3 HOTELS BRANDS IN CHINA WHO’VE STARTED A LOVE AFFAIR WITH FOOD
You might have already noticed that hotels in Asia – especially those in the Greater China area – are putting a lot of effort into the dining experience.
Yes, we might all love our food, but in Asia, there’s more to it than that. Food over in the East takes the place of drink in Europe and America: it is the social lubricant to help make, strengthen and maintain connections.
And in recent years, the search for local food has risen to the first priority spot on travellers’ checklists. So, it is only fitting that we introduce three luxury hotels turned F&B hotspots in China that are well worth a look.
In 2013, Intercontinental Hotel Group created Hualuxe, a brand tailored to Chinese travellers. Until recently, there has been seven Hualuxe hotels in mainland China – all of which are based in cities, and are well-known for their food.
The concept of Hualuxe is all about delivering hospitality that is in keeping with the tastes of their Chinese guests – and one of the ways they deliver this is through food and drink: coffee is replaced with Chinese tea; international cuisines are only served at the all-day buffet; and all other hotel restaurants serve local Chinese plates.
Last year, Hualuxe teamed up with a group of food critics to help develop a menu that would appeal to the most distinguished foodies in China. The group of critics are the talents behind the popular documentary series, A Bite of China, which focused on traditional cuisines and ingredients around China. More importantly, though, these films explored the connections between food and people in traditional Chinese culture.
The menu created for Hualuxe uses traditional ingredients. Their chefs use the most basic of methods to cook the dishes in order to create authentic home cooking.
Each time my friends ask me where to find authentic Chinese food abroad, I always tell them to go and check out the Chinese restaurant at a Shangri-La in town.
Why? Because Shangri-La knows how to satisfy Chinese guests’ stomachs. For the past 34 years, the hotel brand has contributed quite a few gems to China’s best finest dining experiences: just take a look at Shang Palace, a brand known for serving the crème de la crème of Chinese cuisine. You can enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine at any Shang Palace around the world. (We can vouch for the quality of the peking duck at the Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi – it’s a mouthwatering dish that tastes just as great as the duck that’s served at the Shangri-La hotel in Beijing!)
Plus, in late-2016, Shangri-La introduced “The Table” – an F&B loyalty programme that allows guests to earn points when they dine at any restaurant or bar at a Shangri-La hotel or resort. (This point system is fully integrated with Shangri-La’s “Golden Circle” loyalty programme.) The concept behind this initiative is to “feed your mood”, demonstrating the dynamism that can be brought to the hotel fine dining experience. To this end, all Shangri-La restaurants and bars are categorised into five moods – elegant, intimate, upbeat, chill and adventurous. Dining packages constantly pop up as part of the programme, which guests are free to book online.
The Shangri-La hotels in Shanghai and Beijing have also created venues outside of their hotel walls that aim not only to cater to travellers, but also to locals. In Beijing and Shanghai, you’ll find find Sweet Spot, the bakery of Shangri-La in shopping malls. Other foodie hotspots include a salad bar and noodle bar, which are spread over Shanghai and Beijing’s central areas.
Four Seasons might be a Canadian hospitality company, but they sure do know how to curate dining experiences for Chinese customers. Four Seasons Hong Kong sets a benchmark for the F&B scene not only in the Greater China area, but also in the global market. With two Michelin-starred restaurants – one of which is headed up by the world’s first Chinese chef who’s earned three Michelin stars – this hotbed for delectable fine dining is one that’s not to be missed.
And last year, in order to attract more Chinese customers, Four Seasons launched a food festival in the Greater China area called “The Taste of Artistry”, where, every weekend, one of the nine Four Seasons hotels in Greater China host a two-day feast, grâce à the house chef and a guest chef from one of their sister hotels. The feast reflects local flavours as well as international fusion cuisine.