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    Apr 30, 2014

    Hyatt, Marriott in the West, Haiyatt, Marvelot in China


    IS THE Peninsula Hotel in Yangcheng part of the five-star Peninsula Hotels group known for its Rolls-Royces? Can you accrue Marriott rewards points at the Marvelot Hotel, which includes the Chinese characters for Marriott in its name? Is the Haiyatt hotel in China a Hyatt brand hotel? No, no and no.

    Like many Chinese businesses with names and products closely resembling those of well-known international brands, hotels that look and sound somewhat familiar to international travellers are popping up in China.

    As established chains expand deeper into China, they find that they are competing with reasonable facsimiles of themselves.

    The Haiyatt Suzhou is in Suzhou, a large cultural and industrial city in eastern China. The hotel offers deluxe rooms, suites, conference rooms, European cuisine and a "Haiyatt Grand Nightclub" - just about everything a business traveller would expect in a Hyatt hotel, in a city where travellers might expect to find a Hyatt.

    In fact, the Haiyatt Suzhou will be joined this spring by the Hyatt Regency Suzhou.

    Western brands are often seen as higher in quality than their Chinese counterparts, said Kunal Sinha, chief knowledge officer for Ogilvy China, so giving a product - be it a shampoo or a hotel - a name similar to a Western brand's is valuable.

    Last year, a travel agent told Mr Sinha that he was booked at the Shengyan Marriott for a business trip. When he arrived, Mr Sinha was surprised to find he was not checking into a Marriott hotel, but at the Marvelot. "Local people assume it is a Western hotel because it is a big and impressive property," he said.

    Li Quan, a pharmaceutical sales representative travelling on business this week in Shanghai, said he knew the Hengsheng Peninsula International Hotel was not part of the international Peninsula chain, but believed it would be an "upscale hotel because of the obvious name resemblance".

    He was disappointed to find "so-so facilities and worse-than-average service".