Xian - People’s Hotel
Speech by Andreas Augustin at the Opening ceremony of the PEOPLES' GRAND HOTEL XIAN, China on 3. September 2014
The Renmin Dasha family is reunited
The People’s Grand Hotel Xian must be seen within the context of the entire Renmin Dasha complex. No hotel would exist today without the other. The People’s Grand Hotel, also referred to as Building Number One, in the heart of the entire complex, has been missing for many years, like a father missing from the family’s Sunday table for too long.
Before it closed, it was sometimes heavily secured by grim looking guards, and it has earned itself a reputation of a government hotel, not accessible to the ordinary man from the street. Today its two mighty wings around the centre are stretched out like arms, wide open, welcoming travellers from all over the world.
The hotel is the brightest star in the world of Chinese hospitality, it is a 'Legend' and it has been immediately accepted into the global family of The Most Famous Hotels in the World®.
In the West we like to call famous historic hotels ‘Grand Old Ladies’. May be because they can develop striking attitudes, or because they are larger-than-life personalities, or simply … because they are so expensive.
This grand old lady has developed all these attitudes, and more. It has witnessed history, hosted the most famous personalities on Earth and has been the venue for important meetings.
When we visited the People’s Hotel Xian for the first time in September 2013, it was a hollow shell, full of workers, noise and dust. One of the fathers, Pierre Henrichs, manager at the hotel today, took us around the construction site, sharing the visions of Accor. He explained everything so passionate, that - before our eyes - an empty space became a sizzling hot pizza-oven and a round empty space a luxurious lobby.
Stephen Antram, the general manager, shared with us his visions of luxury, Michel Molliet recalled his early efforts to turn the sleepy old People’s Hotel into a grand hotel. It is that sort of imagination that inspires, encourages and drives hotel projects like this.
At the Museum of the Grand Hotel, commissioned by Chairman Hui, curated and produced by famoushotels.org.
Renmin Dasha chairman Mr Hui (Feng Nian) took us through the gardens. With the sparkling eyes of a true lover of details he introduced me to a 1200 years old tree in the courtyard, before he went on to show me the Olive trees planted from seeds presented to the hotel by Chou En Lai some 50 years ago. It is the concentration on details, which makes all the difference.
Our organisation The Most Famous Hotels in the World® was invited to bring the hotel’s history to life. We dug deep and found lots. My wife Carola, who heads the history department (HA! finally we have a mother of success), was very impressed by the hotel’s archives, perfectly kept from the 1950s, with photo albums and documents well-preserved.
Well, you might ask yourself: what’s so special at this hotel Where is the benefit to be a famous hotel What’s all the fuss about its history
The answer is simple: History can not be bought, it must be earned. It is this history that sets the most famous hotels in the world apart from all the others. It is their history, this element of storytelling, that makes all the difference. The idea to be sleeping in the same hotel like a Crown prince or a famous movie star - maybe even at the same time - is simply exciting.
Last but not least, let me mention the most important factor in the game: after building a hotel you have to find the right people who drive your idea. The people at the front. The ‘first impressions’. Your ambassadors.
While researching and producing our book and the Museum, we have spent some weeks at the People’s Grand Hotel. I say this with pride because it is one of the privileges of our mission to sometimes be able to witness history in the making.
We have found people full of fond memories of days gone by, historians who helped us with our work, and most important, we have found today’s team of wonderful young and inspired people who act as ‘ambassadors’ of the hotel. They have made this hotel our home in China, far away from home. They treated us as if we were Crown princes or movie stars ourselves, while we are, in fact, only humble servants in a wonderful and exciting industry.
We look with great pride at the achievement, accomplished by all these fathers and mothers, who created a grand hotel and – in fact – continued a LEGEND.
You see, the family is reunited.