$15 Big Hotel, Clean Room

HOPEFULLY THE HANTING HOTEL PRODUCT LINE INFLUENCES OTHER LARGE HOTEL CHAINS TO FOLLOW

[pullquoteright] To put it rather bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land; I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel.
Fran Lebowitz
[/pullquoteright]

Here is a true tale from the front.

Friends in the wrestling community travel year round. Our hero made a decision to attend a women’s wrestling event in Southern California. He was a member of the Marriott Hotel chain and the Courtyard was his typical head rest of choice but this time he wanted to save a little money and decided to try an online hotel discount website. The price came in about $20 less than what he would normally pay at Courtyard, so in two days he could save forty bucks.

Deal.

When he arrived at the hotel that he chose among the limited options presented by the discount travel website, it looked more like a motel.

There were more red flags than in Moscow.

He was used to his front door being inside the hotel. This one was on the second floor and opened to the outside walkway. Once inside, the carpet was dirty and there was a huge pink spot of something on the floor near the entry way to his bedroom suite that he dared not investigate. The small refrigerator was filthy and the bathroom in disrepair. The most frightening part was it was clear people were living at this fine establishment, like on a weekly basis.

He began to imagine some big guy in a cheap leather jacket KICKING the front door in Karate style while he’s eating ice cream on the bed in his boxers.
He propped a chair underneath the door handle and slept with one eye open. Cell phone on night stand to be reached in two seconds.

Please repeat five times, 911.

About 2am after hearing suspicious noises he got on the phone, called the discounter and said “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” He didn’t care what he had to pay, what he had to lose but he ain’t stayin here one more night.

The next night he was back at the Courtyard, happy to pay the small difference and slept like a baby.

This true story raises a question. Is there any way to stay at a nice hotel on a very small budget without being terrified for your health or safety? Here is the good news.

The Hanting Inn of China says yes.

The bad news? If you were going to go to China on vacation or business anyway, there isn’t any bad news.

CNN.COM’s headline reads, A new hotel every two days — Chinese chain bids to be world’s biggest. China’s economic success has created a fast-growing middle class and an explosion in domestic travel. Cashing in on the travel boom is one hotel chain that’s expanding so fast, it’s opening a new property every two days.

Budget hotel chain Hanting Inns was founded by billionaire businessman Ji Qi seven years ago. Today it has 1,000 properties in China, across four brands, and Ji expects Hanting to be the world’s biggest hotel chain by 2020.

Mr. Qi identifies three things that Chinese customers look for in a hotel room — all of which are consistent with Western travelers: a soft bed, free internet access and a good hot shower after a long, tiring day.

He says his ultimate target is to open 10,000 hotels. His big draw is clean, no-frills rooms that start from as little as $15 a night.

“We only invest in crucial parts (of the hotels). In our lobby you don’t see fancy decorations like marble surface or crystal lights,” said Mr. Qi.

“We keep everything simple because our clients don’t really pay much attention to that. But we put serious money into our rooms — in that way we manage to keep our hotels cost-effective.”

The sheer scale and speed of economic development within China over the last 20 years has forced hoteliers the world over to sit up and take notice. The number of Chinese people traveling outside China has risen to 65 million a year, overtaking Japan as the largest source of outbound travelers in Asia. International hotel chains are adapting their business plans and services to cater for the increasing number of Chinese travelers.

This sounded too good to be true so FCI decided to go to Tripadvisor, pick out of season dates and test the pricing structure. Once we viewed the travel website, we were off to a good start. Here was one review on many good ones.

“Near the French concession and most of Shanghai’s bars and clubs so if that is a priority this is a really good choice. The rooms are clean and the bathrooms are new so there is all the necessities.”

“This is for all the budget minded folks out there. For about 200 RMB you can book an inexpensive clean room at the Hanting. It is located in an old French district of Shanghai with plenty of quaint and charming shops up and down the main street and side streets. The price includes a full Chinese breakfast with all the coffee and tea you care to drink. It is minutes walking distance to the nearest metro which connects you with the rest of Shanghai. You can actually walk to the popular City Shop shopping area in about 20 minutes.”

FCI suggests you research other reviews before you make a decision.

FCI picked the dates of October 5 and December 7, 2013. The best price we could come up with was $21. As far as we’re concerned that was close enough and good enough.

By comparison, we tried the same dates booking one of the famous spartan Japanese hotel tubes and the best price we could come up with there was $75. The previously described hotel in So. Cal came in at $79.

Hanting is headquarted in Shanghai and that alone is worth the visit.

Time.com expresses Shanghai bristles with buildings, but the city doesn’t boast must-see sights like New York or Rome. The joys of Shanghai, instead, are on the street level, where everyday life unfolds with bewildering variety. An elderly woman in pajamas will be chopping vegetables on the stoop of her lane house, while a Prada-clad beauty will sashay past on her way to a nearby art gallery. So sharpen your elbows, pick up a pair of chopsticks and dig in.

Shanghai_Maglev (2)

The magnetic-levitation train ride from the international airport to the city is the perfect metaphor for Shanghai. The train reaches speeds of 430 km/hr (267 miles/hr), and the trip takes less than eight minutes. You’ll be feeling a bit whiplashed, but that sense of disorientation hints at the fast-paced city that lies ahead.

Wikipedia adds, Shanghai is the largest city by population in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities of the PRC, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010. It is a global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport. It is a major financial center and the busiest container port in the world.

Located in the Yangtze River Delta in East China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. The municipality borders the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the north, south and west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.

FCI makes an effort to research and report on subjects of interest that focus on the female’s expanding roles and choices in general and the growth of competitive non-nude women’s wrestling in particular. Of note, as of this writing, Hanting Hotels appears to be very progressive in promoting women to positions of responsibility with a female Chief Financial Officer, Min (Jenny) Zhang, a Director of Strategy and Capital Markets, Bonnie Bao and Investor Relations Manager, Ida Yu.

China Lodging Group, Limited is a leading and high-growth economy hotel chain operator in China. The Company provides business and leisure travelers with high-quality, and conveniently-located hotel products under three brands, namely, HanTing Seasons Hotel, HanTing Express Hotel, and HanTing Hi Inn.

Our hope is that Hanting’s product line extends to America, influencing other chains to follow suit where you can sleep at a large, clean hotel, at an extremely low price, very relaxed with both eyes closed.

~ ~ ~
Sources: CNN.COM, hotelnewsresource.com, Wikipedia, Tripadvisor.com, Time.com, photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Brainyquote.