LAST week, Disney unveiled its new magic in Shanghai Disney Resort, which will be filled with innovative attractions and entertainment from the resort’s theme park to the two hotels and other facilities, created especially for Chinese guests.
Benoit Amado and Christine Zhao are new to Disney hotels, but they are no strangers to Shanghai hospitality.
Amado, originally from France, has been working in hotels and tourism for about 20 years. The last dozen were spent in Asia, including seven years in Shanghai and on the Chinese island resort province of Hainan.
In February 2014, Amado joined Shanghai Disney Resort as general manager of hotel operations, overseeing the future operations for the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel.
“It’s a beautiful project,” he said of Shanghai Disney Resort. “Disney focuses on providing guests a memorable experience and unique family entertainment. That’s what attracted me most to the company.”
Zhao, a Shanghai native, will serve as hotel operations manager at the new Disney resort.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the Disney brand,” she said. “I grew up on Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.”
She started her hotel career in Orlando, Florida, where the Walt Disney World Resort is a major tourism attraction. She has worked in the industry for 15 years, across China and overseas.
“So when Disney announced it was coming to Shanghai, I thought I just couldn’t miss that opportunity,” Zhao said. “It was like a dream come true for me.”
The two themed hotels are designed to keep the magic of a daytime visit alive at night.
“They are unique and have different themes or personalities,” Amado said of the two hotels.
Together, they will provide 1,220 rooms and include a range of dining, shopping and recreational facilities.
As the signature accommodation, Shanghai Disneyland Hotel has an Art Nouveau-inspired design imbued with Disney characteristics in its décor and even furniture.
Guests will be reminded of Disney characters at every turn: the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and the Lion King.
Toy Story Hotel offers a more playful environment, inspired by the Disney-Pixar series of “Toy Story” films.
The Disney theme extends to the menus of both hotels. At Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, those themes will play out at the buffet service in Lumiere’s Kitchen and in the fine dining amid breathtaking views in the Aurora Restaurant.
At Sunnyside Café in the Toy Story Hotel, Chinese-style kites featuring “Toy Story” characters will waft above the heads of diners. The kites are inspired by the traditional craftsmanship of Weifang in Shandong Province, a city famous for its kites.
“With the architecture, interior decor, beautiful costumes and immersive food and beverage experiences, you will feel you are actually immersed in the Disney story,” Amado said.
Added Zhao, “We’re trying to be very in line with the Chinese market and its culture. We are not only looking at being very Disney but also at fulfilling Chinese consumers’ preferences in service, design and product.”
The first thing that will “seize” a guest upon entering the hotels will be the whiff of special fragrances.
“It’s a very Chinese scent that will make people say to themselves, ‘Oh, it’s China’!” Amado said. “But, shh, it’s still a secret now. It could be bamboo, jasmine, peony or anything else from traditional Chinese culture.”
One of the special Chinese features at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel will be a fountain with a large, unique centerpiece — a glass peony blossom surrounded by classic Disney fairies. The peony is a traditional flower of China, and this piece, produced in Shanghai, will be one of the largest sculpted, solid glass flowers in China.
“Magical moments will be happening in the resort,” Amado said. “We want to surprise and impress our guests with first-class hospitality and service and meticulous attention to detail.”
Located within the resort and adjacent to Shanghai Disneyland and Wishing Star Lake, both hotels offer special logistical services for guests, including package pickups for any merchandise purchased in the theme park, luggage transport and shuttle service to the theme park.
“We put guests at the center of everything we do because we want to make sure that their experience is excellent,” Amado said.