Spoilt for choice

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am


If the plans of the world's leading hotel chains can be taken as a reliable guide, Nanjing's star is definitely on the rise. Many of the industry's most prestigious international brand names are getting ready to make their presence felt in the ancient capital of China.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts plans to open a property there next year, with a Grand Hyatt scheduled to come on stream in 2013.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts is preparing to put the finishing touches on the Hilton Nanjing Riverside, which is set to open in November.

Ella Chen, the hotel's marketing and communications manager, says the property is being pitched at the business and leisure markets.

Located on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, a 25-minute drive from the central business district, the hotel incorporates extensive meeting, conference and recreation facilities, a ballroom that can cater to up to 650 diners, and an outdoor venue for weddings and receptions.

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts is a few steps ahead of some of its competitors. The group opened the InterContinental Nanjing Greenland Hotel last year on the upper floors of the 450-metre Zifeng Tower. Guests can also look down on the city's skyline and enjoy panoramic views from restaurants on the 76th and 78th storeys.

Cecilia Yang, the hotel's marketing communications manager, says the InterContinental is more popular with business travellers than tourists. Occupancy rates average about 60 per cent, so with the end-of-year holidays approaching the hotel is preparing to unveil special accommodation offers to appeal to leisure visitors.

These promotions include free room upgrades, additional breakfasts and later check-out times for guests. Yang believes these promotions have been successful in the past. During the Lunar New Year, they helped the hotel to maintain bookings at the usual levels.

Yet the occupancy rates of an eye-catching hotel with a convenient city-centre location may serve as a warning sign to prospective new entrants to the market.

But it's not just the 5-star international chains that have earmarked Nanjing for business expansion. The locally-owned Regalia Hotel Group, which started out in Suzhou in the mid-1990s, opened a new boutique luxury hotel in Nanjing, its second in the city, in June.

Regalia Resort & Spa (Tangshan, Nanjing) is situated in a historic hot springs area on the outskirts of town. Guests stay in mountain-view villas and suites, and the resort boasts its own private hot springs for a touch of refreshing indulgence.

Public relations manager Louise Sze says special promotional offers for the National Day holidays include complimentary tickets for two to several of the area's most popular attractions. The hotel is already eliciting a positive response from the market, Sze says. Unlike some of the more business-traveller-focused competitors, she expects the draw of bubbling hot springs will make winter the resort's peak period.