Bellboy now manages 15 of Wanda's hotels in China

Updated: 2016-08-29 07:49

By Xu Junqian(China Daily)

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Bellboy now manages 15 of Wanda's hotels in China

Boris Blobel, the general manager of Wanda Reign on the Bund in Shanghai, said that for him, Shanghai is not really China. It is as international as New York. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Boris Blobel, the general manager of Wanda Reign on the Bund in Shanghai, said the biggest lesson he has learned in the course of his career is not to seek excuses after experiencing failure.

But such a scenario seems unlikely, considering how the ultra-luxury hotel he is tasked to run looks to have hit the ground running since it opened on June 18.

Built at a cost of more than 3 billion yuan ($452 million), Wanda Reign is the most expensive hotel ever built in China. Owned by China's richest man Wang Jianlin, the founder and chairman of Wanda Group, the hotel features 193 rooms that come with art-deco designs and rates starting from 2,970 yuan per night, the highest in the city.

Each of the rooms in the luxury hotel, which blends state-of-the-art technology with retro art-deco design from 1930s Shanghai, is estimated to have cost 15 million yuan to build. In terms of amenities, the hotel offers guests a memorable dining experience with the MARC restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Marc Meneau. The hotel is so committed to providing guests with the best in hospitality that it flies Meneau in every month to oversee the operations of the restaurant.

While the five-star hotel industry in China has been languishing in recent years due to saturation and the implementation of anti-corruption measures by the central government in 2014, luxury hotels in China, which are defined as those that cost at least 2,500 yuan per room per night, have actually been experiencing good growth.

It is estimated that the average occupancy rate of luxury hotels in China is above 70 percent, in contrast to the 55 percent mark that five-star hotels have stagnated at.

"The demand is huge and the supply is limited. I do believe luxury will always have a market in China, and will continue to grow, especially when it comes to lifestyle. If there is an economy that will certainly grow, it's China's," said Blobel.

Chinese guests currently make up most of the hotel's clientele, but the management expects the proportion of foreign guests to rise to around 30 percent in future.

Neighboring the likes of Peninsula and Waldorf Astoria on the Bund, Wanda Reign offers many attractions for guests from home and abroad, Blobel said. Wanda Reign boasts a vast collection of art pieces that is valued at 70 million yuan. In addition, the hotel's "Chinese DNA" is a big draw.

"Wanda Reign is a young but proud Chinese hotel brand, founded to show the world that Chinese people can run a luxurious hospitality brand as well," said Blobel.

"For me, Shanghai is not really China. It is as international as New York, London and Paris. Shanghai is the most sophisticated and advanced city in China that is ready to take on the world, especially in terms of services," said Blobel.

Growing up in what he calls "an expat family" which has spent more time overseas than in their home country in Germany, Blobel said he was always fascinated by the hotel industry and had aspired to become the general manger of one at some point in his life.

He started his career in the hospitality industry interning as a bellboy. After graduating from hotel management school, Blobel worked his way up to his current position where he manages 15 of Wanda's hotels in China. Having worked in China for several years before, Blobel joined Wanda in 2012 and served as the general manager of the group's first luxury hotel in Wuhan, Hubei province.

Asked about his experience of working with China's richest man, Blobel said that Wang has been an inspiration with his keen foresight and no-nonsense approach to doing business. He added that within just four-and-a-half years, the Chinese real estate mogul has grown the number of hotels under Wanda Group to 50.

By the end of this year, the number of hotels owned or managed by Wanda would reach 100, with another seven overseas hotels in the pipeline.

"Things are very straightforward at Wanda-you get all the tools and assets you need and you just do it. You don't make up excuses. That's Wanda's message," said Blobel.