With the 2008 Summer Olympics just months away, and Beijing undergoing an aggressive upgrade of its tourism facilities before the arrival of millions of athletes and visitors, Ritz-Carlton in December opened its third property in China, in the central business district of Beijing at China Central Place.
"We are pleased to open our third China hotel in Beijing, a city which has undergone an impressive transformation as both a major commercial center and a world-class tourism attraction," said Simon Cooper, Ritz-Carlton's president and chief operating officer.
The company also manages hotels on Beijing's Financial Street and in Shanghai. Expansion plans include hotels in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Sanya, Macau, Hong Kong and the Pudong district in Shanghai.
The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing is located on Chang An Avenue, adjacent to the Shin Kong Place shopping center.
The hotel sports an interior unique to Beijing: It is inspired by English country manors. Designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates of Atlanta, the decor is reminiscent of the 18th century, with Chippendale-style furnishings and beveled-glass entry doors.
The reception area boasts chandeliers, area rugs and white marble floors accented with rose and yellow stone. Wooden paneling is offset by light, damask upholstery.
Guest rooms and suites also follow the country manor theme, with color palettes of butter yellow and apple green. Classic furnishings are accompanied by high-tech amenities such as flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations and wireless Internet connectivity.
Club-level accommodations offer private elevator access, multilingual concierge services and a dedicated lounge with frequent food-and-beverage service.
The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing offers a spa, more than 14,000 square feet of meetings space and three on-site restaurants. Aroma, just off the lobby, is an all-day dining venue with five open kitchens serving international cuisine: Indian, Japanese, Southeast Asian, Chinese and a Western grill.
Barolo, a contemporary Italian restaurant, has a wine tasting room and private wine cellar. Cantonese restaurant Yu offers six private dining rooms and a "tea master" to suggest tea accompaniments to each meal.
The hotel's lobby lounge offers a daily high tea as well as all-day snacks and beverages. The Ritz-Carlton Bar serves up cocktails and light snacks to the accompaniment of nightly Latin jazz.
Appropriately enough for a property designed to mimic a British estate, the majority of the multilingual hotel staff speaks English. General Manager Manfred Weber and Executive Chef Oliver Reschreiter both hail from Austria and speak English and German. Laurent Bourgeois, the Belgium-born director of food and beverage, is fluent in English and French.
All members of the sales and marketing team, headed up by Don Lau and Ivy Yeung from Hong Kong, speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese. The director of communications, Kaarin Lindsay, is from Australia and is, naturally, a native English speaker.
Most staff in restaurants, the front office and the concierge desk are fluent in English and several Chinese dialects, easing guest interactions.
The 305-unit Ritz-Carlton, Beijing is offering introductory rates as low as $200 per night through Feb. 29. For more info on the hotel, visit www.ritzcarlton.com.