10 BEST Fitness & Spas Food & Wine Lifestyle Luxury Hotels Travel

Stretching, and the luxury Grand Hyatt Shanghai

Every gal needs her neck worked on, for sanity's sake...

To wake up to a big stretch does wonders for the equilibrium, says the gal – especially with the non-stop pressure that is the annual International Luxury Travel Market ILTM Asia.  Take the elevator from the 79th floor of Grand Hyatt Shanghai down to the 57th floor gym, and if you want the Pilates ball you find yourself in an empty room save a ball and a wall-set television.

And on that television happens to be a guy showing yoga stretches.  He almost makes one want to s-t-r-e-t-c-h too. The drawback is that men, unless they are old and doing tai chi on The Bund, somehow do not look quite right, and one thinks of David Beckham who looks rather nice except that someone bamboozled him into disfiguring much of his body with appalling cheap (as in low class) tattoos and someone else suggested he pose in underpants that have his name on them.

.. others, like this guy on the screen in Grand Hyatt Shanghai's personal training room, prefer yoga

Grand Hyatt Shanghai is stretched, in a classy way.  My diary records beside its name ‘happiness and class’, but why?  Can anyone explain, except that the Jin Mao Tower, in which it is housed in Pudong, is like an expensive silver propelling pencil (diary records ‘triumphant happiness’).

Jin Mao Group asked the architect, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill from Chicago, to stretch their prize tower up to a height of 420.5 metres, and to make sure that even in a force ten gale the top only sways 75 centimetres.  The hotel, which has 555 rooms, is on floors 53 through 88, with the lobby on floor 54.

I have stayed here twice, first on the 78th floor, when I did a live radio broadcast to somewhere in South America and they asked me to describe the view.  Sorry mates, that time it was like white blinds down all round.

Mother and child stretch sculpture

This time, on the 79th floor, it was just possible to make out human life, or at least cars far far below, and boats on the river a couple of blocks away.  Frankly, when the mist descends it is better to stay in, and look around.  There is stunning sculpture in so many places.  Spy a mother stretching and it touches a nerve.

This luxury hotel is one of two I have discovered which have miracle-men who can eliminate tension immediately – the other is Castel Monastero near Siena, with Dr Ali.  Whereas Ali, trained in Moscow, is life enhancer to Morgan Freeman, plus Sylvester Stallone and a couple of kings here and several oligarchs there, Grand Hyatt Shanghai’s Guo Yi Yao is the essential ingredient for such bigwigs as, it is rumoured, Li Ka-shing and various Chinese potentates.

He manages to fit in a ten minute neck session for me.  Now, it is stressed (sorry, wrong word), it is emphasised, Dr Guo does NOT massage. He uses the upper knuckles of both hands to manipulate the bones in the neck.

Stretching - and dancing - seen on another sculpture

Our translator points out that if the neck is constrained, it stops detoxification down below and blood-to-head up above.  He knuckle-thumps rather than knuckle-dusts.  I am about to leave but he insists on a couple of minutes’ after-shock.

He finishes the session by working down both arms, one after the other.  As he gets just above the elbow you can honestly feel a tingling in the fingers.  Is this what qigong, the cultivation of life energy, is all about?

Even during that short ten-minute spell, the mind wanders.  I think of all the great stretches in the world, say stretching to reach to the Taj Mahal (no, just joking, but when you stand at a certain sport at Amarvilas in Agra, the closest hotel to the Taj Mahal, you feel as if you are stretching to it, holding it up as a giant cloche.

Mary Gostelow poses in front of the Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Oh boy, look what the gal is doing...

But now we are in Shanghai. I get up, feel as fluid as a jellyfish tentacles, and obviously blood is now not just flowing but rushing up to my brain as I think about the whole wall of a thousand or more Moon Jellyfish (aurelia aurita) in a 20 by ten-foot tank behind the reception desk at Wynn‘s Encore Macau.

Here, at Grand Hyatt Shanghai, there is a lot to do. I dash to my room, taking one of the elevators that was, when the building’s opened in 1999, second fastest in the world, ground to 88th floor in 45 seconds (only the Mitsubishi building in Tokyo beat it).

I note what a clever idea it is to put the toothbrushes and other bathroom items in a zipped pouch like that of an iPad. I wish yet again that hotels elsewhere around the world would follow the Asian model, providing everything that you want…

Foued el Mabrouk, boss of Grand Hyatt Shanghai

After a fabulous Simply Good Food dinner at The Grill – several restaurants link one to the other and you can order from whichever menu you feel like – I hear about the hotel’s Dining Club.

Floors three through 50 of this stretch-high building are offices, so take 100 workers per floor over 47 floors and you get, well, 4,700 people who have to eat.  And there are other towers around, lots of them.

Clever Foued el Mabrouk, the charming Tunisian who is big boss here, has 10,000 Club members.  They pay an annual sum, which encourages them to come here, for lunch and dinner, eat with a discount and feel loyal.