Atlanta-based InterContinental Hotels Group set to expand in Hainan
Ever since the Chinese government announced on Dec 31, 2009, that it planned to build the southern island province of Hainan into an international tourist destination, sharp-nosed hoteliers have been gearing up to expand their footprint in this region.
Atlanta-based InterContinental Hotels Group launched the InterContinental Sanya Resort in July on Serenity Coast, located on Luhuitou Peninsula in Sanya, raising the number of hotels operated by the hospitality giant in Hainan to four.
Swathed in pristine white sands and surrounded by majestic mountains, the resort has seen an encouraging upturn in business, says Tony Marrinan, general manager of InterContinental Sanya Resort.
"In Sanya, the high season for tourism is between November and April, but we have seen a good season right after opening," Marrinan says.
Dai Zheng, vice-president of Qunar.com, an online travel search engine, expects that in addition to the crowds of the upcoming festival season, many business events will also be held here.
All this is good news for InterContinental. However, as international hospitability giants, including Hilton and Riz-Carlton, already own addresses in the city, and more are expected soon on the market, the competition will heat up.
Ma Nan, marketing manager of Beijing UTS International Travel Service Co Ltd, says the travel profile of Chinese tourists has changed dramatically. Not only are they more demanding but also they spend more time at their destinations.
According to Daodao.com under TripAdvisor, about 34 percent of Chinese travelers choose budget hotels, while 26 percent prefer four-star hotels and 16 percent, five-star accommodation.
InterContinental is a prestige brand, but, "We are not in the business of selling rooms with golden faucets or Hermes soaps", Marrinan says. "Of course, every high-end hotels can provide comfortable beds and beautiful rooms. But the major selling point of this resort is that we are the only hotel in Sanya who can say every room, no matter regular or luxury, faces the ocean. This is something money cannot buy."
Located close to Sanya’s sparkling coastline, every room offers a stunning view. Some villas even offer garden-like bathrooms where guests can shower while surrounded by plants under a crystal clear sky.
But such glamour is not restricted to the gorgeous villas and can also be found in the ordinary rooms. Guests can dream, read or enjoy music and movies while soaking in their bathtubs and at the same time feast their eyes on magnificent views of the ocean, twinkling stars and dazzling fireworks.
The resort’s Chinese restaurant stands about 100 meters from the shore.
The resort offers 343 rooms, including 24 beachside villas, a presidential suite and 12 executive suites, besides five swimming pools, eight restaurants and bars, and the soothing SPA InterContinental.
Marrinan says: "When people come to visit our resort, we want to send them back with great memories and experiences."
As most of their guests are families, Marrinan says the resort also offers professional childcare services to allow the adults some time of their own.
"Family-oriented activities include swimming, fishing or catching crabs on the beach," he says. "Cooking classes that teach how to make the famous Hainan chicken are also popular with families."
Sanya is also a popular conference destination, and the InterContinental is positioning itself in this segment, too.
The resort has a pillar-less ballroom and seven meeting rooms. The ballroom can accommodate up to 450 guests for cocktails or 300 for a banquet. And all meeting rooms are equipped with soothing natural light to provide the right inspiration for breakthrough ideas.
"We are also trying to encourage more companies to launch their luxury products, for which our hotel’s dcor and ambience offer the perfect backdrop," Marrinan says.
Chinese, especially from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province, dominate the guest list, accounting for about 80 percent of the total.
"(The) International market for Sanya’s tourism is still small," Marrinan says. "Now, some resorts in Sanya are seeing more Russian visitors, thanks to their country’s long cold season."
He says that while US and European visitors are also quite significant to Sanya’s tourism, the popularity of Hainan as an international beach travel destination has still not caught on.
He adds that the key to the expansion of their business is an improvement of airline capacity and the service quality of both domestic and international airways.
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