China Travel Guide
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Just a few weeks ago, we talked about China getting its first Element Hotel, in Suzhou. The “Venice of China” not only has over 2,500 years of history, it’s also a major economic centre about an hour outside Shanghai. These renderings we found seem to suggest the Suzhou Industrial Park will not only get an Element, but a Four Seasons as well.
Given the roll the Canadian group is on, opening and announcing hotels left and right (Bangkok, Cap Ferrat, Bogotá), that wouldn’t surprise us one bit. The description talks about Suzhou’s “finest hotel” that marries the contemporary with the traditional elements of Suzhou architectural and garden design.
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It may not have owned the hotel, but it still couldn’t have been pleasant for Mandarin Oriental to watch its brand-new-almost-ready-to-open Beijing hotel go up in flames following a little fireworks mishap. That was in 2009, and the hotel opposite Rem Koolhaas’ iconic CCTV Tower still hasn’t recovered from the unfortunate (but sort of mesmerizing) conflagration.
We’ll get to “Mandarin Oriental, Beijing” in a second, because in a gutsy move the group has just announced that it will also open “Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing”. In the district of the same name, which has lots of major hotels, it will occupy the top two floors of “WF Central”, a mixed-use complex.
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If, like us, you’re a sucker for tall buildings, you’ll be all excited about the opening of the Shanghai Tower, which will top out at 2073 feet – the second tallest structure in the world – when it opens in a few months in Pudong with 121 floors. There will be a 120th-floor observation deck, offices, restaurants, cafes “sky lobbies” (areas open to the public) and, oh yes, a five star hotel.
Will it be Shangri-La? Mandarin Oriental? No! It’s one you might not immediately think of, Jin Jiang International Hotels, a major Chinese group. The Shanghai Tower J-Hotel will occupy floors 84-110 of the skyscraper, with the lobby on floor 101.
When we heard about Swire Hotels expanding its House Collective to include The Temple House Chengdu, we said we really wanted a House to open nearer to home. The closest we will get so far is East Miami, which we just peeked into, but if our travels take us to China again, Chengdu will have to be on our itinerary: The Temple House should open next month.
That’s two years after we saw that first rendering of the hotel that includes 100 hotel rooms and 42 serviced residences, part of a conservation project surrounding the thousand-year-old Daci Temple. There is a new website up and running now, which includes only a few full images, like the above impression of the guestrooms.
They start with Studio 60, which kick in at a very large 60+ sq m / nearly 700 sq ft, and run up in various steps to Courtyard Suites and a Penthouse. We like the design – it feels very House-like, but with the addition of darker wood in comparison to Upper House (Hong Kong) and Opposite House (Beijing). It’s not quite as masculine as Rosewood Beijing, which we’ve said more than once we love, but very stylish. What we’re really onboard with, though, is the bathroom – check it out below.
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The Element Suzhou Science and Technology Town (which we first heard about in 2013) is in Suzhou, Jiangsu province (the Science and Technology Town is, fittingly, an “eco city” in the industrial tech zone. There are 188 rooms and suites, all with energy-efficient kitchen and oversized windows (less claustrophobic but also means you’ll light the room less). The decor is typical Element - slightly bland, definitely inoffensive but overall mildly pleasant. It looks like there are decent views, too.
The Sands Cotai Central. At the front is the St. Regis Macao, opening in December.
Recently, we took a closer look at all the shiny new hotels that are expected to open in Dubai in the coming years. What surprised us there was that Dubai's scene is becoming more "lifestyle" rather than "high-end luxury". Of course, this is Dubai so the hotels will keep time with the city's unofficial credo of "more is more."
However, in Macau, a former Portuguese colony which has exploded in the past decade as a glitzy gambling destination, the city's unofficial credo when it comes to the hotel scene might just be "more is more is more" and "bigger is always best." Even while in the midst of an economic downturn, Macau is adding more and more and more hotel rooms.
Here's a shortlist of the new hotels expected to open in Macau in the very near future. By 2018, there should be over 46,000 new hotel rooms. We're calling it Macau Hotel Madness.
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Adding 2,000+ hotel rooms to your group’s portfolio in the space of four months is pretty impressive, but JW Marriott is doing that by opening just two hotels. Last month, we welcomed JW Marriott Austin, at 1,022 rooms the beginning of a little hotel boom in the city, and on May 27 it will finally be time for JW Marriott Macau to open its 1,015 rooms. Between these two and the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai (1,600 rooms), JW Marriott is clearly going big, while at the same time not being afraid of a little private island action (or a little creative CGI).
