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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.
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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.
Here’s a new hotel brand to watch, NUO Hotels that is, a "made in China" luxe brand scheduled to debut in the capital this year.
NUO Hotel Beijing, the flagship of as many as 15 NUO Hotels targeted over 15 years, will offer 5-star “residential style luxury,” seriously sustainable design, and masterful contemporary interiors inspired by the culturally rich Ming Dynasty. Aka, green and gorgeous.
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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It scares us sometimes when it turns out hotels we thought we talked about just a few months ago were actually on our radar closer to a few years ago. How time flies. Such is the case with Six Senses hotels, which we looked at in late 2013 for its expansion plans in all sorts of places: far from its usual Southeast Asia habitat in the French Alps near Mont Blanc, in the remote kingdom of Bhutan, and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
Opening dates in 2015 and 2016 seemed so far away at the time, and yet here we are, with the first two resorts scheduled to open on July 1: Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, a half hour outside Chengdu in China. Chengdu is one of the largest cities in China and the capital of the Sichuan province, home to 80% of the world’s panda population. The resort will have 113 suites and villas (above a rendering, which shows an interesting mix of contemporary and traditional design), and not surprisingly, a serious spa with locally-inspired treatments and “sensory journeys”. Scheduled for July 1 as it may be (the May date on the website we've been told will be July), we can’t seem to make reservations yet.
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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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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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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:
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.
Boat hotels: they’re the shiz if our recent experience in Yangon is anything to go by. You know what other boat hotel we were really looking forward to? The QE2, which was meant to undergo a $90m renovation to turn it into a 400 room floating hotel in China.
Except the QE2 is currently languishing in Dubai, as it has done for the past six years, awaiting the renovations. Looks like it isn’t happening – and the Oceanic Group, which owns the boat, is staying silent.
In the meantime, says the Daily Mail, it appears to have morphed into an impromptu BBQ area. The ignominy!
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.