A defining day for travel retail as cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex opens in Hainan

CHINA. The waiting is finally over. At 9am local time on 28 October, the magnificent cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex in Hainan opened to the world.

The development features the world’s biggest duty free shopping complex.

The Moodie Davitt Report is represented on location by our strategic partners at Hainan Hinews Media Co, with whom we are producing a special film and multi-media eZine in coming weeks to mark this historic occasion.

The opening was graced by senior Hainan government and Party Committee officials and senior executives from China Tourism Group, including Feng Fei, Governor of Hainan Province; Mao Wanchun, Chairman of the Hainan Provincial Political Consultative Conference; Shen Danyang, Member of the Standing Committee of the Hainan Provincial Party Committee and Executive Vice Governor; and Luo Zengbin, Member of the Standing Committee of the Hainan Provincial Party Committee and Secretary of the Haikou Municipal Party Committee.

They were joined by Ni Qiang, Vice Governor of Hainan Province; Fu Xuanchao, Secretary-General of the Hainan Provincial Government; Chen Yin, Secretary of the Party Committee, Chairman of China Tourism Group; Wang Haimin, General Manager of China Tourism Group; Li Gang, Deputy General Manager of China Tourism Group; and Chen Guoqiang (Charles Chen), President of CDFG.

The significance of the opening is reflected in expansive coverage by powerful state media titles China Daily and Global Times (below). Click on the images to read the articles.

The official inauguration got underway at 9am Haikou time in this wondrous setting
To celebrate the opening CDFG has rolled out a series of attractive promotions online
The complex features a magnificent, multi-storey amphitheatre
The Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex will be a tourist destination in its own right

Leveraging China Duty Free Group’s (CDFG) global leadership in the travel retail sector, as well as the group’s strong branding, proven operational expertise, and excellent market reputation, the cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex is partnering with over 800 renowned international and local brands to open a flurry of debut and exclusive duty free stores in China. In doing so, CDFG has created a world-class leisure and shopping complex.

The extraordinary project is in the sub-centre of the west coast of Haikou city, close to Haikou’s most important transportation hub, the Xinhai Port.

CDFG, a subsidiary of China Tourism Group (CTG), poured in heavy investment and resources to create this hugely ambitious travel retail complex based on a fusion of ‘duty free shopping + culture and tourism’.

Vibrant scenes as shoppers discover Hainan’s new wonder of the travel retail world

The project covers 930,000 square metres of total construction area. It is divided into six plots featuring different business formats including duty free retail, duty paid shopping, premium office space, high-end hotels, and talent chubs. These address various needs including business and leisure travel, holiday breaks, residential zones, office space, and art exhibitions.

Of this area, cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex on Plot 5 occupies a total construction area of 280,000 square metres, making it the world’s largest individual duty free shopping complex. The facility is inspired by the concept of ‘Iridescent clouds representing happiness and prosperity over the crown jewel of the South China Sea’.

The complex’s main building has been designed by Valode & Pistre Architectes of France, featuring an integration of natural and oceanic elements specific to Hainan province.

This shot from above captures the sense of drama that the building offers
The majestic height of the building lends itself to a hugely diverse and well-segmented retail, dining and entertainment offer
A dramatic shot from this morning as expectant consumers pour into the newly opened shopping emporium

With ‘Duty Free, Free Plus’ as its slogan, the cdf International Duty Free Shopping Complex is designed to continuously surprise its customers through ultimate luxury and craftsmanship, CDFG said. This ranges from world-renowned duty free retail brands to AURA, a unique customised atrium designed by Wētā Workshop. This attraction brings imaginary worlds to life by delivering concept design, visual effects, collectables, immersive visitor experiences and games.

The complex expertly integrates retail and catering and offers a seamless combination of online and offline services. It is intended to become a top-class “duty free shopping heaven” and an iconic city tourist spot of Hainan, CDFG noted.

Beeline for beauty: There’s no doubting which category is garnering most attention
Big names abound in the expansive beauty section
And in Hainan, they don’t come any bigger than Estée Lauder

YSL forms part of a powerhouse presence from French beauty giant L’Oréal
As does sister brand Lancôme
Valentino Beauty continues to make rapid inroads in China

One-stop destination for luxury duty free shopping

The cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex is a testament to ultimate luxury and craftsmanship, offering a dazzling array of top international fashion brands, CDFG said.

Among these, top-tier luxury brands – which will open on a phased basis – occupy 4,000sq m of total floor space.

