China Travel Biz: Top China Business Hotel Picks

Culture | by Stephan Larose
Posted: February 6th, 2009 | Updated: July 25th, 2012 | Comments
Shanghai's Jing Mao and World Financial Center towers In the first of a series, we visit the world's highest bar to ask China pros from NextStep Shanghai for their top China business hotel picks. The Chinese economy may have slowed down, but it's still projected to grow at a healthy 7.5% rate in 2009. And even as global markets wobble there's plenty happening in the world's most dynamic economy, which means that China business travelers are still wheeling and dealing, looking for the upside in an otherwise upside-down financial world. That means that many movers & shakers zipping from one end of China to the other still must confront that ancient business traveler's dilemma: Where shall I sleep tonight? Getting a little peace of mind before another whirlwind day of doing business in China is a must. Alas, finding a good hotel can be quite daunting, even in this day of online hotel reviews and booking. Horror stories of stained carpets, moldy shower fixtures, communication breakdowns, wilted breakfasts and those notorious kang-hard beds abound. Which is why our first China Travel Biz column looks to enlist the aide of Shanghai's business jet set at one of NextStep Shanghai's weekly networking events in the form of in-the-know picks from real China pros. After negotiating two lifts to arrive at the World Financial Center's 93rd floor and the 100 Century Avenue Restaurant and Bar, I step into a dimly lit jazz lounge whose distinguished decor combines piles of ironic-kitsch porcelain skulls, shoes and assorted detritus with sturdy minimalist bronze and coffee colored furnishings, I grab a glass of wine and mingle with a crowd that includes everyone from billion-dollar money managers to local start-up entrepreneurs. I approach NextStep director Joseph Constanty, wine in hand, to find out about what NextStep Shanghai is up to before moving on to ask attendees about their favorite China business hotels. World Financial Center, Shanghai China Travel Biz: "So, what is NextStep Shanghai, and why should business travelers take notice?" Joseph Constanty: "We created NextStep in early 2007 to grow our own network base and create a community for business owners and managers to foster cooperation and collaboration amongst peers. It has since grown to over 7,000 guests and members in Shanghai. We took that one step further and created a comprehensive directory for business services in China at NextStepDirectory.com that is free to use for everyone. For those traveling to China for business, NextStep offers a great platform to begin networking with the business community to establish your presence, learn from those who have been running successful business in China, and build potential business leads." Business travelers take note. If you are looking for a fun crowd of like-minded individuals, NextStep events are for you. Their events are always held in top venues, and drinks are discounted. Need we say more? Having finished my glass of red, I take out my notebook and pencil (kickin' it old school) to do a little networking of my own. Over the course of the night I meet seven managers, analysts, marketers and consultants and garner a bevy of fantastic hotel picks with a little inside info to boot. Name: Amanda Job: Analyst, Barclays Bank Hotel pick: The Ritz-Carlton Beijing The Ritz Carlton, Beijing "The Ritz Carlton's decor is gorgeous but not loud. It's really relaxing—it almost makes me feel like I'm in a garden! Another really important thing is that the service people are really warm and attentive and the result is simply excellent service." Name: David Li Job: Facebook Application Developer Hotel pick: Hangzhou's Bairui Wangsong Hotel "Well, I'll take any 5 star hotel so long as I can put it on my expense account! But this gem I found through West Lake, which, you know, if you're in Hangzhou you really shouldn't miss. The service there is top-notch and I love the decor of the place; it makes it look like you should be paying triple what you actually are." Name: Thomas Kustrzyk Job: Freelance Consultant Hotel picks: Traders Hotel, Beijing and Hangzhou International Youth Hostel Hangzhou International Youth Hostel "Upon arrival, Traders Hotel staff greet guests with genuine warmth and actually look eager to help you. At reception, the guest is addressed by name when checking in and out; makes one feel important and very welcome. The rooms are also designed to exude comfort and coziness; to be a tranquil escape in the center of one of the largest cities in the world, it's a very difficult endeavor to pull off. Lastly, the sheets, blankets and pillows are superb and the windows are very well insulated precluding noise; that is a major feat given the fact that construction goes on nearby.
"The Hangzhou International Youth Hostel has an extraordinary location on China's preeminent body of water, West Lake. The front desk personnel are efficient, attentive, helpful and everyone speaks English. The restaurant is a great gathering point for the backpackers at the hostel; therefore, striking up a conversation and meeting interesting and passionate people is very easy to do while you enjoy their fine breakfast buffet or relax over coffee. Importantly as well, the hostel scores big points for their cleanliness and the fact that all the basics are covered in a safe and pleasant environment." Name: Jeffrey Clark
Job: Director, Source The Globe Hotel picks: Zhongshan Shangri-La, Guangzhou Garden Hotel, Intercontinental Chongqing The Guangzhou Garden Hotel "Well, both the Zhongshan Shangri-La and the Guangzhou Garden Hotel gave me free upgrades—that always scores points. The Guangzhou Garden Hotel also has the best breakfasts I've had at any hotel in China. Breakfasts usually make a big impression on people, its the first service experience of the day, and food, being as important as it is, makes a big impression. Nothing beats a good breakfast. "I picked the Intercontinental Chongqing because it's got the coziest bed, totally up to Western standards, which makes for a great sleep. But I think over all, as a foreigner, two really big determinants of whether I stay in a hotel are going to be: Do they have English TV channels? That means satellite, and do their service people speak English? If they don't, odds are something will end up frustrating you." Name: Raymond Wong Job: Sales Manager, JW Marriott Hotel, Shanghai, Tomorrow Square Hotel pick: "Well, my own of course!" JW Marriot Tomorrow Square, Shanghai "Well, not only has the JW Marriot have a great location, it's by far the coolest looking building in the square. But the real reason to love this hotel is for all those things that lie beneath the futuristic façade, which most people just don't know about. Take the Grand Ballroom Terrace for example. It offers a stunning view of the city. Our corner rooms are great too. Usually the rooms occupying the corner of a hotel building are cramped and awkwardly shaped, but weve gone and made our corner rooms spacious deluxe rooms with huge wraparound bay windows, and the cost of this deluxe room is just 200 more than your regular standard. "Something else that people don't know is that we have the world's highest library up on our 60th floor! It's a great venue for book signings by famous authors, which we've hosted. But best of all are the super secret balconies up there. Almost nobody knows about them, but they are the ultimate venue for a VIP dinner for two. The view you get from up there incomparable, breathtaking."  Name: Ocean Fu Job: Marketing Manager, Shanghai Expat Hotel picks: Four Points by Sheraton Shenzhen The Four Points by Sheraton, Shenzhen "Because its fronted by a huge beach on the ocean!" Name: Ellen (apologies, at this point the wine has taken effect and I forget to ask this dazzling young businesswoman her last name and job title) Hotel pick: The Peninsula Beijing "The service people there are awesome! They remember you. I've been in there about four times in the last year, not really that often, but they know me by name. On top of that, they have such a good attitude. Whatever I've asked of them, they have never, ever said no. They always find a way."
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