Above a rendering of an entry-level Deluxe Room inside the hotel, part of the $1.9 billion Galaxy Macau complex. They come in at around 500 sq ft and seem to price around 2,388MOP (that is Macau Pataca), or $300 a night for an “Unlimited Urban Escape” package that includes breakfast, WiFi, and a “Grand Opening Welcome Gift”.
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Remember when we talked about Ahn Luh Resorts & Residences, a new Chinese luxury hotel brand that, among others, has Adrian Zecha of Aman Resorts behind it? That’s well over two years ago, but it looks like there will soon be something tangible to look at and try out the “essence of Old World Chinese hospitality in today’s context of contemporary elegance” that Ahn Luh is hoping to bring to us.
Here is what you need to know: there are six hotels in the pipeline, all in China for now, but international expansion is part of the plans. First up, with an opening this year, is Ahn Luh Zhujiajiao in Shanghai (above), in a historic suburb of Shanghai. The brand’s flagship Ahn Luh Thousand Island Lake will open next year, as well as Ahn Luh Lanting in Shaoxing, Ahn Luh Dujiangyan, and Ahn Luh Yanming Lake. A beach resort at Xunliao Bay (near Hong Kong) will arrive in 2017, while Ahn Luh Yichun will open in 2018 in an area known as “the natural oxygen bar”, with the world’s largest Korean pine primeval forest and an annual average temperature of 1C (34F). More details and some very cool renderings below.
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We may have been off the mark thinking Aman Tokyo wouldn’t make a 2014 opening (it did), but our guess that Aman Resorts was not far off from adding a third hotel in China turned out to pretty accurate: Amandayan, in Lijiang, and Aman number 28, is now open.
Equally, that photo we dug out from the depths of the internet back in October was indeed from inside the all-suite resort. With a total of 35 suites, that’s a few more than the 32 we talked about at the time, but still a very small affair.
‘Dayan’ (lower case in the end in the resort’s name) is the historic name of Lijiang, established in the 13th century by the Southern Song dynasty. The old town of Lijiang, which Amandayan overlooks (see a photo below), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is in the Yunnan province, which puts it in far southwestern China, towards the border with Myanmar.
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Late last week, luxury hotel brand Langham Hotels dropped the news that they would be creating a new brand of hotel--Cordis Hotels and Resorts, with the first hotel opening very soon--in May in Hong Kong.
Best of all, this is not a millennial brand.
Cordis comes from the Latin word for heart, hence the heart-shaped logo and the brand's emphasis on "intuitive service, connectivity, sophistication and a sense of community." Cordis Hotels won't be a high end as Langham Hotels (just a notch below, according to Langham folk) but they do promise to be "vibrant" and "modern" and even, "family-friendly."
Seven more Cordis Hotels are set to open in Asia within the next three years, and Langham will hopes to open Cordis in other cosmopolitan cities such as London, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, and wait for it, Orlando.
As big fans of Langham, we're loving the idea of a Langham experience on a more accessible level, and that they are catering to families is a huge plus for this writer. So we hope they come stateside soon.
But we may have spoken too soon about millennials. Word from Hotel News Now is that Langham is developing a lifestyle brand for millennials. Sigh.
[Photo: Cordis Hotels]
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If you’re anything like us, you’ll have read the story about the hotel that looks like an amethyst last week, and thought immediately, “Ah, there is only one place for that – China.” And you would be right. The architects envision it as a chain, but the first is being planned for the manmade Ocean Flower island currently in construction in the sea off Hainan province.
And from that came the obvious question – which country designs the maddest hotels?
Several contenders spring to mind immediately:
Remember when we told you Kempinski Hotels sat down for 60 days with 60 designers from around the world to come up with the above, the Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, meant to resemble the rising sun as well as a scallop (no, really)?
At the time, opening was scheduled for mid-November, which obviously didn’t happen – then just before the weekend, we got excited by some actual photography from inside the hotel on its website, as well as a ticker that showed only two days left to go. Checking back in today, ready for a cheerful “Now Open!” in its place, we’re faced with the setback of opening another ten days away. Boo… We’ll make do with those photos for now then.