Despite the disintegration of its empire, Russia is still huge - stretching from the borders with Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey in the west, passing Kazakstan, Mongolia and China, to reach the Pacific Ocean some 6000km later. The landscape is predominantly flat, punctuated only by the Urals, which rise no higher than 1900m, and the more substantial ranges of the Far East. The three major rivers west of the Urals - the Dnepr, Don and Volga - all rise within 400km of Moscow and flow south into the Black and Caspian Seas. Russia's Far East is Siberia, with all its connotations of tundra, steppes, ranges, exile and mindblowing nothingness.
Due to its size, the land passes through several environmental bands. The northern forests of pine and spruce hide reindeer, wolves and brown bears. The mixed deciduous and coniferous forests are home to deer, lynx and the Siberian tiger (which has been known to wander into the suburbs of Vladivostok). The black earth steppes are the grain basket of Asia. Snow leopards, cheetahs, porcupines, gazelles, wild goats and the chamois grace the deserts of Central Asia, though pollution and fur-hunters threaten the existence of many species. There are over 140 state nature reserves, several of whose breeding programs have ensured the continued livelihood of animal species, including the European bison.
Moscow and St Petersburg share similar summer temperatures, both averaging around 24°C. Moscow is frozen by the end of November, with snow remaining until early April, and has an average January temperature of around -12°C. St Petersburg swings between lacking real darkness in summer to having only about five hours of murky light a day in winter. Its average January temperature is a sweltering -8°C. Spring in both cities brings the great thaw, the reappearance of vehicles on the road and a general sense of mayhem. Vladivostok, on Russia's Pacific coast, experiences slightly milder weather than elsewhere in the Russian Far East. Its -13°C winter temperatures seem positively balmy compared to the northeastern town of Oymyakon, which just happens to be the coldest inhabited place on earth. Its winter temperatures drop to -65°C.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, which operates some of the world’s most storied and luxurious hotel properties such as The Plaza in New York, London’s The Savoy, Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai and Fairmont San Francisco, will soon welcome another notable icon, Moscow’s Pekin Hotel, to its collection. Following an extensive multiyear restoration program, this historic property will be rebranded Fairmont Pekin Moscow.
The project is being developed by HALS-Development, a prominent real estate development company in Russia.
Fairmont Pekin Moscow will be centrally located in the city, at the junction of the Garden Ring and Triumfalnaya Square. Opposite is the Mayakovsky Monument and metro station, while the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Satire Theater and Red Square are situated nearby. The hotel will feature 236 spacious guestrooms and suites, including Fairmont Gold, the brand’s exclusive room product that offers guests personalized service, a variety of amenities and the relaxed comfort of a residential-style lounge. Guests will also enjoy a selection of dining venues, 950 square meters of meeting and function space as well as a Fairmont branded spa and fitness facilities.
Completed in 1955 to designs by Dimity Chechulin, one of the Soviet Union's most famous architects, the Pekin Hotel was part of the post-war redevelopment of Moscow. Chechulin, a former City Planner, also built Moscow’s White House, four of the renowned Metro Stations and one of the Seven Sister buildings.
Fine architectural details including the façade and internal spaces will be restored and extended to some other parts of the building. During the renovation, the Chinese motifs found in parts of the hotel will be highlighted to emphasize the period design of the property.
“We are fortunate to count some of the most iconic hotels in the world amongst our portfolio and we take our role as custodians of these great properties very seriously,” said Chris Cahill, President, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. “This project not only affords us the opportunity to offer our guests a new, key destination in the largest country in the world but allows us to partner with HALS Development, which in addition to being a highly regarded property developer also shares our sensibility for heritage and preservation.”
Future Fairmont openings in 2012 include Baku, Azerbaijan; Jaipur, India; Kyiv, Ukraine; Manila, Philippines and The Palm, Dubai, UAE.