Gostelow Report Live – ILTM Asia, day one

peninsula luxury hotel shanghai

.. morning view

Today, tomorrow and Wednesday, Gostelow Report Live – at the request of Reed Travel Exhibitions, organiser of ILTM – gives inside stories on the personalities and happenings here in Shanghai. This year there are 493 exhibitors (from 50 countries), of whom 58% are first-timers here at ILTM Asia. There are also 475 hosted buyers (from 26 countries), of whom, again, 58% are here for the first time. In all, over the three days of meetings, there will be more than 23,000 pre-scheduled, mutually-matched appointments, with an average of 54 appointments per participant.
Mandarin Oriental’s big news is that as of May 22nd, 2015, it assumed management, and 50% ownership, of the iconic The Ritz,Madrid. Much to everyone’s delight, Christian Tavelli continues as GM

• MOHG’s GM line-up here includes Jonas Schuermann, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong – join power breakfasters in his Mandarin Grill (nothing beats its duck egg omelette). At Mandarin Oriental Shanghai (GM Pierre Barthès), see Da Cai’s amusing fish-and-food art currently displayed next to Fifty-8° Grill – love chef Jason Oakley’s octopus salad • Mandarin Oriental Tokyo’s Tony Costa is also here. Foodies go wild for his eight-seat, 38th-floor Sushi Sora, and Daniele Cason produces arguably Asia’s best pizzas at an eight-seat counter in K’shiki. And visit the ground floor
Sembikiya food store, where individually wrapped melons are a bite at $300

• Mandarin Oriental London, starts its long-awaited new Joyce Wang interiors April 2016 (the 18-month project will be done without closing, says GM Gérard Sintès). On May 23rd, Daniel Boulud flew in to celebrate the fifth birthday of Bar Boulud: insider tip – if you cannot get a lunch or dinner reservation at the hotel’s Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston (Blumenthal), go instead for the only London breakfast that gives ringside views of Hyde Park, perhaps with mounted guardsmen riding by • Want to know more about food in London? Jill Sinclair, of Sinclair Global, can
create a bespoke programme to visit suppliers (or if you are into artisan crafts, she can take you there, too).

Sit in the airy lobby of The Regent Beijing, 15 minutes from the Forbidden City, and look out through three-floor-high glass walls at its lovely garden (GM Nick Porter organises barbecues here, Thursdays to Saturdays, summer-only).

• Panacea Koh Samui’s gardens are by Bill Bensley. Panacea has five villas – most superlative is the six-bedroom Praana: 20 staff, ten-seat screening room, two infinity pools (20 and ten metres), one Muay Thai boxing ring, one tennis court, and add in 300 bottles in the wine cellar.

• Day in, day out, keep fit with really strenuous Thai boxing lessons at Conrad Koh Samui. Songkran-themed weekend activities include Thai tom-tom dance-and-fun games, and on Wednesdays and Fridays join in poolside fire dance shows. All 80 villas, minimum size 1,200 sq ft, have small pools – but you can actually get married in the main pool, although why not replace a traditional wedding meal with a tasting of some of the over-1,400 bottles in the cellars?

• Dream of tasting Japanese single malts, and drinking in endless Indian Ocean views, at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. The 53-villa resort opens August, GM Pascal Billon. St Regis Chengdu is one of the newest babies of Starwood Asia – the sumptuous 29th floor central-city hotel opened October 2014 (GM Richard Deutl). For real style, take the top floor 3,330 sq ft Presidential Suite, which has a spectacular private 40-ft outside pool. Ask for your own Champagne sabre-ing there, Moët and a Laguiole knife (great photo opportunities!) and dine there, poolside, or in one of the 27th floor Yun Fu ‘s private rooms. Amazing neighbouring shopping mall, plus five Cartier boutiques, and a massive Apple Store, within ten minutes’ walk.

• Oliver Key, GM of St Regis Abu Dhabi, is making his first visit to Shanghai. His stunning 283-room hotel, on the top 17 floors of a 50-floor double-tower, has its own beach complex. Watch the sun come down behind the iconic
Emirates Towers hotel while you laze on an Asia da Cuba cabana being served Dom Pérignon and dim sum by a stunning former Miss Poland.

