China isn’t exactly known for sustainability, but the new Urbn Hotels & Resorts group aims to change that. The budding chain’s first property, a former factory and post office in central Shanghai, utilizes energy-efficient, water-based air-conditioning and bamboo solar shades outside the windows of its 26 rooms. Throughout the common spaces, the emphasis is on creative reuse: in the lobby, recycled vintage suitcases have been mounted on the wall in a decorative grid, and the floorboards and gray bricks have been retrieved from demolished buildings. Urbn, which plans to open 20 more hotels in China, is doing its part to offset the toll it takes on the environment—from the staff’s daily commutes to the delivery of food and beverages—by purchasing carbon credits that fund ecological projects across China. Owners are also intent on helping guests connect with the local culture. A concierge can arrange for classes on Chinese cooking, acupuncture, and more. As Urbn cofounder Jules Kwan explains, “When you walk in the front gate, we want you to feel like you couldn’t be anywhere else in the world.”
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