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
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.