Towering presence: Cartier makes a powerful statement
{Picture: Globuy}
{Picture: Globuy}

In terms of store planning, the Complex boasts global exclusive bespoke stores from five brands; ‘global first’ duty free stores from another seven; and the latest global design concepts from more than 50 brands. Collectively, this allows the Complex to indulge consumers with a new and immersive shopping experience without the need for travelling abroad, CDF pledged.

The cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex is hosting Hainan’s first duty free stores from 25 brands and CDFG-exclusive Hainan offshore duty free stores from a further 78 brands.

Swedish wellbeing and beauty tech brand Foreo, a big hit in China, enjoys a high-profile presence with CDFG

Alongside a glittering array of renowned international luxury brands including YSL, Prada, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Moncler, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen, top designer brands such as Christian Louboutin are also partnering with CDFG to make their Hainan debuts.

Rising designer brands, including Thom Browne, Maison Margiela, and Ami Paris are launching new stores in the Complex. Together, these brands will create an unrivalled shopping experience for all customers, CDFG said.

Vast beauty zone

In addition, for the much-anticipated perfumes & cosmetics sector, cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex has launched the world’s largest travel retail space, featuring the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of brands.

Puig Group’s vibrant Christian Louboutin Beauty makes a stylish debut

The space occupies 30,000 square metres on one floor. It provides an innovative interactive experience including virtual makeup, exclusive customisation, perfume and cosmetics 101 lectures, and celebrity tutorials.

Besides top beauty brands such as Chanel, Dior, Estée Lauder, La Mer, and Clé de Peau Beauté, the Complex is introducing CDFG-exclusive Hainan offshore duty free boutiques from ten brands. These include Korean brands Sulwhasoo, Laneige and Hera and the opening of Santa Maria Novella’s first duty free store in the province.

An exclusive customisation service is on offer for customers. This includes the world’s first travel retail SPA from Guerlain and Givenchy; exclusive gift packing from Shiseido and IPSA; a makeup service from Hermès; embossed tag and personalisation services from Coach; and an AI-enabled non-contact skin test from SK-II.

The Complex aims to bring unique and exclusive makeup services to all customers by combining luxury experience, personalisation, and tech-empowered interactions, CDFG said.

Wines & spirits to the fore

Bacardi turns on the style with its diverse portfolio of premium brands nicely showcased. Note the strong visibility for Patrón tequila, a brand making rapid inroads in China.

In wines & spirits, the integrated Moutai Experience Store is one of the Complex’s highlights – the first travel retail store to offer Moutai-themed cultural and creative products and to exhibit the rarest and most valuable collections.

Great single malt and blended Scotch whiskies are on offer at the dedicated Whisky Boutique from Diageo

China’s first immersive Whisky Museum will also open, offering a one-stop interactive and immersive ‘Whisky Experience Centre’ that elaborates the history and culture of whisky, explains distilling techniques and features a wide product offering.

Wine and spirit lovers will also be able to explore the origins and history of various brands as well as their winemaking and distilling techniques and enjoy a tour of the museum when it opens.

Rémy Martin, Martell, Camus, Courvoisier, a Diageo Whisky Boutique and other international liquor brands are elegantly presented in the Complex, featuring their latest concept designs.

In wines & spirits, the integrated Moutai Experience Store is one of the Complex’s highlights – the first travel retail store to offer Moutai-themed cultural and creative products and to exhibit the rarest and most valuable collections.
Kweichow Moutai forms an integral and revered part of China’s heritage

Since being added to the offshore duty free mix in July 2020, liquor has grown into a core category in Hainan
(Above and below) Pernod Ricard puts on a show of elegance and class with its Martell and Royal Salute boutique

All the top French Cognac houses are out in force at the new store, including Rémy Martin
Camus, very popular in China, draws a crowd. Click here for a preview of this 621sq m boutique, which enjoys a prime location on the lower ground floor, a zone normally dedicated to luxury fashion or jewellery
And Hennessy, the world’s number one Cognac, proves to be in high demand within this beautiful and expansive boutique setting

For jewellery and watches, more than 50 top international brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Vacheron Constantin, Omega and Chopard are opening their boutiques at the Complex. Almost ten represent the respective brands’ debut stores in Hainan province.

IWC Schaffhausen gives a worldwide debut to its new concept, one of many outstanding watch brands on show {Photo: Globuy}
{Photo: Globuy}
{Photo: Globuy}
{Photo: Globuy}
French luxury house Boucheron is opening the Boucheron Jardin d’Hiver Café, the only luxury brand in the Complex to also offer catering. This provides an immersive experience of the brand’s DNA to its customers through a curated French afternoon tea menu {Photo: Globuy}.
cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex is offering a showcase for six independent watchmakers, including Arnold & Son, Franck Muller, Behrens, Christophe Claret, Carl F. Bucherer and Armin Strom {Picture: Globuy}

The island’s third Watches & Wonders exhibition will again be hosted by CDFG, this time in the cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex. Compared with previous years, the next edition is expected to attract even more ultra-premium brands while featuring a vibrant marketing campaign and an illuminating consumer experience.

