Closer to nature, Yunnan Province attracts hotel investors

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There’s little wonder as to why China’s Yunnan Province is growing in popularity as a travel destination. Boasting snow-capped mountains, alpine landscapes, pristine lakes, and wonderful mountain valleys, the sights here are utterly spectacular. Many visitors to Yunnan come to see the old town in Lijiang, and to experience the magical realm of Shangri La. The capital of the Yunnan Province is Kunming, and since many tours in the area start here, you might choose a Yunnan lodging spot here. Perhaps you’ll want to stay in Shangri-La, and there certainly are some great Lijiang hotels worth considering. For those who like nightlife, the Yunnan town of Ruili offers a list of bars, casinos, and discotheques. The hotels in Yunnan offer options to fit most budgets and tastes, with the abundant guesthouses among the cheapest Yunnan accommodation choices. The following recommendations for Yunnan hotels aim to help you find the right accommodations for you on your upcoming trip South of the Clouds.

As mentioned, there are quite a few nice Lijiang hotels to choose from when looking for Yunnan lodging options, and among them is the luxurious Banyan Tree Lijiang. Hotels in Yunnan rarely come this nice, so if you have room in the budget, you might splurge to enjoy a wonderful Yunnan lodging experience. An architectural masterpiece and 5-star hotel, the Banyan Tree is setting new standards for not only the Lijiang hotels, but for all the hotels in Yunnan Province and in China overall. The villas here are all spacious and sumptuous, and they come with a long list of amenities that include, but certainly aren’t limited to, cable TV, an in-room safe, a mini-stereo, a DVD player, a work desk, and coffee and tea making facilities. The evening turndown service is an added plus, and you can even choose from different pillow options for a great night’s sleep. Outside of the gracious villas is a nice heated outdoor pool, a welcome spa, a nice restaurant, a fitness center, and a tennis court. If you don’t have DVD’s with you, there are some to select from in the hotel library, and for those looking to enjoy the scenery, you can book tours through the hotel that include guided hikes and horseback riding excursions, among others. The service here is top notch, and all things considered, it’s hard to top the Banyan Tree Lijiang when looking for luxurious Yunnan hotels.

Resting at the base of the Songtsam Lama Temple in Shangri-La, is the elegant Songtsam Hotel. Perhaps not as luxurious as the Banyan Tree Lijiang, the Songtsam is not too far behind. A boutique hotel, there are only 22 rooms at this excellent Yunnan lodging option, some of which are delectable suites. Locally-made furnishings grace each room, be it standard or a luxury suite, and the classic Tibetan fabrics and carpets throughout help to give the hotel its authentic and charming appeal. The suites here have internet connections, while all rooms feature cable TV, IDD telephones, a CD player, and tea making wares. The bathrooms are tiled and offer flushing toilets. Plans are in the works to finish a new hotel wing here that will feature villa accommodations, and you might even find these villas finished and available by the time you take your upcoming Yunnan trip. A peaceful hotel that more than warrants the fairly high prices, it’s hard to beat the Songtsam Hotel when looking for hotels in Yunnan that are specifically in Shangri-La.


There are plenty of affordable and darn cheap Yunnan lodging options, but for golfers coming to the area, it’s worth it to splurge on the luxurious, and coincidentally pricy, Spring City Golf & Lake Resort in the Yunnan capital of Kunming. You’re actually pretty well outside of the Kunming when you stay at this 5-star Yunnan lodging pick, but that doesn’t bother most. Though you might be halfway across the planet when staying at this elegant golf resort, you’ll be happy to know that the two championship courses here were designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones Jr. Racking up awards and accolades for excellence, the Spring City Resort is arguably the best golf club in the entire country, and it makes a case for consideration as one of the best in the world when it all comes down to it. If you’re not golfing, you can hit the Spring City spa, or perhaps fit a quick workout in at the gym. There are some 43 deluxe rooms to choose from here, as well as a half-dozen suites. Villas are also available for those looking for added space and flexibility. Guest amenities standard throughout include satellite cable TV, a mini-bar, a safe deposit box, and king-size beds. The cozy villa options offer extra-rich furnishings, and you simply won’t want for amenities.

