The hotel and tourism business is looking at new ways to attract the growing market of Chinese travelers. They are taking a leaf out of Far East hotels’ books and are doing pretty much what Chinese hotels mastered decades ago – respecting the difference in cultures.
As more nouveau-riche Chinese travelers are expected to plan trips abroad, the US Travel Association sees a potential $10 billion boost to the hotel industry if the US can attract as many Chinese visitors as Western Europe. However, making a meaningful gesture has to go beyond putting up a “Huanying” welcome sign in Mandarin.
Staff fluent in Chinese will be highly sought after for concierge and front desk jobs. Tea kettles and a selection of Chinese teas will be provided along with Chinese TV channels. A wider range of Chinese cuisine will be available, and not just for dinner. Congee, chopsticks, chopsticks rests, Chinese spoons and condiments will all be part of the breakfast buffet.
Slippers are traditionally placed at the bedside in China. Hotels popping them into closets have found they get a steady stream of queries about slippers as the closet is apparently the very last place they should be placed. It’s all about knowing the nuances of the Chinese culture and Hilton Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites and Starwood are all keen to make the grade. No doubt the increase in business will be all the xiexie (thank you) they need, from both Chinese and American guests.
The earth from the air is always a fascinating way to view places from a totally different perspective, but those flying over Huainan, in East China’s Anhui province, will soon be doing a double-take. Plans have been unveiled for the latest luxury hotel in China, which will be shaped to pay homage to the country’s most popular national sport, ping-pong.
The luxury hotel will be shaped like an upended table tennis bat, and each round window becomes a pimple on the face of the “bat”. The hotel building is topped with a tower – the handle of the paddle – which has an observation deck.
This idea is the latest novelty-shaped building within the newly developed $45.8 million sports complex. It is in excellent company with the main stadium being shaped like an American football, and other stadiums and facilities shaped to look like a volleyball, a soccer ball and a basketball.
The hotel will stand almost 500 feet tall (150 m) and will be a real talking point in the 165-acre sports complex. This clever idea is not a first, however, as France created a giant rugby-ball shaped hotel in 2007 to celebrate hosting the Rugby World Cup. The hotel was created in Paris and during the event guests paid up to $10,000 per night for the privilege of staying there. However it was not a permanent structure. The giant inflatable rugby ball cost just $4 million, and proved to be a real winner.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
China has been showing off what it says is the world’s fastest passenger train.
Officials at a conference in Beijing played host to railway authorities and experts from around the world and showcased the 16-car CRH-380A. This is a new generation of high-speed train which is said to have recorded a test top speed of 303 mph (486 kph) – far exceeding Japan’s bullet trains.
During regular operations, the train would keep a constant speed of 219 mph (350 kph), with a maximum of 237 mph (380 kph).
The Chinese Vice Premier, Zhang Dejiang, told the forum that China was encouraging its train producers and other concerns to ‘go global’. He said China was ready to share its technological achievements with other countries.
China has signed a framework agreement to build high-speed railways connecting it with Laos and Thailand – part of a plan to facilitate trade and investment among south-east Asian nations.
by Andy Moreton
One of the last remaining unspoiled quarters of ‘old’ Beijing, which had been earmarked for demolition, has won a reprieve after an outcry from Chinese heritage groups.
Plans to redevelop the crooked courtyard houses and narrow alleyways (known as hutongs) around the ancient Drum and Bell Towers were announced in March. A themed shopping plaza was on the drawing-board, but conservationists warned that this would mean the destruction of one of the last living architectural jewels in the city.
The Daily Telegraph’s correspondent in Beijing, Peter Foster, said such protests had frequently been ignored during China’s headlong rush for development. Mile after mile of traditional hutongs had been destroyed, but on this occasion the authorities appeared to have listened.
The area under discussion has been a vibrant part of Beijing since the days of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) when the two towers were used to mark time in the city.
Wu Lili, the Managing Director of Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Centre, which led opposition to the plans, said: “It is great news! The cancellation gives time for everyone involved to reconsider the development plan … and think how to integrate the historical value with the need to improve residents’ living standards.”
by Andy Moreton
Let Luxique help you book a luxury hotel in Beijing – one of the most fascinating capital cities on earth.
China has ordered a quality control crackdown on the statues of Mao on sale to tourists.
Visitors who flock to Mao’s birthplace at Shaoshan in central Hunan province have complained that some statues they buy as mementoes are sub-standard, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
A local official explained that some were physically disproportional while others were made in a slipshod way with low-quality materials. “The move is expected to curtail the production and sale of low-quality Mao statues that harm the tourism market and people’s feeling for the great man,” said the official.
It’s thought the new policy will ban the use of plastic and plaster because plastic deforms and plaster is easy to break. A team of art and craft experts will work with factories to decide which statues are ‘authentically Mao’.
Chairman Mao still features on Chinese banknotes, and a few people still have his portrait on the walls of their homes. Mao lookalikes also find plenty of work in China, and each year a competition is held to find the man with the closest resemblance to the former Chinese leader.
by Andy Moreton
If you’re planning a visit to one of the most fascinating countries on earth, Luxique offers a choice of nearly two dozen luxury hotels in China and several luxury hotels in Hong Kong.
