Shangri-La opens in New Silk Road’s gateway city

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has opened a new 362-room hotel at the beginning of China’s new land-based Silk Road – part of the country’s wider “Belt and Road Initiative” aimed at increasing trade connectivity across Asia, Europe and Africa.

The new Shangri-La Hotel, Yiwu is situated within the Yiwu World Trade Centre mixed-use development in the new Silk Road gateway city. Floors nine to 38 of the hotel feature a mix of hotel rooms and 136 serviced apartments. Rooms start at 48 sqm, with suites starting at 96 sqm (suite guests also get access to the Horizon Club Lounge).

Three restaurants are available – all-day dining restaurant Yue Xiu Wok, Asian and Western cuisine Brown Sugar Bakery and Café, and the Lobby Lounge. A spa, gym, indoor heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms comprise the leisure facilities, while some 3,880 sqm of events space comprise the property’s meetings facilities.

Outside of the hotel, the International Expo Centre, airport and train station are located nearby, with Hangzhou and Shanghai both accessible by high-speed train, taking approximately 30 and 90 minutes respectively.

Located in central Zhejiang province, Yiwu has been designated the beginning of China’s new Silk Road. In April this year, the first direct cargo train carrying British goods departed from London Gateway bound for Yiwu.

Shangri-La to operate new hotel at upcoming two-tower Melbourne development

A new Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts property is set to open its doors in Melbourne in 2022 as part of the upcoming two-tower luxury development at 308 Exhibition Street in the city’s central business district.

The announcement follows the signing of an agreement between the hotel group and Malaysian property developer S P Setia Berhad Group, which is behind the new upscale development that is currently under consideration for planning approval.

Shangri-La is currently eyeing a capacity of about 500 guestrooms at the as-yet-unnamed hotel. Three floors of amenities are also planned – notably including a sky lobby, restaurants, spa, fitness centre, pool, and meetings and events facilities.

The hotel will be connected to the second tower, which will feature office space and approximately 300 high-end residential apartments, with the lower levels of the development being dedicated to retail.

The new Shangri-La is the latest in a number of properties in the Victoria capital that have opened or been announced so far this year. In February, W Hotels confirmed it would be adding its second property in the city to its portfolio in 2020, while in March, Four Points by Sheraton opened the doors of its new 273-room hotel in Melbourne’s redeveloped Docklands area.

Hotel Jen returns to Beijing

Hotel Jen Beijing Prototype Lounge

The re-establishment of its presence in the Chinese capital is a significant step for the nascent hotel brand, which was formed in 2014 as part of an effort to rebrand many of Shangri-La’s Traders hotels in Asia-Pacific, starting with the Hotel Jen Hong Kong. Since then, the brand has expanded its foothold to now include ten across the Asia-Pacific region.

“We want to create a new hospitality experience where this hotel will be a modern-day playground for business and leisure travellers and the local residents of Beijing,” said the hotel’s general manager, Clifford Weiner. “We want to inspire our guests to leave everyday routines behind by providing them with alternative, energising ways to work smarter, play harder and travel better.”

Among the new features and facilities offered by the Beijing hotel are a co-working hub, a gastropub with its own brewery, and an “industrial-chic” gym with grafitti spray-painted across the walls. The rooms, meanwhile, boast a clean and sleek Asian design with a white and light brown colour palette. Sizes start at 40sqm and go up from there, with floor-to-ceiling windows a feature common among all rooms. Travellers looking for a more serviced-residence feel can try the 75sqm Jen 75 corner rooms, which feature a kitchenette and breakfast bar.

Hotel Jen Beijing is situated on the first 22 floors of China World Tower B in the China World Trade Centre – joining fellow Shangri-La properties the China World Hotel Beijing and the China World Summit Wing Beijing hotel at the complex.

To mark the opening, the hotel is offering a limited-period promotion starting from RM1,199 (US$175) per night until August 31 this year for a one-night stay at a 40sqm room, with breakfast for one and unlimited access to the gym, pool and group classes.

