XIAN, CHINA—Sofitel Luxury Hotels says thePeople's Grand Hotel here has joined the company'ssuper-luxury Legend Collection.

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With this recent addition, Sofitel is now managing a total of19 properties in Greater China.

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“Seven thousand years of history and tradition surround thisheritage building which has been lovingly transformed into thefirst hotel in Greater China to join Sofitel's exclusive ultra-luxeLegend Collection, and the fifth Sofitel Legend inthe world,” the company said in a statement. The MetropoleHanoi was the first hotel to have received this distinction tobecome the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi in July2009. In 2011, The Grand Amsterdam (TheNetherlands) and the mythical Old CataractAswan (Egypt) followed in its footsteps.The Sofitel Legend Cartagena Santa Clara(Colombia) was inaugurated in December 2012.

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The Xian hotel was opened in 1953, as the StateGuesthouse, the hotel was designed by HongQing, Chief Architect of the Northwest Institute ofArchitectural Design. He skilfully sited the building in anextensive garden, formerly part of the grounds of an imperialpalace. Hong used a number of French touches, includingfleur-de-lis as a recurring motif.

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“Lofty ceilings and generous proportions in the 71 rooms andsuites convey a rare feeling of time and place,” the statement goeson to say.

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Guests will enjoy all the sophisticated French pampering touchesassociated with Sofitel such as Hermès toiletries andFrench-designed floral arrangements. Additional features includepersonalized butler service from the moment of arrival, anextensive garden setting, private health club, swimming pool andspa, an authentic Italian restaurant, an exclusive top-floor LouisXIII Bar and a private museum. All-weather links provide easyaccess to the neighboring Convention Centre andGrand Theatre.

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The People's Grand Hotel Xian is part of RenminSquare, an extensive hotel complex (all under Accormanagement) within a 40,000-square meters (Approx. 4,305,567-feetsquared) landscaped garden. Ideally located inside theMing Dynasty city walls at the heart of historicXian, the hotel is only 15 minutes walk to the world's firstmuseum, the Forest of Steles, or to the colorful Moslem quarterwhere traders have flourished in the spice-laden air for manycenturies.

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"It is very fitting that the first Legend hotel in Accor China'sportfolio should be located in the beautiful heart of this timelesscity that is filled with history," said MichaelIssenberg, chairman and chief operating officer for AccorAsia Pacific. "Following extensive renovation and preparation, weare so pleased to share the exceptional service and traditionalChinese hospitality of this Sofitel Legend in Xian, in a trulylegendary setting."

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Acknowledged as the world's finest city in its heyday, Xian wasChina's capital through 13 dynasties. Today it is a vibrant centerfor education, high technology and tourism. Long before thediscovery of the Terracotta Army in 1974, Xian wasalready an important cultural destination for visitors eager toexperience the picturesque city wall and such attractions as theBig Goose Pagoda, repository of sacred manuscriptsand other items brought from India by Xuan Zang when he introducedBuddhism to China.

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Since its opening in 1953, The People's Grand Hotel Xian hasplayed a special role in the city's history: this is wherevisiting Chinese leaders, including the late Premier ZhouEnlai and Marshal Chen Yi stayed, as didformer premier Zhu Rongji. The guestbook has been signed by headsof state including French President FrançoisMitterrand, royalty from Europe and Asia, captains ofindustry and international VIPs like HenryKissinger.

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David Phillips

David Phillips is a Chicago-based freelance writer and consultant with more than 20 years experience in business and community news. He also has extensive reporting experience in the food manufacturing industry for national trade publications.