Beijing has long been thought of as China’s air pollution poster child, but Shanghai is an increasingly fierce competitor for the title. In February, the city reported a 9% yearly increase in PM 2.5 levels, or the measurement of small pollution particles that can be damaging to lungs if breathed in.
The PM 2.5 particles are so small, in fact, that building structures do little to block them out. Indeed, indoor air can often be even more dangerous to breathe, as the particles mix with paint gases and other shoddy building materials to become extra toxic.
With the Chinese government and its citizens becoming steadily more aware of the damaging effects of air pollution, it is surprising that so few mainland hotels offer filtered air to guests at this point.
The Cordis Shanghai, Hongqiao, which opened in June 2017, views complimentary filtered air as an essential part of the guest experience. Each window in the hotel is double-glazed with a two-level filtration system that seals the fresh air inside. TV screens in each of the 396 guest rooms display up-to-date air quality levels, which typically differ around ten times between inside and outside. That is, the air inside the Cordis is usually ten times cleaner than it is outside.
“Now the internet’s like hot water,” said John O’Shea, managing director of the hotel, “If you don’t have high-speed, fast, easy-access internet for free, then it’s over. The indoor air quality is going to be like that too – if you can’t guarantee your customers much better air quality than the competitors, it’s going to be a fait accompli. It’s already getting that kind of importance.”
The Cordis Shanghai is certainly forward-thinking in its implementation of the filtration system; however, it is not the first mainland hotel to offer such a luxury. The China World Hotel in Beijing, for example, has been providing filtered air to guests since 2016.
Yet, as the hotel market in Shanghai becomes ever more competitive, infinity pools and Michelin-star restaurants alone are no longer enough to ensure a hotel’s success.
O’Shea is right, Cordis Shanghai will not be the city’s only filtered-air hotel for long. As part of China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan, the government is requiring at least half of all new urban construction to be green-certified by 2020. Already, many schools and businesses are building green.
Now it’s time for hotels to turn green, too.