Championing Chinese culture

To promote the quintessence of Chinese national culture, the Complex is championing the concept of ‘China chic’ through an array of local brands, from the Moutai Experience Store, which allows customers to experience the brand’s traditional distilling heritage up close, to the opening of debut travel retail stores by several renowned Chinese cosmetics brands.

Another standout is a pioneering cooperation with Huawei, which sees auto products introduced to travel retail for the first time. The partnership has resulted in the latest smart living pavilion featuring intelligent living scenarios integrated with hi-tech elements.

Through what CDFG called an “all-dimensional and multi-category innovation”, the China pavilion is designed to encapsulate the immense charm of domestic products and China Chic to consumers.

The merging of traditional Chinese culture with contemporary, on-trend fashion is brought to life through a range of end-to-end, cross-category innovations.

AURA – An immersive visual feast

The AURA atrium at the cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex creates a realm of fantasy and imagination.

This themed, immersive atrium is designed by Wētā Workshop, the six-time Academy Awards winner for Best Visual Effects. Genius qualities of imagination are on show from the ‘dream-inventing masters’, famous for creating the magical worlds of Lord of the Rings, Avatar, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Through cinematic visualisation, a dreamlike version of Hainan province is recreated here.

The Atrium features fog-clad and mysterious mountains; a rocky coastline bathed in moonlight; a forest above the water, full of beautiful butterflies; and flower-laced mountains with roaming deer – all part of the Atrium’s eight major themes.

These themes feature distinctive colours and tones, plants and animals, and fun adventures, with all designs originated from Hainan-specific cultures. The Atrium offers a serene and romantic experience of the province’s culture and a nice balance of people, culture, and architecture, CDFG said.

{Click on the YouTube icon to view this short film featuring Sir Richard Taylor, the New Zealander who co-founded Wētā Workshop and serves as its CEO and Creative Director}

To create a time-travel-like, spectacular and glamorous journey within the shopping complex, the AURA atrium leverages artistic lighting, devices, and creative illustrations to transform dreams into realities. The huge 27 metres-high, 12 metres-wide screen serves as the entrance to a secret world.

The areas and floor space next to the screens are fully covered by projected images for a fully immersive experience; while the scenery and settings draw extensively on story-based elements and artistic sculptures that interact in real-time based on evolving story plots marked by lightings and shadows.

AURA perfectly embodies the poetic and romantic “dreamlike Hainan island”, CDFG said, serving as a dedicated immersive experience area that redefines shopping and cultural tourism.

An innovative shopping experience full of ‘firsts’ and exclusives

To fully address consumers’ needs for a one-stop destination that embraces food, accommodation, transportation, sightseeing, shopping, and entertainment, cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex is introducing a Panoramic Flying Theatre that will show the most movies of any such attraction worldwide [a Panoramic Flying Theatre is a themed entertainment technology and simulator ride that features an adjacent show on giant screens. Sound and special effects are combined with the film to create realistic flying experiences.]

Featuring a 180-degrees, 16-metre screen, the 60-seat m-Ride shows experiential movies including Flying Across China, Flying Across the World, and Flying Across the Belt and Road Region. It brings a dramatic and immersive flying experience by offering a unique perspective, CDFG said.

Another compelling attraction is the first movie-themed experience hall in Hainan, which will offer scenes from movies that have grossed tens of billions of dollars in box offices globally. Settings from the movies will be reconstructed by professional teams from Hollywood, catering to diverse consumer needs and helping to drive duty free consumption.

To expand on an extensive and diversified shopping experience, the Complex has also introduced the Meet You Museum series of art exhibitions to add artistic elements to the consumer journey. Customers can browse artworks from around the world as they shop through an immersive exhibition of high-resolution images and authentic masterpieces in an integration of modern technology and art. They can enjoy their own multi-dimensional dialogue via a combination of “top quality authenticity, technology, and art”.

For food & beverage, the Complex is introducing nearly 20 flagship brands that are first to Hainan/Haikou; five Michelin/Black Pearl/China Time-honoured brand restaurantsl and several other flagship and concept outlets.

A highly experiential, immersive and artistic gourmet space has also been created in the Complex – described as Hainan’s first experience-driven indoor food hall, which brings together art, culture and food.

