With 117 cities in mainland China boasting populations of more than three million the Middle Kingdom’s growth story still has a long way to play out. For international hotel groups the potential of moving into many of these second and third tier cities is enormous with most global brands indicating they have multiple projects in the pipeline or already underway.
In recent weeks Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts were one of the bigger names to unveil a new property with the opening of their 344-room Songbei Shangri-La in the renowned city of ice – Harbin. It marks the group’s second debut, in this north-eastern city of 10 million, 18 years after the group opened its first property there in 1999.
For Shangri-La, the new property anchors the group’s presence in the heart of Songbei’s business district and in a historic city that has witnessed the dawn of the Jin (1115-1234) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, as well as cultural influences from neighbouring Russia.
Located on the edge of the Songhua River’s north bank and close to the city’s famous ice festival at the Ice & Snow World as well as local attractions such as the Sun Island Garden, Siberian Tiger Park and Harbin Great Theatre, the hotel is also around 30 minutes from the city’s airport.
Songbei Shangri-La Harbin’s General Manager, Tyson Wang believes the hotel is a great addition to a city which has grown into an economic powerhouse in China’s north-east since the group opened its first property nearly 20 years ago.
“With our second property (in Harbin), we look forward to unveiling new lifestyle experiences and inviting the community and international visitors to enjoy our blend of tradition and modernity in Harbin,” he said.
Featuring uninterrupted views of the city and river, the hotel’s contemporary style is augmented with local art pieces and each living space integrates mood lighting and free-Wi-Fi. Beyond the wide range of rooms and suites, the hotel also provides 33 executive serviced apartments for longer-term guests.
On the culinary front, Shang Kitchen, the hotel’s main restaurant, celebrates Chinese cuisine with Peking roast duck, clay pot dishes and northeast regional specialties in a setting blending splashes of lilac and emerald green with lattice screens.
A little more laid-back and revolving around interactive theatre kitchens, Café Song provides more casual dining with its the international buffet and blackboard menus as well as an outdoor terrace.
Another option is De Drunk’n Pig – the hotel’s specialty bar that serves an array of local and international beer, and pork dishes to share. There’s also a resident DJ spinning tunes every evening.
The hotel also features an array of meeting and state-of-the-art event spaces catering to a fast-growing business market in the city.
To celebrate the hotel’s opening, an introductory offer priced from RMB 1,350 per night is available until 20 February 2017 and includes daily breakfast buffet.
Madeline van Horen