China’s financial capital, Shanghai, is gearing up for Expo 2010, which opens in the city on May 1st and lasts until the end of October.
More than 190 countries and 50 international organisations have signed up to participate in this world fair, which has the slogan ‘Better City, Better Life’. Attractions range from French musical fountains to German Bratwurst sausages.
China is the first developing nation to host the World Expo and officials hope it will improve Shanghai’s position as a global city. It’s doing its best to impress visitors, with the city government splashing out more than $700 million (£454 million) on renovating the Bund riverfront, as well as $45 billion (£29 billion) to upgrade transport and infrastructure.
Of the 70 million visitors expected, many will come from other parts of China, although officials concede that the event will be beyond the means of many ordinary Chinese. An average one-day ticket costs 160 yuan ($23/£15) – a large sum for the country’s low-income groups.
by Andy Moreton
This might be just the time to visit the jewel of modern China, and Luxique has a selection of luxury hotels in Shanghai. They include the J.W.Marriott, which is offering a 15 per cent discount package – with certain conditions – throughout the duration of Expo 2010.
A senior United Nations official has predicted that China will become the world’s No.1 tourist destination by 2015.
The Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai, said: “China is now the world’s fourth largest destination when it comes to incoming tourists, and the rates of growth are moving so quickly that we think this is a realistic prediction.”
According to the UNWTO, France currently welcomes the largest number of foreign tourists at 80 million per year, followed by the United States and Spain, both at 60 million a year, while China receives about 48 million visitors annually.
Mr Rifai said the global tourism industry was improving but challenges remained because of the weak economy. “The general economic situation has started to turn around, but we cannot call it a full recovery at the moment,” he said.
by Andy Moreton
If you’re one of those thinking of beating a path to China, Luxique can offer the best rates at luxury hotels in Beijing and Shanghai.
China is planning to construct the world’s highest airport at an altitude of 14,500 feet (4,436 metres).
The airport will be built in the Nagqu prefecture of Tibet – what’s been called ‘the roof of the world’. The region is home to a mostly ethnic Tibetan population of about 400,000.
The airport, to be located about 140 miles (230kms) north of Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, will be the sixth in the region, which has been ruled by China for almost six decades. It is expected to surpass Bamda Airport, also in Tibet, by 335ft (102m).
This is the latest in a series of ambitious infrastructure projects being carried out by China. A railway line connecting Tibet to the rest of China opened four years ago, and the government is constructing six new rail lines in and around the vast region, which is rich in natural resources.
Critics of China’s rule say this new infrastructure is allowing its ethnic Han majority to flood Tibet, exploit its resources and consolidate political control. But Beijing has insisted that such projects will raise the standard of living in the remote region.
Construction will begin next year and is likely to last three years. Experts say the task won’t be easy given the altitude and the climate – average temperatures there stay below zero throughout the year.
by Andy Moreton
The Chinese authorities have approved the construction of a Disney theme park in Shanghai.
“China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for the Walt Disney Company in mainland China,” said Disney president and CEO, Robert Iger. Disney already has operations in Hong Kong, where its fifth resort was built in 2005.
A 1.5 square mile block of land has been earmarked for the Shanghai project, but there will have to be considerable compensation paid out to residents forced to move. The cost of relocation to make way for the first phase – the park, a hotel and retail outlets – is put at £523 million ($880 million).
Disney will hold a 43 per cent share in the project. The remainder will be controlled by Shanghai state-owned companies. Chinese state media said the park would cost up to £2.1 billion ($3.6 billion) and be opened around 2014.
Disney has been trying to build a park for years in Shanghai, in an effort to take a firmer foothold in a fast-growing China market where success has eluded most Western media companies.
by Andy Moreton
As Disney confirms, Shanghai is the jewel of modern China - a fascinating and vibrant city. Luxique can guide you to the best of its luxury hotels, including the Four Seasons Shanghai, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, and the J W Marriott Shanghai.
The Chinese have had a mouth-watering idea for a tourist attraction – a chocolate theme park.
The World Chocolate Dream Park – reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s much-loved book Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – will feature a life-sized Terracotta Army, Great Wall of China and versions of famous paintings. All, presumably, will be carefully guarded to stop them being eaten.
The park, due to open in January next year, will be located in the Olympic Green in Beijing, which also includes the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium and the Water Cube aquatics centre used during the summer Games last year. There will be five pavilions and two outdoor sites.
Chocolate is not as popular in China as it is in Western countries, but the nation’s younger generation have increasingly acquired a taste for it.
Tina Cheng, general manager of the company that will operate the park, said some prestigious European chocolate makers – notably from Switzerland and Belgium – wanted to take part in the project. “Our chocolate wonderland will be beyond imagination,” she said.
by Andy Moreton
For those with great taste, Luxique offers the best in luxury hotels in Beijing, including the award-winning Peninsula Palace and Shangri-La Beijing.