Currently unknown to Americans, a Beijing-based luxury hotel brand in China aims to take on the big chains with an ambitious hotel-opening plan and a stated commitment to working with U.S. travel agents.
The Ahn Luh brand, founded by a group that includes Adrian Zecha, a founder of Amanresorts, currently has four upscale hotels under development in China.
Akira Moreno, Ahn Luh's CEO, said Ahn Luh's brand philosophy is that the environment and setting "strongly influence the design of each hotel." Its hotels will be "in the upper tier of the luxury segment," sharing similar principles to Aman but on a larger scale.
Moreno said that Ahn Luh's hotels are set apart from more recognizable, Western brands by their "Chinese-inspired concept," found in the design, decor, cuisine, recreational activities and service standards.
"A stay at an Ahn Luh will aim to offer a cultural experience in addition to all the creature comforts of a luxury hotel," he said. "Our point of differentiation will be a key attractor as opposed to the traditional Western-based concepts, which are common across the luxury hospitality sector."
The Ahn Luh brand launched one year ago. Moreno said the company would pay standard commissions to U.S. travel agents, citing a commitment to the U.S. trade.
"We definitely intend to work with a very select group of specialized travel agents with expertise in promoting brands of our caliber," Moreno said.
The group's first hotel under development will be the Ahn Luh Dujiangyan, an 80-room property located in the Sichuan province near the Unesco World Heritage sites of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System and Mount Qingcheng. Each room will feature views of the mountain.
Its second property is slated to be a 100-room island beach resort on Xunliao Bay near Shenzhen, scheduled to debut in 2016. The property will feature a Chinese restaurant, a beach bar, a tai chi center, an Ahn Luh spa and Ahn Luh Library.
Last month, the group signed deals for two more hotels to open by 2015. Ahn Luh Lanting in Shaoxing, 30 minutes from Hangzhou, is scheduled to debut in 2014 with 99 rooms built into 35 heritage houses. Ahn Luh Zhujiajiao, slated for a spring 2015 debut in a suburb of Shanghai, will consist of 35 villas built in traditional Chinese style, along with a museum, library, meetings space, spa and tai chi center.
Moreno said Ahn Luh's long-term strategy is to export the brand outside of China, once it has established a strong base of hotels and successfully launched as a brand.
For more information, visit www.ahnluh.com.
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