by Bruce Myint | January 01, 2004

Bright horizons: Victoria Cruises
navigates the Yangtze

The world’s most populous country, and the designated host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, China has become a magnet for foreign currency. In response to a growing stream of investment from around the world, the hospitality industry continues to blossom in the capital city of Beijing as well as cosmopolitan Shanghai and just about everywhere else in the country. 

Victoria Cruises,
which runs four- and nine-day sailings along China’s storied Yangtze River, upgraded two of its ships in 2003 and plans to add a new vessel to the fleet later this year. According to the company, scenic journeys through the famed Three Gorges will not be affected by the controversial Three Gorges Dam project, a massive public construction effort taking place downriver, near Yiching.

Two new dining options recently opened at the Grand Hyatt Beijing, a 531-room property in walking distance of the Forbidden City. The Redmoon is an after-hours wine and jazz bar. Made in China, a restaurant patterned after a traditional tea house, lets guests watch chefs perform in an open kitchen.
   The China World Hotel completed a $30 million renovation in October, which included a revamped lobby, a new first-floor lounge and updates of all 716 guest rooms. The hotel’s ballroom also was refurbished, along with its 18 function rooms. 
   TheShangri-La Hotel, Beijing, began a $72 million upgrade in August that included a redesign of all 657 guest rooms and public areas. In 2006, the property will add a 200-room tower with a grand ballroom and 18 meeting rooms.  
   The Palace Hotel in September was renamed the Peninsula Palace Beijing. As part of the change, the hotel added new dining options, remodeled its lobby and renovated all 530 guest rooms. 
   The 212-room Renaissance Beijing Hotel opened last January, featuring three meeting rooms and 4,800 square feet of function space. 
   The 478-room Crowne Plaza Park View Wuzhou Beijing opened in October next to the Beijing Convention Centre.

Perched on the 86th floor of the Grand Hyatt Shanghai dubbed “the highest hotel in the world” a new restaurant recently opened to the public. Master chefs at Club Jin Mao offer tempting Shanghai specialties as well as towering views of the city often referred to as “the Paris of the East.”
   Mainland China’s first JW Marriott opened in November. The 342-room JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai has 18,000 square feet of function space, two ballrooms and 13 meeting rooms. 
   The Renaissance Shanghai Pudong Hotel also debuted here recently. Near the New International Expo Center, the 375-room property offers a ballroom and five function rooms. 
   Following a renovation of its ballroom and meeting rooms, the 564-room Portman Ritz-Carlton recently installed wireless Internet access in its function areas.

The 492-room Kempinski Hotel Chengdu will open in April in this capital city of Sichuan province. Event space will accommodate groups of up to 800 people.
   The Shangri-La Hotel Chengdu is set to open in November 2006. With a 22,600-square-foot ballroom, the 580-room riverside property will feature the city’s largest event facilities.