Monthly Archives: August 2009

Pudong Shangri-la: “The ‘Shangheight’ Of Luxury”

Pudong Shangri-La Still Enthralls Guests And Sets The Standard For “Luxury With Chinese Characteristics”

The Pudong Shangri-La in Shanghai offers stunning views of the waterfront

The Pudong Shangri-La in Shanghai offers stunning views of the waterfront

The five-star Pudong Shangri-La, one of the crown jewels of Shanghai’s skyline, continues to draw accolades from seasoned global travelers, who are consistently struck by the hotel’s extravagance as well as its unique story. Having begun construction when Shanghai’s Pudong section was scarcely more than a marshland, the Shangri-La quickly established itself as one of East Asia’s finest luxury hotels. With the newest extension (finished in 2005) adding even more opulence to the striking building, travelers have even more reasons to make this coastal city a stop on their next Asian business or tourism jaunt.

Today, Robert La Bue makes the Pudong Shangri-La the target of his “Mr. e-Traveler” column, writing, “It’s always a pleasure to return to a hotel that feels like home. The fact that a 948-room property can pull this off is a credit to Pudong Shangri-la.”

As La Bue goes on to note, the hotel’s unique international and Chinese appointments set it apart, even among other world-class five-star luxury hotels:

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BMW, Mercedes and Audi May Have A New Competitor In China’s Chang’an

Chongqing-Based Automaker, Building On Additional Visibility Gained During Olympics, Eyes Luxury Segment

Chang'an's luxury concepts build on the CD101 platform unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai Auto Show

Chang'an's luxury concepts build on the CD101 platform unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai Auto Show

Over the last year, Chinese automakers have made a big push to gain domestic popularity and international pathways for future growth, with high-visibility announcements like Sichuan Tengzhong’s acquisition of Hummer and BYD’s plans to enter the American market as soon as 2010. These Chinese automakers have done a pretty good job of selling their lower-priced models to first-time car buyers throughout the mainland — mainly 20-something middle class workers in urban centers — but what about high end models?

While several Chinese car companies have tried to appeal to this segment in the past — with Red Flag (Hongqi) immediately springing to mind, along with the newly-unveiled Geely GE — their success can be described as mixed, at best. While Red Flag remains the car of choice for China’s government elite, among high-powered businesspeople or the otherwise well-off, the luxury car market in China remains dominated by foreign brands. Even at the highest level, Red Flag doesn’t even make the list, with the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Bentley Arnage, and Maybach making up the top three favored models in China.

According to a new article in China Car Times, however, it looks like Sichuan-based Chang’an is looking to target the domestic luxury car buyer as soon as next year. Will Chang’an have better luck reaching a wider luxury audience? From the looks of the new concept photos on CCT, it looks like they are closer than ever to becoming a true rival to Audi, BMW and Mercedes in the mainland market, at least aesthetically. Now the question, as always, remains, can Chinese carmakers once and for all rid domestic consumers of the notion that foreign car brands are superior?

Hong Kong’s “Haute Dim Sum” The Toast Of The Town

Innovative Chefs Gaining Accolades From Global Food Critics

Hong Kong's innovative OVOlogue has quickly established itself as one of the world's top "haute Dim Sum" destinations

Hong Kong's innovative OVOlogue has quickly established itself as one of the world's top "haute Dim Sum" destinations

Dim sum, the Cantonese specialty, has been available in most large cities around the world for decades. So why, suddenly, has more attention been paid to Hong Kong’s dim sum restaurants, in publications like The New York Times — which features an article today about the former British colony’s “haute dim sum”? I think the answer lies within the question — simply because haute dim sum, integrating top quality ingredients and an internationalized flair, is a hit with global food critics.

Lauren Shockey, writing in the Times’ “Global Table” blog, gives us non-Hong-Kongers a glimpse into the city’s seamless mixture of tradition and innovation as reflected in deceptively simple dumplings and dim sum favorites like pork buns:

Any visit to Hong Kong requires at least one dim sum feast.

