It’s a common occurrence: A guest leaves a piece of luggage behind in his room. Housekeeping finds it and places it in lost and found. What happened next, however, at the China World Hotel in Beijing was hardly standard procedure.

“When the guest arrived in Hong Kong, he called to say he’d left his bag and needed the papers inside the suitcase for an important meeting,” recalls John Rice, general manager of the ­Shangri-La property. “This was a regular guest of ours. So our concierge booked an air ticket, flew to Hong Kong and hand-­delivered the bag to the home of the guest.”

After the financial crisis first erupted, in 2007, it was easy to argue that the luxury hotel market lost its way. Occupancy rates fell sharply. Monthly cancellation rates at top U.S. properties hit an unprecedented 20 percent. The luxury segment became a prime target in the political backlash against executive compensation.

Lately, however, the market has found its footing again. In the U.S. occupancy rates for 2011 will end up at close to 70 percent, well above 2010’s rate of 66.2 percent and just shy of the peak of 71.8 percent reached back in 2006, according to STR Global, a Hendersonville, Tennessee, hospitality data research company. Premier hotels are leaving nothing to chance, though. They are going the extra mile — or 1,224 miles, in China World Hotel’s case — to provide the extraordinary service that has earned them customer loyalty as well as coveted spots on Institutional Investor’s annual ranking of the World’s Best Hotels.

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