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November 16, 2011

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Kempinski understands luxury

KEMPINSKI Hotel Suzhou offers first-class facilities and amenities in a great location around picturesque Dushu Lake. The hotel's general manager envisions hosting outdoor concerts and ballets by the lake in the future, writes Nie Xin.

The home of a fascinating blend of history and metropolitan excitement, Suzhou also prides itself on its luxury hotels. The five-star Kempinski Hotel Suzhou is one of the best places to discover the city's history that dates back 2,500 years.

Spread over 8,000 square meters, the hotel recently opened a new pillar-less State Ballroom that offers 630 square meters of space with an 8-meter-high ceiling. It has become a sought after venue for meetings, corporate events, celebrations and weddings in not just Suzhou, but the entire Yangtze River Delta region. The hotel also has a 1,850-square-meter Grand Ballroom with no pillars obstructing views. The ballroom features 24 intricately designed chandeliers from the Czech Republic.

"We have lots of luxury in our hotel - the ballrooms, swimming pool, gymnastics center and guest rooms - and they might all be the biggest for the same level of hotel in Suzhou, even in China," says the hotel's General Manager Alvaro Rautenberg, who is from Germany.

Stylish and sophisticated with a classic design, Kempinski Hotel Suzhou is located in Suzhou Industrial Park and magnificently emerges before your eyes after a short but scenic drive within a large estate which encompasses Jinji Lake International Golf Course, which has 27 holes, villas and Dushu Lake.

The hotel is one of the few in the city that encourages guests to step out and appreciate the green scenery and enjoy the refreshing lake breeze. The first sight when one steps out of the hotel is a breathtaking view of Dushu Lake. The area surrounding this property is refreshingly lush with trees and picturesque landscaping providing an atmosphere of tranquility and peace.

The hotel contains 458 rooms, including 77 luxurious suites ranging from 80 square meters and above. Nine meeting rooms and over 4,000 square-meters of gardens can cater to all sorts of different events.

The hotel's regular shuttle buses take guests to sightseeing spots around Dushu Lake and Jinji Lake, as well as to Guanqian Street in Suzhou.

After its high occupancy during the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, Kempinski Hotel Suzhou is competing with an increasing number of luxury hotels around Suzhou.

"In my view, the development of luxury hotels far exceeds the demand," says Rautenberg. "We are under the same pressure as other luxury hotels and everyone's occupancy rate fell. But we will soon make stable and healthy progress again. The occupancy rate is growing."

Beyond the guest rooms, Kempinski Hotel Suzhou also goes out its way to ensure the success of all events by providing a wide selection of restaurants and bars, including Seasons Café, Wang Hu Ge Chinese Restaurant, Paulaner Brahaus and Lobby Lounge.

In the lobby, the hotel plays Chopin and Tchaikovsky as background music.

"We are providing the most pleasant and relaxing environment to our customers, making them forget their busy work and pressured life outside," the general manager says.

Rautenberg has been in China for almost 12 years. Before his appointment to the Suzhou property two and a half years ago, he was in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, and Beijing.

He expects his current contract to last a while, since he and his wife recently adopted a three-year-old girl in Suzhou.

"This proves my love of the city," he says, laughing. "I see this as my home, this town and this hotel. My shy and lovely daughter makes Suzhou very special to me."

Energetic and talkative, this general manager is a good fit with his employees. Half of the staff averages less than 25 years of age.

"Treat them as a friend, try your best to help them and encourage them - that's no secret, that's good management," says Rautenberg, who emphasizes two-way communication with his team.

He is confident about the hotel's bright prospects, which includes outside events and catering.

"The demands are catching up. We are preparing for what's coming and the future is bright," he adds.

He has a vision not only of commercial success, but also hopes to make the hotel a venue for classical music concerts and ballet by the lake.

He hopes to make it a welcoming place for family picnics and barbecues, as well as annual school dances and charity parties.


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