Thailand’s Anantara Recently Opened Xishuangbanna Resort
Joining a handful of pioneering luxury and boutique hoteliers, this month Thailand’s Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas launched its second China property in Xishuangbanna (西双版纳), Yunnan Province. Based in Bangkok and operating 25 Asia-Pacific and Middle East resorts (as well as its spa brand in Africa), Anantara has been in expansion mode for the past two years, focusing efforts on China, Vietnam, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Bali. By 2015, Anantara has announced plans to expand its network in the Middle East, Indian Ocean region and Asia-Pacific to 50 resorts in all.
Having opened Xishuangbanna’s first five-star resort, Anantara appears to be angling to gain a foothold in an eco-destination increasingly popular with China’s wealthy urban dwellers. Located one hour from Jinghong International Airport, Anantara Xishuanbanna sits alongside the Luosuo River, comprising 80 deluxe guest rooms and 23 one, two, and three-bedroom pool villas. Design and culinary accents at the resort feature highlights of local cultures, among them the Dai, Jinuo and Hani ethnic minorities.
In addition to “cultural tourism” — tea-picking trips with the Jinuo people or a home-cooked meal at a Dai village — guests can take part in leisure activities including mountain hiking, bird and wildlife spotting, and boat trips along the Luosuo River. The resort also includes the usual features, however, in an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, business center, and conference and event space.
Anantara isn’t the only hotelier with sights set on Yunnan’s growing appeal among well-heeled Chinese tourists. Singapore’s Banyan Tree currently operates two Yunnan resorts aimed squarely at the “eco-tourist” set, one in Ringha and another in Lijiang, and Accor’s upscale Pullman hotel brand opened a sprawling location in Lijiang in 2011. Owing to the similarities (geographical, linguistic and cultural) between the Thai and Dai minority people, we can expect that Anantara’s localization efforts for the Yunnan market to be more seamless and seem far less forced than those of some other hotel brands that have rushed into the region.