Formerly known as Marco Polo Hotels Management Limited, founded in 1986, the company was officially renamed Wharf Hotels Management Limited in June 2017.
Following its 1986 founding, Marco Polo took over management of the Hongkong Hotel from The Peninsula Group. The Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, as it is now known, was originally built in 1969.
There are currently two luxury brands operating under the Wharf Hotels umbrella – Marco Polo Hotels and the more recent Niccolo Hotels, which it launched in July 2014.
Mainland China is the group’s foremost market, with half its properties in locations such as Beijing, Changzhou, Foshan, Jinjiang, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Wuhan. This doesn’t look set to change, with the development focus still firmly targeted on the mainland.
The Hong Kong-based company’s presence in its home city is also strong, with three hotels currently in operation and a fourth in the works. At the time of writing, the group operates the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel – arguably the group’s most well-known in the city – along with the nearby Gateway Hotel and Prince Hotel, all of which stand along the Kowloon waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui district near the ferry terminal.
Outside of Greater China, the company operates in one other market, the Philippines, where it manages three Marco Polo hotels in Cebu, Davao and Manila.
Discovery is the loyalty programme for guests staying at Marco Polo and Niccolo hotels (not to be confused with its Marco Polo Rewards programme designed for corporate bookers).
The programme is split into three tiers – members are granted Gold status upon joining the programme, followed by Platinum and Black – with benefits progressively increasing.
Gold members enjoy benefits such as complimentary internet and bottled water, whereas Platinum (attained after 10 or more nights within one calendar year) includes late 3pm checkout, upgrade to the next room category at check-in, local amenities and guaranteed room availability 48 hours before arrival. The top Black tier, achieved after spending 30 nights or more in a calendar year, includes 9am early check-in, late 6pm checkout, guaranteed room availability 24 hours before arrival, complimentary buffet breakfast, and discounts on the minibar and laundry services, among others.
Tied in with the Discovery programme is the Global Hotel Alliance’s “Local Experiences” offering, with options ranging from a tour of the Jurassic age in Changzhou to a tour of Cebu City. Platinum members are eligible for one Platinum Local Experience, while Black status provides one Black Local Experience.
Wharf Hotels also has partnerships with a number of airline frequent-flyer programmes, enabling guests to earn miles for each hotel stay at a qualifying rate. These include Air China’s Phoenix Miles (800 miles per stay), Asia Miles (500 miles), Japan Airlines’ JAL Mileage Bank (500 miles), Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles (500 miles), Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer (500 miles), Vietnam Airlines’ Golden Lotus Plus (500 GLP points), and Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club (500 miles with a Superior/Deluxe room and 1,000 miles for a Continental Club Room).
Almost all of Wharf Hotels’ development plans are centred about its Niccolo Hotels brand, with The Murray, Hong Kong, A Niccolo Hotel among the most notable. Originally built in 1969 and previously functioning as the headquarters of various different government departments, the 25-storey former Murray Building is located on the other side of the harbour, in Hong Kong Island’s Central district. Announced last year, Niccolo’s flagship Hong Kong hotel is currently set for an end of 2017 opening and will offer a total of 336 rooms.
However, most of the group’s new openings are currently set for mainland China. First to open will be the Niccolo, Chongqing, which is slated to open its doors in the third quarter of 2017, followed by Niccolo Changsha in the first quarter of 2018. The last property to open will be the Niccolo Suzhou some time in 2019.
Wharf Hotels had previously announced that its Niccolo Changsha would also be accompanied by a new Marco Polo Changsha in 2019, though this appears to have gone quiet for the moment.