Sunset from the world’s tallest Hyatt, the 101-floor Park Hyatt Shanghai, a luxury hotel that has continued to amaze affluent locals ever since it was opened on September 1st, 2008. You see them gazing in awe as they come into the ground floor reception, and taking elevators first up to the 87th floor lobby and then another up to the 93rd floor 100 Century Avenue. Even the ground floor is jaw-dropping. There is no door as such, says the gal. From the outside you go through a bit of a tall granite wall that seems to open by magic.
Inside, this is a cavernous gallery, dark grey floor, and walls that seem to rise to infinity. A sense of humour comes through this sculpture of three anthropomorphic features set on a wall by the first bank of elevators… ha ha, the Chi-follower says, this must be Tony Chi. It is indeed he. He has done the interiors throughout the 174-room hotel (and according to someone who knows, Minoru Mori of Mori, who owns the hotel, Tony Chi is such a deity that not a single hair must be changed). You see the same kind of Chi figures, as standing sculptures, in some rooms here, and also in SkyLofts at MGM Grand, Las Vegas.
But this art hotel does also have real people, lots of them. We headed to the Dining Room, leading off the 87th floor lobby. First part of the Dining Room is a 35-seat Library area, with a superbly elegant antipasti and dessert buffet (hot tapas are served, in between). Young locals are standing in line to get in. It costs the equivalent of $100 each, though they save by not spending extra on alcohol. We go through to the main Dining Room, with white linens and Riedel glasses, just right for our Ridge Vineyards Geyserville Trentadue Zinfandel 2012. I love my spring salad with crispy buffalo mozzarella, watercress, asparagus and hazelnuts, and black cod with octopus. I am shown the printed menu for 100 Century Avenue, and I am intrigued (it is 19cm high by 40cm, and has this photo on the rear).
This is a menu for connoisseurs – there are oysters from France, Tasmania, South Africa, Oregon and British Columbia. The wagyu here comes from descendants of cattle on Shogo Takeda’s Hokkaido farm (researching, I am intrigued that his primary sire, Itomichi, a son of Dai Nana Itozakura of the Fujiyoshi bloodline, has been ‘top dog’, sorry bull, for 12 years). I am back up at 100 Century Avenue for breakfast, a stunning selection of different buffets, with hots cooked to order. I read yesterday’s Financial Times (in Shanghai it arrives at four pm on ‘the day’). I do a lot of reading at this hotel.
I am also intrigued by a stunning book, Sons + Fathers, foreword Bono. It has just been published to benefit the Iris Hospice Foundation and the 150 couples interviewed include Tom Pritzker and his father Jay, Julian Lennon and John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney and Jim McCartney, Sting and Ernest Matthew Sumner. It is very moving. Back down in the lobby (87th floor) I meet up as planned with Etienne Dalançon, the hotel GM. He would make a great subject in Sons + Fathers, namely ‘Japanese-speaking top luxury hotelier in Shanghai’ and his father (‘traditional lawyer in Marseille‘). We stand by Xie Aige’s golden Mr Please.
Actually this is a luxury hotel that seems deliberately muted when it comes to interior colour. Bedrooms soar, their walls palest grey or black panels that open up to form doors: floors and furniture are shades of mole, or brown. But then I look through one of the all-wall windows at the view – and actually who needs colour?