next five years,” said Stéphane Junca, the association’s director for Asia.
Most Relais & Châteaux Asian clients prefer Europe and, for mainland Chinese, Canada is a “work and play” destination.
“Generally speaking, Asian clients are looking for the ‘romantic Europe’. The idea to have hectares of vineyards around, centuries of history behind and delicious food in front, with all manners and sophistication, is a main attraction,” said Junca.
Relais & Châteaux member hotels in Vancouver already see rising bookings from wealthy mainland Chinese who can catch direct flights to Vancouver from many Chinese cities.
One popular Relais & Châteaux property for the Chinese is the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa “because of its downtown shopping area location and because it is different, the kind of place that appeals to the discerning, big-budget Chinese tourist. Its fine dining has also been attractive to wine-loving mainlanders,” according to Rachel Wang, managing director of Great West Travel, a Relais & Châteaux partner travel company in Shanghai.
Another is the Sonora Resort which “is very exclusive and takes about 45 minutes to get there by private helicopter,” Wang says. “For those rich Chinese, this trip is something they didn’t experience in their own country and shows their status and [gives them] something to talk about – fishing, eco-tour, whale-watching. We make this an optional trip for Chinese clients seeking something different and unique.”
In 2011, Relais & Châteaux will publish its 50th edition annual guidebook in Chinese for the first time.
Currently there are four Relais & Châteaux properties in China – one in Guilin, two in Shanghai, and one in Pingyao.
[the globe and mail]
photo credit: relais & châteaux