Arrival Into Beijing
Touching down in Beijing, the Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport (http://beijingairport.langhamplacehotels.com) had been on a “soft open” for five days when I arrived on August 30. The 372 rooms and suites were hip and welcoming, but the five fab restaurants: Ming Court (Cantonese), Fuel (casual dining), Toroko (Japanese), The Place (international), Portal Work & Play (Wifi lounge) were slated to open on September 1st. A special 25%-off early booking rate for bookings made minimum 14 days in advance is in effect through December 31 for stays through August 30, 2011.
Across the street, the Hilton Beijing Capital Airport and Conference Center (www1.hilton.com) opened on July 28, 2010. The 324-room property, located at the Star Alliance Terminal # 3, operates free 24-hour hotel-airport shuttle bus service every 15 minutes to Terminal 3 and every 30 minutes to Terminals 1 and 2. This was the first international five-star business and convention airport hotel in China. It features: two ballrooms, 21 meeting rooms, a fitness center, luxury spa, and 25 meter heated in-door swimming pool with stunning views over the terminal. Its seven restaurants include: 360 (international dining with live cooking stations), Compass Grill (steak and seafood), My China (Sichuan and Hunan cuisine), Yue Shang (Cantonese dining), Long Bar (“L-shaped” bar with live music or quieter lounge area), and The Point (lobby café). Don’t forget to choose your pillow.
Heading into downtown via one of Beijing’s very affordable taxis, I went to visit a property that is bit more unique. Joel Shuchat, a young expat and tea expert from Montreal, has amassed a team of muscular, provincial farmers to build a boutique hotel amidst Beijing’s old Baochao Hutong district. Normally referred to as the “drum and bell” area, it was until recently filled with cramped multifamily residences. Now it’s bustling with trendy craft shops, boutiques, and chic restaurants—especially along Nanluoguxiang, just south from Gulou East Street. I arrived and sat down in the central courtyard on a handmade stool, and joined 16 men and two women in a beer toast as they celebrated just having secured the cement roof over the brick exterior walls. The Orchid Hotel (www.theorchidbeijing.com), is set to open in mid-October 2010 and will feature: 4 standard rooms, 1 premium room with a “special view,” 3 rooms with private gardens, 1 luxury garden suite, and 1 premium luxury room with its own private roof terrace. Reservations are currently being accepted in Yuan, $US, and £, but Visa, MC and AMEX are coming soon.
Since Orchid was not yet opened, I chose to stay at the great-value Crowne Plaza Beijing (www.CrownePlaza.com), which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary on August 18, 2011. Highlights of my stay included their enclosed roof-top in-door heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi, spacious marble bathrooms, club lounge and lobby with complimentary Wifi, and the superb location right in the upscale Wangfunjing shopping district.
IHG Group Expands China Presence
The Crowne Plaza is a member of IHG Group, which was the first international hotel company to enter China, with the Holiday Inn Lido Beijing in 1984 (www.holidayinn.com). It is currently the largest international hotel group in Greater China, with 131 hotels (45,940 rooms) open and an additional 146 hotels (47,848 rooms) in the development pipeline. In 2010, IHG is welcoming 30 new hotels in China. In addition to the Intercontinental Shanghai Expo, mentioned in the July article, they opened the Intercontinental Nanjing (www.ichotelsgroup.com) which, at 450 meters, is the tallest building in that city.
In November 2010, IHG will open the 180-room Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund as Asia’s first Hotel Indigo. The Indigo is located at the famous Pier 16 on the Huangpu River with the Expo site to the south.
Among the new Crowne Plaza properties is the Crowne Plaza Lijiang Ancient Town, which was just recognized as “China’s Best New Opening Theme Hotel of 2010” at the 7th Golden Pillow Award of China Hotels. The 5-star villa-style resort is set amidst 51,000 square miles of landscape with 10 themes and is located in Dayan Ancient Town, a UNESCO declared world cultural heritage site in Yunnan Province. China’s other newly opened or soon-to-open Crowne Plaza hotels include the: Crowne Plaza Shenyang Parkview, in Liaoning province, 391 miles East of Beijing, which opened in July 2010, and the following six hotels set to debut “soon”: Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre in Guangzhou, Guangdong; Crowne Plaza Chongqing Riverside in Chongqing, Sichuan; Crowne Plaza Huizhou in Huizhou, Guangdong; Crowne Plaza Xiangfan in Xiangfan, Hubei; Crowne Plaza Nanchang Riverside in Nanchang, Jiangxi.
Other Beijing Hotel News
With 470 rooms and suites, the Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng Hotel (www.starwoodhotels.com) will open on the North 3rd Ring Road on May 1, 2011. Facilities include three restaurants; Chinese, Western, and All-Day-Dining; 13 meeting spaces totaling over 3,300 square meters; a spa, and indoor heated swimming pool and fitness gym. The hotel is already accepting group inquiries.
Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts (www.fourseasons.com) will open two hotels in Beijing. The first in the Chaoyang district will debut in late 2011 to early 2012 as part of a complex that will include four towers of hotel rooms, private apartments and offices. The hotel will feature more than 300 rooms, Chinese and Italian restaurants and several lounges, a full-service spa and fitness center, and comprehensive meeting spaces. The second to open in 2014 on Financial Street is planned as a 225-room hotel amid a complex that will also have commercial offices and residences. The Beijing openings are among new Four Seasons properties sprouting up across China, including: Hangzhou at West Lake in October 2010, Guangzhou in late 2010, Shanghai at Pudong in late 2011 (their second Shanghai property), Shenzhen in 2012, Qingdao in late 2013 to early 2014, Hainan at Shenzhou Peninsula also in late 2013 to early 2014, Hainan at Sanya in 2014, Suzhou in 2014, and Tianjin also in 2014.