The Berkeley River eco-resort, accessible only by seaplane or boat in Western Australia

InterContinental Hotel Group launches a brand dedicated to Chinese consumers, whilst Sofitel opens its second property in the UAE and Hilton’s Conrad launches in New York

Luxury hotel brands were some of the quickest to acknowledge the potential of Mainland China, developing properties far beyond Beijing and Shanghai well beyond luxury goods brands came knocking. But what they are now also beginning to gauge, is the growing significance of the affluent Chinese traveller, an increasingly global and mobile consumer who interacts with brands in Shanghai, Wuhan, San Francisco and Paris.

Thinking along these lines, the InterContinental Hotel Group has developed a new hotel brand based on four priorities it feels are important to Chinese travellers: tradition, rejuvenation, status and familiar spaces. HUALUXE – a hybrid of ‘Hua’ meaning majestic China and luxe – has been launched with the understanding that the Chinese traveller wants the status of a world-class luxury hotel group combined with a feeling of pride in China and respect for Chinese tradition.

The hotel giant expects the number of domestic travellers in China to reach 3.3bn in 2015 and forecasts the China hotel market will grow by 5-8% annually by 2030. The group has reportedly signed over 20 letters of intent and expects the first hotel to be open in late 2013 or early 2014, with plans to roll the brand out in 100 Chinese cities in the next 15-20 years.


Sofitel, Abu Dhabi

As part of the new Capital Plaza Complex, Sofitel Luxury Hotels has opened its second property in the UAE at the eastern tip of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche. The hotel’s 282 rooms and suites elegantly blend modern design with authentic French “art de recevoir” combined with Arabic hospitality, featuring Jean Cocteau lithographs and sculptures inspired by Brancusi.

Source: Gulf News


Swissôtel, Chicago

Swissôtel has unveiled renovations at its Chicago location, inspired by the work of the building’s original architect, Harry Weese. The lobby now features backlit glass panels etched with Chicago’s skyline, where check-in pods replace the traditional bulky hotel front desk. Concierges are equipped with tablets for quick access to all necessary information.

Website & Source:


Fairmont Grand Hotel, Kyiv

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce the opening of Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv, the luxury brand’s first hotel in Eastern Europe. The 258-room, 54-suite property offers spectacular views of Podil Square and the Dnipro River, as well as a fully equipped business centre with 24-hour access as well as secretarial services.

Source: Elite Traveler


Radisson Blu Istanbul Asia, Istanbul

Offering Super chic and contemporary Istanbul accommodation, the Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Asia has 195 stylish, well-appointed guest rooms and suites, featuring a mix of designer furnishings and every conceivable modern convenience, including free high-speed Internet access, Anne Sémonin bath amenities and a 37-inch LCD television.



The Westin Lake, Las Vegas

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has launched The Westin Lake Resort and Spa, its second location in Las Vegas. 493 rooms and suites, feature the world-renowned Westin Heavenly® Bed, exclusive SuperFoodsRX® menus, White Tea Aloe bath amenities and in-room, high-speed Internet access alongside ergonomic workspaces.

Source: 4-Traders


Viceroy, Maldives

Located in Shaviyani Atoll, Viceroy Maldives is an ultra luxury resort comprising of 61 Villas with 32 over the water and 29 on the beach, designed for maximum privacy. The resort features five distinct dining venues, specialised massage techniques, yoga practices and dietary guidance as well as a series of Ayurvedic, regional and traditional spa treatments.

Source: CPP Luxury


Conrad, New York

Rising 16 stories along the Hudson River waterfront, Conrad New York is the first NYC address from Conrad Hotels & Resorts, the global luxury brand of Hilton Worldwide. The 463 all-suite luxury hotel features panel televisions, one-touch technologies, wireless Internet access and iPod sound docks. Contemporary design by interior designer Jill Greaves has incorporated custom furnishings through separate areas for work and sleep as well as spacious bathrooms.

Source: Market Watch


Capofaro, Salina

The Capofaro Malvasia & Resort has reopened following extensive renovations, on the Eolian Island of Salina in Southern Italy. One of the first Mediterranean wine resorts and retreats, the property is surrounded by the lush of Malvasia vineyards on soft slopes degrading towards the blue sea. Just twenty rooms are laid out across seven acres of vineyards, all of which have a terrace overlooking the sea.

Source: Grassi + Partners


Berkeley River, Western Australia

Berkeley River luxury resort has opened in Far North Western Australia, on a 4600 hectare site accessible only by seaplane and boat. Located near a stunning river, with waterfalls and fresh water holes, 20 luxury “eco friendly” villas feature open air bathrooms with a shower and full bath. The resort can also arrange private boat and helicopter expeditions for guests.

Source: The West


Westin, Xian

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has launched The Westin Xian, its first entry into the Shaanxi province of China and the first hotel in Xian to have its own museum, paying tribute to the ancient history of China with a collection of over 2,000 artefacts. 329 rooms and 32 apartments feature LCD televisions, rainforest showers, extra-large closets, personal refreshment centres, and Westin’s signature Heavenly beds.

