Ritz Adds More Glitz to Pudong
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With the metallic red China Pavilion at its heart, Pudong is now, more than ever, an integral part of Shanghai, brought into even greater prominence with the city's hosting of Expo 2010.
In a metropolis of steel and glass, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong tailors its services to suit the influx of investors and businessmen in the city as the hotel attempts to bond its future with that of the financial district.
"What Shanghai does, especially with the expo, is bring in new energy. You have new companies, new distributions and new airlines flying into the city and that creates a sense of excitement - excitement that will go on for years and years," said Herve Humler, the Ritz-Carlton's chief operating officer.
"Numerous corporations have already moved to offices in Pudong and we have to provide them with facilities on this side of the river, otherwise we will lose those customers," he added.
No longer regarded as a mere extension of the city, Pudong boasts such landmarks as the Jinmao Tower, the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai International Financial Center, the tallest buildings in Shanghai, as well as Lujiazui Financial District and the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel.
Drawing on the attraction of the expo, which will last until the end of October, the Ritz-Carlton opened a new 285-room hotel in Pudong today. It occupies the top 14 floors of the International Finance Center. As well as boasting sweeping views of the Bund, it will also integrate and emulate an art deco 1930s Shanghai style, balancing the city's past and future.
"The design and style of the hotel is contemporary with hints of new interpretations of 1930s Shanghai. This gives a great sense of place to the hotel as guest rooms and restaurants embrace magnificent sweeping views of the Bund," said Rainer Burkle, area vice-president and general manager of the hotel.
Other new facilities include a 1,000-square-meter ballroom that seats more than 700 guests, a sky lobby on the 52nd floor and luxury retail outlets.
"We spent on lots of time on new concepts, especially restaurant concepts," Humler said. "We've selected some of the best designers in the world and brought them to Shanghai to design something exceptional."
Riding on a special elevator decorated with wine bottles and glass, guests can go directly to the hotel's stylish Flair restaurant and bar on the 58th floor. With 86 indoor and 68 outdoor seats, Flair is right next to Oriental Pearl Tower. "You don't just stay behind the glass and see the view, you're out there and on the Bund," Humler said.
The chain's plans in China extend beyond the Pudong hotel: A new hotel in Hong Kong is almost complete. On top of the 118-story International Commerce Center Tower in West Kowloon, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will be the tallest hotel in the world when it is finished.
"It's seven years in the making. It is scheduled to open late this year," Humler said.
At a time when many hotels are cutting back, the group is intent on expanding in China in order to build customer loyalty. This will help compensate for a drop in demand outside China, while nurturing future Chinese loyal customers when traveling overseas, Humler said.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company currently operates 73 hotels in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.
(China Daily June 21, 2010)