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The night view of the Club Wing. The Ruijin Hotel draws on the charm of old Shanghai to create a unique luxury experience. Photos Provided to China Daily
A global hotel management brand, InterContinental Hotels Group celebrated its 30th anniversary in China with the opening of the InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin on May 28.
Surrounded by intricately designed gardens, the Ruijin Hotel is the brand's 200th in the Chinese market.
Built by renovating a century-old state guesthouse, the hotel combines the glamour of Shanghai's heyday with the top-notch accoutrements of a contemporary InterContinental property.
"The opening of our 200th hotel in China brings IHG's leadership in the market to the next level and is a strong testimony to the success of our brand and our relationship with local owners," said Richard Solomons, chief executive officer of the group.
Throughout the course of its 100-year history as a state guesthouse, the Ruijin Hotel has received numerous high-level officials, including Zhou Enlai, China's first premier, and US President Richard Nixon.
In addition to regal architecture, Japanese gardens and the enchanting Taiyuan Villa, another two new buildings have been constructed to match the Ruijin Hotel's historical architectural style.
These new buildings house 240 guestrooms, banquet and meeting halls, and fine-dining restaurants.
One of the first international hotel groups to enter the Chinese market, IHG opened its first hotel there in 1984.
IHG is now emphasizing the development of new properties in second-and third-tier cities as well as emerging resort destinations that have been identified as the future growth engines of China.
"We are a grounded and groundbreaking hospitality company," Solomons said.
"We have a relentless focus on delivering success today while redefining hospitality tomorrow."
The company said that the Ruijin Hotel is a good example of InterContinental's brand positioning, which is "connecting well-traveled guests across the globe to what is unique in a destination".
The hotel will become a case study for the hospitality industry in China on how an international brand can successfully run a historical property in modern society, according to the company.
The key for the group's success in China has been teaming up with local partners, it said.
"A strong reputation, ambitious growth plans and respected partners have helped secure our leading position in China," Solomons said.
To operate the Ruijin Hotel, InterContinental has cooperated with Shanghai Donghu Group Co, one of Shanghai's top three tourism enterprises.
Donghu views this partnership as a huge triumph, according to an official statement by the company. The group's leaders said that IHG will substantially raise the hotel's image and make it a world-class destination.
Another localization strategy is the signing of management contracts with China's leading real estate player Poly Real Estate Co Ltd.
Under the agreement, Poly Real Estate manages 12 hotels under three brands - InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.
It is also in charge of six hotels under Greenland Group, one of China's largest property developers, and six hotels owned by Wanda Group, one of China's largest commercial real estate developers.
As a trusted and valued partner, the IHG has established a good reputation among local hotel developers, according to the company.
"Rather than resting on our laurels, we've used our three decades of leadership and operational knowledge in China to develop and launch a pioneering hotel brand designed especially for our Chinese consumers, which includes Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts," Solomons said.
IHG also opened its 25th Academy in China- one of 170 in the world-to train and develop local staff.
In addition to its localization strategy, the group has always maintained an innovative approach to stay at the forefront in China, according to the company.
In 2010, IHG opened the iconic Hotel Indigo in Shanghai, the industry's first global boutique hotel brand and the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region.
Last year, it launched the Hualuxe brand and also opened its first flagship e-store on China's largest online travel channel, Taobao Travel.
It has also issued global travel reports in the past two years that analyze consumer trends amid their impact on the changing face of hospitality.
InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin, Hualuxe brand and Hotel Indigo are testaments to the group's steadfast commitment to the Chinese market, according to a statement from the company.
Over the past three decades, IHG's Holiday Inn brand has become a household name among Chinese travelers together with Crowne Plaza, China's largest and fastest-growing upscale hotel brand.
According to the company, it will continue to make massive investments in China and is always looking at ways to improve the experience of its customers here.
Meanwhile, IHG will further strengthen local engagement, build trust and increase investment in China to create a hospitality experience that caters to the Chinese culture.
(China Daily 05/28/2013 page22)