China’s wealthy consumers are increasingly desiring more value for their money in the form of experiences, so it comes hardly as a surprise that 81 percent of travelers in a Hurun Report survey named resorts as their favorite source of accommodation. But resort brands aren’t only seeing success from Chinese travelers abroad. In recent years, luxury hoteliers have been tapping into China’s growing domestic tourism market and the country’s diverse and scenic landscapes. Below are 10 popular and emerging destinations for high-end resorts and vacation properties across China.
Photo: Fuyu Liu / Shutterstock
Sanya, located on the south side of China’s Hainan Island, has been a no-brainer locale for many of the hospitality industry’s major luxury resort players, mainly for its proximity to beaches and a culture for water sports. Hainan is often called the “Hawaii of China”, but CNN Travel recently suggested that the area is also much like Dubai, given the massive amount of futuristic and elaborate five-star resorts that are coming to the area.
Tourism has seen a resurgence in Sanya as the government has doubled down on efforts to encourage wealthy Chinese consumers to spend at home. Hainan is home to the world’s biggest duty-free mall, and in 2016 removed its cap on luxury spending, likely contributing to a resurgence in domestic luxury spending this year. The local tourism board hasn’t let up on its efforts to bring visitors — it recently launched a VR platform on WeChat to let prospective travelers glean 360-degree views of the island.
Hangzhou’s West Lake is part of what makes the city a major tourist attraction, prompting luxury hoteliers to establish a presence in the coveted area. Aman Resorts chose Hangzhou for its second luxury destination in mainland China—the 42-room Amanfayun. It was Hangzhou where Banyan Tree opened its fourth spa and resort in China in 2009, and Chaptel and Seven Villas, both properties by Relais & Châteaux, are also in the city.
Even local hoteliers are adding their own flavor to the resort scene—last year, the sustainability-focused Qiandai Resort opened its doors on Jing Mountain, famous for its tea. Most of the design elements in the resort, including the wooden furniture and stone structures, were upcycled or locally sourced.
Overall, Hangzhou is a hub for art and design, and boasts a large history in silk-making, making it especially attractive for luxury tourists.
With Beijing’s Winter Olympics just five years out, China’s government has been well underway with efforts in boosting the nation’s winter sports industry. Changbaishan, a mountain range in China’s Jilin Province, is a popular hub for skiing and other winter sports. One of the more well-known ski resorts in the region is Changbaishan International Resort, run by the Wanda Group. The property includes the Park Hyatt, The Westin, and several other hotel properties.
But Changbaishan isn’t the only destination for ski enthusiasts—Harbin recently welcomed what’s being called the world’s largest indoor ski facility, the 861-square-foot Ice and Snow Park as part of Wanda Group’s 40 billion RMB, four-year project Harbin Wanda City.
Yunnan is a well-established tourist destination for both international and local Chinese travelers, so it’s no surprise that Lijiang is home to several major resort properties, including Amandayan, Banyan Tree, and LUX* Tea Horse Road. These resorts set themselves apart from the rest of the tourism in the region by offering luxury travelers more tailored experiences—for example, LUX* offers private multi-day excursions and cooking classes, while Aman offers travelers an escape from the touristy areas and crowds with suites at the top of a hill overlooking Lijiang’s Old Town.
Another hugely popular tourist destination in Yunnan, Xishuangbanna has been a magnet for resorts including Banyan Tree and Thailand’s Anantara Hotels, Resorts, and Spas, as well as Dalian Wanda, which unveiled a USD2.5 billion theme park there in 2015—the company’s first of many in China. Wanda also made plans to open 19 Wanda Plazas across the entirety of Yunnan, catering to both local and traveling middle-class consumers.
While Shanghai’s urban sprawl is still a spot for new luxury hotel openings, the surrounding areas of the city make for great getaways for wealthy Chinese locals. Resorts like the new Ahn Luh in the nearby water village of Zhujiajiao are aiming to attract high-end clientele with suites that cost as much as RMB 36,000 per night featuring amenities like heated floors, private pools in some rooms, and manicured gardens. Moganshan, a two-hour drive from Shanghai and a historical spot for wealthy summer vacationers, has an even more upscale reputation—La Residence offers weekend villa rentals for nearly USD 30,000 (RMB 198,000).
On heavily polluted days, it’s not uncommon for wealthy Beijing residents to want to escape the city, but they don’t necessarily have to travel far. In 2014, Kempinski unveiled its scallop-shaped hotel at Beijing’s Yanqi Lake to much media hype. The Great Wall also attracts luxury properties, including The Commune, formerly operated by the Kempinski, and the locally run Brickyard Eco Retreat at Mutianyu.
The capital of Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, Guiyang is not exactly known as a luxury shopping destination, but that hasn’t stopped Anantara from being the first international resort to open a property in the city, taking advantage of its sub-tropical climate and lush forests to attract tourists who want to get away. While the resort gives travelers access to hot springs, hiking, waterfalls, and rich culture, the scenery also makes high-end outdoor weddings a major focus for the resort.
Qing Cheng Mountain
Five-star resort operator Six Senses chose China’s Qing Cheng Mountain as its first China property. The property features 11 villas and 102 suites, many of which wrap around serene courtyards, and the resort boasts an organic garden on its property. Qing Cheng Mountain is located in Chengdu, a city that’s seeing a rapid rise in luxury development in its urban center, including Swire Properties’ Taikoo Li shopping area and The Temple House boutique hotel.
Anhui Province is one to watch as a growing destination for luxury tourists wanting a nature-filled escape into the mountains. It’s known for the limestone-filled Mount Huangshan, a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts tourists from all over the world. In 2015, Banyan Tree opened a resort in the region and has since been working to encourage tourists to buy a home in one of its luxurious residences. The resort currently attracts most of its vacation-goers from Shanghai and Hangzhou, as it’s located just five and four-hour drives away respectively.
A version of this article first appeared in Jing Daily.
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Keywords: luxury travel China high end resorts China
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Sanya: land of fake seafood and restaurants with multiple menus. Save your money, go to the Philippines/Thailand. Lijiang: formerly a beautiful, remote location to get away from the crowds (10-15 years ago), currently over-run with Dalu ren and a massively overrated/overpriced tourist trap. Not an "authentic" experience. Avoid if at all possible. Shanghai... Seriously? Beijing: Toxic air and massive crowds? Sign me up!! Visit for the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven... you will get a lovely view of... people.
Nov 03, 2017 11:13 Report Abuse