When Hong Kong’s Swire Properties opens EAST Miami in Florida, it will be the company’s first foray not only in the United States, but also its first step outside of China. The new hotel is located in a sprawling mixed-use development managed by Swire Properties called Brickell City Center. In China, Swire manages five other hotels.
Its boutique luxury hotel portfolio began with The Opposite House in Beijing in 2008, and most recently, The Temple House in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan Province. Swire also has properties in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and the EAST hotel chain has outposts in Hong Kong and Beijing.
Swire had been planning its Miami debut for about three years, and in terms of tapping into the Chinese tourism market, the timing seems to be right. Florida has long been a popular tourist destination, but the numbers of Chinese visitors surged only in the past few years.
Last month, CCTV America reported that one tourism group in South Florida experienced a 200 percent increase in Chinese mainland tourists in the last three years. The number of young Chinese independent travelers overall is also up, and they’re looking for more than just a shopping experience.
Swire Hotels aims to attract travelers like these, who are looking for engaging experiences on their trips, by “providing a characterful experience for well-traveled, individually minded travelers who seek originality, style, and personalized service.”
As in the case of its mainland properties, Swire Hotels is not just about providing a place to stay, but creating a lifestyle-focused one-stop shop, and EAST Miami is no exception. The hotel is part of a $1.05 billion project that includes the nine-acre Brickell City Center development featuring five stories of high-end brands, a fine dining movie theater, and more than 30 restaurants, the first phase of which is scheduled to open later this year.
Shops in the complex include common names like Saks Fifth Avenue, in addition to a handful of first-timers to the United States from South America. The complex also includes two residential towers and two office towers. Beyond Brickell City Center, visitors have easy access by subway to Miami’s vast number of attractions.
Inside the 352-room hotel, guests have access to a gym called BEAST (Body by EAST), which boasts high-tech workout equipment. In phase two of the project, visitors will be able to download the hotel’s health and wellness app, which allows visitors to keep up to date on BEAST’s gym programming.
In addition to the large number of dining spaces in the Brickell complex, guests can visit the hotel rooftop for Asian-inspired tapas and drinks at Sugar or dine on Uruguayan cuisine at Quinto La Huella. The latter is a branch of one of “Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015,” Uruguay’s Parador La Huella.
EAST Miami is only one of the numerous Asian-born luxury hotels that have expanded their brand internationally in the past five years. Hong Kong-based hospitality company Shangri-La has been expanding its global footprint, which includes hotels in Canada, Europe, and the UK, while the Peninsula Hotels, whose flagship is in Hong Kong, opened it’s first hotel in Paris last year.
With the number of outbound Chinese travelers on the rise (the increase was more than 12 percent in 2015), these hospitality brands can not only take advantage of new markets outside of Asia but give the Chinese outbound tourist a familiar place to kick back.