Destination China

China

Brimming with exciting discoveries to satisfy the tastes of every traveller, China continues to flourish within the global travel and tourism industry scene. Natalie Hami reports.

As vast as the Great Wall itself, China charms each and every traveller who dares explore it. Some call it magical, some call it sacred, and whoever visits the destination revels in its eclecticism and incomparable beauty.

Beyond the appeal of China itself, its travel and tourism stakeholders continue to enhance the country’s tourism product, with a view to expanding and boosting the customer experience.

ATM 2018

One major infrastructural development is the Beijing New Airport, opening in the southern Daxing district in 2019, with reports claiming that it will be the world’s biggest travel hub. The Beijing New Airport Terminal Building was in fact designed by the late Zaha Hadid.

As China’s hospitality prowess grows, both home-grown and international hotel companies wish to make their mark in the destination. One such company is The Ascott Limited (Ascott), which has clinched seven new contracts to manage over 1,300 apartments across six cities in China. These properties mark Ascott’s first foray into Kunming and Yichang, while deepening its presence in Chongqing, Dalian, Shenzhen and Xuzhou.

Additionally, Thai hospitality giant, Dusit International has signed a management agreement with Anhui Wanfo Lake Jinlong Bay Tourism Development Company Limited to manage Dusit Thani Hot Springs Resort Wanfo Lake, which is set to open in Q4 of 2019. This property will represent the first internationally branded luxury resort in Wanfo Lake, an eco-tourism development zone near Hefei, the capital city of Anhui Province, eastern China. Dusit currently operates five hotels in the destination and has over 20 properties confirmed in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts will soon be enhancing China’s luxury hospitality scene. The group’s vice president, hotel operations – China, Philip Lim exclusively revealed to TTG that there are 15 hotels and resorts in the pipeline from 2017 to 2019 under four different brands. These include Banyan Tree, Angsana, Cassia and Dhawa.

“Dhawa Jinshanling, soft opening in May 2018, will be the first Dhawa hotel in China, also the second Dhawa hotel in the world after the first Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, which opened in Cuba in December 2016. It will be an all-new brand to the market, which will attract the millennial generation and design-savvy guests with its distinctive experiences in unique destinations.”

He further highlighted that Angsana Zhuhai Phoenix Bay will be opening this year, marking the company’s debut in Guangdong.

CUSTOMER-CENTRIC

As the destination ups the ante on its hotel portfolio, already established hotels are ensuring that they are constantly one step ahead of the game. In a bid to delight their clientele, properties are looking to elevate the guest experience.

A spokesperson from Plateno Group told TTG: “Each of Plateno’s nearly 20 brands has a unique brand identity which attracts business and leisure travellers of different backgrounds. For instance, James Joyce Coffetel, which boasts a coffee culture, attracts those who want to relax while on a trip. Lavande Hotels, widely known for their natural aromatherapy, are the go-to option for people with a love for comfortability and natural settings.”

Moving on, with attention to detail being of vital importance during a Fairmont hotel stay, general manager, Fairmont Chengdu, Phil Smith noted that his property works closely with groups of guests to meticulously plan special and customised activities and features.

He declared: “Fairmont’s guest service culture has, for many years, been centred on our colleagues around the world personally connecting with our guests, providing engaging service and finding ways to create unique and personal experiences for them.”

WELCOMING A UNIQUE MARKET

Alongside enhancing its tourism product, China has steadily been formulating links with the MENA region of late, with the most recent development being the inauguration of a new route by Etihad Airways between Beijing and Abu Dhabi. The destination’s tourism stakeholders have been building bridges with the region in a variety of ways.

Lim of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts told TTG that last year the luxury brand debuted in Morocco with Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay.

“MENA is a very attractive market to us, and we are hoping to introduce it to our consumers in China, while also wooing more visitors from MENA to China.”

Executive assistant manager – sales and marketing, MGM Grand Sanya, Steven Deng also confirmed to TTG that the Middle East is a priority market for the hotel: “The diverse ethnic culture in Hainan Island is a window of Chinese folk customs. Sanya is suitable for travelling to all year round. Also, we can say without exaggeration that Sanya is ‘The Oriental Hawaii’, with beaches and sunshine. Our hotel is located in Yalong Bay which is famous for its white sandy beach and relaxing surroundings.”

Meanwhile, according to Smith of Fairmont Chengdu, the recently opened property has its sights set on the unique MENA market, with a view to focusing fully on it during the second half of the year as well as in 2018.

He told TTG: “In addition to Chengdu being a highly favoured MICE and tourism destination, we are fortunate to have direct flights between the Middle East and Chengdu. Also, Fairmont has a great reputation in the MENA market as a result of our extensive portfolio in this area, such as sister hotels Fairmont Dubai, Fairmont Cairo and Fairmont Bab Al Bahr.”

Smith added: “Certainly leveraging the direct flights and market reputation we enjoy would be key points for us to highlight. As we previously mentioned, Fairmont’s guest service is flexible and personalised. Appreciating the needs of guests from this area, we can make special arrangements such as halal menu items, prayer mats, Qiblas in guest rooms, plus more, as required by Muslim guests.”

Looking to expand its feeder markets much further afield than the Middle East, director of sales and marketing, The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi, Juliana Yeo explained that the hotel will be attracting guests not only from the Middle East but also from Taiwan, India, Africa and Latin America.

Referring to the Middle East market, she said: “We have four hotels slated to open in the Middle East (Dubai and Jeddah). These will lay the foundation for The Langham brand and will in turn heighten the brand awareness of The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi in the Middle East market. We are also working with industry partners to engage the media in this region to further enhance brand recognition and awareness.”

Both exciting and challenging in equal measure, China ticks all the boxes in its efforts to become part of the global tourism stage.