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Beijing 2008: Major Hotel Groups Gearing Up

Once travelers to the Beijing Games have endured a flight that can take up to 14 hours, should you be able to fly direct from a U.S. city, they'll find plenty of familiar names in the hotel business in Beijing.

Top hotel brands are already well established in Beijing and Shanghai – as well as smaller cities – and are boosting their presence, looking to capitalize on the games, which are expected to draw an estimated 2 million visitors. About 1.7 million Americans visited China in 2006, up 10% from the previous year.

“You’re going to get a lot of people who haven’t been there,” says Joe McInerney, president of American Hotel & Lodging Association, who most recently visited China in September. "It’s going to be a tremendous opportunity.”

"First and formeost, it gives exposure to the destination, especially a destination that is not common and in the long run it provides an avenue for future growth in China," echoes Edwin Fuller, president and managing director of Marriott Lodging - International.

Choices Abound

Here’s a snapshot of hotel companies in the Beijing market, which cover virtually all the industry price points.

Wyndham Worldwide has sixteen properties under its various brands, which include Ramada, Super 8 and Days Inn.

Intercontinental Hotelshas one hotel under its flagship brand and another eight between its Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza units. (Read about ING's expansion plans for China.)

Marriott Internationalis also expanding aggressively and will have 11 hotels open before the games start. Marriott also has big plans for China in general.

Starwood Hotels & Resortshas five properties under its Westin, St. Regis and Sheraton brands.

Hilton has three facilities, while Radisson Hotels & ResortsandBest Western each have one.

Chances are, no matter what hotel you choose, you may be pleasantly surprised by the service.

McInerney says the Chinese government has worked closely with hotel operators in the past five years to prepare for the games. Training -- particularly the importance of service -- has been a major focus.

“It’s like anything else,” says McInerney. “You want to put your best foot forward, and make the event look good, make the company look good and make the country look good."

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