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Luxury For Less

Published: 01/10/2013 - Filed under: Home » Archive » 2013 » October 2013 » Special Reports » Home » Features »

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One of the perks of being a business traveler in Asia is the choice of hotels. Not only is the quality generally high – international hospitality groups are well represented throughout the region – but dollar for dollar (or yuan, or peso, or whatever other currency you’re carrying), you can find hospitality values that would be considerably more costly at comparable hotels in the West. 

Whether they are in emerging cities where opportunities are growing, or in established commercial hubs, travelers can book five-star properties with amenities such as well-equipped gyms, great pools, luxurious spas, comprehensive business facilities and excellent food and beverage options – all for less than you’d expect to pay in many major Western cities. At press time, deluxe rooms in the following top hotels were available for around $150 when booking online for a night in October.



This suave brand delivers five-star luxury with attitude, encouraging its guests to “check in and chill out.” The 545-room hotel is housed in a sleek, 52-story building in the Xujiahui Business District, overlooking the Bund. Pullmans are renowned for their high-tech facilities and contemporary, chic design, and this property provides well-equipped, stylish rooms at exceptional rates.

Facilities: On top of the elegant rooms, hotel facilities include a sauna, hammam, indoor heated pool, massage services and a fitness center. Business services include typing, interpretation and porter staff as well as fax, copy and print equipment. 

F&B: Lakeside Caféproduces international cuisine in a garden setting, Zaffraan is well known for its seafood buffet dinner and Hua Fu serves up regional specialities. At the Blue Bar, meanwhile, you can enjoy a cocktail while looking out over Shanghai’s dynamic and ever-expanding cityscape.

Price: A Deluxe Room starts from $149 (excluding tax). No cancellations and breakfast not included.

Contact: 15 Dapu Road, Huangpu District, 200023, Shanghai, tel +86 21 3318 9988,



Being a Marriott hotel, standards at this 736-room property are high. It is located directly opposite the Jinhan Exhibition Centre, right in the middle of Guangzhou, with easy access to Guangzhou East Railway Station. The renovated rooms offer luxurious bedding, noise-reduction windows and elegant design with a Chinese touch, as well as all the amenities expected of any Marriott property.

Facilities: A fitness center, tennis courts, sauna and outdoor pool. There is also a barbecue or picnic area, and a barbershop. A full-service, staffed business center is located on site, and there is a colossal 24,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as a certified meeting planner at your service.

F&B: Hand-carved steaks are grilled at Prime Steakhouse, while an international buffet is hosted in Café Veranda. Food Street is a throwback to the lively open kitchens of traditional China, and Four Seasons offers classic Chinese cuisine and has eight private dining rooms. There are also two bars and a shisha lounge.

Price: RMB800($136) for a deluxe room, excluding taxes and service charge. You may cancel the reservation free of charge up to the day of arrival. Breakfast not included.

Contact:122 Liu Hua Lu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510015, tel +86 20 8666 6888,




This brand-new 300-room hotel is the Indian flagship property of Sofitel Luxury Hotels, and is located right in the heart of Mumbai’s financial district. Sofitel’s signature touch of Art Nouveau and French influences is recognizable throughout the elaborate interior design, and is a real treat at such reasonable rates.

Facilities: Timber wood floors, innovative décor, free WiFi and satellite TV come in the rooms, demonstrating the combination of five-star luxury and practicality this brand brings to the table. Indulge in Ayurvedic treatments at So Spa, take a dip in the outdoor pool or spa bath, or rejuvenate yourself with a sauna or workout at the So Fit center. One grand salon ballroom and eight cutting-edge meeting rooms make up the business inventory, and there is even an “inspired meetings concierge” and event planning team to help plan and execute your business gatherings.

F&B: Pondichery Café serves international cuisine, Jyran – Tandoor Dining & Lounge cooks up regional flavors and this property’s bistro offering is called Artisan. Tuskers – Vegetarian Dining Bar, meanwhile, does just what the name implies. L Oh Pool and Bar supplies poolside refreshments, and Le Bar Diamantaire is a lobby bar with wine tower.

