x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The Hong Kong-based luxury hotelier will open a Shangri-La hotel in Tibet

Lodgers Lounge at the  Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa. Courtesy Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
Lodgers Lounge at the Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa. Courtesy Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has opened a new property in Tibet, in a somewhat belated “homecoming” for the group, which is named after the legendary Shangri-La, a mythical paradise set in the Himalayas. The Hong Kong-based company currently owns and/or manages more than 80 hotels in locations including the UAE, Australia, Canada, mainland China, Fiji, France, Hong Kong and India.

The Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa has 289 rooms and suites and is 3,600 metres above sea level, making it one of the world’s highest five-star hotels (a St Regis opened in Lhasa in 2011).

Guests will be welcomed with a traditional ceremonial white silk scarf and the throwing of barley on a “chema” (a wooden container used by Tibetans to pray for a bumper harvest), before being escorted to their room. There, they’re served yak butter tea in Tibetan pots. Upon departure, guests are sent off to the sound of the hotel staff singing traditional Tibetan songs and playing Tibetan string instruments.

“It is extremely important wherever we operate hotels that we embrace the local community and culture and our hotels reflect this authentically in both their design and offerings,” said Ester Marcaida, the hotel’s general manager.

The hotel is within walking distance of Potala Palace and Norbulingka Palace, but to help acclimatise visitors to the altitude, the hotel offers an oxygen lounge (the first in a hotel) and a “full-service” clinic. Inside the glass-walled lounge, the oxygen level is the same as that at sea level, so guests can breathe comfortably while relaxing and enjoying reflexology treatments. In addition, guests can unwind in Chi, The Spa, which offers signature massages and facials along with a menu of Tibetan-inspired treatments. Leisure facilities also include a fully equipped gym and a 25-metre indoor swimming pool.

The hotel offers several bars and restaurants, including a Chinese restaurant and an all-day dining restaurant offering “everything from fresh imported seafood to local cheese and cold cuts to yak steaks hot off the grill”. Until June 30, the hotel has an opening offer of double rooms from 2,861 renminbi per night (Dh1,685), including buffet breakfast, dinner for two and taxes (www.shangri-la.com/lhasa).

rbehan@thenational.ae