A new era
The Yang Sing Oriental hotel is being heralded as the UK’s most exciting new hotel this century
Yang Sing is a phonetic translation of the nickname of the city of Guangzhou in Southern China (formerly known as Canton) – ‘the City of Goats’. Legend has it that five celestial gods flew down from heaven on the backs of five celestial goats to bless the city. When the deed was done, they returned to their palace leaving the goats behind. A sculpture of the five goats can now be found in the city.
In the UK, the Yang Sing name has become renowned for market fresh, innovative gourmet food and individually designed banquets. These are offered through the Yang Sing restaurant based in Manchester – a highly acclaimed Cantonese restaurant of the highest quality. Owner and son of the founder of the Yang Sing brand, Gerry Yeung comments: “The family established the business in 1977 and in 1983 it was the first ever ethnic restaurant to receive the Pestle and Mortar award – the highest accolade given by the Good Food Guide.”
He continues: “My father, Mr Tim Kwan Yeung, was a renowned dim sum chef amongst the Chinese communities – this drew a significant number of people to the restaurant from all over the north. The business is now over 30 years old – this is a very significant achievement for us. Today, we operate an eight-storey Victorian building and the restaurant is composed of two floors of restaurant and two floors of private banqueting rooms.”
The Yang Sing business has grown over the years to include Cathay Dim Sum and the Orient Xpression at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. The brand is now being extended further through the development of the Yang Sing Oriental – a new hotel being built next door to the original restaurant. This unique £8 million hotel has been created by converting a Grade II listed cotton warehouse and bank. It will offer 48 individually designed bedrooms and suites, a champagne bar, lounge, breakfast room, business centre, residents lounge and spa.
The development of the Yang Sing Oriental hotel is due to be finished at the beginning of July. Looking back at the design and construction process, Gerry comments: “The main challenge we faced was coming up with the hotel concept – why is it different from others on the market? One factor we examined was considering what annoyed guests the most when they stay at a hotel. By doing this, we could try to eliminate these factors to make their stay as pleasurable as possible. One example would be the mini-bars in each room – we found that most people were not happy paying the expensive prices. Therefore, we decided to put a complimentary mini-bar in each room.
“The food offered within the hotel is also unique as it is a fusion between eastern and western products. As the restaurant is next door to the hotel, we haven’t developed a separate one. However, the hotel does offer a breakfast room, bar snacks and room service. In terms of the bar snacks, there is such a wide variety of food available – from Chinese dim sum through to products from the Middle East, Italy and France, as well as some local foods,” he adds.
Due to the fact that the building was a Grade II listed warehouse, which had been derelict for many years, the design and construction of the hotel was also extremely challenging. Manchester based architectural designer, Roberta Fulford, was responsible for the design of the hotel, and she worked closely with contractors, Hargreaves, to ensure it was developed to the highest possible standards.
Roberta comments: “I have built up a very strong relationship with the owners of the Yang Sing brand, as a result they knew I could offer them the attention to detail they required. The most challenging aspect of the task was trying to mix old with new and ensuring all the original features were kept. We have now successfully restored the building exposing beams and columns, whilst also adding a very modern look. Overall, I think guests will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome – the hotel is a beautiful building and I am very happy that it is now back in use.”
Roberta took her inspiration from the clean lines and minimal aspects of modern oriental/eastern design. She has created a simple and elegant feel for the hotel, which is fashionable yet classic in look and feel. One example of her hard work is the hotel’s reception desk, which is carved from 100-year-old beams that were reclaimed from the building. Roberta created a 2D design and then worked with a chainsaw sculpture to develop the concept.
The Yang Sing Oriental Hotel is already being heralded as the UK’s most exciting new hotel this century. Gerry concludes: “It is very difficult to repeat success, which is why we are using the Yang Sing brand to expand the business. The brand has developed an excellent reputation over the past 30 years and now we hope that the hotel will be just as successful over the next 30. The key to our success has been individuality – we have created a unique high quality product, which is no more expensive than staying in a general fivestar hotel.”