If you’re not a subscriber to the monthly newsletters released by the China National Tourist Office (CNTO), then you should be. Travel and tourism news from the CNTO has revealed a slew of new goings-on, from tourism initiatives to new hotels. Some of these happenings include:
- In October, a new $50 million visitor center was unveiled at the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO site located in the desert city of Dunhuang in Northwest China. The 492 caves feature more than 2,000 sculptures and almost 485,000 sq. ft. of ancient murals.
- American Airlines hopes to operate a new nonstop flight to Beijing from Dallas/Fort Worth this May. The route will be the first nonstop flight between the two cities; and United Airlines recently announced plans to increase flights from San Francisco to Shanghai and Chengdu this summer.
- Shanghai Disney Resort is expected to open in spring of 2016. The park will include Shanghai Disneyland, the 420-room Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel.
- In an effort to make travel to China for business and leisure easier, the U.S. and Chinese governments agreed late last year to issue longer-term visas for tourism, business and education. The new policy extends the visas to 10 years.
- China is kicking off a new marketing initiative to promote the Silk Road route. The new theme, Beautiful China 2015—Year of Silk Road Tourism, will focus on the Silk Road as the country’s newest alluring destination for visitors.
Yaping Xue, director for the CNTO in New York, says that tourism to China “continues to grow with renewed interest from North American travelers, particularly in emerging destinations and attractions outside the ever popular sites in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.” He also notes that several “new upscale hotel developments have kept pace with the increase in demand, while fleet upgrades from Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and other Chinese and major local airlines, are making it easier than ever to get to and from China.”
Ritz Tours’ new 10-day China Charm tour leads travelers to Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Shanghai (rates start from $1,800 pp with international airfare from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston; JFK departures add $100 to the rate). Highlights include a trek along the Great Wall and exploring Beijing’s imperial monuments, such as the Forbidden City, which was the former seat of Ming and Qing emperors, and the Palace Museum; a cruise on Hangzhou’s West Lake; a visit to Yuantouzhu Park and Lake Tai in Wuxi; and a city tour of Shanghai.
Wendy Wu is offering new China tours under its Premier Collection portfolio, which are enhanced tours with upgraded hotels, gourmet meals, and unique immersion experiences—the best part is there are only 18 guests in a Premier tour and each tour includes a national escort (or concierge, if you will) and a local guide. The Premier Collection tours include the 10-day Best of China itinerary ($3,890 pp) visiting Beijing, Xian, and Chengdu; the 14-day Exquisite China tour ($4,990 pp) goes to Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, and Shanghai and includes a Yangtze river cruise; the 16-day Legends of China tour ($5,590 pp) visiting Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Yangshuo, with a Yangtze river cruise and tour of Shanghai; and the 18-day Spirit of the Yangtze itinerary ($5,490 pp), which also includes a cruise along the Yangtze River for six days in a Victoria Cruises’ Superior Cabin, and tours to Beijing, Xian, Chengdu and Shanghai. Luxury accommodations throughout the tour include stays in Shangri-La, Ritz-Carlton and Sofitel hotels.
Speaking of properties, China’s hotel scene welcomed its first Aloft property, the Aloft Dongguan. The hotel, located along Songshan Lake in Southern China and a Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ brand, features 193 guestrooms, the brand’s signature w xyz bar, Re:mix lounge, and Re:fuel by Aloft, the hotel’s 24/7, grab-and-go eatery. The hotel also features an onsite restaurant, Nook, and a fitness center. Designed with millennials in mind, the hotel also features its SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) Keyless technology, a mobile keyless entry system that allows guests to use their smartphones as a guestroom key. Aloft Dongguan will also offer its Arf program—a pet-friendly service for dogs under 40 lbs. A special introductory rate of $79 per night is available through June 2015. Meanwhile, Starwood’s Le Meridien Jiaonan Resort will open this fall in Qingdao, a seaside city in the southeast section of China’s Shandong Province; it will feature 250 guestrooms.
Major hotel brand Marriott not only saw the opening of its JW Marriott Hotel Chongqing in December, but in February, the JW Marriott Hotel Shenzhen Bao’an welcomed guests to its 356-guestroom property located in the center of Shenzhen Bao’an District, a 15-minute drive from Shenzhen International Airport and Shenzhen Bay Port.
The hotel offers panoramic views of Qianhai Bay and the Pearl River Delta; The Shenzhen Kitchen serves cuisine from China, India, Japan and Europe; the Bayview Restaurant on the top floor of the hotel offers views of Qianhai Bay; there’s a Waterfall Spa with treatments from body scrubs to foot baths, massages and Ayurvedic treatments; a fitness center; outdoor and indoor heated swimming pools; and guestroom amenities that include Internet access, a mini bar, and a 42-inch HDTV. Starting rates are $192 per night.
We’ve got a few more China tours highlighted on our website. Take a peek at recommend.com.
Archived related articles (available on recommend.com/magazine/issue archive): New Hotels, Abroad (December 2014)
Aloft Dongguan: starwoodhotels.com
China National Tourism Office: cnto.org
JW Marriott Hotel Shenzhen Bao’an: marriott.com
Ritz Tours: ritztours.com
Shanghai Disney Resort: shanghaidisneyresort.com.cn
Wendy Wu: wendywutours.com