Captions: Sofitel Legend People's Grand Hotel Xian, Imperial Suite (left); the hotel's official name plaque (centre); and grand Louis XIII Suite (right). Images available on request.
Discerning travellers can now 'Live the Legend' in China, with the launch of the Sofitel Legend People's Grand Hotel Xian. The new hotel addition is the Sofitel Luxury Hotel brand's 19th property in Greater China.
Seven thousand years of history and tradition surround the heritage building, which has been lovingly transformed into the first hotel in Greater China to join Sofitel's exclusive ultra-luxe Legend Collection. Opened in 1953, as the State Guesthouse, the hotel was designed by Hong Qing, Chief Architect of the Northwest Institute of Architectural Design. He skilfully sited the building in an extensive garden, formerly part of the grounds of an imperial palace. Hong used a number of French touches, including fleur-de-lis (stylized lily) as a recurring motif.
"As the first Legend hotel in Accor China's portfolio and only the fifth in the group's world map, we feel this beautiful property strikes the perfect note of French elegance in the heart of this timeless city, with its long history as a cultural crossroads at the start of the Silk Road," said Paul Richardson, Accor Greater China Chief Operating Officer.
Lofty ceilings and generous proportions in the 71 rooms and suites convey a rare feeling of time and place. Guests will enjoy all the sophisticated French pampering touches associated with Sofitel such as Hermès toiletries and French-designed floral arrangements. Additional features include personalized butler service from the moment of arrival, an extensive garden setting, private health club, swimming pool and spa, an authentic Italian restaurant, an exclusive top-floor Louis XIII Bar and a private museum. All-weather links provide easy access to the neighbouring Convention Centre and Grand Theatre.
The People's Grand Hotel Xian is part of Renmin Square, an extensive hotel complex (all under management by Sofitel's parent company, the Accor Hotel group) within a 40,000 m² landscaped garden. Ideally located inside the Ming Dynasty city walls at the heart of historic Xian, the hotel is only 15 minutes walk to the world's first museum, the Forest of Steles, or to the colourful Moslem quarter where traders have flourished in the spice-laden air for many centuries.
"In a city that is synonymous with history, French flair combines with Chinese traditional hospitality to create a new Legend with a unique sense of time and place. We are excited to see the opening of Sofitel Legend in Xian after extensive renovation and preparation over the past 28 months," said Michel Molliet, Vice President of Sofitel Greater China. "The People's Grand will add value to the brand and further reinforce Accor's presence in Xian. We promise a high-level of product and service experience in this legendary setting."
Acknowledged as the world's finest city in its heyday, Xian was China's capital through 13 dynasties. Today it is a vibrant centre for education, high technology and tourism. Long before the discovery of the Terracotta Army in 1974, Xian was already an important cultural destination for visitors eager to experience the picturesque city wall and such attractions as the Big Goose Pagoda, repository of sacred manuscripts and other items brought from India by Xuan Zang when he introduced Buddhism to China.
Award-winning project designer Joe Cheng, chairman and CEO of Hong Kong-based Cheng Chung Designs, was invited to tackle this project because he has had considerable experience of working with heritage properties. "Giving a heritage hotel a new lease of life is all about details and the distinct story that each location tells," he says of his approach to the renovation of The People's Grand Hotel Xian. For him this meant paying attention to ceiling mouldings and covings with Fleur-de-Lis motifs and Art Deco styling of the front entrance and Lobby as well as creating the appropriate ambience in guestrooms and public areas.
Since its opening in 1953, The People's Grand Hotel Xian has played a special role in the city's history: this is where visiting Chinese leaders, including the late Premier Zhou Enlai and Marshal Chen Yi stayed, as did former premier Zhu Rongji. The guestbook has been signed by heads of state including French President François Mitterrand, royalty from Europe and Asia, captains of industry and international VIPs like Henry Kissinger.
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