Website & Source:

For more in the series of The Latest Hotels, please see our most recent editions as follows:

The Latest Hotels, Istanbul, Panama & Berlin
The Latest Hotels, Mumbai, Moscow & Riviera Maya
The Latest Hotels, Kitzbühel, Tuscany & Hanoi

© Luxury Society, The Latest Hotels: Kyiv, Abu Dhabi & Western Australia, 24 April 2012, by Sophie Duran.

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A recent Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong, where an anonymous Chinese bidder purchased 300 bottles of Chateau Lafite for $539,280.

We take a look at the current climate for fine wines in Mainland China, following the launch of the first-ever Chinese investment fund dedicated to wine.

China’s market for fine wines is maturing and augmenting at a dizzying rate. Wine imports to Hong Kong are poised to break the US$1 billion barrier this year, after soaring by 65% in the first eight months of 2011. And that doesn’t even take the booming Mainland into consideration, a wine market valued at 75 billion Yuan (roughly US$10 billion) in 2009. Domestic wines still account for over two-thirds of the local market, but demand for imported grape wine is surging, as the rising middle class take more overseas travel, exposing them to western customs and wine culture.

Not that interest is sudden. Chinese wine buyers were instrumental in the recovery at the top end of the market, following the dip seen in the wake of the global economic crisis in 2008. The Mainland is now the largest importer of Bordeaux by volume, edging out Germany and driving a jump in exports of French wine. According to Luxuo, exports from the famed French region rose 34 percent in value and 23 percent in volume between July 2010 and June 2011.

“Mainland China is now the largest importer of Bordeaux by volume, Hong Kong is the largest importer by value.”

Messages regarding the market are mixed. Jing Daily recently reported that fine wine prices retreated 7.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011 and that demand for the highest of high-end bottles, particularly Chateau Lafite, were thought to be showing signs of slowing after a nearly three-year-long tear – due partly to the ubiquity, rampant counterfeiting and unsustainably high prices of Lafite and other high-profile wines.

Echoing this sentiment, prime lots of Chateau Lafite, Chateau Latour, Mouton Rothschild and Margaux failed to sell at Sotheby’s Finest and Rarest Wines sale last week in Hong Kong. It was the first auction not to sell out entirely since Sotheby’s entered Hong Kong in 2009. Yet over at Christie’s, just last September, an anonymous Chinese bidder bought 300 bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild bundled into a single lot for $539,280 – the most expensive single lot sale this year.

“Fine wine prices retreated 7.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011 and demand for the highest of high-end bottles is showing signs of slowing”

Christie’s head of wine for China, Simon Tam, refused to become pessimistic, suggesting instead that the market is simply calming down. “The first generation of wine lovers to discover Lafite now have long-lasting stock and they don’t need to accumulate more.” Mathieu Chadronnier, managing director of CVBG Grands Crus, went so far as to say it was necessary. “We have gone through a period of constant growth. Prices can’t go on increasing forever – this correction was needed.”

The buying landscape is clearly changing. In a first for the country, the Chinese government has approved the first-ever Chinese investment fund specialising in wine, which plans to invest over €110 on wine over a five-year period. Ling Zhijun, a banking professional and wine enthusiast who manages Pacific Asset Management of Beijing, founded the Dinghong Fund. Investors must part with a minimum investment of €1m for a company and €100,000 for an individual, and buying will be managed by Bordeaux negociant Vintex & les Vignobles Grégoire.

“The first generation of wine lovers to discover Lafite now have long-lasting stock and they don’t need to accumulate more.”

Philippe Larché, one of the partners in negociant Vintex and the fund’s primary advisor and main supplier, revealed that over one-third of wines to be purchased will supply the cellars of fund investors. “The fund is not just about buying and selling grands crus, but also educating customers and introducing them to Bordeaux,” he remarked. “We expect to bring each investor to discover the vineyards of Bordeaux, and to set up wine masterclasses in China, with the participation of owners and winemakers.”

Mr Larché remained relatively unfazed by recent results at the Sotheby’s auction, instead suggesting the result was indicative of a natural evolution in the market, as bidders understand more about wine and how it trades. He, alongside Sotheby’s worldwide head of wine, Serena Sutcliffe, suggested that Second Growths are becoming increasingly popular in Asia, as knowledge of different châteaux broadens.

“China now understands that we don’t have only first growths in Bordeaux. The market is maturing. But I am not anxious. I am very confident that the first growths will go up again in value.”

For more in our series of weekly wraps, please see our most recent editions of The Bulletin as follows:

Luxury Brand CSR: No Longer Just an Option?
Optimism Shines at Frankfurt’s 2011 Motor Show
Paris & Beijing Legitimise Commitments to Design

© Luxury Society, China’s Market for Fine Wine Shows Maturity, 31 October 2011, by Sophie Duran.

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