• W Bangkok launches its long-awaited The House on Sathorn, a restoration of an 1896-vintage building next to the
new 31-floor main hotel – this is ideal for functions, say weddings or small meetings. The 407-room hotel, run by Brit Nick Heath, is, like all Ws, really fun. Order a 250-gram, 15-day grain-fed Darling Downs steak in The Kitchen Table and shoestring fries come in a wire basket, your béarnaise is in a small kilner jar: via the WiPhone app you can order inroom dining, order more towels or buy from W The Store

• Starwood’s show also includes two London properties. The circular Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection
Hotel, (GM Sue Finlay) is five minutes’ walk from Harrods, and the hotel also works direct with such local artisans as Rococo Chocolates and candle chandler Rachel Vosper; choose one of the 17th floor Penthouse Suites for lovely new Paul Kenton artwork and stunning views from floor-to-ceiling windows.

• Across town, the four-year-young W London – Leicester Square has just unveiled brand new Fabulous Rooms with signature Union Jack barista and TV walls with bespoke cocktail glasses designed by Byung Kim. Insider tip: ask a Whatever/Whenever to borrow one of its hundred vinyl records, with a portable player.

• For live music, head to The Peninsula Manila’s lobby, where it is piano at lunch, guitar and flute at afternoon tea and, from 6pm, two seven piece groups, a string ensemble and a jazz ensemble, alternating. As if in honour of the hotel’s 40th anniversary, this September 14th, the hotel has renovated the club floor and Old Manila restaurant, and it has a Brewster-green jeepney as well as a refitted vintage Packard. GM Sonja Vodusek has led a three-year fundraising for a breast care centre (and, together Peninsula hotels raised nearly $1million after Typhoon Haiyan). Question, how does a 493-room hotel eat 7,000 gallons of icecream a year?

• Pokémon at The Peninsula Tokyo is something no-one should miss – even adults. Led by GM Malcolm Thompson, the hotel has exclusive official rights on its ten-station ‘treasure hunt’. Start by the elevator lobbies, finish in a mysterious subterranean dungeon where lights flicker and furnishings shake. Arrive at the 314-room hotel in a Tesla, borrow a peppermint-coloured bike to cycle round the adjacent Imperial Palace Gardens, and seemingly walk-the-catwalk as you go into the 24th floor Peter restaurant. Best rooms? Anything facing the Palace Gardens.

• Peninsula Beijing keeps its head down, for now – with reason. Its complete renovation will bring key-count down to 230, smallest 610 sq ft (it is keeping at 640 staff-count). GM Joseph Sampermans says start planning visits as of April 2016, when half of the Henry Leung-designed rooms come online: honestly, mock-up room previews suggest Beijing could  raise the bar even above Paris.

• Tim Reynolds – sadly not here, but represented by Anthony Dupont – must be an extraordinary man. Co-founder of Wall Street’s Jane Street, moving $4 billion to $8 billion of shares a day, he was paralyzed while being chauffeured home from its first-ever Christmas party. Wheelchair-bound, he has poured millions into the philanthropy of art. Briefly, profits from the Ani Villas he owns 100% subsidize professional Àni Art Academies tuition for promising locals, whose works are often bought by Villas guests. Ani Villas are fully staffed and ideal for multi-generational or small group buy-outs. The original ten-suite Ani Villas Anguilla will be complemented later this year by Ani Villas Thailand (10 suites) and Ani Villas Sri Lanka (14 suites).

• Luke Bailes is another caring visionary. When he inherited Sabi Sand Game Reserve land from his grandfather in 1993 he opened Ebony Lodge, which paved the way for his superb Singita safari lodges. Singita Ebony Lodge, here represented by Jaco Ehlers, has just been upgraded, combining tented camp and bush lodge style. You are now more immersed in nature, with huge open spaces with interiors inspired by local tribal culture and the animal kingdom.

