In an effort to cater to the surge of tourism from China, both Hilton Hotels and Resorts and Starwood, which includes the Sheraton, Westin, and W brands, are launching Chinese hospitality services in their hotels. The welcome program includes special breakfast items, such as congee rice porridge, fried rice, and dumplings; in-room amenities like tea kettles, a selection of Chinese teas, and slippers; and a fluent Chinese-speaking staff member to assist Chinese visitors.
San Francisco, where tourism from China increased more than 50 percent between 2009 and 2010, will be one of the first cities in the U.S. to roll out the test programs. Hilton Huanying (“Huanying” means “welcome” in Chinese) will launch in three San Francisco hotels and at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on August 16. Starwood Personalized Travel, the pilot Chinese welcome program from Starwood, is currently being tested in 19 properties across the globe, including San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis and the W in New York’s Times Square. Starwood plans to offer this service at all of its hotels by 2012.
While these free hospitality programs are aimed at the Chinese traveler, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a little touch of China during your hotel stay, too. So next time you’re planning to stay at a Hilton or Starwood, check to see if they are offering the Chinese welcome service. Then sit back and enjoy a little chai and congee. It’s an easy way to make a typical hotel stay a touch more exciting.
[Photo credit: Flickr user sparkieblues]