New partners, new name for the Peace Hotel
The owner of the historic art deco Peace Hotel in Shanghai has brought in two foreign partners in a surprise move that has raised concerns that the historical integrity of the building could be under threat.
Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels (Group) yesterday signed separate agreements with the Swatch Group and Canada's largest luxury hotelier, Fairmount Hotels and Resorts.
The deals are aimed at helping the foreign partners break into the mainland hotel market and Jin Jiang to make use of international management expertise.
The Peace Hotel, which closed at the beginning of this month for a near 500-million yuan facelift, will be re-opened in 2009 with a fresh appearance and a new name - Fairmount Peace Hotel Shanghai.
Jin Jiang said Fairmount would help renovate and manage the 12-storey hotel, which marks the Canadian firm's first venture in Asia.
Fairmount operates about 51 luxury hotels and resorts largely in North America, according to its website.
Jin Jiang would help Swatch open shops in the hotel selling Breguet, Blancpain and Omega watches following the renovation, the mainland company said, without revealing financial details of the deal.
The agreements would help the Peace Hotel fend off punishing competition from the expanding number of overseas hotel brands in Shanghai, but some consultants say the deals will inevitably challenge the history of the hotel, which lies at the heart of the Bund district.
Controversy over the renovations at the Peace Hotel, and the name change, follows the row over the Starbucks outlet in Beijing's Forbidden City. Lawmakers have called for the coffee shop to be removed from the former home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
'It will never be the same again,' a consultant based in Hong Kong said of the hotel changes. 'The partnership brings about an identity crisis.'
Jin Jiang, which went public in Hong Kong last December netting HK$2.6 billion in proceeds, had not previously indicated a desire to bring in partners to the hotel.