Fri, June 11, 2010
Lifestyle > Travel

Building a paradise on top of the world

2010-06-11 10:32:58 GMT2010-06-11 18:32:58 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

The Potala Palace is at the heart of Lhasa, a city attracting 3.2 million visitors last year. Cao Zhizheng / Asia News Photo

Crystal-blue skies, long-haired yaks, a corner of the Potala Palace outside the window, but a modern lobby lounge, an indoor swimming poor and a luxury pub ... the natural-and-modern view is what Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has promised in the Tibet autonomous region.

The Hong Kong-based hotel group recently announced that it will open a new hotel in Lhasa in 2012.

The company takes its name from the "Shangri-La" hidden within Tibet's peaks in James Hilton's novel Lost Horizon, and while it has 66 hotels in other parts of the world, this is its first hotel among the mountains, glaciers, valleys and lakes that inspired Hilton's book.

The project, as Greg Dogan, president and chief executive officer of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, said at the groundbreaking ceremony, means: "Shangri-La comes home".

The 350-room Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa, will have an all-day dining restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool and a health club. It will also have a 1,700-square-meter ballroom, probably the largest indoor banquet venue in the city.

Dogan says the hotel aims to absorb the best part of the local culture and views, and show it to its guests.

The about-to-open hotel's decor will combine modernity with traditional Tibetan architectural motifs and locally produced paintings, crafts and fabrics.

Welcomed by a typical Tibetan ritual, each visitor will be shown into a room with a view of the Potala Palace, the biggest draw in the city.

Located on the "rooftop of the world" at an altitude of 3,600 meters, the hotel will have a full service clinic that will be able to help guests suffering from altitude sickness and there will also be a garden full of plants to increase oxygen levels.

Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa will have one of the best locations in the city. Situated on Lingkor Road, it is only 1.5 km from the Potala Palace, and well positioned for other important landmarks, including Chokpori, the "Iron Mountain", which is one of the four sacred mountains in central Tibet, Norbu Lingka, "the Jeweled Park" which was built in 1755, and the Tibet Museum, with its permanent collection celebrating the history of Tibetan culture.

Lhasa received about 3.2 million visitors last year. Yet luxury hotels have so far been a rarity. There is currently only one international hotel in the city.

"The tourism and hospitality industry will bring greater prosperity to Tibet and we are proud that Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa can be part of that growth. It will be a major venue for people to come and stay, and see the city," Dogan says.

He says that the Lhasa hotel will complete the Shangri-La "golden triangle" with Chengdu and Chongqing.

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