Hotel Jen launches night-time experiential programme

Hotel Jen Night Light

Travellers looking to explore the cities they’re visiting after dark can now make use of a new night-time experiential programme offered at all Hotel Jen properties in Asia-Pacific.

The Night Light programme has been developed as a means to help guests safely explore a destination during the evening through weekly activities organised by the hotel and an interactive “living” map. These maps, available on the company’s website, continuously aggregate data from social check-ins and selected hashtags to highlight after-hours places of interest.

Maps are available for each Hotel Jen property in Asia-Pacific and can be filtered into different categories, including Touristy Things, Local Hangouts and Jen’s Picks. Along with the public, a group of local influencers also contribute to the maps offering insider knowledge on places to find home-grown art, local eats and native rituals.

“Hotel Jen caters to urban adventurers who are passionate about discovering new places, cultures and experiences,” said Marisa Aranha, Hotel Jen’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Through this new ‘Night Light’ programme, we are encouraging our guests to head out and explore the thriving activities that each destination has to offer between sunset and sunrise.

“There’s more to a city after dark than what is featured in conventional guide books and we want to provide a new perspective for busy business travellers, unabashed night owls and curious families through curated insider insights.”

In addition to the map, a selection of weekly activities are also organised at the hotel or around the city. Among these are a sunrise boot camp in Brisbane, early morning aqua Zumba in Johor, and yoga dancing in Shenyang.

Hotel Jen’s Night Life map includes its properties in Brisbane, Hong Kong, Johor, Male, Manila, Penang, Shenyang and Singapore. A new Beijing property is also set to open this year, having been delayed from its original January 2017 opening, while a Kota Kinabalu hotel is scheduled to open in 2018.

Shangri-La offering double points for Doha bookings

Shangri-La Hotel, Doha lobby lounge

Members of Shangri-La’s loyalty programme, Golden Circle, can get double points when they book at the Shangri-La Hotel, Doha in the Qatari capital.

The offer is valid for stays until May 31 this year, though the hotel has not issued a cut off date for when bookings need to be made.

In addition to receiving double Golden Circle points, members can also get a 20 per cent discount on the best available rate, and food and beverage. Meanwhile a 50 per cent discount at the hotel’s spa, Chi is also offered as part of the promotion.

Check in time can be at any time from between 10am to 8pm, though a minimum stay of 24 hours is necessary to be eligible. As such, travellers overnighting in Doha as part of a short transit may be unable to make use of the promotion. However, following the Qatari government’s extension of its transit visa programme in September last year to 96 hours (four days) without the need for prior application, travellers with a more flexible schedule may find this a relatively easy way to earn some additional Golden Circle points. 

Members can use the promotion code “GCSLDH4” when making their reservation.

Shangri-La’s new Harbin property opens

Songbei Shangri-La, Harbin lobby

Having made its initial debut in Harbin some 18 years ago, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has just opened its second hotel in the northeastern Chinese city.

The new Songbei Shangri-La, Harbin – originally planned for a December 2016 opening – is situated approximately 30 minutes from Harbin Taiping International Airport and just five minutes away from the city’s renowned Ice and Snow World attraction. Part of the city’s central business district, the property sits in a neighbourhood that also includes numerous other attractions, including the Sun Island Garden, Siberian Tiger Park and Harbin Great Theatre.

“We are proud to have been part of Harbin’s development as a global destination and to have welcomed travellers with Shangri-La’s heart-warming hospitality for nearly two decades,” said Songbei Shangri-La’s general manager, Tyson Wang. “With a second property, we look forward to unveiling new lifestyle experiences and inviting the community and international visitors to enjoy our blend of tradition and modernity in Harbin.”

A total of 344 rooms and suites ranging from 42 to 175 sqm are available at the Songbei Shangri-La, each with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the city and nearby Songhua River. Mood lighting, a walk-in wardrobe, a marble bathroom and complimentary wifi are offered in each room.

Meanwhile, guests with extended stays can make use of the hotel’s 33 executive serviced apartments, or one of the three large suites on the top floors of the hotel. Express check-in and check-out, complimentary breakfast buffet, all-day refreshments, evening cocktails and a concierge service are available at the Horizon Club Lounge for Horizon Club and suite guests.

