Onsite: Shangri-La Charts North American Development and Beyond

Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, the 36-year-old Asian hotel brand, is finally coming to North American shores. The luxury brand is set to open seven hotels in North America-five alone in the United States-by 2010, with the first opening in Vancouver next year. One of the properties in the United States will be a 191-room new-build in New York, opening in 2010 on

53rd Street
and Park Avenue. "We knew we wanted to be in Midtown, on the east side and on the Park Avenue corridor," said Stephen Darling, regional vice president of Shangri-La. "That narrowed it down." The property will also contain a Chi Spa, Shangri-La's own spa brand, which will house an indoor pool. Darling also hinted at an additional future Shangri-La property somewhere close to Wall Street.

Room counts at the properties will only be between 100 and 350 rooms, but a hallmark will be expansive bedrooms and bathrooms (the smallest room at the New York property will be 601 square feet). Other U.S. locales Shangri-La is pursuing are Chicago, Miami and Las Vegas. The brand also is making a push into Europe with an initial property opening in Paris in 2009. "There are 12 key gateway cities that are critical toward distribution," said Didier Le Calvez, Shangri-La's executive vice president, Europe and North America. "We must get into these cities to raise our profile." Le Calvez said opening a property in New York would act as a feeder market for other locations, including the Caribbean. He also remarked that a deal for a resort in Cabo San Lucas is imminent.

Shangri-La also will work closely with travel agents and has already joined forces with Virtuoso in a strategic partnership. "At the top of the market, customers always rely on travel agents," said Darling.

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