• Singita is one of seven properties on the Chic Collection stand. The chic-himself CEO, Nigel Bolding, now has 135 hotels in the Collection, and he plans to take it up to at least 500. Hotel owners are attracted by an incredibly low basic annual fee, for which they get a toolbox of 25 advantages, and they can choose as many as they like. Smiling as ever, Bolding says ILTM Asia is one of his two most productive weeks of the year (since you asked, the other is Cannes). He jointly owns Chic Collection with Dubai-based Dutco, which also owns JA Hotels, whose COO David Thomson is here with Walter Hall, GM of JA Manafaru, the former 85-villa Waldorf Astoria. There on 35-acre Manafaru island, in Haa Alifu Atoll, you can also spend a day or overnight on a small castaway island five minutes away. Also, how about playing golf, or at least hitting ‘balls’ that magically
transform into fish food once in the sea?

• Victoria Frost is chief commercial officer for the passionate Sonu Shivdasani’s two properties, Soneva Fushi, Maldives – which later this year launches its Soneva in Aqua yacht – and Soneva Kiri, Thailand, which has a working chocolate factory and a kids’ treehouse room. Both resorts are barefoot, offering the SLOW, sustainable, local, organic and wellness Soneva philosophy.

• Park Hyatt Zurich, GM Jan Peter van der Ree, is a fashionistas’ and wine-lovers’ favourite. Head ten minutes to
Bahnhofstrasse boutiques, or beautiful Zurichsee, or stay put and enjoy tastings in ONYX Bar, where the after-work aspero time is specially busy on Thursdays. Many dishes in parkhuus restaurant – sit outside, and people-watch, in summer – are boosts for health and/or beauty (advisor is Marianne Botta, who has eight children)

• Park Hyatt Milano, GM Gorka Bergareche, is closest to the Duomo, and the sensational 1877-vintage Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (which has swapped McDonald’s for Prada and the like). An amazing mirror-patchwork by Anish Kapoor now hangs in the lobby, and as well as the Michelin-starred VUN, closed Sunday and Monday, there is great atmosphere in all-day MiO, designed by Flaviano Capriotti, formerly with Citterio

• Stefano Bajona owns and runs Onirikos, a licensed supplier to Expo Milano 2015, which runs through this
October. He can devise and supervise a bespoke tour that takes in just the pavilions, of the over-145 total, that really excite. Elsewhere, want to go to Siena’s twice-yearly Palio, or visit the Sistine Chapel in private, or quad-bike on Mount Etna, or learn gelati making? Stefano is your man.

• To celebrate the Expo, on May 14th, Mauro Governato, new GM Four Seasons Milano, closed off via Gesù for a seated banquet, at one long table, for 900 guests. There were 100 servers, and the 75 chefs were led by Vito Mollica,
long-time chef at Four Seasons Florence who is now also overseeing the Milan hotel’s cuisine.

• If food tops your luxury travel list, think Conrad Hong Kong (GM is foodie Thomas Hoeborn), whose 25th anniversary celebrations include a silver cake, and guest appearances by Chicago’s Curtis Duffy in September, New York’s Jungsik Yim in October and Tokyo’s Shinya Maeda in November.

• Conrad Tokyo GM Heinrich Grafe is already excited about hosting the next ILTM Japan (February 29th to March 2nd, 2016). The hotel gives stunning views over Hamarikyu Garden and Tokyo Bay. Choose the absolutely beautiful two-bedroom Royal Suite, with delicate cherry blossom sprays on palest stone carpets and matching fabric walls – or anything with access to the 37th floor lounge, which has a central fireplace and an attendant chef.

• Hilton’s Asia-luxury supremo, Samuel Chamberlain, is also representing Waldorf Astoria. At Waldorf Astoria Beijing, on the site of Xianliang Temple in Wangfujing, check Na Jia Garden, where grand minister Na Tong of the Qing Dynasty lived and welcomed Dr Sun Yat-Sen: the 171-room hotel, designed by Yabu Pushelberg, includes four hutong suites, and there is stunning modern art everywhere (what looks like a brush painting of old Chinese  mountains is a collection of black pins set in just-so).

• The official ILTM party kicks off tonight, 8 p.m. at Jing’An Shangri-La. Although you may want to eat something beforehand, GM Kieran Twomey promises a culinary journey through the hotel’s restaurants, 1515 West, Calypso and Tsuru (and Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah and more from Kerry Wines). See you tomorrow!