AS CHINA’S CAPITAL ACCELERATES FASTER than a speeding bullet, all eyes turn to the country’s biggest techno geeks and high-tech pioneers spinning their innovative digital wheels. The latest reports reveal artificial intelligence leads the charge.
A planned artificial intelligence development park is on the books for Beijing. The proposed $2.12 billion site expected to house 400 enterprises in the mountainous Mentougou district is part of a bigger dream picture for Beijing to become a world leader in AI by 2025.
Meanwhile, hungry business travelers can get a taste of AI when they stop at a KFC location in Beijing’s financial district. The U.S. fast food giant introduced the smart restaurant concept earlier last year. To boot, this past spring Beijing hosted Silicon Valley in an unprecedented meeting of the world’s leading AI innovators. Dubbed the AI Conference, exceptional global talents from an A-list of big data experts like Google, eBay, Alibaba and Amazon converged to rattle on about clouds and smart technology.
Not bad for an ancient metropolis once known for its private meetings by the biggest VIPs of the day in a place called the Forbidden City. Beijing is now a hotbed for international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.
As part of one of China’s most rapidly developing cities, Beijing’s MICE industry boasts excellent facilities, suppliers and an extensive network of management. In 2016 the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development reported a 20 percent increase in conference bookings compared to the previous year.
For MICE, Beijing now ranks first in China and fourth in Asia. The capital boasts a total of 5,593 conference rooms, of which 194 offer a seating capacity of more than 500. For hotel room inventory — now topping 190,000 rooms — the capital offers a variety of accommodations to meet every budget, including 64 5-star hotels and 131 4-star hotels.
Beijing is one of the first cities in China to introduce MICE tourism policies to host and assist international conferences. Planners can apply to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development for services such as FAM trips and financial support.
The 28-story Beijing International Hotel Convention Center, located 19 miles southwest of Beijing Capital Airport and a short drive from the China World Trade Center in the culture-rich Dongcheng district, recently hosted the AI Conference. Equipped with the latest technology, facilities include 30 function rooms of meeting space and a 21,500-square-foot Grand Hall overlooking the busy streetscape of Chang’an Avenue. City sights such as the Silk Market, the WangFuJing shopping area or the Forbidden City and Beihai Park lie within easy walking distance.
Award-winning NUO Hotel Beijing snagged recognition such as Best MICE Hotel of the Year, including this year’s TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award as one of the Top 25 Luxury Hotels in China. Located near the trendy 798 Art District and 751D Park, NUO embodies the Chinoiserie of yesterday with modern-day conveniences. The pillar-free Yongle Grand Room is named after a Ming Dynasty emperor who bore the moniker meaning “Perpetual Happiness.” The décor accents high style, from the giant crystal chandeliers to the sumptuous, smooth, gray marble and plush carpets. The hotel’s signature Yuan Tea House evokes a grand imperial courtyard. The bespoke setting serves premium teas in clay pots from one of China’s famous potters. The hotel venue continually hosts meetings and events from press conferences to automotive product launches and fashion shows.
Within walking distance of Beijing’s Financial Street, the new luxury Pan Pacific Beijing hotel is the latest in a crop of the city’s burgeoning hotel developments. Located on the west side of Tiananmen Square, the property is ideal for small- to medium-sized groups seeking personalized options; a meeting concierge provides bespoke service.
“Many people, when thinking of retreats, would probably look out of the city,” says Cuili Ng, corporate communications manager, Pan Pacific Hotels Group, noting the hotel’s new corporate programs can combine on-site meeting sessions with team-building exercises at nearby attractions like the Summer Palace or Beihai Park.
A mile from Tiananmen Square, the 500-room, renovated Regent Beijing hails top service and boasts an array of rooms with Forbidden City views. As of late, U.S. Ivy League universities with a penchant for MBAs and EMBAs regularly stay at this luxe spot, spending up to two weeks meeting various corporations and exploring city sights.
Revered as the best luxury hotel in the shopping district of Wangfujing, with its dizzying high-end retail therapy outlets such as Gucci and Chanel mixed with a Ferrari car dealership and a Tesla charging station, the Regent Beijing offers conventioneers close proximity to landmark attractions, shopping opportunities and more than 20,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting space.
Considered one of the finest opera houses, the National Centre for the Performing Arts is a bastion for all the performing arts. French architect Paul Andreu designed a titanium ellipsoid egg-shaped dome clad in glass to house a multipurpose venue. The structure houses a 2,416-seat opera house; a 2,017-seat concert hall; and a 1,040-seat theater as well as art and exhibition spaces. Book in advance to take your group on a private tour.
At the foot of the famed Western Hills lies the Imperial Summer Palace and Pleasure Garden, five times the size of the Forbidden City. Explore a collection of imperial landmarks built in the heyday of China’s Qing Dynasty (18th and 19th centuries) centered around Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. Dubbed the Versailles of the East and the Garden of Gardens, remnants of a bygone era now remain. The Hall of Jade Billows was the living quarters of the Qing emperors. The three-story Great Opera Hall, built in the Dehe Garden for the Empress Dowager Cixi, once was the cornerstone of Chinese opera.
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