Price: Starting from $113 for a deluxe, excluding taxes, when booked in advance. No cancellations and breakfast not included.

Contact: C-57, Bandra Kurla Complex Bandra (East) Maharashtra 400 051 Mumbai, tel +91 22 6117 5000,




Mandarin is among the most prestigious of all regional hotel groups in Asia, delivering outstanding service in an opulent and sleek environment. Many business travelers don’t mind paying extra dollars for this kind of product, but in the Manila property that is not necessary. 

Facilities: Decadent décor adorns the rooms, which are also equipped with state-of-the-art technology, ample workspace, flat-screen TVs and elaborate bathroom equipment and amenities. The spa offers a range of ancient and contemporary techniques, and there is also a fully equipped fitness center with personal trainers, outdoor swimming pool and beauty salon to rejuvenate body and mind. Business and meeting facilities are comprehensive in both hardware and software – with in-house technicians and a team of event organizers on hand.

F&B: Tivoliserves contemporary European cuisine in a classic setting, Pasea Uno dishes up international fare in a dramatic environment, whilst Tin Hau showcases gourmet culinary produce from China. MO Lounge and Martinis offer cocktails and snacks, while the Mandarin Deli and Kipling’s Cigar Bar provide ideal spots to relax and indulge.

Price: A superior room starts at PHP6,000 ($136), is subject to tax and service charges, but comes with no cancellation fee up to a day before arrival. Breakfast not included.

Contact: Makati Avenue, Makati City 1226, Metro Manila, Philippines, tel +63 2 750 8888,



Another trusted international brand, particularly among business travelers, is InterContinental. Its considerable worldwide representation makes it a failsafe choice when going on far-flung trips. It is renowned for delivering five-star standards wherever the location, but normally with a somewhat higher price tag than the Manila property – particularly considering this landmark hotel stands in the center of Makati City, the nation’s main financial and commercial hub.

Facilities: The 332guestrooms have a classic earth-tone design, are comfortable and well equipped. The health and fitness offerings include a gym, outdoor pool and saunas, as well as The Suriya Spa. The business center is staffed from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and offers courier, private limousine and secretarial services. With seven meeting rooms and 15,000 square feet of dedicated space, this state-of-the-art property has one of the largest conference and meeting facilities in the city.

F&B: Prince Albert Rotisserie is an old favorite on Manila’s dining scene, while Café Jeepney dishes up a spread of Filipino and international treasures. Gambrinus Bar and Sol Y Sombra, meanwhile, serve refreshing drinks and snacks in a venue with a view of the pool and garden, and an alfresco spot, respectively.

Price: A deluxe room starts atPHP5,040 ($114), excluding tax and ancillary service charges, when booked 10 days in advance. Cancellation fees apply.

Contact: 1 Ayala Ave, PO Box 731-D-3117, Manila, 1226, tel +63 2 793 7000,




A favored brand among those with a penchant for the plush and luxurious, Conrad properties are always elegantly designed with an air of colonial chic. The Conrad Bangkok is no exception to this rule – but its price sets it apart. The 391-room property in the heart of Bangkok combines classic style with modern conveniences and top service – making it an excellent choice when doing business in the Big Mango. 

Facilities: Indulgence is made easy at this hotel, with its traditional barbershop, cigar tasting room and P and L Club Whisky Bar. Keeping fit is also facilitated by floodlit tennis courts, a rooftop running track, outdoor swimming pool and the Bodyworx Fitness Centre which hosts a variety of classes. Seasons Spa, meanwhile, offers the ideal environment for pampering.

F&B: There isgourmet Chinese fare at Lui, healthy and light poolside food at City Terrace, teppanyaki and sushi at Drinking Tea Eating Rice, live music and cocktails at Diplomat Bar and vibrant nightlife at Club 87 Plus. Deli By Conrad and Café@2 serve fresh coffee and snacks. 

