Hard Rock banks on golf for China hotels

Hard Rock banks on golf for China hotels

The iconic party hotel brand is teaming up with the golfing mega-resorts of Mission Hills
hard rock hotel China -- main
Guitar inside your room. Golf course outside your window. That's Hard Rock Hotel's plan in China.

Rock music enjoys a niche following in China. So does golf.

Now they're being welded together in attempt to attract Chinese tourists.

Hard Rock International is swinging into mainland China, partnering with golf resort-operator Mission Hills.

The Florida-based hospitality company will open the mainland's first two Hard Rock Hotels by 2015 to let the nation's well-heeled tourists live, eat and party like rock stars. (Outside of the mainland, Macau already houses a Hard Rock Hotel.)

The two new hotels will be located in Mission Hills' golf and leisure complexes: the 150,000-square-meter Mission Hills Centreville in Shenzhen and the 80-square-kilometer, 10-course Mission Hills Hainan resort.

The combined construction cost for the two properties is expected to be RMB 900 million (US$142.7 million).

hard rock hotel China -- inlineThe shape of swings to come: Hard Rock Hotel Shenzhen.

New experience for Chinese

Ken Chu, chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group, said the company chose to work with Hard Rock because he wanted to introduce the mainland to a brand that "people have not experienced."

By bringing the music-theme hotel brand to his Shenzhen resort, Chu said he hoped to develop a comprehensive tourism complex.

The 22-story Hard Rock Hotel Shenzhen will contain 280 rooms while the Haikou property will host 250 rooms.

Both hotels are expected to keep the brand's traditional rock-influenced interiors and facilities such as a recording studio.

According to Mission Hills, each hotel will have a “signature restaurant,” but the company did not confirm whether or not this would be a Hard Rock Café.

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Hard Rock already has a golf course at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, where guests can play the 18-hole course designed by U.S. golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

Public reactions

Golf and rock draw different fans in China: golf appeals to affluent executives, while rock draws aspiring, rebellious youngsters. So is their marriage facing a promising future in China’s tourism market?

Eheart Chen, 35, is a Shanghai-born singer and a fan of British Rock. Chen said he has heard of Hard Rock Café, but not the hotel.

“But I’d definitely be interested to stay at the hotel if it’s not too expensive,” said Chen, who names The Smiths as his favorite band.

"Rock fans in China usually do not have a very high spending power," added Chen.

Wang Jing (王京), senior hotel business director at travel booking site Qunar, said such rock-themed hotels would definitely become popular among young Chinese travelers, but their locations would be critical to their business.

Wang said he would expect to see the hotels being built around music conservatories, bar areas, concert halls and stadiums -- in short, places that already draw lots of music fans.

Jenny Lo, 33, a seasoned hotel branding consultant, said mainland Chinese travelers are receptive to distinctively different hotel experiences.

“But with the two upcoming properties being in golf resorts, that may change the dynamics,” added Lo. “They may appeal to families, and I do not think they will be as attractive to young individual travelers.”

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Hard Rock and Mission Hills are yet to announce the room rates of the two Hard Rock Hotels in China, but the nightly rate at Hard Rock Macau usually starts from MOP 2,000 (US$250).