Still worrying about accommodations in China during your tour to China for the upcoming Olympiad? Why not try a new option -- small family hotels -- commonly known as "Bed and Breakfast" (B&B).
In the last few years "B&Bs" have emerged and spread around China's tourist spots and big cities. They're becoming an avant-garde trend for short-term renters seeking cheaper, cleaner and homier digs. Although the industry has lagged behind overseas counterparts, where family hotels have long been popular among travelers, the boom has now reached China.
Family hotels in Beijing entered the city's fledgling market during a period when the capital has been teeming with traveling students taking academic and non-academic programs in the country's northern cultural hub.
"Business opportunities turn up when students cannot find rooms to rent while they are visiting their friends or taking classes in the city," said Zhang Jianhua, an independent real estate broker in the business.
According to Zhang, he spent about 2,400 yuan (US$336) renting his first room inside the Dongwangzhuang Community in 2004, making his debut in the "B&B" business. His first room was leased soon after he had pasted advertisements in universities around the Wudaokou Area, a region popular among foreign visitors and expatriates. Zhang said he has now expanded his business to about 20 rooms, half of which have been reserved for the visitors attending the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
"It's more convenient to live in a 'B&B' when traveling because the renting prices are cheaper compared with hotels and the rooms are cleaner than the tavern rooms," said Yan Xingzun, a tourist accompanying his student daughter to Beijing.
Located in residential communities, "B&B" accommodations usually feature bedrooms, a kitchen, a washing room and a guest room. According to Zhang, his "B&B" also offers oil and rice for cooking. Business geared up for the upcoming summer Olympic Games is somewhat different than an ordinary B&B because local family-hotel owners have more chances to deal with an increased amount of foreign tourists from different cultural backgrounds.
"We had a German guest who wanted to live with a group of Chinese in order to experience the way locals here live, yet the result was not as good as he had expected," Zhang explained. He said that the overseas visitor was quite orderly -- he couldn't accustom himself to the casual style of his Chinese housemates. Eventually Zhang and his staff rearranged the German man's rooms.
In anticipation of more promising business opportunities during the upcoming Olympic Games, Zhang said that he would continue to prepare in order to deal with an increasing amount of overseas tourists. They will publish brochures in Chinese, English and German to provide schedule venues and traffic information for visitors looking forward to watching the Olympiad. Beverage services will also be added to the family hotels.
B&B's are a newly emerging industry burgeoning in China. They have started booming in recent years but the market has no formal regulations. Visitors should be cautious about any advertisements, online or otherwise.
Related: Rent a house during the Olympics
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wu Jin, March 27, 2008)