It is impossible to get your arms around Park Hyatt Shanghai, as Americans might say. For a start, you cannot even see the top when the weather gods decree that the city needs a bit of mist and rain to nourish its commendable acreage of greenery, dotted along many main city roads, and in its parks. Somewhere in this 101-floor Shanghai World Financial Center building, on the Pudong side of the river, is the luxury hotel. My driver even had a problem finding the entrance but that was his fault (even reputable chauffeurs can be destination challenged).
But who cares? This is a sensational hotel. At the door, a theatrical ballet is played out for arrivals. Met, taken through high-high automatic doors, turn right, through yet more high-high automatic doors, past some sculptures, in an elevator up to the 87th floor lobby. Turn through 180 degrees to another bank of elevators to go down to your room. In 8304, a lovely suite that today looks straight into mist, I do more turns of 180 degrees, and some other degrees too, to inspect the room. At the far end of the concertina walkway I am greeted by the opening jaws of the automatic toilet, one of those that, alligator-like, opens wide as soon as it sees potential prey, and fortunately waits until you have left before closing them.
Room – suite – 8304 oozes China, freshness and health. A chair has an oriental feel (the apples are to keep the doctor away). Notelets and other paper items in the room show copies of etchings by Takahama Toshiya, commissioned for the hotel. Up by the highly-raised lap pool, on the 85th floor, are sculptures by Shintaro Otsuka, from Tokyo (the hotel is Japanese owned).
Now do I go up, or down, once I have finished at the pool (please, please, Tony Chi, you who designed this exquisite hotel, please put a floor sign by the elevators to help mere mortals, including me)? In fact Christophe Sadones, who runs this whole place, has had a finger in every moveable part of the pie. You can see his touch in the bathing set-up, in the wet area that wraps itself around the showers and the bathtub. His food finesse is visible in the Dining Room, an 87th-floor room that seems like a sophisticated kitchen, with several family-style dining areas around. Even in the most casual of set-ups, the napkins are perfectly-pressed pulled-thread linen. Wish I could be back here for the hotel’s Masters of Food & Wine festival November 26-29, 2013 – this year the event also features Jaeger–LeCoultre watches and Studio Harcourt photography.
Alongside tiny silver salt and pepper shakers stand sterling silver birds (wonder if they, like those on all the tables at Mosimann’s Club in London, are from the Patrick Mavros community village in Harare?). These dining areas, leading off the lobby, are not the only dining venues – well, be practical, even if you have lightning-quick elevators you do not exactly feel like going out to eat when you are temporarily living on the 83rd floor and you can only get out via the 87th floor. For breakfast, I head up to the three-floor Dining Room, which starts on the 91st floor. In the morning, this is actually more like a(nother) kitchen, as you wander around the actual cooking areas, choosing, say, a banana and soy smoothie and deep-fried dough to show that, wow, you are an American here in China.
I need to go. I take one elevator from the 91st to the 87th floor, another from the 87th to the 83rd floor to clean my teeth. Wish I could come back for The Masters of Food & Wine, here November 27th – December 3rd, 2013. Miraculously, as I exit my door Iverson, a bow-tied attendant who is just about to transfer to weave his magic at Park Hyatt Tokyo, is waiting to take the Porsche Rimowa up to the 87th floor. There Mariano, from Mendoza, is also part of the act. It (the case) and I are escorted to the final elevator, back down to the luxury hotel’s ground floor. Goodbye, three bas-relief figures leaning out of a wall say (Tony Chi is very partial to anthropomorphic shapes – see MGM Grand’s SkyLofts in Las Vegas).