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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.
It’s on. In September we told you about Jumeirah’s plans for a new millennial-targeted brand, Venu Hotels. The first Venu, as reported then, is still expected to be on Bluewaters Island in Dubai – and should be confirmed by the end of this year. But according to Travel Daily, Jumeirah is also looking at other sites, with a second Venu in the UAE expected to be announced within the next six months. The article reckons that it’ll likely be in the Dubai Design District.
According to Travel Daily, Jumeirah also has its eye on Abu Dhabi – and, following the UAE expansion, it’ll be planning some European Venus, with London, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Berlin on the cards.
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.
While Venice and Vietnam got their Aman Resort in 2013, the openings we so optimistically wrote about for China and Jordan never materialized. Another year on, and we’re still waiting, but just like that we stumbled onto two things for one of them: a recruitment ad and an interior image.
This page has the ad for an Executive Assistant Manager (Rooms) at AmanDayan, the 32-suite resort on Lion Hill in the ancient city of Lijiang, in China’s Yunnan province. While the ad refers to it without the capital letter, we were explicitly told at the time that AmanDayan is how it should be spelled. We’re going to liberally take the closing date of mid-November as a sign that the resort is nearing completion, so perhaps we’ll see an early 2015 opening?
Diving a bit further down the rabbit hole that is the internet, we came upon the above photo here, in a post now about a year old. While we’d take it with a grain of salt, the design does strike us as being very Aman, so who knows. We’re hoping to get some more detail soon, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, further east in Japan, we wouldn’t hold our breath for a 2014 opening of Aman Tokyo either – expect that to be a 2015 affair too. When we have more detail, we'll be sure to let you know.
[Photo: Weibo via Flyertalk, JasonD]
Kempinski Hotels are now accepting reservations for their largest and their most striking hotel to date in China.
The Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing is located about an hour’s drive from Beijing’s city center and shares the site of a larger complex of Kempinski managed hotels overlooking the picturesque Yanqi Lake.
The design of the hotel—and this escaped even our eagle eyes—draws inspiration from the rising sun and other symbolism in Chinese culture. The architect, Shanghai Huado Architect Design Company, led a 60-day pow-wow with 60 designers from around the world, seeking a worldly perspective to come up with this unusual design, pictured above.
The 60 designers concluded that the hotel should resemble a scallop (anyone see a snail?) which is a symbol of good fortune in Chinese culture. The large bull’s eye in the center of the hotel’s outside wall represents—we are told—the rising sun, which in turn reflects the rising Chinese economy.
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This: The Castle Dalian, one of the latest additions to Starwood’s Luxury Collection (or at least that’s how we like to imagine the creative process went). Especially in CGI rendering, it has a more than a touch of Dreamworks to it, but it’s very real, and has hotel rooms inside that you can book. Check out the understated minimalism (not) you will find inside below.
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Starwood Hotels & Resorts has done exactly what they said they would do in their expansion into China and the Asia Pacific. There are, and have been for quite some time, more hotels in the works than we can keep up with. Almost all Starwood brands have or will soon have an address in China, including Element Hotels, which is opening next year.
We've tried to list all that we know of that's happening with Starwood in China on our Master Openings List, but as seasoned readers of the list know, things change quite a bit and most hotels, get pushed onto the next year.
However, Starwood has three important openings in China in September, with properties that are very big on design and luxury. Here they are:
Are you a thrill-seeker, but only in a conservative way? Like heights, but wouldn’t jump off them? Enjoy getting to know a new culture, but only in familiar surroundings?
If so, we have your 2018 vacations sorted. You’re going to China! Specifically, to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in Central China.
It’s in Wuhan that the tallest twin towers in the world are currently under construction, and the Telegraph reports that they will house hotels, among other things. Exactly where they will sit in the 3280ft towers is unclear, but let’s hope they’re nice and high.