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Upcoming Sotheby’s Sale To Offer Chinese Furniture And Art From The Sackler Collection

Fall Auction Season To Be Packed With Chinese Arts, From Antiquities To Contemporary Pieces

Arthur Sackler amassed an impressive collection of artwork in his lifetime, including rare Chinese furniture, ceramics, and paintings

Arthur Sackler amassed an impressive collection of artwork in his lifetime, including rare Chinese furniture, ceramics, and paintings

Carol Vogel writes today in the New York Times about the upcoming Sotheby’s auction of pieces (to be held September 16), which includes many pieces of Chinese furniture and artwork from the collection of Dr. Arthur M. Sackler — “the psychiatrist and philanthropist who became one of the leading art collectors in the United States.” Vogel points out that this sale will offer not only Chinese works but valuable works from Sackler’s extensive collection of European Impressionists and sculptures as well.

Of course, to us, it is the sale of some of Sackler’s enviable collection of Chinese art and furniture that is the most interesting. According to Art Daily, this Sackler auction includes many rare and exotic pieces dating back as far as the 17th century:

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Chinese Snapping Up Australian Luxury Properties

Chinese Buyers On Global Shopping Spree, Buying Real Estate And Australian Assets As Prices Remain Lower Than In Recent Years

Chinese buyers have flocked to the Sydney waterfront to buy luxury properties at historically low prices

Chinese buyers have flocked to the Sydney waterfront to buy luxury properties at historically low prices

We have previously written on mainland Chinese buyers scouring the globe to snap up contemporary Chinese art, fine wines and antiques at auction, and in recent months this emerging group of shoppers has become far more visible in places like Australia, where wealthy Chinese buyers have become one of the most motivated buyers of luxury properties. As China Daily writes today, Chinese buyers are converging on some of the best luxury properties in Sydney including big homes on the harbor, and new condominium developments.

Chinese buyers are taking advantage of a number of factors that have benefitted them in the past few years, including a weaker global economy and lower prices on luxury goods of all classes, a stronger focus on spending rather than saving, and a more welcoming Australian property market. With an exchange rate that favors the yuan, relaxed Australian rules on ownership of property by foreigners, and an already populous Chinese community, the time seems right for Chinese with the means to buy some of Sydney’s prime waterfront real estate.

As Jack Levine points out, Australia has become one of the most popular destinations for Chinese travelers, students, and immigrants in the last decade, trailing only the UK and New Zealand:

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University of Melbourne Looks At The Rise Of Contemporary Chinese Art

Three-Part Lecture Series Gives Excellent Introduction To The Fast-Moving World Of Chinese Art

 

The Monthly (Australia)’s SlowTV video channel is currently hosting a three-part lecture series from the University of Melbourne’s recent “Festival of Ideas” session, featuring insight from China experts Geremie Barme and Claire Roberts. This video series is a must-see for anyone interested in the emergence of contemporary Chinese art as a global force.

See the videos at: http://www.themonthly.com.au/rise-contemporary-chinese-art-chaired-chris-mcauliffe-1792

China’s ’80s Generation “In Love With Luxury”

Luxury Fans Born In The 1980s Quickly Developing Strong Brand Loyalty, Increasingly Sophisticated Taste

China's "80s Generation" has grown up completely within China's post-reform market environment

China's "80s Generation" has grown up completely within China's post-reform market environment

Much of the news we see coming out of China’s luxury market tends to focus on consumers in the 30s and 40s, if not older, but an interesting article from the Beijing Review (via Alibaba News) today looks at a younger demographic — the luxury crowd in their early- to mid-20s. While the number of young people in China who can afford top luxury goods is formidable, it is admittedly only a segment of a segment of this age group, as it is in most global markets. However, what makes them remarkable in China is the speed at which they have not only found and stuck with the brands they like, but have become immensely influential to marketers and designers around the world.

Ding Wenlei, writing for the Beijing Review, looks into the importance of the Chinese luxury market to global brands, who are looking to “glocalize” their products for emerging markets in China and India:

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