Well, it might have been a return visit to The Peninsula Shanghai but as the gal knows the experience feels different every time. For a start, the 50 retail tenants in the complex that stretches not only from the main lobby, towards the entrance on The Bund, but in the other direction, too, and down a level. Jenny Packham, who is already at The Peninsula Beijing, will open up here shortly, as well. One of the stores actually at The Bund is Chanel, whose windows are always so absolutely beautiful you have to say ‘wow’. When retail display is the pinnacle of perfection it sets the tone for the actual experience of a luxury hotel.
That is certainly the case here. Tonight, I was told, we are dining pool side (see the pool, above). Really? Yes, a table was set up, for a dinner that must be described as, well, beautiful. See one dish, here, a roll of slow-cooked cod topped with Chinese-farmed schrencki caviar, selected and packaged by Kaviari Kristal, based in Paris. We drank The Peninsula’s own-label St-Estèphe 2011: the company always has at least six own-label wines, which change constantly (it also has its own Scottish malt, selected by the previous GM, Joseph Chong). Current GM, Jisoo Chon, was hosting our dinner, and I heard his fascinating story, from studying biomed via working for Asiana to getting into hotels.
As always, I made a trip to nearby delights, including the garden of the former British Consulate, next door, and to The Bund, just across the road. And, as always happens, The Bund is dotted with people from all over China taking photographs, of the river and across to the highrises of Pudong, and of the flower arrangements here, on this bank. Perhaps as if to balance the heavy concentration of buildings, rather than gardens, that typifies much of Shanghai, there seems to be a profusion of flowers, in outside displays as here, on The Bund, and certainly inside The Peninsula. The displays in the lobby, and on the reception desk, are particularly photogenic.
Talking of flowers, here is an eGifting virtual card, which this clever luxury hotel uses. Digital whiz Cecilia Lui explained how eGifting is becoming so popular – at holiday times people send virtual cards like this one, a specially-commissioned design called ‘Flowers Bloom with Full Moon’. The recipient can then use the ‘money’ sent, on a meal or something else in the hotel, or perhaps having sesame-filled mooncakes delivered during the Autumn festival. Thanks to WeChat or another of the Chinese all-purpose social media systems, no money, no REAL money, of course passes hands, but then during this entire trip to China I do not think I saw any money at all. I and other foreigners used credit cards. The locals are all ‘virtual’ when it comes to spend. AND NOW SEE OUR POOLSIDE DINNER, AND THEN SUITE 710