In retrospect, every luxury hotelier agreed that the investment in time, money, energy (and lack of sleep) at the tenth annual International Luxury Travel Market ILTM was more than worthwhile. Those manning the 500 stands in the glorious 1950-vintage Shanghai Exhibition Centre (above) had one-to-one meetings with top travel advisors from all over the world. It is not so much immediate bookings as cementing, and making relationships. Off-site nerve centre throughout the show is the 43rd floor club lounge of the historic Portman Ritz-Carlton, just across near-suicidal Nanjing Road from the show. Its GM Derek Flint is, says the gal, a hero – he was in, and patrolling (the lounge, not that road) by seven every morning. This lounge is definitely where the A-listers network.
The 610-room hotel gets better and better with every annual visit. This year, bedrooms’ ghastly mustard, cream and burgundy carpets, apparently chosen by Someone Up High at Marriott head office, have thankfully been replaced by more-relaxed beige carpeting, with a more discreet burgundy pattern. Going on now is the re-do of the main lobby, by Gensler, which means that this year there was more meeting up just inside the front door, which was a bit of a surprise for anyone who had planned on having coffee or a drink in the former lounge at the back of the lobby. There was also a bit of eye-opening from those who thought they would buffet-it in the all-day restaurant, which has now become à la carte only – but the resulting dishes are superb, see the salad, in a wood shape, below.
Portman Ritz-Carlton, indeed, provided fabulous food throughout, whether in a restaurant, or in the club lounge, or at the post-Forum cocktail on Monday evening. For those fortunate enough to have decided to network at this cocktail, they found absolutely superb food – thank you Portman Ritz-Carlton. Thank you too to Tattinger, the partner Champagne throughout the week, and host at the daily Champagne Bar at the show. Such a partnership shows yet again how high up the luxury ladder ILTM successfully aims. One hint of warning, by the way, for first-timers coming to ILTM Asia in 2017 – details from www.iltm.com – not every event provides what I call real food. Some unfortunates ended up having both ‘lunch’ and ‘dinner’ on the same day that consisted solely of half-bite canapés, hardly enough to feed a mosquito.
But one of Asia’s premier luxury hotels, The PuLi, Shanghai, knows how to host. ILTM Portfolio Director Alison Gilmore invites exhibitors to a soirée there, one evening. Jan Tibaldi, GM of The PuLi, has switched his restaurant to modern-French brasserie and it shows in the food he offered, with ample help-yourself cold cuts and breads, and passed-round one-bites of smoked salmon on wafer-thin crackers and one-bite burgers, and, on the side, shucked in front of you, gorgeous oysters galore. The PuLi brilliant producers, German Markus Engel and Scotsman John Laing of Urban Resorts, were both on hand throughout, and on this occasion it was Moët. And the following day, naturally, everyone was back, early as ever, at the show. SEE THE VIDEO BELOW.