Dali is another one of the neat cities in Yunnan worth hanging out in, and you’ll find some nice Yunnan lodging options here to suit your fancy. Among the most recommendable is the Regent Hotel, which is not to be confused with the Regent Hotel chain. The Regent Hotel Dali is close enough to the airport, bus stand, and railway station to make it pretty convenient, and getting to the central market and a list of restaurants is easily accomplished by foot. Recent renovations have helped to bring this nice luxury Yunnan accommodation a better overall feel, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to book a room in the new wing. Extra comfortable beds are just one guest amenity that makes a stay here rewarding, and other amenities include air-conditioning, a mini-bar, satellite cable TV, IDD phones, a hair dryer, and internet access. The private bathrooms are quite nice, offering a separate shower and bath tub. There are 3 restaurants here to choose from, and the swimming pool and sauna are nice for when you have some down time. Room service is available should you want to dine in, and it’s quite convenient to be able to choose between single, double, twin, triple, and suite guest rooms. Certainly one of the nicer hotels in Dali, the Regent Hotel is also one of the finer hotels in Yunnan.

With the hotel markets in China’s top tier cities increasingly crowded, investors are now shifting their focus to the more nature-friendly and idyllic locales.

Since 2000 a number of international luxury resort brands have arrived in Yunnan Province, which is roughly the size of California and home to China’s greatest geographic, biological and ethnic diversity, as well as some of its most pristine nature.

Brands that include Banyan Tree, Pullman and Anantara have all opened properties in the province while local brands led by Tibetan-themed Songtsam have also built up a strong presence.Intercontinental has recently moved into the market, as have numerous domestic players such as Wanda Group.

Near the center of Yunnan and not far from neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar and home to one of China’s busiest airports, Yunnan’s capital of Kunming has benefited from leisure tourists passing through on their way to other destinations across Yunnan and taking advantage of the city’s growing role as a China-Southeast Asia business hub.

“Kunming will continue to be perceived as a valuable option for both leisure and business travel for FIT and MICE groups due to its pleasant climate, natural beauty, improving accessibility – both nationally and internationally – and much better air quality compared to many other cities in China,” said Mark van Leeuwen, general manager of the Wanda Vista Kunming, in the city’s downtown.

To capitalize upon its natural advantages, Kunming needs to leverage its strengths into new areas, van Leeuwen said.

“It is important that Kunming, as a destination, further increases the opportunities and competitiveness to host large events to establish itself even stronger as a city able to successfully host national and international sports, cultural and/or government events,” he said.

Challenges Remain
Despite its numerous advantages compared to less pleasant and more polluted parts of China, Yunnan’s hotel industry has still felt some of the pinch from recent shifts in the Chinese hotel space.

“Yunnan’s tourist numbers are growing each year, but high-end tourist numbers for the five-star luxury hotels are growing relatively slower,” said van Leeuwen, citing figures from the Yunnan Hotel Association. “What is certain, however, is that there will be an increasing number of 5-star luxury hotels from different international hotel groups in the coming years, which will increase the competitive pressure among those hotels.”

In early November, China International Travel Mart (CITM), China’s largest annual tourism and hospitality exhibition, concluded in Kunming, capital of the southwestern province of Yunnan. During CITM, more than RMB80 billion ($12.5 billion) in contracts targeting tourism in China were signed.

Much of the investment announced at this year’s CITM was focused on Yunnan’s growing role as China’s strategic bridgehead into Southeast Asia. A high-speed rail network linking Kunming and Singapore that is under construction will eventually transform Kunming into China’s gateway for overland travel to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore.

The tropical border prefecture of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan’s south has been a major focus of hospitality investment recently. It made headlines this year with the opening of Wanda International Resort Xishuangbanna, a massive $2.4 billion theme park and resort development featuring three resort hotels. Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin, Asia’s richest man, said that his company plans to invest an additional RMB95 billion in tourism and other businesses in Yunnan in the coming four years.

With 13 million tourist visits annually, Xishuangbanna is but the newest rising star in the constellation of popular travel destinations in Yunnan province. Cities including Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-la attract millions of visitors each year, from both China and abroad. Other destinations including Tengchong and Lugu Lake are well known to Chinese but still off the beaten path for international tourism.


Source: Hotel Management Management Magazine

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