China Travel Guide
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.
On our recent Master List of Hotel Openings in 2015, we tried to pare down the list of hotel openings across China, instead choosing only to highlight truly special properties, like the Park Hyatt Sanya Bay which is expected to open on February 15.
As per usual, the hotel's website is showing computer generated room photos, such as the one you see above of a Park Twin room. But a tipster has pointed us to a flooring website that shows a model room photo. (Clearly, someone was testing out the beds just before this picture was snapped.)
Nevertheless, this Park Hyatt is set to be the most Park Hyatt-y of the bunch, meaning oozing with luxury.
China, bless its little cotton socks, is not a country that we’ve traditionally associated with a thriving boutique hotel scene (the recently opened Jade Gallery Boutique Hotel in Chengdu, for instance, has an onsite casino!). But while the rest of the world busies itself with the millennial market, it looks like China is focusing on its boutique properties.
The latest to open is the Sofu Hotel in Beijing. It’s a fun location, on Huguosi Hutong (Street), a traditionally styled shopping street, which is also home to one of Beijing’s most famous snack bars.
Millennials have dominated the hotel scene for at least a year, now. Will the trend burn out soon? Who knows? But in the meantime, one lot of savvy hoteliers is going for the next generation – enter the Toy Story Hotel, due to open in Shanghai next year.
Who is this company thinking of the kids? It’s Disney, natch – the hotel will form part of the Shanghai Disney Resort (Disney’s sixth on the globe). This is Toy Story full immersion: the exterior will be done up to resemble the clouds-n-sky wallpaper of Andy’s bedroom, and there will be a gigantic Pixar ball at the porte cochere.
Toy Story Hotel will have 800 rooms, and, according to Disney, will “immerse guests in a world inspired by the toys from the Disney Pixar series of Toy Story animated films”. Which could be a little creepy.
Meet MiniMax, the next new hotel brand aimed at experience-driven millennials, and "big foot", which we think is a clever expression of the hotel brand's core objective of having a small ecological footprint.
Shanghai-based real estate giant, Shimao Group, has announced the launch of not one, but two, hotel concepts and guess what? They're aimed at discriminating millennials. (Is there any other kind these days?
The new brand is called MiniMax and there will be two versions under the same flag, MiniMax Hotel, the midscale concept, and MiniMax Premier Hotel, the high-end concept. The first hotel to debut will be MiniMax Hotel Shanghai Songjiang, opening this December.
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What’s more, we actually have a photo from inside the hotel: we present to you, above, what a Spectacular Room looks like. A step up from entry-level Wonderful Rooms, they run at $318 under the “Extraordinary W Offer”. That shoots up to $451 for a fully flexible rate. The room comes in at nearly 540 sq ft, with the prerequisite open plan bathroom and some interesting purple herringbone-style art-slash-headboard. That pattern comes back in the hardwood floors and what we think could be quite a pretty blue area rug.
The exterior of the hotel leaves no doubt about this being a W either: check it out below.