Hotelier of 'golden age' returns to Shanghai's Bund

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 April, 2008, 12:00am

A hotelier from a bygone era is returning to Shanghai after an absence of more than five decades, with Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels opening a Peninsula hotel on the waterfront Bund district.

The Peninsula Shanghai would open in the autumn, probably in October, as part of the renaissance taking place on the Bund, company officials said. The exterior structure was completed on Friday.

The 15-storey hotel, still concealed by scaffolding, commands the northern end of the Bund. The project is being closely watched, as it will be the only new building on the famed stretch of land.

The hotel group has pledged that the building will be 'sympathetic' to the architecture of the Bund. 'It will fit into that area and make the Bund even more beautiful,' said Jean Forrest, general manager for marketing for Peninsula Hotels.

The company had several properties in Shanghai, following the merger of the Hongkong Hotel Co and Shanghai Hotels in 1923. They included the Palace Hotel, now the south building of the Peace Hotel, which the company relinquished in 1947.

'The Kalee, the Astor House, the Palace and the Majestic are names of hotels owned or operated by the company in a bygone area - a time often described as the city's golden age,' chairman of the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Sir Michael Kadoorie, said. His family lived in Shanghai from 1911 to 1948.

The Kalee was a six-storey hotel near the Bund. Astor House, which still exists under its original name, was taken over by the Shanghai government in 1954. The Majestic was demolished in 1933.

'The Peninsula Shanghai is an appropriate symbol of our company's return to its birthplace,' he said.

The new hotel is bordered to the north by the gardens of the former British consulate and lies within the old Waitanyuan area.

A larger project to redevelop Waitanyuan has been delayed after the local developer was ensnared in a corruption scandal involving former Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu , who was sentenced on Friday to 18 years in jail.