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Hualuxe hotels poised to meet needs of cultured crowd in growing market

By YUAN SHENGGAO | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-25 07:42
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The design of Hualuxe Xi'an Tanghua in Shaanxi province features traditional Chinese architecture.[Provided to China Daily]

When walking into a Hualuxe hotel, one may believe that it's a Chinese brand but, in fact, it belongs to British company IHG Hotels & Resorts. The 11-year-old brand featuring Chinese-style decor and service is among an increasing number of hotel brands capitalizing on Chinese culture, according to an executive of the company.

"Traditional Chinese culture has been more widely embraced by the younger generation who have strong cultural confidence," said Florence Hu, chief marketing officer of IHG Greater China. "As an upscale international hotel brand designed for Chinese business elites and Chinese culture fans around the globe, Hualuxe embeds Chinese culture into every aspect of the guest's stay experience and strives to bring to life Chinese aesthetics and heritage."

Hualuxe's pursuit of traditional Chinese hospitality etiquette centers on food and gatherings, according to Hu.

It has cooperated with Chinese culture icons including Chen Xiaoqing, director of the hit food documentary A Bite of China, Kunqu Opera performer Zhang Jun and folk singer Gong Linna, and has held activities and food experiences to honor traditional Chinese festivals and occasions.

On Feb 4, Hualuxe cooperated with QQ Music to hold the CNY China-Style Concert to celebrate the Start of Spring, which is the first solar term of the Chinese lunar year.

Starring singers and dancers known for their traditional Chinese-style works, such as Li Yugang, the performance attracted more than 10 million online viewers, according to Hualuxe.

The event is part of the Hualuxe Gathering initiative, which was launched by the hospitality brand to create a socializing space, joining cultural forces, and sharing and promoting Chinese culture. Via the gathering, Hualuxe invited artists and scholars to conduct cultural exchanges and held exhibitions, bringing guests an in-depth experience of Chinese aesthetics.

To deliver an immersive cultural experience, Hualuxe staff wear uniforms inspired by traditional Chinese aesthetics. The hotels offer authentic Chinese cuisine and design their spaces using elements from traditional Chinese gardens and the local environment.

Florence Hu, chief marketing officer of IHG Greater China.

"We weave the Chinese aesthetic lifestyle into refined details, allowing guests to experience the beauty of elegance and comfort as inspired by nature. Each space is dynamic yet peaceful, with a clear sense of order that reflects the essence of Chinese design," Hu said.

She added that they also brought Chinese ink brush artist Chen Jiu in to refresh the brand's visual identity as inspired by classical Chinese opera to offer guests a more distinctive cultural experience.

Having witnessed the fast expansion of the Chinese travel industry over the past decade, Hu said they have observed great changes in Chinese travelers' habits and preferences.

"We have been accompanied by the meteoric rise of China and the rising pride and confidence in its traditional culture," she explained."With the market's rapid consumption upgrade, especially amid high-net-worth clients, we see accelerated demand for more personalized and high-quality travel experiences. This is creating huge potential in China's luxury hotel market."

She expressed confidence in the future growth of Hualuxe in China, citing potential opportunities coming from a favorable macro environment and pent-up demand.

"The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) has bolstered our confidence in our future development here," she noted. "Tourism has been set as one of the strategic pillars of the Chinese economy, while the dual-circulation development pattern and positive policies to promote consumption also bring more opportunities to the tourism industry and IHG."

In addition, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has revealed a series of measures to assist the integration of culture and tourism, which will translate into more opportunities for Hualuxe as it strives to establish itself as "a window for cultural communication", according to Hu.

Following the rebound in tourism during the Chinese New Year holiday, Hu said Hualuxe is expecting a continuous recovery of the local travel market in 2023 and is poised to capture the upward momentum.

"China has 20 percent of the global population. The sheer size and weight make China the dream market of the century," she said."Despite the challenging times of the past few years, we are confident that the continuous government policy support will strongly boost the high-quality, rapid rebound of the Chinese tourism industry.

"Our 'in China, for China' development strategy remains unchanged ... How we are advancing and evolving Hualuxe for the modern Chinese consumer is the best proof of our dedication to preserving Chinese aesthetics and sharing our local insights."


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