EXTENSIVE renovations, estimated at about US$7 million, are under way at the 10-year-old Great Wall Sheraton in Beijing. The hotel is upgrading its facilities and service standards to cater to the increasing number of business travellers to the capital. Drawing on its experience in hosting guests such as China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, Premier Li Peng, vice-premier Qian Qichen, former United States presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan and many other state leaders visiting China, the five-star property in east Beijing is preparing to provide red carpet treatment for business executives. General manager Leon Larkin said the business travel market was the growth sector of the future. Among the renovations, executive floors on the 17th and 18th floors have been completely refurbished; two more meeting rooms have been added to the business centre and three function rooms are being added to the existing six in the grand ballroom, which has a seating capacity for more than 900 people. The hotel's seven restaurants and lounges, which serve Southeast Asian, Chinese, European and American cuisine, were also refurbished. Mr Larkin said corporate business made up the bulk of the hotel's business traveller market and that the sector was gradually improving. The hotel's market mix was 50 per cent business travellers, 30 per cent tour groups and 20 per cent long-staying guests, he said. ''We have evolved from a 50 per cent tour group hotel to a 30 per cent tour group hotel. So we have seen growth in the business traffic,'' Mr Larkin said. The hotel aims to end the year with about an occupancy rate of about 82 per cent. ''Last year we achieved a similar occupancy rate, except that this year our yield is higher,'' Mr Larkin said. As new hotels came into the market competition was intensifying and room tariffs were expected to increase. ''But with our experience we are now in a position to attract more business. Our location is also one of the factors that's beneficial to us,'' he said. The Great Wall Sheraton was the first luxury hotel in Beijing, launched in 1981 with a $82 million investment. It is owned and operated by a joint venture company whose partners are Beijing Tourism Corp and E-S Pacific Development and Construction Co. Boston-based ITT Sheraton Corp manages the hotel, and negotiations are under way for renewal of the contract, which expires next year.