Qingdao rides Olympic wave
During the 2008 Olympics, the eyes of the world's sailing enthusiasts were firmly placed on Qingdao, as yachts battled for supremacy on the Yellow River.
Now, the competition has turned to planning how best to maintain Qingdao's momentum as 'co-host city' of the Beijing Games. Keeping the Olympic spirit kindled are the Mice sector and top hotels, that have been hosting many corporate gatherings in the northern coastal city. Le Meridien Qingdao, of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts group, has recently been singled out for praise by companies and associations that have hosted events at the hotel. As Le Meridien approaches the first anniversary of its opening in December, it aims to make the most of its status as the second largest hotel in Qingdao, but arguably the city's most modern and fashionably designed.
A combination of chic hotels, European-style architectural heritage and marine facilities not only bolster Qingdao's tourism appeal, it also lays the foundation for a vibrant Mice sector. At the centre of these efforts is the International Convention and Exhibition Centre of the China Travel Service (Shandong), whose Mice team has served multinationals such as the Haier Group, Hewlett-Packard, New York Life Insurance, DuPont, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Omega, Canon, Siemens and AstraZeneca.
Such major Mice groups usually go to the Le Meridien, the Shangri-La or the InterContinental, as these hotels have professional Mice teams. The centrepiece of Le Meridien's Mice facilities is the multidimensional, 1,228-square-metre grand ballroom, which can be divided into five different sizes and cater to 1,100 people. A 320-square-metre foyer that can be used as a pre-function area creates an open space for cocktails and networking. All this in a city that has become more international since the Olympics. It also boasts the Tsingtao Brewery and Bavarian architecture from its German quarter.