Luxury hotels are still seeing plenty of opportunities in China…just not in the saturated markets of Shanghai and Beijing.
In Transit, the travel blog for the New York Times, talks about the rise of the Western luxury hotel in China’s second- and third-tier cities. They put the focus on Ritz-Carlton, which opened two new properties last month in Chengdu and Tianjin, and other brands that are blending the beauty of local places with thoroughly modern features. “The Chinese government now wholeheartedly recognizes the value of international visitors coming into China,” says Mark Gundy, the president of Wendy Wu Tours. Hotels are now gearing up to prepare for their arrival en masse.
“China has gone through a lot of changes in the last 40 years, and prior to that, creature comforts were not on the agenda,” Gundy says, “but an American passenger, the majority of whom are going to be baby boomers who’ve got time and money, expect things to be the way they were back home in the States. And that’s beginning to happen.” Hualuxe, InterContinental’s newest arm designed to appeal to China, has plans to roll out properties over the next two years. They will include a Mediterranean-style indoor beach resort in Chengdu.
The Ritz-Carlton in Chengdu is proving to be very popular. “China represents extraordinary opportunities,” says Hervé Humler, the president and COO of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. While the cuisine, the tea culture, and the nearby panda sanctuary all bring travelers to Chengdu, it’s the gorgeous hotels that make them stay. The Ritz-Carlton there features jade stone spa beds, underwater sound systems in the pools, and butler services.
The growing popularity of Ritz-Carlton and other high-end hotels in the area suggests that a bit of Western aesthetic and comfort is being welcomed into China.
photo credit: ritz-carlton