The Sofitel Kunming (Image: PR)
As Jing Daily wrote last month, Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, is fast becoming one of the most exciting high-end markets in southwest China. Though some may be confused why a luxury brand would choose to set up shop in a city where annual urban income averages only around 5,726 yuan (US$882), the fact that Louis Vuitton is set to open its largest location in the region at Kunming's Gingko Center mall, an ever-increasing number of Chinese celebrities are buying vacation homes in the area, and demand has now pushed the price for a bottle of Chateau Lafite in Kunming to 20,000 yuan (US$3,080), the rationale starts to become a little clearer.
For international hoteliers, which have taken to the China market with aplomb--Starwood announced this week that it plans to open a new hotel every two weeks in China this year--Yunnan Province in general and Kunming specifically have become hot targets. Late last month, the Thai luxury hotelier Anantara announced that it will open its first China resort in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna prefecture, and other chains like Accor's Pullman and Singapore's Banyan Tree have recently opened sprawling Yunnan resorts aimed at the well-heeled, ecotourism-inclined set. This week, France's Sofitel (also owned by Accor) announced plans to enter the Yunnan market with its first resort in Kunming. Destined for the heart of the city's downtown area, the 405-room hotel, which is expected to be one of the most luxurious in the city, will open in 2014.
According to a company statement, the Sofitel Kunming will feature three restaurants and two bars, a large pillar-free ballroom and a multi-function room, eight meeting rooms, the group’s signature So SPA, a fitness center, executive lounge, business center and an indoor swimming pool. Owing to its central location, though, tourists will have as many options as business travelers. The popular tourist site of Dian Lake is only about 15 minutes from the hotel, while the Luosi Bay Central Business District, a new commercial and leisure area somewhat akin to Shanghai's Xintiandi, will be fully up and running by the time the Sofitel opens its doors.
As Markland Blaiklock, Senior Vice President of Sofitel Asia Pacific, said this week, “We look forward to opening this new Sofitel in Kunming, the biggest city of the Southwest frontier of China and one which is famous for its rich history, culture and tourism. With this additional presence, Sofitel Luxury Hotels will have a total of 27 hotels in Greater China including upcoming projects in Sanya, Haikou and Lianyungang which will come on line in the next three years."