Last year was a good one for Shangri-La hotels. The Hong Kong-based
luxury hotel group, whose name was inspired by the mystical land
featured in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon, announced its
50th hotel opening; its CEO, Giovanni Angelini, picked up the
Hotels magazine Corporate Hotelier of the Year award; and the group
rose from 43rd to 38th on the Top 300 Hotels Ranking.
But expect more to come as Shangri-La plans its North American
“Until now, we have focused very much on China and Asia as a
home base,” said Martin F. Waechter, chief marketing officer for
Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts. “But between 2008 and 2010, we
will go to both North America and Europe.”
Shangri-La’s globalization strategy began at the turn of the
millennium, and its 49 hotels (totaling 23,000 rooms under the
five-star Shangri-La and four-star Traders brands) are now spread
across Asia, as well as in Australia and the Middle East. Forty new
projects are now under development in Canada, China, France, India,
Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Qatar, Seychelles,
Thailand, UAE, United Kingdom and the United States.
Having opened its first hotel in Singapore in 1971, Shangri-La
initially grew slowly, before opening in Hong Kong in 1981, and in
mainland China (in Hangzhou) in 1984. Unlike many international
groups, Shangri-La’s business model is primarily ownership based it
owns 36 of its 49 hotels. However, just like most hotel groups, it
is now heavily China-focused.
“China is the most important market for Shangri-La; 45 percent
of our total revenues are there, and that will grow,” Waechter
The company aims to double its China presence to 40 hotels by
2010, with ownership being a key factor.
“This is significant in China, particularly for the brand,”
Waechter said. “If you own and operate, it is easier to retain
China, he added, is developing as a domestic market along
similar lines to the U. S.
“In 10 to 15 years, China will resemble the United States in
travel patterns, with key gateway international cities but also key
domestic and regional travel,” he said.
This concentration on China forms part of the global strategy,
“We want to be seen as an international hotel group,” Waechter
said, “but one with an understanding of the expectations of Chinese
and Asian travelers.”
Four North American hotels in Vancouver, Miami, Chicago and Las
Vegas have been announced, as well as two in Europe (Paris and
“It is likely we will have four or five hotels in Europe and 10
in North America in the foreseeable future.” Waechter said. “We
want to be present in gateway cities where Chinese and Asian
travelers are going to travel in the future. People will look for a
Inbound traffic into Asia is another consideration.
“European and North American markets also have great future
potential for travel to Asia,” Waechter said. “Eighteen percent of
our total hotel business comes from Europe, without us having a
hotel in that continent, and 13 percent from North America. With a
presence in those markets, we can communicate more to people.”
New York, Frankfurt and Vienna are among the cities under
consideration for future openings.
There’s also the possibility of another brand in the future to
boost the group’s portfolio in an increasingly marque-centered
“Brands are very important in today’s world,” Waechter said.
“The Shangri-La name itself was inspired by James Hilton’s book,
which is about hospitality to strangers in a paradise setting.”
Vancouver, 2008: 120-room hotel in a new 62-floor landmark
building, the city’s tallest, one block from West Georgia and
|SHANGRI-LA’S NEW PROPERTIES|
Chicago, 2009: 222-room hotel at the 90-floor
Waterview Tower, at the corner of West Wacker Drive and Clark
Miami, 2009: 147-room hotel on Biscayne Bay,
part of the $480 million Island Gardens project.
Las Vegas, 2010: 400-room property, part of the
63-acre Echelon Place development on the Strip.
Paris, 2009: 104-room hotel in the renovated
historic palais of Prince Roland Bonaparte.
London, 2011: 195-room hotel in the 70-floor
London Bridge Tower, which will be Europe’s tallest building.
Toronto, 2011: 220-room hotel on University
Avenue at Adelaide Street, within walking distance of central