An insider look at the first NUO Hotel, the Chinese luxury hotel brand

Adrian Rudin is the General Manager of the NUO Hotel Beijing, the first hotel of the NUO brand, a luxury hospitality development entirely developed in China.

NUO is the first luxury Chinese hotel brand. What prompted the development of such a brand?

The Owner, Beijing Tourism Group (BTG) has had a successful partnership/joint venture with Kempinski Hotels over many years and as they respect what a long-lasting heritage can mean to a brand, the consumer and a country. They also considered the increase in China for domestic travel, inbound travel and particularly the levels of growth for outbound travel, resulting in the decision to create their own Chinese luxury brand. That decision was made 8 years ago and now, with flagship property open the plan is to develop the portfolio internationally.

In its initial phases the project was dubbed as ‘’luxury hotel brand for the Chinese’’. What is your guest mix?

The brand promise is: “Pioneering Chinese Luxury Hospitality” and the intention has always been to develop the brand internationally, giving the luxury Chinese traveler an option stay in a home-grown hotel when abroad, rather than only a choice of western brands. However, property by property will deliver a different mix of guests based on each destination’s attractions and local surroundings. In Beijing for example, with many local overseas companies, global industries and multi-national brand headquarters close to our convenient Chaoyang location, the mix includes corporate travelers from China and around the world staying for business and conferences, and Chinese and international travelers wanting to experience the best of Beijing

What makes NUO stand apart from other major international luxury brands present in Beijing?

We like to use the phrase “Seeing is believing” as our hotel is significantly different from any competitors and that difference is encapsulated by four key brand pillars: Chinese, Luxury, Contemporary and Green.

NUO believes art, literature and music are the ultimate expression of culture, so the first and flagship hotel of the brand is a true lifestyle destination. The 438 room five-star hotel features a unique design inspired by the prosperous Ming Dynasty and offer unparalleled guest experiences including a showcase of masterpieces created exclusively for NUO by iconic contemporary Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi. The hotel has an Executive Club Lounge and 6 Restaurants & Bars where ingredients from the hotel’s partner organic local farms & producers are creatively prepared by a team of global culinary experts.

The Chinese tradition of tea is a significant highlight with the YUAN Tea Pavilion serving the finest teas in China, sourced exclusively by NUO direct from the plantations while the stunning NUO Spa offers treatments based on ancient Chinese medical philosophy. NUO also boasts one of the city’s largest and most sophisticated special event venues, including an impressive 1,600 square metre Grand Ballroom. Finally, NUO is committed to being green and smart, and has achieved gold-level certification of green building standards from the world-renowned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Tell us more about the choice of location for the first NUO. Why this particular district?

Our hotel is in Lido near Beijing’s Art Zone 798 – he pulse of China’s dynamic art movement. Its an area surrounded by beautiful tree-lined streets and green parks, making it a very appealing environment to work or play. We are also a few minutes from the 3rd Embassy area and popular Sanlitun shopping precinct, and right next to the Wangjing business area which is home to many global fortune 500 headquarters in China. The close proximity to the airport is also an advantage, especially to CBD area properties where traffic congestion restricts efficient access to the time poor business traveler.

To what extent, do you cater more or less to leisure versus corporate guests?

The property has 438 luxurious rooms and suites so the large inventory allows us effectively cater for both. As the design has been inspired by the Ming Dynasty and the facilities include a traditional tea house, three restaurants, a gourmet delicatessen, a stunning bar with a huge outdoor terrace, a luxurious spa, and a collection of carefully curated contemporary art pieces by the country’s most critically acclaimed artists including iconic Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi, the leisure traveler is extremely well catered for. As we also have Executive levels and lounge and extensive special event facilities with over 2500 metres of meeting space including a very impressive 1,600 square metre Grand Ballroom, and meetings, incentives, conferences and events ensure the business traveler’s is an important part of our mix of business.

The hotel is deeply rooted in Chinese tradition and heritage. Tell us more.

Spanning nearly 300 years of rule, China’s Ming Dynasty, during its “Golden Age”, influenced the entire world in trade, culture, power and opulence. With a design brief revolving on a modern interpretation of Ming Dynasty heritage culture, Singapore-based Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), headed by chief designer Ian Carr and a team of hundreds of staff, spent nearly five years carefully researching and developing the minute details that would contribute to the overall visual look of Ming-inspired luxury, elegance and versatility that would become the signature for NUO Hotel Beijing’s interiors.

Threading a common design inspiration throughout is also are symbolic heritage footprints of a veritable who’s who of the Ming Dynasty’s most renowned scholars and philosophers, artists, poets and calligraphers, innovators and explorers, from intellectual Zhang Dai in the hotel lobby, writer Wen Zhenheng and poet Wen Zhengming in the guestrooms, calligrapher Xu Wei in Jia, the hotel’s Chinese restaurant, Prince-turned-philosopher Zhu Quan in Yuan Tea House and legendary naval explorer Zheng He in N’Joy, the hotel’s international all-day dining destination.

What would be the key competitive advantages in Beijing’s luxury hospitality market?

Committed to serving authentic cuisine, the hotel carefully sources ingredients from partner organic local farms and producers, which are then creatively prepared in the hotel’s six restaurants and bars by a team of global culinary experts from 10 different countries. As an example the buffet in our restaurant N’Joy has been influenced by the seven ‘Treasure Voyages’ of Ming Naval Admiral Jheng He who travelled from China through Asia, India, the Middle East and beyond during 1403-1432.

All guestrooms have been thoughtfully designed and equipped with the modern traveller’s security, comfort and productivity in mind: complimentary broadband and wireless Internet access, flat-screen high-definition televisions, Bluetooth-enabled Bose stereo speakers, in-room bars and Nespresso coffee machines, walk-in wardrobes, ensuite laundry and valet delivery cabinets, all-marble bathrooms with large freestanding soaking tubs, glass-enclosed rain showers and custom NUO Pu’er tea-infused bed and bath accessories. There’s also the quality construction that has been Gold Certified by LEED and a sophisticated air purification system.

Which is your comp set?

Four Seasons, Rosewood, Conrad Peninsula.. Basically, the collection of high end luxury brands in our market

As a luxury hotel, have you seen any slow down due to the Chinese Government’s crackdown on corruption?

The reform named the ‘Eight Provisions’ of course continues to make a significant impact on luxury hotels when looking at the past revenue generation from banquets, food & beverage, events, entertainment etc. However, NUO is a newly open hotel so we do not compare with the past therefore any impact is not directly measured. If a business environment ‘changes’ you need to change with it, so we develop our strategies using current market conditions and focus on meeting the needs of suitable target customers that seek the quality services and facilities NUO can deliver.