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Chongqing

InterContinental Sanya ResortWhile the rest of the world tiptoes back to financial growth, China is surging full speed ahead, with a government pouring money into stimulus projects and a populace splurging on luxury goods. For proof, one can look to the galloping advance of the luxury hotel sector. “With the incredible growth in affluence among the domestic population, the need for hotels in China is rising dramatically,” says Daniel Ford, a Ritz-Carlton publicist.

The Four Seasons group is planning to open 14 hotels in the country by 2014; a dozen have already launched since 2008. The new Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, billed as the tallest hotel in the world and opening in March, will boost its parent company’s China total to eight, and at least one more is on the way. And taking into account all its brands, Starwood had 50 hotels in the country by 2009 – and is set to open 97 more by 2015.

Plus, these won’t just be any hotels: “Many of the finest luxury hotels in the world will open in China in the next several years,” says Bruce Ford, senior vice president at Lodging Econometrics.

Interestingly enough, many of the high-profile hotels are opening in cities that many Westerners haven’t heard of – yet. Scoot over, Shanghai. Here’s a quick guide to six cities on the rise.

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