The Story of China Told in a Hotel Brand.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Tuesday, 15th March 2011
In many ways, the story of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in China parallels that of the most populous nation on earth.

Consider this. Shangri-La's first hotel in China was in Hangzhou it took over a government-owned hotel, renovated and restored it, and opened it in 1984. Early signs of a regime recognizing it needed to change and finding comfort in an Asian-owned family-feeling kind of company.

(Picture: General manager George Wee in the cheese room)

Then slowly the group grew its network in China today more than half of its 71 hotels are on the mainland.

One of its earlier hotels and flagship in Beijing - China World Hotel - was imperial, opulent, full of reds and golds and Chinese symbolism.

Early signs of a modern China rising to embrace its heritage and culture with pride, and to show that off to international visitors.

Fast forward to 2011 and the group has launched a new brand, Kerry Hotels.

The first Kerry Hotel is in Pudong, Shanghai, and it is still luxurious but modern, lighter, crisper. The brand promise is "luxury in an informal setting". Early signs of a post-modern China whose urban citizens, at least, have moved from making a living to living a lifestyle, where wine has replaced mao tai and fine cheese is the new dumpling.

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