German hotel group Kempinski to open resort in Haitang Bay, Sanya in 2011
"We plan to have 30 hotels in China by 2015 and maintain the number in the following years," said Michael Henssler, president of Kempinski China, at its annual "China Road Show" program in Beijing. This year alone, the hotel group will open properties in cities including Huizhou, Guiyang, Shanghai and Haitang Bay of Sanya Island.
Henssler said the company has quietly been planning to expand for the past few years, and that the time is now ripe to move forward.
"In the next 12 months, you will see eight hotels being added," he said.
The move is the company’s most ambitious expansion plan since the it built its first hotel at the Lufthansa Center in Beijing 20 years ago. Compared with the massive development of other international hotel chain in China, Kempinski has been relatively conservative, a consequence of its long-held belief that exclusiveness is a key feature of luxury.
The international hotel chain Starwood has 63 hotels in China and is aiming to reach 150 hotels by 2014. The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has 137 hotels and 149 in its development pipeline.
Pressured by other international chains’ networks in China, Kempinski decided to tap further into the country’s competitive luxury market.
China has more than 170 cities whose population exceeds 1 million people. Many of them still have no five star hotels.
Henssler said what is important is to define the luxury market in China.
"It is about niche brand and niche offering," he said. "China’s luxury market is growing rapidly. Individuality is the foundation of mature luxury."
To avoid adverse consequences from rapid growth, Henssler said expansion should not only be about signing the contract, but also maintaining the edge, the quality of the brand. The group has carefully selected the locations of the new hotels over the past few years.
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