Brand-specific food & beverage flagship stores are also opening at the Complex in line with the retail vibe on each floor and the major themes of the AURA Atrium. This creates a social and gourmet-tasting space that blends fully with the themed contents, CDFG said.

Customer-first focus and online to offline harmony

CDFG said that the cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex will always adhere to the “customers-first principle” and as a result will soon establish travel retail’s largest VIP-exclusive social platform, which occupies more than 1,000 square metres.

The Complex is joining hands with Chinese luxury brand Shang Xia to co-create a dedicated VVIP lounge featuring various customised themes including Mediterranean, modern Chinese, modern simplicity, and island-style to cater to VIP customers’ varying tastes.

Digital enablers are fully catered for throughout their various journeys. By leveraging digital means such as ‘scan and purchase’ for perfume and cosmetics, queueing and waiting time is significantly reduced. This in turn improves shopping efficiency and gives customers more time and energy to enjoy the fun of immersive duty free shopping, CDFG said.

On the marketing side, the Complex has opened a broader world featuring more distinctive and innovative services and experiences as well as novel and exotic themed activities, CDFG said. The themes and adventures are renewed regularly throughout the year so that visitors can each time enjoy new experiences in-person and in-store.

China Duty Free Group teased the opening yesterday on WeChat with beautiful animation. Click here to view.

As domestic tourism continues to rebound, CDFG said it will maintain its leading position in Hainan’s travel retail market.

Therefore, as the world’s largest duty free shopping centre, the cdf Haikou International Duty Free Complex will become the new benchmark leading the development of the travel retail industry in China and the world, the company said.

Faced with new challenges in COVID prevention, CDFG pledged to assume further responsibility and has implemented various preventive measures to stop any spread.

It pledged to make full use of its core competencies in commercial planning and design, brand selection, logistics and shipping, operations management, marketing, and digital expertise as well as the tourism resources offered by parent company China Tourism Group’s strong value chain to further enhance partnership through open communication, partnership, and innovation.

CDFG said it will follow a philosophy of “honest business operations and high-quality services”; support the development of Hainan Free Trade Port as an International Tourism and Shopping Centre; and bring a more diverse travel and shopping experience to consumers.

Footnote: Besides our web coverage, The Moodie Davitt Report will be producing a special joint venture multi-media publication honouring the opening of the Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex.

The publication is part of ‘The New Wonders of the Travel Retail World’, a duo of landmark titles dedicated to two extraordinary projects that are set to redefine the travel retail world. The other is the Hamad International Airport Expansion Project in Doha, Qatar, which is set to open before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which kicks off on 20 November.

Notably, both multi-media publications are being produced as collaborations, the first with Qatar Duty Free, which runs all commercial services, from retail to food & beverage to advertising at Hamad International Airport.

For the Haikou project, The Moodie Davitt Report has tied up with Hainan Hinews Media Co, the provinces’s leading mainstream media company with a total audience of more than 26 million people in China across its multiple print and digital platforms*, including the New Hainan App, WeChat, Weibo, Douyin and Kuaishou.

The company, which is The Moodie Davitt Report’s strategic partner in Hainan, has its own dedicated duty free channel, which features regular store, brand, activation and promotional profiles, interviews and other stories.

Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex

This exciting project, curated in association with The Moodie Davitt Report’s strategic partner on Hainan island, Hainan Hinews Media Co, represents a first-ever ‘Golden Bridge’ between B2B and B2C publishing.

Hainan Hinews is the leading mainstream media in Hainan province with an audience of some 26 million viewers in Hainan and the Mainland across its multiple platforms. It has its own Duty Free TV Channel, supporting the island’s all-important travel retail sector – a central component of the island’s Free Trade Port programme.

They will provide on location video, photographic and reporting coverage of the opening of China Duty Free Group’s extraordinary Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex – anchored by the world’s biggest duty free operation – on 28 October, combining it with The Moodie Davitt Report’s unrivalled analysis and interviews with key figures including China Duty Free Group President Charles Chen (who is delivering a keynote address at The Trinity Forum on 1 November).

The publication and films will be published extensively across both companies’ channels.

Publishing December. For advertising opportunities contact Irene Revilla at Irene@MoodieDavittReport.com

Hainan Hinews Media Co commands a huge consumer and business audience across its multiple digital platforms. The New Hainan app alone has a 4.8 million fan base, making it Hainan’s number one media app installation.
Partner with us on WeChat and reach your key Chinese audience in Chinese. Stories related to the China travel retail market are featured each week on The Moodie Davitt Report’s WeChat Official Account. Please scan the QR code to follow us and contact Irene@MoodieDavittReport.com for native opportunities.


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