So, I went back to the states and have just returned to Shenzhen. I did one covid test in Seattle and then flew to Shanghai, where I quarantined at a Vienna Hotel (维也纳酒店), where my quarantine was physically comfortable, if somewhat surreal because while I was in isolation, zero-Covid infrastructure was being dismantled. I had a window, a clean comfy bed and lots of hot water. The food was cafeteria-standard: never tasty, but never so bad it couldn’t be eaten. And here’s the rub: when I was sent out of the hotel to find a taxi, I was within a twenty minute drive to the airport and the hi-speed railway, all for roughly 400 yuan a night, including food and Covid tests. So, I got my money’s worth?
Here’s the rub: Vienna has been my favorite Chinese hotel chain for at least two decades. When given a choice (or when I have to pay), I stay at a Vienna Hotel. In fact, I’m such a fan of the chain, my cellphone wallpaper is me mirroring a Dafen painting in the hallway of the Vienna Hotel near Zhongshan U (Sun Yay-sen University) and has been my wallpaper for five or six years… possibly more? Sometimes I loose track of the timeline of my life…
I have been seeking out Vienna Hotels since the early 2000s, when I stumbled upon the Haiwan branch in Shekou. As far as I know (and actually I don’t know all that much about the chain), the founder Huang Deman (黄德满) built his brand around the idea of “5-star experience at a 2-star price,” begging the question of what the key elements of a five-star experience are and what can be left out. He ended up emphasizing comfortable clean beds, plenty of hot water, and convenient location. And it is, in fact, the location of chain hotels that first attracted my attention.
Vienna Hotels are situated at the edge of a social center, offering a pretty reliable indication of where internal (but often) invisible urban boundaries lie.
The Haiwan hotel, for example, is located just at the border between the Shekou Industrial Zone and Wanxia Village. When it was established, it was close enough to the factories that investors could easily conduct business, but just peripheral enough that the price was often half and often more than that of one of the high-end hotels in more central locations. Similarly, there is a Vienna just outside Nantou Ancient City, near the previous Nanshan District offices (near Daxin) and the old Nantou industrial area. There are also Vienna Hotels in Gushu, Fuyong, Shajing and Songgang, Buji, Longgang and Dapeng. And all of them straddle Shenzhen’s formal and informal borders. What’s more, Vienna Hotels are decked out in Dafen style takes on Austrian music and art, with bas-relief cupids and paintings of violins.
Indeed, wherever you want to be in a Guangdong city, there is a convenient and relatively cheap Vienna Hotel. In Shenzhen alone, there are 34 Vienna Hotels and they are situated just where you need them to be–in Hubei, in Meilin, in Futian, and near both Shenzhen North and Shenzhen Pingshan Hi-speed train stations. Indeed, taking the hi-speed train through Guangdong Province, I’ve noticed that there are Vienna Hotels near all the hi-speed train stations, both heading north via Dongguan and Guangzhou, or heading north east along the coast (Huizhou, Puning, and Chaozhou-Shantou): when you approach a station and look out a window, there is a Vienna Hotel. Not to mention Vienna Hotels in major Chinese cities outside Guangdong, including Shanghai. Nationally, the chain has become something of an entrepreneurial model because, well, consistently affordable, comfortable, and convenient hotel rooms.
So, that’s what I’m wondering: just how did Vienna become such an important part of the quarantine process? Because they weren’t there early on…
As far as I can tell (and yes it’s not all that far), Vienna has been the chain of choice for quarantining in 2022, especially in Guangdong. I’m not sure if its because they are so conveniently located, because they’re was an effort to standardize the process and Vienna already provided standardized service, or if the chains relatively low-cost, but reliable service made them attractive to government officials…? Did other hotel chains want in on the action because quarantines were huge business…or was there no business and Vienna was willing to break even or loose money in some hotels, supporting zero-Covid in order to further the chain’s expansion?
So today more questions than thoughts or observations about the logistics of quarantining travelers during 2022…
Dear Mary Ann,
Sorry to hear about the quarantine you were suffered from 😦
I am planning to host a “Walk in Sha Jing Village” event in Shenzhen recently and have sent an email to your yahoo mailbox to invite you to join but it seems my email cannot access and I have no idea why…
If you are interested in knowing more details, please feel free to contact me via my school email or personal email.
Hi Logan, thank you for reaching out. I closed my yahoo account years ago. Contact me via WeChat at mary_ann_odonnell or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not sure if these answer any of your questions, but according to some academias’ analysis of the “Anti-Coronavirus Programme (8th Edition)” , hotels qualified for quarantine purpose meet the following requirements:
1. Location: convenient transport to lessen exposures on the road;
2. Access: entrance and exit should not be close to community roads;
3. Space: hotels should be big enough to be separated into different zones for medical and non-medical purposes;
4.Facilities: Ventilation, sewage , flooring , AC, windows…
(didn’t mention low price) Source:
In terms of whether these hotels have business agenda (to expand their size / fame / revenue) behind their proactive participation in the quarantine programmes, here is an interesting research from Queensland. It argues that the public have different preceptions for voluntary participating hotels and the gov-directed hotels. Source:
I have seen videos on YouTube teaching people how to avoid passing by quarantine hotels in Hong Kong, so (assuming people have a similar mentality in China) I don’t necessarily think that hotels were too thrilled to be part of the quanrantine programme, but then tourism was ground to a halt anyway. I guess hotels just have to take in whoever they can to keep themselves afloat.
Sice! Happy New Year. Yes, this is helpful because Vienna meets all the top conditions, in part because hotel sites seem to have been selected just at the edge of the formal and informal city(ies), which means they’re convenient, large and not near main streets (in the formal city).