The art of sensation. Well, here at Park Hyatt Shanghai you might have the highest-set lobby in the world – at the 91st floor of a 101-floor building that looks like a giant bottle opener. That is the sensation. The art is making it memorable, and there are so many memories from this luxury hotel that the gal was taking’em in, one a minute, during her stay.
Right down by the tall-grey main doors (the opposite of glass rotating doors that let you see what is inside, and encourage you in), right down by doors that create a sense of mystery within, a couple of anthropomorphic shapes crouch.
Such shapes are very much in the DNA of designer Tony Chi. One of the first hotels for which he did the insides, SkyLofts at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, has them in abundance. And then you walk to the elevators.
A wall relief, white china, three more anthro shapes, is set by the elevators. Do they really stand for a pair of modern Chinese taking their one-child, between them, to school? They bear a slight similarity to the figures by the elevators up on the top floor (only twelfth, in this instance) of Ritz-Carlton Moscow, by the 02 super-terrace.
At Park Hyatt Shanghai you take an elevator up to that 91st floor lobby, and then, disconcertingly, another down to your floor. Look out of room 8358, on the 83rd floor, for another art work, a pair of cranes building what will be Shanghai’s tallest building, the 2,073-ft Shanghai Tower. (Park Hyatt Shanghai is in the Mori-owned Shanghai World Financial Centre in the Lujiazu business district of Pudong, Shanghai, and it is said the Chinese do not like not having the tallest building in town.)
And then you can take another elevator, up to the 85th floor Water’s Edge complex. There is a gym, and a spa, and a memorable pool, 65 feet long and raised four feet above the surround so that when anyone swims, the water deliberately splashes over the grey stone walls to the grey stone floor, fortunately missing the six black antique chests that hold white towels and robes, folded and set in military, or United Colors of Benetton, precision. There are a couple of egg-shape sculptures either end of the pool, by Tokyo artist Shintaro Otsuka.
I have forgotten how many elevators I took last night. It certainly required yet another to get to 100 Century Avenue, on the 92nd through 94th floors, where we looked at the view far far below and paired Kumamoto oysters from New Zealand with Taittinger Champagne from you-know-where.
And then there was another elevator to the Dining Room on the 87th floor, where the table was set with stunning cloisonné from a local company called Pilingpalang, whose designer Bingbing Deng produces totally covetable ceramic pots decorated with ‘modern Chinese’ figures, as well as the cloisonné, which I have never really liked but, Pilingpalang, you have changed a girl’s mind.
Park Hyatts are always into food – think Park Hyatt Tokyo and its New York Grill. The first Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine, ever, came about after a discussion with Carl Emberson, then-GM of the Mendoza hotel (he is now running St Regis Resort Punta Mita). Now Masters of Food and Wine events take place in many Park Hyatts.
Last year’s in Shanghai saw Alain Ducasse spending ten days here during this hotel’s event. It was his first-ever visit to China. 2011 sommelier-teachers were 2010 Best Sommelier of the World Gerard Basset and Ducasse’s long-time Executive Head Sommelier Gérard Margeon – I remember so well early morning swims with him during Kurt Fischer’s wine-tasting weeks in Napa some years ago.
This year’s Masters of Food and Wine Shanghai is November 21-24, 2012, with visiting international chefs led by Marc Haeberlin of L’Auberge de l’Ill in Illhaeursen, Alsace; Nicolas Stamm, Alsace, and Jean-François Rouquette, Executive Chef Park Hyatt Paris – Vendome. Regional chefs from Hyatt hotels come from Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Sha Tin, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui, Park Hyatt Ningbo.
Wine specialists will be Haeberlin’s colleague Serge Dubs, and the hotel’s own consultant Jean-Marc Nolant. Both the top visiting pastry chef, another Haeberlin team member, Christophe Meyer, and the visiting florist, Philippe Haety, are from Alsace.
Participants sign on for one or up to all of the four days, which each run from 1000 until midnight. There are masterclasses, including table-setting – this year’s teacher is also from Alsace – and, at the end of each day, a gala dinner.
Tonight, Lukas Ziesel, a young Salzburger with lots of food passion, illustrated the art of food. Think starting off with a carpaccio of local foie gras, thinly sliced, with porcini, tangy shallots, cider vinaigrette. On to grilled salmon on asparagus with parma ham, little pasta sheets and brown butter.
Add a Valpolicella Allegrini 2010, and fascinating conversations about art and travel, with endless iPhone shots of Bordeaux vineyards to whet the whistle in a connoisseur type of way. Christophe Sadones has just returned from yet another wine-tasting tour. His wine sommelier, he says, is so important that he shares his office.
This is a GM who is certainly into the finest things of life. His father, a great friend of England’s restaurant entrepreneur Roy Ackermann, has now down-sized from running masses of eating places to hosting a traditional English pub, The Old Book Binders Alehouse, described as ‘Oxford’s best-kept secret’.
You feel comfortable here, in this luxury hotel with an arty touch. In my predominantly grey and glass room, I admire the brightly coloured booklets on the design, green a Tour Guide, salmon a City Guide, Tiffany-blue a hotel guide, all designed by Bing Design – also known as Bingbing.
In the morning, breakfasting on the 93rd floor, the orange of the just-squeezed juice stands out day-glo style (anything to do with the height?) Comfortably, one can walk around various buffet areas, and right into kitchen parts where real, as opposed to show, cooking is going on.
On the way out, all the way down at the 91st floor reception, we walk past another statue, Mr Please by Xie Aige, a female sculptor from Hunan. It just begs to be cradled or touched. Sculptures do that to you.
Witness the numerous people who had to touch the terracotta-like statue at one of the beautiful stands at International Luxury Travel Market ILTM Asia.