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Marco Polo would love Kempinski

MARCO Polo called Suzhou the "Venice of the East" and that was in the late 1200s; today the Venetian merchant and explorer would probably check into the 155-square-meter Diplomatic Suite at the Kempinski Hotel Suzhou.

Five-star Kempinski Hotel Suzhou is the perfect place to explore 2,500 years of history as well as modern metropolitan delights.

Besides the operational 1,850-square-meter Grand Ballroom, another 700-square-meter State Ballroom will open in the middle of next month, perfectly positioned for the season of meetings, celebrations and weddings, according to Alvaro Rautenberg, the general manager from Germany.

The hotel offers 8,000 square meters of meeting and banquet space for every occasion, whether a meeting, conference, dinner or banquet. Facilities are designed to meet every need, supply every comfort.

The ballroom is 15 meters in height, with no pillars to obstruct the view, and lighted by 24 intricately designed chandeliers from the Czech Republic.

The hotel, with its spectacular view of Dushu Lake, is one of the most sought-after wedding venues not only in Suzhou of Jiangsu Province, but the entire Yangtze River Delta region.

"We have luxury space in our hotel - the ballroom, swimming pool, gymnastics center and guest rooms - they might all be the biggest for the same level of hotel in Suzhou, even in China," Rautenberg says.

The first sight when one steps into the Kempinski Suzhou is a breathtaking view of Dushu Lake.

Located by the Dushu Lake in Suzhou industrial park area, the hotel enjoys the perfect view of lakeside.

The hotel contains 458 rooms, including 77 luxurious suites ranging from 80 square meters and above. Most of the rooms have awe-inspiring views of Dushu Lake, Jinji Lake or the adjacent golf course.

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

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

"In my view, the development of luxury hotels is far in excess of 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."

In the lobby, the background is Chopin and Tchaikovsky.

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

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 of Liaoning Province and Beijing.

He expects his current contract to last a while, since he and his wife recently have 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. The average age of half of the staff is less than 25 years.

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

He is confident about the hotel's bright prospects, which include 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 evening parties.


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