Grand Hyatt ChengduRebecca Lo • Photography by Durston Saylor • April 11, 2017
When the Grand Hyatt Chengdu opened last July, the city was eager to see the results of its eight-year construction period. For designer Tony Chi of eponymous New York firm tonychi, the timeframe was a blessing. “The longer the project, the more intimate, the more attached, and the more intrigued I became,” he says. “In many ways, it can be an advantage.”
The 390-key property (originally planned as a Hyatt Regency by owners Chicony Dalu Enterprise) is set in an enviable location on Chunxi Road in the fashionable Jinjiang district, so Chi looked to the elegance of traditional Sichuan houses as well as French country manors as inspiration for transforming the 10th to 39th floors of the bold Chicony Square mixed-used building into a grand home away from home.
He started at the entry. Because floors one to nine house a shopping complex, there is a large gap between the street entrance and its reception area. To overcome the separation, Chi created a strong sense of arrival that connected the ground floor, the elevators, and the salons on the 10th floor by growing “vibrant gardens upon the walls with grand floral paintings by artist Carlos Arnaiz that welcome guests into the comfort and intimacy of the arrival lounge,” he says.
The arrivals floor unfolds like a series of French salons, allowing one area to open to another. From Salon, a living room-style space with full-height, double-story glazing where Sichuan tea culture can be fully experienced, guests enter Nougat, a pastry shop designed like a jewelry boutique. “The double height opens the space like the sky opens the garden,” explains Chi, noting his favorite part is the patisserie communal table, which acts as a nucleus of the hotel.
On the 16th floor, #8 specializes in the region’s hotpot cuisine by showcasing all the ingredients upon entry. “We found balance by inviting guests to partake in the complete experience, authenticity being key. Ingredients on display are never staged but instead kept fresh through practical use,” he points out. In addition, the Steak House—crafted with “a holistic experience in mind,” says Chi—allows for tableside preparations with gray marble-clad stations and adjacent glass cases.
To further emphasize the domestic feel, Chi opted for hardwood flooring, “a signature element of Chinese homes,” he says, to dominate both public areas and guestrooms. Suites highlight these neutral tones where a mixture of woods, leathers, and accent lights juxtapose live vegetation, green marble statues, and glass tables that gleam in the natural light. A celebration of nature, the hotel “is an oasis, a sanctuary in a bustling city crafting tranquility through the use of all that is natural,” Chi says. With that in mind, careful attention was paid to three outdoor gardens, which include sculpture and landscaping.
Art also plays a key role in the design, retelling Chengdu’s rich history through photographs adorning tearoom walls and cultural Chinese artifacts placed thoughtfully in rooms, “each with their own unique history to share,” he says. Birdcages and horses are also incorporated throughout in displays and guestroom features, such as table lamps, to reference their local significance. “Take a walk in the parks and markets of Chengdu, and you will likely see people carrying birds in their cages,” he explains. Meanwhile, horses symbolize royalty, honor, and education. “They carry us and assist us as partners—an embodiment of hospitality.”