It was Children’s Day, and a school holiday, at least in Shanghai (the gal is not sure if it was China-wide). Mothers and grandmothers by the dozen had booked to take their little one-child darlings to lunch at Yi in the massive Pudong Shangri-La East Shanghai hotel. Hotel GM Peter Clarke showed the pretend ‘way-in’, by standing on what looks like a rung of a stepped rope ladder in fact, Escher-like, drawn on the floor of the restaurant. Next to it, the kids’ play area was today unused as the kids were far too happy enjoying food with their minders. They are born to be pampered, these Chinese kids. In the main they will be singletons, no brothers or sisters.
When they give birth, which they therefore only do once in their lives, Chinese women adhering to custom spend the first 30 days afterwards housebound – this period is called zuoyuezi, sitting the month. A usually-older maternity nurse will come in during that time. Trendy affluent young mums today do something much better. The doting grandparents pay for her and new baby to move straight into a maternity ‘hotel’ for a month of pampering, and spa treatments, and what one hopes is excellent care of the newborn. There are over 100 such maternity ‘hotels’ listed on www.dianping.com, and I am told that some charge $1,000 a day. Good income folks!
Anyway, here today in Yi restaurant all the food stations are popular except for the low-set kids’ corner – the little ones seem to prefer reaching up to get things from the proper-height sushi counter, or icecream galaxy. While admiring the adult-height cut-your-own cress display I think back to Half Moon Bay in Jamaica, where the kids’ low table was most popular with mums, who pinched all the little ones’ fries, while kids wanted whatever was up there, out of sight and out of reach. It is the same here. There used to be 12 different stations but I am sure another four have been added. I hear about turning a seldom-used meeting room into a sensationally popular gastro pub that paid for itself within a month, I hear about getting two million WeChat followers as a result of a promotion flying their family members to Shanghai to spend last Chinese New Year with two work-bound local people, not, incidentally, connected with the hotel – which shows how this initiative really impacts the local community.
I hear about so many things and I long for more but sadly time is up, and equally sadly there is no time to see my long-time friend, Judy Leung, who has been manager of the 981-room hotel’s 29th floor Horizon Club for 11 years. It must be even more enjoyable for her now, working at this luxury hotel: the club used to have a smoking room, taking up half the entire area. That area is now, thankfully, smoke free so you have a choice of city view, which is what most prefer, or the river view. There is always something going on at Pudong Shangri-La East Shanghai.
Now watch the video below…