Room service? Xi takes over Hong Kong luxury hotels

By AFP/Aaron Tam   June 30, 2017 | 11:53 am GMT+7
Room service? Xi takes over Hong Kong luxury hotels
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects troops at the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison in one of events marking the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from British to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong, China June 30, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Damir Sagolj

But it is unclear who is footing the room bill.

China's President Xi Jinping will want for nothing during his three-day visit to Hong Kong after taking over two entire luxury hotels with more than 1,300 rooms between them.

The glitzy harborfront Grand Hyatt and Renaissance, in the business and commercial district of Wan Chai, are usually bustling with guests as well as visitors to their popular bars and restaurants.

But now all entrances are blocked by metal barricades or guarded by security as the politically turbulent city remains in lockdown for Xi's landmark trip to mark 20 years since it was handed back to China by Britain.

Xi checked in Thursday and will leave Saturday, with it unclear who is footing the extensive room bill.

Local media said he would stay in the lower-profile four-star Renaissance for security reasons, with the five-star Hyatt for his entourage.

Staying at the Renaissance reportedly costs as much as HK$28,000 ($3,586) per night, with the presidential suite including living and dining rooms, a conference room, and a marble bathroom.

A presidential suite at the Grand Hyatt costs three times as much, according to local media, with guests asked to call direct to organize bespoke facilities. One high-end suite at the hotel comes equipped with a giant glass-walled infinity bath and in-room spa treatments, according to the website.

Booking out both hotels for two nights at even the most basic standard room rate would be worth more than five million Hong Kong dollars -- over $700,000.

The Grand Hyatt confirmed to AFP that "one group of people" had booked out all its rooms, while the adjacent Renaissance would not comment on arrangements.

High-profile visitors usually choose the Hyatt, but stop short of booking out the whole hotel and the one next door.

The hotels are next to the convention centre which is the focal point for the anniversary celebrations and is protected by a massive security cordon, including machine-gun toting police officers and two-meter high (6.56 feet) waterfilled barricades.

Authorities are anxious to keep protesters away from Xi, who is visiting for the first time since he became leader in 2013, as political tensions remain high and concerns grow Beijing is threatening the semi-autonomous city's freedoms.

The nearest protest area to the hotels is almost 500 meters (1,640 feet) away and the famous Victoria Harbor has become a restricted flying zone.