Remaking an icon
Niccolò Polo, together with his brother, Maffeo, were Italian merchants who travelled from Europe to the Mongol Empire in Asia, selling their wares, while bringing the ancient and modern worlds together. Upon reaching China, they were very pleased with the interesting culture they came face to face with.
However, the brothers had to return to Europe to deliver a message to the Pope. After some time, they both decided to go back to China. Niccolo brought his son, Marco, with him chronicling their journey in his popular journal, The Travels of Marco Polo.
Marco Polo Hotels is a hotel management company based in Hong Kong and banners a total of 13 hotels in that city, in China and in the Philippines, since it opened in 1986. Next year, another Marco Polo Hotel will open in China, bringing the total to 14.
Niccolo Hotels is the luxury brand of Marco Polo Hotels and prides itself with its first hotel in Chengdu, China, which opened two years ago. By next year, four new Niccolo hotels would have been added to the list. This collection of contemporary urban chic hotels in desirable, highly priced addresses promises fastidious travelers a luxury experience, style and taste coupled with impeccable hospitality from the golden era of travel.
The new Niccolo Hotels brand was designed to cater to the growing sophistication of the luxury hotel sector in China, and Chengdu was chosen as the location for its first property as the city posted the most successful economy in mainland China.
Dr. Jennifer Cronin, president of Niccolo Hotels, at a recent get-together with friends of the brand, announced the tremendous success of Niccolo Hotel Chengdu, and their new, much anticipated landmark project in Hong Kong.
The iconic and historic Murray Building in the city’s central business district, right by Hong Kong Park, will now be The Murray, a Niccolo Hotel, with 336 luxuriously designed rooms on 27 floors, set to open in October this year. It will have a stunning rooftop bar with a breathtaking view of the city, a series of specialty restaurants, and a variety of meeting and events spaces.
This new flagship property of the brand will be the first new luxury hotel to open in Hong Kong for several years. I’m sure that anybody who frequents Hong Kong is familiar with that tall while landmark structure in the city’s business district, with its distinctive arches and unique recessed windows. It was built in 1969 and has since won many awards for its groundbreaking and energy efficient design.
Tasked to undertake the multi-million-dollar project of converting the iconic building into luxury accommodations, are world-renowned architects Foster and Partners, whose works include the city’s Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank headquarters, and the Hong Kong International Airport.
The new luxury hotel’s managing director, British-born hotelier Duncan Palmer, has promised to bring his many years of experience with The Savoy, The Connaught, Mandarin Oriental and Langham Hotels, and many others, to create a truly world-class hotel for Hong Kong through The Murray.
Having seen the Management’s plans for the hotel and its facilities, I am sure that travelers from Manila and other parts of the country who go for the finer things in life, will now be pleased to have another choice of accommodations that will match, if not surpass, the usual favorites---the Hong Kong Peninsula in Kowloon, and the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong side.
If Marco Polo were alive today, I’m sure he would be pleased to see how his namesake’s hotel management company is paying fitting tribute to his father’s legacy, through this luxury brand that will soon be a standard against which all other luxury brands will be measured.
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