Luxury Hotels

And another gorgeous luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel

Paper cut-out for Year of the Monkey

Paper cut-out for Year of the Monkey

Ritz-Carlton Guangzhou is a gorgeous and well-established luxury hotel – for eight years, it has been the magnet for locals, and international travellers wanting a quality base here in this growing city (formerly known as Canton, and now among China’s largest, with over 15 million people). Arrive here, at the 351-room hotel, and, says the gal, you know immediately where you are, and what time of year it is. Welcome gifts always include a display of current seasonal fruit, which happens at the moment to be mango. See, above, for the imaginative display waiting in room 3708, the Carlton Suite. Also waiting was a silhouette paper cut out. Come and see the artist at work. He is in the hotel lobby every afternoon from five o’clock, for an hour.

Guangzhou Museum (not exactly Zaha Hadid)

Guangzhou Museum (not exactly Gehry or Hadid)

Down I accordingly headed, and saw how using only a pair of scissors, with surprisingly long blades, he cut out the monkey shape, a reminder that this is the Year of the Monkey (see the video below). This is truly a lovely memento, and it does not take up any space in my Porsche Rimowa, always a vital point. Back up in 3708 I looked down at the view, which includes Guangzhou Museum, right next door, and then took a walk to Pearl River, ten minutes away. This was a little bit of a challenge as traffic is likely to swerve around corners, and straight at you, even when you supposedly have right of way, or think you do. To add to the hazards, the majority of other pedestrians, including those pulling big boxes and the like, are permanently on their devices. I am convinced every China person will have a ricked neck within a couple of years.

Breakfast eggs selection

Breakfast eggs selection

Buy a Club room at the Ritz-Carlton and you not only have access to the 33rd-floor lounge, which looks down at the Pearl River and, also, the 58,000-person Tianhe Stadium, built on the site of the former Tianhe airport (this is home of Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club, in which Alibaba has a 40% stake, and current manager is Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari). The lounge of course has Ritz-Carlton’s usual superlative food (and drink) but you get discounts on spa and transport, and free arrival-departure transport, and really lovely staff. After my club breakfast – where I really liked the service, on Dr Stéphane china (decorated with little purple leaves that matched the orchid in a small vase) – I had a look at the general breakfast in the appropriately-named Foods. There was a good display of different congees, and china-stoppered individual bottles of flavoured iced teas. There was also, imaginatively, a selection of different eggs, chicken and quail, soft, hard-boiled or cooked in tea.

GM Matthias Vogt

GM Matthias Vogt

It is little things that differentiate one luxury hotel from another. Here are another couple of examples, at Ritz-Carlton Guangzhou. At dinner, at Limoni, chef Andrea Zamboni makes his own burrata – and gosh, it was good. Manager Nicholas Wong is a real wine buff – this month, he picked up a China Best Wine award. This evening, he chose an outstanding local wine, a Pretty Pony 2013 from Kanaan Winery, Ningxia Helen Mountain, made by Wang Fang, obviously a characterful lady as her nickname is Crazy Fang. And then, this morning, five minutes after my wake-up call, my choice of coffee (a big pot of flavourful brew) arrived, with the hotel’s compliments. What a lovely touch, thank you Matthias Vogt. SEE THE MONKEY VIDEO BELOW.

 

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Luxury Hotels

Ritz-Carlton is the established luxury Shenzhen hotel

Looking out (Ping'An tower is tallest)

Looking out (Ping’An tower is tallest)

Shenzhen’s two luxury hotels right next to the Convention Centre are separated by a lush area about 300 yards wide, green at ground level but open to superior shopping several floors below. From the gal’s suite 2007 at The Ritz-Carlton Shenzhen, therefore, the view one way looked across this greenery to Four Seasons Shenzhen and, behind it, the 118-floor Ping’An insurance tower and, to its left, construction that will one day be Park Hyatt Shenzhen. Suite 2007, by the way, is absolutely lovely – see the video, below, for a panorama that includes its most attractive private balcony, big enough for Dedon-type seating for four.

Walking to the pool

Walking to the pool

This hotel not only looks out at greenery – as well as futuristic skyscrapers – but it also offers an outdoor walkway without going down to ground level. Head for the fifth-floor pool and you walk as if going for a botanic adventure: how I wish more developers and designers would follow the lead of, say, PARKROYAL on Pickering, Singapore, by putting in a proper greenery-flanked walkway that wanders the entire perimeter of the building, in that case also on its fifth floor. Here, in Shenzhen, the walkway leads to the 80-foot outdoor pool, highly welcomed by many of the business travellers who make up about 80% of hotel guests here (they also use the gym, extensively, as do local members).

