The jazz band above says it all. Seeing those veterans you know immediately, it is The Jazz Band at the luxury Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai. They have been playing forever, and in fact my friend Tiffany Dowd’s grandfather Vic Won Cumyow, also known as Victor Vancouver, played in the band at one time. Today the band still plays: until 9.45 p.m. it is the A team, with the youngest player 79, then the B-team, 60-plus years, takes over, ensuring an ongoing succession plan (check out the 2013 Youtube movie, As Time Goes By in Shanghai). This time, the gal was staying in the hotel’s Japanese Suite, and it was absolutely glorious – see the video, below.
In 2010 it was decided to theme nine of the 270-room hotel’s suites for countries associated with Sir Victor Sassoon GBE, 1881-1961, who founded what was then the Cathay Hotel here. There are therefore suites honouring China, England, France, Germany, India, Italy, New York (representing USA) and Spain – and Japan. As more than one person told me, 620, the Japanese suite, is their favourite, and I can see why. Designed by HBA, it is serene, it is Japanese but not too much so, and it is fun: it also overlooks The Bund, immediately outside, and it looks across the Huangpu River to Pudong. You go first into a Japanese sitting room, with tatami mat flooring. Turn right, through rice-paper screens, and you come to the western sitting room.
Next comes the bedroom, with a western bed on a platform rather than legs. At its base are Japanese cushions, on a low table. It is very well thought out, with a big book on Japan Home, and another on Young Asian Fashion Designers, published by Daab – the only three Shanghai names are two guys, Qiu Hao and Wang Yiyang, and one lady, He Yan, of the Spring Republic label. George Wee, who runs this hotel as well as heading Fairmont in China, says that as well as overnight guests, the suites are really popular as day-lets for the ambassadors of the appropriate country to use for entertaining or meetings. He also has elite watch companies booking them for exclusive one-to-one presentations.
The ninth floor club lounge has sprung to life since my last visit, and breakfasting near me were the new President of Marco Polo, Jennifer Cronin, and the head of FRHI China (George’s boss), Foued El Mabrouk. It is always a joy to see luxury hotels up their game, and the combination of the upgraded club lounge, these additional suites, and new lighting in public areas certainly makes me smile, coming to this particular beauty. I also long, once again, to have another outdoor rooftop party like the one George Wee hosted a few days ago – he is the ideal host, and on that occasion all the hotel’s managers wore dark suits and long white silk scarves. Sometimes it is delightful to be retro, and hark back to times gone by. NOW SEE THIS VIDEO, BELOW