THE Chinese property and travel tycoon Deng Hong likes to leave his personal stamp on his ventures.
Take his new InterContinental hotel in Chengdu, in the heart of Chinaâ€™s Sichuan province. Dengâ€™s watercolours, the results of an earlier artistic career, adorn the walls.
He designed the old-style teahouse on the hotelâ€™s fifth floor, where guests can sip jasmine tea and savour dim sum. And parked outside the front entrance are a Lamborghini, a Bentley, a Maybach and a Rolls-Royce â€“ from his personal collection of luxury cars.
Ten days ago, amid indoor fireworks and displays by dancing girls, hundreds of guests tucked into catfish stew, double-boiled sharkâ€™s fin and other local specialities at a 12-course banquet to mark the opening of the 560-room hotel, part of a huge new leisure and residential development.
The appetite for new hotels in China is in keeping with the countryâ€™s rapid economic development and urbanisation. IHG, the British company behind InterContinental and Holiday Inn, expects to open a new hotel there every week this year, for example, and the country has become a key battleground for all its main rivals.
The expansion is not confined to the main urban hubs of Shanghai and Beijing, but is also happening in second-tier cities, such as Chengdu.
Deng, who controls and chairs the ChengduExhibition & Travel Group (CET), is laying the groundwork for what he expects to be a big influx of overseas visitors to a city that boasts a population of 10m.
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