Published - Asia's top hotel brands set their sights on the City of Light

Raffles hotels, the Peninsula, Shangri-La — such names evoke images of impeccable service in luxurious surroundings, sometimes harking back to a bygone age. Asian brands have been gradually expanding to the Middle East and the Americas, and soon they will add one more destination to their offerings: Paris. By the end of the summer, Raffles and Shangri-La Hotels will each open their first European property in the City of Light: Raffles in the refurbished Royal Monceau, a stone's throw from the Arc de Triomphe, and Shangri-La in what was once the palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon's great-nephew. In 2012 the Peninsula will join them when it opens its first European property in another historic Paris building.
Why France? For Asia's top luxury hotels, the goal is to offer a familiar and trusted setting to Asian travelers while building brand awareness among Westerners.  Importantly, Chinese tourists are now outspending all other visitors in France on luxury goods — including high-end accommodation. Last year they overtook the Russians in luxury spending, representing 15 percent of all tourist spending in France, according to the VAT payback-services provider Global Refund. Chinese spending rose a whopping 47 percent, to €155 million; by comparison, tourists from the United States spent €64 million, up 1.9 percent. And Chinese are sticklers for brands they know. For the full Newsweek story