Price: A deluxe room starts at THB4,960 ($154) when made in advance and prepaid. No changes or refunds are available, and the rate excludes tax. Breakfast not included.

Contact: 87 Wireless Road, Phatumwan, Bangkok 10330, tel +66 2 690 9999,




Immediately upon entering the striking lobby of this MGallery Collection hotel, it is apparent that you are in an extraordinary property. Quirky vintage-style décor is combined with bold statement pieces to create an atmosphere of flamboyant and boutique luxury. Located in the middle of Hanoi near Hoan Kiem Lake, this is both a practical and indulgent choice that delivers an experience well worth the price tag. 

Facilities: The rooms are decorated with sumptuous fabrics such as silk and velvet, and contrast dark, moody tones with splashes of bright color. Free WiFi is supplied throughout, and laptops can be connected to the flat-screen TV from your bedside. For downtime, there is a gym and an indoor swimming pool with an open-air terrace facing the Hanoi Opera House. Meeting and events salons follow the same boutique style – a memorable venue for meetings.

F&B: Café Lautrec in the atrium is good for light meals while the decadent Satine and La Fee Verte á Hanoi make up the hotel’s fine-dining contingent.

Price: A deluxe room starts at $145, excluding taxes, with no cancellations or changes allowed.

Contact: 29 Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, tel +84 4 6282 5555,



The Japanese brand brings simplistic, elegant touches to this five-star property, located in the downtown center of Ho Chi Minh City. The spacious rooms, which start at 430 square feet, feature a sophisticated style, with wood furnishings, white sheets and fresh flowers.

Facilities: There is an outdoor swimming pool, gym and Japanese-style Ren Spa – which uses organic ingredients in its treatments. The spa includes a spa bath, cold tub, steam room and sauna. The business center is equipped with all the necessary technology and staff, as well as 14 “instant offices” – ideal as a start-up base in Ho Chi Minh City. Meeting spaces include Origami Ballroom – the second largest in the city. 

F&B:La Brasserie provides all-day dining, serving international fare with fresh, locally farmed ingredients, while Ming Court produces Cantonese cuisine with a Taiwanese touch. Fuji showcases Japan’s culinary culture while The Lounge provides for those needing a light snack or cocktail.

Price: A deluxe room costs $136 excluding tax and ancillary service charges. Requires 14-day advance purchase, but dates are movable. Breakfast included.

Contact: 235 Nguyen Van Cu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, tel +84 8 3925 7777,

Apples to Apples

Lodging is typically the first or second largest spend category in corporate travel budgets, accounting for nearly 25 percent of total international travel expenses, according to The Expense IQ Reportfrom T&E technology company Concur. As a result, significant savings in the hotel category can drop directly to the bottom line for cost-conscious corporate travelers. 

So how does one weigh the value of these hotel rates against the global market? While it’s hard to compare properties in different regions (factoring in such considerations as square footage, amenities and especially location, location, location), we can draw some conclusions from the Concur data. 

Among the 25 most frequently visited business destinations in the world ranked by hotel costs, the Top Five cities with the highest average lodging were Sydney, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Dubai. Hotel expenditures ranged from an average of $255 in Sydney to $200 in Dubai.

Also in the same list of 25 frequently visited cities are Shanghai (No. 21), Mumbai (No. 24) and Bangkok (No. 25) – three destinations covered in this report. By comparison, the most expensive of these cities, Shanghai, averaged $126 per night, less than half that of Sydney’s hotels. Mumbai and Bangkok both tied at $116 per night, well below Dubai’s average.

Clearly, five-star accommodations in these destinations can offer more attractive rates. For one thing, they’re starting from a lower average cost basis for the entire market. And they have the advantage in many cases of being able to offer features and amenities equivalent to those found in their sister properties elsewhere in the world for substantially less.

One thing is undeniably certain – if one of these Asian cities is on your itinerary, it absolutely makes sense to avail yourself of the best hotel options there.  


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