China shuts Marriott’s local website over Tibet, Hong Kong error

Shanghai authorities are probing whether the gaffe in Marriott International’s Mandarin-language questionnaire violated national cyber-security and advertising laws. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2018
0

China shuts Marriott’s local website over Tibet, Hong Kong error

SHANGHAI: Authorities in China have shut down Marriott’s local website for a week after the US hotel giant mistakenly listed Chinese-claimed regions such as Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries.
Shanghai’s cyberspace authority late Thursday ordered Marriott to close its Chinese website and app for a week and completely clear out illegal and irregular information, according to a government statement.
Marriott’s Chinese website now shows a message with an apology.
“We never support any separatist organization that damages China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it says.
“We apologize profoundly for any behavior that will cause misunderstanding about the above stance.”
In a customer questionnaire in Mandarin, Marriott asked members of the chain’s customer rewards program to list their country of residence, giving Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as possible options.
It triggered an uproar on Chinese social media as Tibet is an “autonomous region” firmly under Chinese control since the 1950s.
Hong Kong and Macau are former British and Portuguese colonies, respectively, that are now “special administrative regions” under China.
Taiwan has been self-ruled since splitting from the mainland after a 1949 civil war, but Beijing continues to claim sovereignty over the island.
Shanghai authorities are probing whether the gaffe in Marriott International’s Mandarin-language questionnaire violated national cyber-security and advertising laws.
“We welcome foreign companies to invest and operate in China, but in the meantime they should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, respect our laws and regulations, as well as the feelings of the Chinese people,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing.
“I think this is the basic principle for foreign countries to conduct operations and investment in other countries,” Lu said.
While Marriott apologized, public anger further escalated after the official Twitter account of Marriott Rewards liked a tweet from “Friends of Tibet,” an India-based group that supports Tibetan independence and congratulated the hotel chain for listing Tibet as a country.
Marriott president and chief executive Arne Sorenson soon issued a lengthy apology letter, which described the “like” as “careless.”
“Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite,” said Sorenson.
“Upon completion of a full investigation into how both incidents happened, we will be taking the necessary disciplinary action with respect to the individuals involved, which could include termination.”


Bulgari hotel: An Italian escape in Dubai

Luxury doesn’t shout its presence with bling or ostentatious features, instead it quietly whispers. (bulgarihotels.com)
Updated 19 April 2018
0

Bulgari hotel: An Italian escape in Dubai

  • The “urban oasis” is currently the only hotel situated on the offshore Jumeira Bay island
  • Home to just 110 rooms, suites and villas, the sprawling low-rise property oozes Italian elegance with its minimalist aesthetic

DUBAI: Bulgari, the venerated Italian design house, has just five hotels around the world. And even in Dubai — a city crammed with luxury hotels — the Bulgari Resort manages to seem exclusive. The “urban oasis” is currently the only hotel situated on the offshore Jumeira Bay island, offering guests some respite from the city’s often-hectic atmosphere, even though it is literally minutes away from the pulsing heart of Dubai.

Home to just 110 rooms, suites and villas, the sprawling low-rise property oozes Italian elegance with its minimalist aesthetic. Master architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel — who are responsible for all the Bulgari hotels worldwide — have used a neutral color palette and custom motifs, such as coral-inspired lacquered steel parapets and mashrabiya-patterned accents, to give the hotel a sense of place.

Here, luxury doesn’t shout its presence with bling or ostentatious features, instead it quietly whispers, with fine materials — from Italian marble to sumptuous silks, impeccable attention to detail, and touches including the signature fragrance that wafts around you from the second you enter.

The hotel is responsible for a couple of firsts for the brand, including its ‘Little Gems’ kids club — where children are entertained with bespoke activities such as cooking classes and treasure hunts while their parents enjoy some downtime — and the global debut of the Bulgari Marina & Yacht Club, which has its own pool and recreation facilities, signature seafood restaurant, and 50-berth harbor.

All rooms and suites feature a walk-in closet, spacious balconies, smooth one-touch button controls, and bathrooms with standalone tubs boasting enviable views — making for some excellent Insta-fodder. The signature trunk-style mini-bar is as funky as it is functional, and the trendy basket beach bags are perfect for stashing your souvenirs — including designer knick-knacks from on-site concept store La Galleria.

The one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas offer private pools and butler service, but you don’t want to miss the resort’s circular central pool, where luxury cabanas with oversized daybeds and on-call service invite you to lounge the day away. Just adjacent is the crescent-shaped private beach, with the gentle waters of the Arabian Gulf offering perfect swimming conditions, even if the tip of the seahorse-shaped island mars the view slightly.

Whether you opt for a beach-and-pool day or a Dubai-sightseeing trip, your evening should definitely be devoted to the quintessentially Italian aperitivo experience at Il Bar, where an oval-shaped chrome counter provides a social centerpiece, and an outdoor terrace offers marina views. The seriously chic Il Ristorante (by lauded Italian chef Niko Romito) is just next door, and shares the terrace. Its tiramisu is one of the best in town, as is the freshly baked rustic bread.

Offering a more pared-back dining experience are La Spiaggia, a beachside restaurant and bar, and Il Café, the Bulgari take on a casual all-day dining destination which still features jaw-dropping design, and, in line with the whole ‘nothing is too much trouble’ service ethos, serves breakfast all day.

That ethos extends to the spa too, where therapists provide the ultimate in pampering using top-shelf products, including La Mer, in a soothing nature-inspired space. The use of rare precious materials, including grey Vicenza stone and green onyx, infuse the environment with a subtle opulence.

A 25-meter indoor swimming pool with its own cabanas, extensive facilities (including a shower offering a “Caribbean thunderstorm” experience), and private hammam, plus an exclusive Lee Mullins training program at the state-of-the-art gym complete the impressive recreation facilities at the resort.

If you’re looking for a classy, authentic ‘slice-of-Italy’ experience in the Middle East, then the Bulgari Resort Dubai is where you should check in.