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New San Gabriel Sheraton offers robots and high-end food to attract Chinese tourists

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Shown is one of eight robots that are employed at the new Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel, a hotel designed to attract Chinese tourists. The robots can be used to deliver towels and other items to guests at the 288-room hotel.
(Clair Chang / Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel)

Several Southern California hotels have added amenities to lure big-spending Chinese tourists, including putting tea pots and slippers in each room. But a hotel built specifically to draw Chinese visitors opened recently in San Gabriel, featuring robots, Mandarin-speaking concierges, a high-end Chinese restaurant and a popular messaging app.

“Bringing this level of luxury accommodation and service was a huge area of opportunity for the San Gabriel Valley,” Wanda Chan, general manager of the hotel, said during an opening ceremony last week.

The Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel, a 288-room hotel on East Valley Boulevard, has 19,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, plus eight robots that can offer guests directions and deliver towels and other items to the rooms.

In addition to a steak house, the hotel will be home to the nation’s first Ba Shu Feng, a high-end Sichuan restaurant that is popular in China. To communicate with guests, the hotel has an account with WeChat, the social app with more than 980 million monthly users.

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There is good reason for hotels to cater to Chinese visitors.

In 2016, the United States reported the 13th straight year of growth in visitors from China, with nearly 3 million tourists arriving that year. Although international visitation to the United States began to drop last year, the United States was on pace to report just as many Chinese visitors for 2017. The final statistics have not been compiled yet by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Chinese visitors tend to spend heavily on designer and brand-named products when they visit the United States. A study by the Oxford Economics Co. predicted that Chinese visitors will spend $5.4 billion during visits to Los Angeles by 2023, a 284% increase over a decade earlier.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.


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