Regular visitors to Hong Kong will have noted the IFC Tower in Central. A towering 88 storeys high, it is home to the Four Seasons hotel, and has stunning views over Hong Kong harbour.

Although it is an iconic building, welcoming the world to Hong Kong island, until now it has needed a matching building on the opposite side of the harbour before it could act as a true gateway. Well on the Kowloon side, that building is rising: and in the next week or so the ICC Tower will make it to storey 102 on its way to an eventual height of 118 storeys.

Ritz-Carlton is particularly excited about this, since the lobby of its new hotel will be on floor 102, and the rooms will reach up to 118.

Opening at the end of 2010, the 300-room hotel will be the tallest hotel in the world, beating even the Park Hyatt in Pudong, Shanghai which opens this year occupying the 79th to 93rd floors of the 101-storey Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC), otherwise known as “The Vertical Complex City”.

As well as a rooftop bar (a scary thought), the new Ritz-Carlton promises to have a ballroom seating approx 400 to 450 along with six breakout rooms, and guest rooms starting at 50m squared.

The hotel is part of an ambitious expansion programme for Ritz-Carlton in Asia, which includes adding over 1,000 rooms in their hotels across mainland China this year, as well as a new Guangzhou property in March and The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya in April. By the end of the year, a third new property, The Ritz-Carlton, Shenzhen, will open.

”We have long believed in China as an ideal location for the Ritz-Carlton brand and over the past 18 months we have proved our commitment to the country with four new hotels ” two in Beijing and one each in Guangzhou and Sanya,” explains Mark DeCocinis, the Ritz-Carlton regional vice president for Asia Pacific. ”This will see us with more than 2,200 luxury hotel rooms in China ” an increase of 265 per cent to the end of 2008 and strong growth of more than 90 per cent this year alone.

Ritz-Carlton opened its first hotel in mainland China only ten years ago, in 1998, with the Portman Ritz-Carlton on Nanjing Road. Its growth since then has been backed up by the involvement of property developers such as Financial Street Holdings, China Jin Mao Group, Guangzhou R&F Properties, Shenzhen Galaxy Real Estate Development and Beijing Hua Mao Surapan Hotel Development Company.

This growth will continue as the company opens a second property in Shanghai in Pudong, a hotel in Shenzhen, as well as the property in Hong Kong and another in Macau.

The increasing affluence of the Chinese population coupled with growing foreign investment in China has created a strong demand for luxury products that Ritz-Carlton, among others, is well placed to service. It currently operates 71 hotels in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Over 30 projects are under development around the globe with future openings including Shenzhen and Phulay Bay in Thailand.

NB: The ICC Tower development will also have a W Hotel. Interestingly, although the ICC Tower is in a reclaimed area of Hong Kong called West Kowloon, the W Hotel website refers to the area which its new 393-room hotel is in as ”an eastern Manhattan”, drawing on the W Hotels” heritage in New York, perhaps, or its largely western audience.

NB2:  Matthew Jung, Director of Marketing at the new W Hotel has pointed out

“Just to clarify, we”re not in the ICC (our setup is similar to the Four Seasons, who are not actually inside the IFC, but next to it). We”re adjacent to it. The tenant list of the ICC includes regional offices of Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and other top financial institutions ” hence the ”eastern Manhattan” allusion.” 

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