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Exclusive: Mountain-top hotel where Neil Heywood met his fate

Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 11:30am IST | Agency: The Daily Telegraph

The Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel, also known as the Lucky Holiday Hotel, is one of the Chinese city's most secluded spots.

Eight miles outside the centre of Chongqing, on the top of a forested mountain overlooking the city, Neil Heywood's body was discovered in the most unlikely of places: a faded three-star holiday resort that was hosting a tour group of Chinese pensioners yesterday (Monday).

The Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel, also known as the Lucky Holiday Hotel, is one of the Chinese city's most secluded spots, a six-floor main building and three rows of villas, 10 in all, each with a view of the sprawling metropolis below.

Three sources have confirmed that this was where the body of the 41-year-old businessman was found last November, but yesterday there was a remarkable effort under way to hush up the news. "The situation is not clear, we have had no information from our superiors," said one of the five receptionists manning the front desk, before staring down at her lap.

Another receptionist offered to call the manager. "A journalist is here wanting to know more about that issue," she whispered into the phone. The manager declined to appear.

"We do not have any records more than a month old, so we cannot tell you if he stayed here," she said.

The hotel's entire housekeeping staff has also been replaced recently. Two members of the hotel staff spoken to by The Daily Telegraph yesterday said they had no knowledge of a British guest staying there last November.

One section of the hotel, where three villas stand, was closed off by a lone policeman. "There is a meeting going on," he said, refusing to comment further. Plain-clothes policemen were also monitoring the area.

Nevertheless, Gu Kailai, the wife of Bo Xilai and Mr Heywood's alleged murderer, was familiar with the hotel. She is known to have hosted at least one dinner in one of the seven private banqueting suites in the hotel's 500-seat restaurant. And Mr Heywood's final moments would have been captured on security camera. There is closed-circuit television in the hotel lobby and cameras are mounted on posts in each of the lanes of private villas.

According to the first Chinese report of Mr Heywood's death, he was found in an "apartment", suggesting that he may have been in one of the hotel's villas, which cost between pounds 270 to pounds 600 a night. Normal rooms are priced at just pounds 30 a night. Inside the villas are rooms for playing Mahjong, traditional Chinese furniture, and beds dotted with red silk cushions. Outside, the lanes lead out to a terrace shaded with cherry blossom. There is a swimming pool, tennis court and a karaoke suite, with spotlights, a stage and zebra-striped sofas.

"Come and spend a holiday on the South Mountain," says the hotel's brochure. "Enjoy the freshness of Spring, Look over the world-famous city at night. Enjoy our Mongolian barbecue of roast lamb, chicken and rabbits. You may rely on us always to give you prompt attention."

The company that owns the hotel, Chongqing Zhujiang, was set up in 1997. Its legal representative is listed as Liu Hehui, from Guangdong. There were no discoverable links yesterday between the hotel's owners and the Bo family.

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