St. Regis Opens Luxury Hotel in Lhasa

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Jun. 2 – The St. Regis chain of luxury hotels, part of the Starwood Group, has just opened a five-star resort property in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The design of the St. Regis Lhasa is inspired by a nearby and still active monastery and is the highest altitude hotel in the world at 12,000 feet (3,360 meters) above sea level.

In common with many hotels in the city, each room is fitted with a tank of oxygen just in case guests feel symptoms of altitude mountain sickness as they get used to the rarified air. The oxygen content of air in Lhasa is just 75 percent of that at sea level in the summer, and drops further to 50 percent during the winter months. The hotel boasts 150 suites, 12 private villas, a spa, swimming pool, wine bar and restaurants. Officials say demand for luxury travel in Tibet is on the rise and other similar five-star hotels and boutique hotels are opening their doors, including one in the 300-year-old Jokhang Temple.

The government of the Tibet Autonomous Region hopes to attract 15 million tourists by 2015 and numbers are already expected to exceed 300,000 in 2011. Tourism is currently responsible for almost 15 percent of Tibet’s economy.

“This hotel has filled a gap in the market for high-end travellers and ends Tibet’s history of having no luxury hotels,” said Wang Songping, deputy head of the Tibetan Tourist Bureau.

The sacred 1419 Sera Monastery, on which the hotel is modeled, is a major pull for tourists coming to Lhasa and is considered a significant relic in the nation’s history.

The only previous foreign hotel chain in Lhasa was the Holiday Inn, which closed its doors a number of years back following a shareholder revolt over the chain operating business in Tibet under the Chinese Government. The story of that hotel was told in the book “Running a Hotel on the Roof of the World.”

Dezan Shira & Associates services foreign clients in Tibet and have done so for several years. To contact the practice over foreign investment regulations and available incentives and tax breaks in Tibet please email the firm at info@dezshira.com.

Related Reading
Running a Hotel on the Roof of the World
This is a behind-the-scenes look at the running of the unheated, rat-infested and highly disorganized Holiday Inn in Lhasa, set against the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas. Author Alec Le Sueur gathered five years of anecdotes–many of them laugh-out-loud funny–during his service as marketing manager of the Lhasa Holiday Inn in Tibet. Most deal with the inconveniences of everyday life and business due to cultural factors, the remote location, or the bureaucracy of the Chinese government.

Business Guide to West China
172 pages. This book is a detailed overview of West China, including the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan, and includes detailed introductions to the key cities of Chengu, Chongqing, Kashgar, Kunming, Lanzhou, Lhasa, Guiyang, Urumqi, Xining and Yinchuan.

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