Friday, August 15, 2008

High-style Chinese hotel

What's the operator of Cathay Pacific Airways doing in hotels? Plenty. Just in time for the Olympics, Swire Hotels opened its first small luxury hotel in Beijing--Opposite Hotel. I was walking north on Sanlitun Road when I spotted an emerald glass, cube-liked structure surrounded by bamboo trees on the left. Intrigued, I took a look inside and seeing no front desk, thought I had entered a private club. This is part of the scheme to make the hotel more inviting and relaxing.
Let me say that most 5-star luxury hotels operated by the big chains have some new standards to beat here. China teaching the west! All the 99 contemporary rooms have natural wooden floors and a just-noticeable Chinese decor theme. Other notable design elements--the stainless steel swimming pool that reflects fiber-optic lighting and a sunken garden that still provides an overview of an open-air shopping complex that Swire will start building again after the Olympics. Photo gives an idea how it will look.
I had dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant Sureno, but there's an Asian restaurant too. Both have their design inspirations from entrepreneur chef David Laris, the force behind Mezzo in London and Three on the Bund in Shanghai.
My only wish is that I could afford the starting room rates of RMB 5,000 or about $700.