Gold bullion-made hotel floor sparks debate
Updated: 2006-09-24 15:51

The use of 270 kg of gold bullion as a floor inlay has turned a newly inaugurated hotel in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, into the center of a debate.

Paradise Island Hotel, located on Zhongyang Street in downtown Harbin, started business on Tuesday. The gold bullion, bearing the inscription "Swiss Bank Corporation" and "Paradise Island", glitters in two heart-shaped formations beneath transparent glass in the hotel lobby.

"The gold floor is a great innovation. A lot of customers have been coming in to take a look and some of them stayed to have dinner," said Yin Yingchuan, sales director with Paradise Island Hotel Co., Ltd.

The hotel is owned by Wanda Group, a property developer based in Dalian, a coastal city in Liaoning Province. 56 million yuan (about 7 million U.S. dollars) was spent on acquiring and transporting the gold bullion, according to Yin.

Opinions are divided about the luxurious display.

A primary school teacher, who refused to be identified, said the fanfare about the gold floor was extravagant and in bad taste.

"I didn't think a modern enterprise would act like that," he said.

An ordinary citizen identified as Xu Bin took a different view.

"The gold floor idea has made the newly-opened hotel famous right from the word go," said Xu, "and it is also a show of economic strength by the hotel operator."

Xu is supported by Li Shuanghe, another resident of Harbin.

"The gold bullion is underneath the glasswork and won't be damaged," said Xu, "Gold is gold and the carefully designed floor will preserve its value."

However, some experts think differently. Professor Chen Yongchang, president of the Business Administration Executive College of Heilongjiang Province, described the hotel's initiative as unwise.

"A sophisticated entrepreneur would use the money as working capital and expand the size of his business to reap profits," said Chen, "Paradise Island's approach of immobilizing the money to show off, contradicts the academic concept of efficient capital utilization."

He believes a business depends on core competitiveness driven by real innovations.

Qu Wenyong, director of the department of sociology at Heilongjiang University, said the hotel's extravagance could backfire and worsen social problems in a society where the income gap is becoming increasingly serious.