"Hotelier" is a SmartShanghai column focusing on the hotels and hospitality industry in Shanghai. Sometimes we talk about what's opening and closing, sometimes we stay in them and review them, sometimes we just look at architectural renderings and salivate.
Shanghai is rapidly on pace to offering an even 1:1 ratio of jaw-dropping luxury five-star hotels per city residents with the projected opening of three new dazzling properties before the end of this year (or... you know, shortly thereafter). With the pyrotechnical openings of Wanda Reign, The St. Regis Jing'an, and W Shanghai already still fresh in our minds, it makes us wonder, does Shanghai need all these copious palaces of excess?
Short answer: Yes.
Bulgari Hotel Shanghai
Projected Opening: Late 2017
Location: Suhe Creek development area
What Is It: The original coming to us from the slightly sinister sounding British engineering and property development firm Sir Robert McAlpine — they also did the 2012 Olympic Stadium in London — the Bulgari Hotel and Residences has its original location in Knightsbridge, London and was erstwhile known to be the most expensive hotel to stay at in London. (The Savoy took that title over in the 2010s). The brand is, of course, of the LVMH portfolio (LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, that is), who represent the cream of the crop of European booze, fashion, perfume, cosmetics, jewelry, and specialized retailing.
Representing the luxury goods conglomerate, Bulgari is planning a bold eastward expansion in the next few years which also includes Bulgari Hotel and Residences in Beijing, Shanghai, and Dubai in 2017, and Moscow in 2019. The Shanghai branch is opening its doors in the Suhe Creek development area at the end of this year, which is east of Henan Lu and North Tiantong Lu, along the banks of the Suzhou River. Puxi side. North Bund. Back a bit along the river. Views for days. The renderings:
The Stats and Highlights: 82 rooms and suites that are located on the eight upper floor of the 40-story building, which is also home to The Bulgari Residences. Of note, 2000 square-meter spa and fitness center; the 480 square-meter ballroom. Yeah, you gotta have a few of those.
The F&B: Contemporary Italian cuisine of course filtered through Old World Italian luxury and style. It’s called “Il Ristorante” and is slated to offer up the requisite Bund view along with a huge wine list of over 500 labels.
Complimenting that, they’ve also got “Il Bar” and “Il Terrace”, which is a 180-degree terrace replete with cabanas, slated for DJ and live music performances. Very Shanghai.
Bellagio Hotel Shanghai
Projected Opening: Late 2017
Location: Suzhou Creek
What Is It: First announced back in 2012, and roundly reported to be opening in 2015, the Shanghai Bellagio is now finally getting their chips lined up. This Bellagio of that Bellagio pedigree — the world famous MGM Resorts hotel and casino Bellagio in Las Vegas. An icon in Vegas, the hotel and casino is roundly regarded as the biggest and the best in the city. Remember the fountain scene in Ocean’s 11? That’s the Bellagio.
One striking design point: There’s no actual casino in the Shanghai branch. Casino gambling is illegal in China. Instead this one’s focusing on the style and luxuriousness of the building itself, incorporating it’s oft-celebrated classic Italian design to local elements. And maybe serving as a jumping off point to Macao.
Stats and Highlights: 162 rooms, with suites attended by personal butlers. A 400-square-meter Presidential Suite, with its very own home theater. 1,800 square meter events and banquet space. 700 meter Grand Ballroom.
The F&B: “LAGO by Julian Serrano”. A “casual chic” Italian restaurant from a world acclaimed American chef — two James Beard Foundation Awards for Best Chef Southwest in 2002 and Best Chef California in 1998. Sounds intense.
“Italian Futurism inspired the design, emphasizing both experimentation and dynamism. The space manipulates perceptions of time and space, beginning at the elevator bank where guests are greeted by an iridescent blast of color and light. A sculptural host stand at the end of a portal-like corridor is clad with dozens of blue crystalline fins that reflect off custom marble floors in hues of white and blue.”
The Shanghai Edition
Projected Opening: “Premiering 2018.”
Location: Puxi. 201 Nanjing Xi Lu, Henan Lu.
What Is It:
The “anti-hotel chain” hotel chain. With locations in London, Miami, New York, Bangkok, Barcelona, and soon to be Shanghai, Edition is of a newer breed of boutique hotel, which seeks to provide “individual experiences” against their already established luxury boutique brand. Read: It’s hip. It’s trendy. It’s current. It’s modern. It seeks to provide legit entertainment — nightlife, arts, culture, music — programming at the venue itself, with guests coming in specifically to be at the entertainment venues and then staying in the rooms afterwards. You don’t have to leave to go out and find the dinner and the party in Shanghai; it’s a one-stop shop kind of deal.
Created by Studio 54 founder Ian Schrager and Marriott International, Edition is emblematic of what a certain future of hospitality — which is to say, it wants to be what hotels used to be: social hubs integrated into the arts, culture, lifestyle, and music of a given host city, serving it back to them.
Stats and Highlights: Edition Shanghai will have two separate towers featuring 145 guest rooms. The highlights are the bars, so we’ll just jump to those.
The F&B: “A signature Japanese restaurant, a Cantonese dining venue, an all-day dining venue, 3 lounge bars, an indoor nightlife venue, and 2 rooftop bars.” So bar, bar, bar, bar, bar, nightclub. Shanghai needs a few more bars…
Elsewhere Around Town: Hilton Shanghai to Close Its Doors
Big changes in Shanghai folks. The brand of Paris Hilton is making their Shanghai exit as soon as January 1st of 2018.
Hilton Shanghai was the first foreign 5-star hotel to come to Shanghai back in 1987, where the property opened with foreign bakers, chefs, butchers, and more. Back in the day, Shanghai's expat population didn't have CityShops to saunter over to, and so the Hilton Lobby shop became a popular destination for baked goods, sausages, etc. The hotel was known as the official caterer for F1 having served over 15,000 in-house made sausages one weekend, and 56,000 meals during the week of the Shanghai Tennis Masters (which incidentally, is the hotel where the players would stay year after year).
Now after its 30-year run, the property is transitioning over to its new operators, confirmed as the Jin Jiang Hotel Group. Inside sources currently working at the hotel have informed us that Jin Jiang will be rebranding the property, after their Kunlun Beijing Hotel.