Haikou hotels poised to profit from free-trade area
Expanding visa-free entry and introducing more direct foreign flights boost Haikou hotel reservations
Hotels in Haikou have seen a steady increase in corporate and leisure bookings in recent months, and this growth is expected to be boosted by the central government’s plans to turn Hainan into a free-trade area.
Hotel reservations have been increased by the expansion of visa-free entry to Hainan and the introduction of more direct foreign flights to Haikou.
Erica Loh, managing director of The Ritz-Carlton Haikou and Renaissance Haikou, says IT companies such as Alibaba (owner of the South China Morning Post) and Tencent plan to set up offices in Haikou and this is expected to attract more companies to the city. This, together with projects by Hainan Airlines, is expected to provide more corporate business for hotels.
Patrick Liu, general manager of Hilton Haikou, says the development of Haikou is encouraging and a lot activities and events will take place this year to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Hainan Province. He says the central government will offer more support and resources to Hainan as part of the free trade area initiative. There will be more development projects, and more international talent will come to work in Hainan.
The meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector is another growing market for the hotels. Kevin Shen, general manager of Shangri-La Haikou, says MICE has become an important source of business as the Haikou government has been offering incentives to attract more events to the city.
“The government puts more energy to build Haikou as the perfect destination of tourism and MICE,” Loh adds.
Shen says many leisure travellers previously used Haikou as a stopover on the way to Sanya, making the most of cheaper airfares; but the opening of attractions such as Movie Town and Wet ‘n’ Wild water park will mean more visitors are likely to stay longer in the city. Located within the Mission Hills area, 15 minutes’ drive from Haikou Meilan International Airport, The Ritz-Carlton Haikou and nearby Renaissance Haikou share some event, dining and recreational facilities. Both offer guests access to Mission Hills’ 10 18-hole golf courses.
With classic décor in its 175 rooms and 16 villas, The Ritz-Carlton targets corporates, while the 285-room Renaissance, with light colours and modern décor, caters to the corporate and lifestyle markets. The Renaissance tends to have more MICE business and a younger clientele.
Loh says the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance have a healthy mix of corporate and leisure business compared to hotels in the city centre. She expects an increase in leisure travellers for both hotels now that Mission Hills’ entertainment complex has opened nearby, as has the Wet ‘n’ Wild water park, a short walk away.
The Ritz-Carlton’s luxury décor has made the hotel popular for weddings. It also has one of the city’s largest ballrooms – at 1,350 square metres.
In the city centre, the 406-room Hilton Haikou occupies the 33rd to 57th floors of the Haihang International Plaza, the city’s tallest building at 249.7 metres. It also takes the first five floors as event venues, recreation facilities and a Chinese restaurant.
Liu says the hotel’s striking exterior is its most distinguishing feature, with all the rooms overlooking the city. There is a large green park nearby where hotel guests can exercise after work. He says the Hilton has a higher ratio of corporate business than other city hotels – at about 50 per cent. It is a market leader in terms of occupancy and average room rates. With its 690-square-metre ballroom, the hotel targets small- to medium-sized meetings for up to 300 people.
Located on the west coast of Haikou, Shangri-La Haikou is a city resort with tropical gardens, pools and a private beach. Beside the swimming pool in the garden, the hotel also has a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and three natural hot spring pools.
Shen says the hotel strives to exceed the expectations of guests. Staff visit food suppliers twice a year to ensure supplies meet safety standards, from production to delivery. Taking advantage of its location next to the Hainan International and Exhibition Center, the largest event venue in Hainan, the hotel works closely with event organisers and travel agencies to provide tailor-made services for event delegates, such as greeting services with cultural performances. It also works with different partners to offer sports packages for individuals and for family packages with themed rooms for the children.