Guests can dine at one of four F&B options: Shang Kitchen offers Chinese favourites including Peking duck and clay pot dishes, along with regional northeastern cuisine; Café Song provides an international buffet in a more casual setting and includes an outdoor terrace; De Drunk’n Pig offers local and international beer and speciality pork dishes in an industrial-style setting; and the Lobby Lounge serves high tea and light refreshments all day.

A fully equipped gym, indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room are available at the Health Club, while the Chi spa provides treatments based on traditional Chinese philosophy. Other facilities include what the hotel claims is Songbei’s largest pillarless ballroom, at 1,616 sqm, along with an additional 408-sqm ballroom and two function rooms.

As part of the hotel’s opening promotion, travellers can book stays until 20 February starting at RMB 1,350 (US$195) per night (including breakfast) and double Golden Circle point accrual for loyalty members.

Kerry Hotel to open on Hong Kong’s harbourfront

Kerry Hotel, Hung Hom in Hong Kong

Real estate on the waterfront of Victoria Harbour is a precious commodity, but Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts managed to broker a deal for a prime location in Hung Hom Bay for its new Kerry Hotel, which will open on April 1, 2017.

The 546-room “urban resort” occupies a plot of land beside the Hung Hom ferry pier (connected by ferry to North Point district on Hong Kong Island) and a short walk from the famous Whampoa land-locked “ship” shopping centre and MTR. A 16-storey, slightly curved building, it boasts sweeping views of the harbour and Hong Kong Island’s city skyline and has extensive outdoor areas to make use of this enviable vantage point.

Designed by André Fu (known for his work at the Upper House hotel and in Singapore’s Fullerton Bay Hotel), the Kerry’s interior makes much use of marble, chrome and bronze, as well as rough brickwork in its contemporary Cantonese restaurant and bar – a theme designed to play on the Hung Hom district’s history as a dockyard area for the city.

More than 60 per cent of rooms will have a harbour view, and sizes will range from the 42-sqm Deluxe City and Sea View rooms to the palatial 294-sqm Presidential suite. Corner rooms benefit from extra window space – and there are four rooms, on the fifth and sixth floors, with their own internal balcony. All rooms will feature free movies on demand and a free minibar.

Sharon Foo, director of communications of the Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong, said that the property will be marketed for both business and leisure guests in equal measure. “The Kerry brand offers an experience of ‘relaxed luxury’ for guests of all types. Next door we have the two new Wheelock office towers, and the terrace in front of our International Market Place will be open to the public… we want to be part of the Hung Hom community.”

“We made an agreement with the government that the street-level bus station next to our hotel will be moved underground beneath the hotel once construction is finished, and we will redevelop that area as a green space that we will manage. We will be able to utilise it for hotel events, but it will be open to the public for their recreation.” This redevelopment is scheduled for 9-12 months after the hotel opens.

Also under discussion with the government is the hotel’s possible use of the old Hung Hom ferry pier, currently unused but, if negotiations go well, soon to become the Kerry Hotel’s over-water sports centre.

The events industry will also be a key target market, as the meetings and conference space is considerable. “We will have the largest meeting space in Hong Kong,” Foo said, “and all our F&B venues will have alfresco areas and entertainment.” The Grand Ballroom is 1,756 sqm in size (it can be split into four separate rooms), with rock crystal chandeliers, a 15-metre LED video screen and an extensive harbour view foyer, whilst the Hung Hom Ballroom is 1,125 sqm and there are six other meeting rooms of varying size.

The Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong will be the fourth property by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in Hong Kong. Online booking will be possible from January 1, 2017, for stays beginning on April 1.

Taj and Shangri-La enter into an alliance

Warmer Welcomes

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and India’s Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces have partnered with each other for a broader reach across the world.

Rakesh Sarna, MD and CEO at Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces says, “This is a strategic step in bringing greater synergies amongst two brands known for their legendary hospitality. Over time, our valued guests and loyalty members had shared their desire for a wider selection of world class hotels in key destinations. This alliance will help drive deeper engagement for our most valuable guests and members as they will now be recognized seamlessly at some of the world’s finest hotels across multiple geographies.”  

