By proximity as well as design, the new Shangri-La Hotel, Qufu pays homage to the famous philosopher, Confucius. Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is opening the hotel in the centre of Qufu, Confucius' birthplace, on 1 August. It will be the city's first international luxury accommodation.
Shangri-La Hotel, Qufu is within walking distance of the Temple of Confucius, the Mansion of Confucius and the Cemetery of Confucius. All three are UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites, and Qufu is one of mainland China's 24 government-designated famous historical and cultural cities. Located in Shandong Province, Qufu is two hours from Beijing and three hours from Shanghai by high-speed rail, making it a convenient cultural excursion from either city.
Blending Confucian principles, Chinese traditions and contemporary style, the hotel's design reflects Qufu's history but with a modern aesthetic. Chinese architecture sets the tone, with the hotel's façade designed to resemble a traditional Chinese pavilion and roofs topped by grey tiers of flying eaves. Supported by eight large pillars, the porte cochere is also shaped like a traditional Chinese pavilion. It is covered in red lacquer panels with Chinese motifs imprinted on the sides of the ceiling and traditional Lo Shu Squares (a square-within-a-square motif) repeated on the ceiling.
The hotel's interior design concept expresses the three key principles of Confucian philosophy – order, harmony and hierarchy – and is based on Confucius' "Six Arts" (which include the disciplines of Rites, Music, Archery, Chariot Racing, Calligraphy and Mathematics).
Hierarchy and harmony are conveyed in the hotel's dramatic lobby, where sleek symmetry and Chinese patterns repeated in ceiling reliefs and on marble floors capture a mood of harmonious elegance. Upon arrival, guests will be greeted by the sight of two full-grown trees planted in the middle of the lobby, where natural daylight streams in from a glass roof. The trees are surrounded by a carpet of grass, marble seats and dark wood columns. The vast lobby features an 8.5-metre-high ceiling with oversized lantern-shaped light fixtures and windows overlooking lush greenery and garden pavilions. Deep red lacquer panels offset the reception desk, which is highlighted by a painting of Chinese plum blossoms reinterpreted using mixed media.
Among the 211 spacious guestrooms to open in August, rooms facing the Yi River are designed with balconies offering views of the old city wall, palaces of the Temple of Confucius and the hotel's traditional Chinese landscaped garden dotted with pavilions. All the rooms and the public areas throughout the hotel feature complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access.
Qufu's cuisine flourished under the Kong family, the descendants of Confucius, to whom the hotel will pay tribute in its signature restaurant, Shang Palace. The restaurant will serve authentic Cantonese, Shandong regional Lu and re-imagined Kong Family cuisines.
A red lacquered door with a Chinese motif carved in wood at the entrance of Shang Palace prepares guests for the contemporary Chinese elegance of the restaurant. Bronze koi fish statues are placed in water fountains, framing both sides of the door and giving the impression of fish leaping out of the water. Several other water features are placed throughout the restaurant, including built-in ponds and shallow pools.
The restaurant's interior is decorated in shades of muted gold, dark wood and deep orange, a perfect marriage of contemporary and classic Chinese design. Walls are covered in hand-embroidered Chinese flowers, pavilions or bamboo motifs symbolising prosperity and good fortune. The main dining area is separated from five private dining rooms by glass panelling depicting Chinese watercolour paintings of flowers, mountains and birds.
The hotel also features Café Kong, an all-day casual dining venue serving international dishes cooked in open kitchens, and the Lobby Lounge, which will offer an extensive tea menu. Other venues include the hotel's 1,600-square-metre pillar-free Qilu Grand Ballroom with an outdoor terrace connected to the ballroom foyer; six additional function rooms, a Bridal Room and the Hall of Wisdom VIP room.
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La International Hotel Management Limited, one of the world’s premier hotel management companies, currently operates over 95 hotels in 22 countries and 73 destinations under the Shangri-La, Kerry, Hotel Jen and Traders brands. Prominently positioned in Asia, the group has established its brand hallmark of “hospitality from the heart” over four decades in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, North America and the Indian Ocean. The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in mainland China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka. For more information, please visit www.shangri-la.com