Iwan Dietschi on 2007's terrace

Iwan Dietschi on 2007’s terrace

Iwan Dietschi, Swiss GM of this 282-room hotel, embodies hospitality passion. While his 500 staff colleagues, a number that includes lots of trainees, are all, as usual in China, housed in hotel-managed dormitories, he personally lives in the hotel. The time he would otherwise have spent in commuting is, to some extent, filled with writing personalised welcome notes to VIPs in handwriting that is so calligraphic I almost want to frame my note – I also loved having a welcome note, with their combined photo and names identified, from the nine guest relations ladies, who include one from Moscow and another, who heads the 26th floor Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge, from Tel Aviv.

Dario Schiavoni and hotel-labelled Ca'de Bosco

Dario Schiavoni and Paletto-labelled Ca’del Bosco

There are several noteworthy foreigners at this luxury hotel. Executive chef Dieter Greigeritsch is Austrian. Paletto restaurant has both an Italian chef, Stefano Nicodemo, from Sardinia, and an Italian manager, Dario Schiavoni, a memorably-moustachioed connoisseur who this month picked up one of China’s Wine List of the Year awards, 2016. Tonight he presented a bottle of Ca’del Bosco, specially labelled for Paletto: some prefer Bellavista when it comes to Italian sparkling but many, including me, give the top accolade to Ca’del Bosco, owned by the clever Gaetano Marzotto who also snapped up Hugo Boss and Valentino in the fashion world. This is indeed a hotel that does things just right, which includes having a gleaming Rolls-Royce for VIP transfers – in a discreet deep chocolate, to avoid too much bling.  NOW SEE THE VIDEO, BELOW

 

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Luxury Hotels

Let’s look at Shenzhen’s newest luxury hotel

Arthur Ho in the hotel lobby

Arthur Ho in the hotel lobby

There is colour galore at Four Seasons Shenzhen, ten minutes north of the border with Hong Kong (GM Arthur Ho, to the left, lives in Hong Kong, has a taxi to the border at 7.35 precisely each morning, walks the ten minutes across No Man’s Land before reaching the China border, and then it is two stops on the subway, total journey time under 40 minutes). The gleaming glass luxury hotel looks out, across Fuhua San Road, at the massive convention centre, but inside it is multi-coloured hues – the painting above is at the end of the 30th floor corridor, and the gal admired it every time she went to room 3006, designed, like the whole 266-room hotel, by HBA.

FOO starters (salmon left, salad right)

FOO starters (salmon left, salad right)

Colour dominates, too, in the sixth floor reception, which looks out on to green terraces. The lobby’s focal point is an inner-lit blue glass sculpture, about ten feet long and 18 inches high and resting in a gently bubbling decorative water-bath. This sculpture, apparently, is a dragon’s skeleton. I walked past it enroute to the inside-out FOO restaurant. It was too humid, sadly, to sit outside, under brown umbrellas. I went to the inside part, admiring at the entrance a four-foot sculpture of the Eiffel Tower, in red, white and blue sugars. We were having the imaginative Grill menu. Choose, all for sharing, starters and mains, and for two hours, unlimited pour of wine – the red choice for tonight was Mote Real Rioja Reserva. See the video below to share our meal.

Argentinian beef ribs

Argentinian beef ribs

Look at the colour and presentation of the starters we chose, which included a beetroot-marinated salmon carpaccio with orange and nasturtium blossom, and, in a heavy grey stone bowl, guacamole with roots chips. There was more admiration for our shared main courses, a grilled seafood platter and, especially, the Argentinian Asado ribs. Asado means barbeque, and flank, short, ribs are cut crosswise, to give thinner slices – according to Food.com, you merely season for 20 minutes with seasalt before grilling. Well, this hotel’s chef, conveniently is Argentinian, so of course he knows how to do Asado ribs to absolute perfection (I did not dare say how I longed to chew the bones!). We ate so much there was no space for desserts, which included an enticing blueberry and mango sago pudding.

Argentinian chef Alejandro Clausen

Argentinian chef Alejandro Clausen

This really is an extremely comfortable hotel. FOO has not only its outdoor, and inside booth, seating areas, but a library-like corner, with sofas and small tables, and several copies of Daniel Defoe works among the prominently displayed bookshelf tomes. I sat there at breakfast, enjoying a leisurely coffee while my neighbour, undoubtedly a tech or manufacturing tycoon, in T-shirt with ubiquitous smartphone, downed his orange juice and congee in two minutes flat (Shenzhen is not only the site of massive trade shows but, all the time, the headquarters of Bona movie distribution, Huawei, Tencent and ZTE, plus it has the world’s biggest container port, so business life here is frenetic). Then I went up to the lovely, peaceful 29th floor Club lounge, a white marble haven, for a final cup of coffee before passing, again, the bright painting and, sadly, leaving this admirable luxury hotel.  SEE THE VIDEO.

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