The alliance will officially launch in March 2017 with Warmer Welcomes, an integration of both groups’ loyalty programmes — Golden Circle and Taj InnerCircle.

Existing members of either of the loyalty programmes will receive benefits of their membership status when they stay at any Shangri-La or Taj hotel worldwide with “top-tier status matching”. They will also be able  to earn and redeem between both programmes.

Specifics of Warmer Welcomes hasn’t been disclosed yet. On getting in touch with the hospitality groups, both said that details will be revealed in March.

Madhu Rao, Shangri-La’s acting president says, “As hotel owner-operators who share similar values and service philosophies but have minimal overlap of properties, Taj and Shangri-La are in a unique position to establish a seamless alliance that goes beyond a marketing partnership or multi-hotel distribution platform. We will be able to enhance brand awareness and increase market share by providing Golden Circle and Taj InnerCircle members more value and more reasons to stay with us.”

Taj and Shangri-La currently operate in 100 hotels in 63 destinations and 116 hotels in 73 destinations respectively. Post March 2017, brands where Warmer Welcomes will be eligible are namely:

  • Gateway
  • Taj
  • Vivanta
  • Shangri-La
  • Traders Hotels
  • Kerry hotels
  • Hotel Jen;

Shangri-La and Taj Hotels form loyalty alliance

Shangri-La Abu Dhabi Exterior

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has entered into an “industry-first” alliance with Mumbai-based luxury hotel group Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. The partnership will see the integration of Shangri-La’s Golden Circle (GC) loyalty scheme with Taj’s Inner Circle (TIC) programme.

Launching in March 2017 as the “Warmer Welcomes” programme, the alliance will include automatic tier-matching status for all six million (and future) members:

Tier-matching equivalents

Shangri-La Golden Circle Taj Hotels Inner Circle
Gold Copper, Silver
Jade Gold
Diamond Platinum

Members will be able to earn reward points in their preferred “currency” while staying at any of the two groups’ combined portfolio. For example, a Taj member living and travelling frequently in India will still be able to collect Taj reward points while staying at the Island Shangri-La in Hong Kong.

To redeem stays, on the other hand, members can convert their points at the following rates:

Converting GC award points to TIC points: 100 GC award points to 67 TIC points.

Converting TIC points to GC award points: 100 TIC points to 38 GC award points.

“We want to give the member a choice of what is relevant to them in earning, at the same time we want to ensure there is no arbitrage,” explained Ng Wee-kee, vice-president loyalty and partner marketing for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. “So if you have earned everything in TIC, you should continue to earn in TIC and redeem in TIC and not convert to GC, or the value will be diminished.

“The main advantage is, I can stay in a destination where Taj doesn’t have a hotel, but I will still be recognised because of my tier status and I can also earn points in the Taj programme.”

The geographical and physical boost in choices is a major benefit for the hotel groups and guests alike.

“We’ve extended ourselves from 100 to 200 hotels, 27 countries and 131 destinations – and that’s overnight, and I think that’s a big story,” Ng added.“It became clear to us that we really need to be in more places where our guests and our members would like to go. So we looked for opportunities where our members can expand their footprint, but still stay loyal to the brand”.

Taj was a natural fit: “We looked for like-minded hotel groups with the same brand values, as well as service-based philosophies. Taj – number one, it is a very established luxury hotel company, over 100 years old, with a very strong brand and a group of devoted members like ourselves, and more importantly the locations of the properties do not overlap with us.”

The home bases of both groups have also proved a strong attraction for the partnership: “India and China are the fastest growing outbound travel markets, which we feel makes the Taj and Shangri-La partnership so strategic and so complimentary. With outbound from China to India, and outbound from India to China we can increase the market share of both hotels.”

Ng describes the announcement as a continuation of a long-term strategy to maximise benefits to guests – Golden Circle recently announced a number of upgrades including the launch of The Table F&B loyalty programme and the Infinite Journey’s partnership with Singapore Airlines.

Taj also revamped its loyalty programme in 2015.;