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Hotel restaurants fully booked on CNY's Eve

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Restaurants in many of Taiwan's famous hotels were fully booked last night, Lunar New Year's Eve, when Chinese people customarily gather with family for a reunion dinner.

While most people come together at home, more and more are dining out instead, bringing huge business for hotel operators such as Grand Formosa Regent Taipei. All restaurants operated by the hotel conglomerate were fully booked for New Year's Eve.

The group's restaurant near the National Palace Museum was fully booked as far back as six months ago by people who were attracted by the restaurant's unique setting and ambiance.

The Chinese restaurant inside the main hotel on Zhongshan North Road also did well, with some seats booked as early as an entire year ago.

“Many people book seats in advance, some even for three years in a row,” the hotel said.

The hotel also noted the growing number of bookings made by Taiwanese businesspeople based in China.

“Many of them choose to eat their New Year's Eve reunion dinner at Grand Formosa Regent Taipei, and their number increases by the year,” the hotel said.

The buffet restaurant inside the hotel was also completely booked, even after the hotel's efforts to expand the seating area.

“There were over 200 people on the waiting list,” the hotel said.

To celebrate the new year, the buffet restaurant diversified its menu to include traditional dishes such as fo tiao qiang (Buddha jumps over the wall),” a casserole dish with dozens of ingredients. According to legend, the dish gets its name because it smells so good that even the vegetarian Buddha would jump over a temple wall to eat it.

Diners at Grand Formosa Regent were so many that they helped lift the room occupancy rate last night to 90 percent. With walk-in reservations, the occupancy rate was likely to hit 100 percent, the hotel said.

Other hotels also reported strong business. The Ambassador Hotel saw most of its restaurants fully booked not only last night but also today and tomorrow, or the first and second days into the Year of the Snake.

“We even had to open our banquet halls on the second and 12th floors to accommodate customers,” the hotel said.

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