Condé Nast Traveler has just released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice survey for the Best Hotel in the World. It revealed that the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai luxury hotel is the 2011 winner of this prestigious title.
In second place was Peninsula House in the Dominican Republic, just ahead of the Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Luxury hotels in South Africa, which have done very well in tourism awards so far this year, was represented by the Safari Lodge at Phinda Private Game Reserve which was given fourth place.
The awards are chosen by a large cross-section of business and leisure travelers as over 28,000 readers submitted their top choice. The same process was used for readers to vote for the best city in each country. Here the United States winner was Charleston, South Carolina. Quebec City was voted top city in Canada and San Miguel de Allende won for Mexico.
Further awards were given for each continent, giving travelers more ideas for some great city trips. Sydney, Australia was voted the top city to visit in the Oceania section, Buenos Aires won for Central and South America, Kyoto won in Asia and the lovely city of Florence, Italy won the award for best city in Europe.
Despite an onslaught of hype and billions of dollars invested, Dubai did not get a mention until #49 when the Park Hyatt Dubai was named, well behind more modest offerings in England, New Zealand and Greece.
Bookings at hotels in Shanghai are on the up as couples flock to the city to get married. The attraction is Thames Town, a reproduction English village straight out of a London film set, where newlywed couples can pose for their wedding pictures.
This satellite suburb in the Songjiang suburb of China’s most populous city was built in 2006 as a replica English village attraction. The medieval architecture, cobbled streets, faux historic parish church and half-timbered 16th century cottages provide the perfect backdrop for newlyweds to pose and dream of a honeymoon far, far away.
Guests to Thames-Town-by-the-Yangtze can also get married in a lawn ceremony with the steepled church as a backdrop. This romantic setting is reached through a floral arch and along a red carpet – very Duchess of Cambridge style. Alternative wedding locations in this surreal town are hot air balloons, on bicycles or ceremonies aboard a yacht which sails across Lake Huating. Ideal for small wedding parties, the yacht’s luxurious interior is bedecked with heart-shaped balloons for the ceremony.
When it’s all over there is a great choice of luxury hotels in Shanghai from which to enjoy the rest of your stay.
Shanghai is now busy dismantling the World Expo – the six-month event showcasing China’s rise in the world.
The Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, described the fair as ‘splendid’, saying it ‘truly brought together people around the globe’.
China reportedly spent in the region of £37 billion ($60 billion) preparing for the fair – more than was spent on the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Officials say 72 million people visited pavilions staged by more than 240 countries and organisations. The majority of the visitors were ordinary Chinese from around the country, who often had to queue for hours to see some of the most popular attractions.
The highlights included Denmark’s famous Little Mermaid sculpture, impressionist paintings from the Louvre in Paris and entertainment by Canada’s Cirque du Soleil.
The city of Shanghai did well out of the Expo, with the number of tourists increasing by 6 per cent, retail sales by 17.5 per cent and lodging and catering by 16.8 per cent.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique can guide you to the best of luxury hotels in Shanghai, including the Four Seasons Shanghai, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai and the J W Marriott Shanghai.
A landmark luxury hotel in Shanghai, which has just been refurbished, has appealed for former guests to get in touch if they have memorabilia from the hotel’s heyday.
The Peace Hotel, on the city’s famous Bund riverfront promenade, is set to re-open shortly, complete with a new museum dedicated to its history.
“To fully showcase the rich heritage of China’s grandest hotel, we’d love past guests to share with us their memories, memorabilia and ‘borrowed’ items so we can record and preserve history for future generations,” said the General Manager, Kamal Naamani.
Wanted items include silverware, china, monogrammed goods, historic photographs, postcards, art, menus, trinkets and anecdotes. Contributors who bequeath items for the exhibition will receive an invitation to a special cocktail reception at the hotel later this year.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Peace Hotel (formerly the Cathay) was one of the most famous establishments in Asia, along with other luxury hotels such as the Peninsula Hong Kong, the Raffles Singapore, the Chosun Korea and the Imperial Tokyo.
Among its early guests were a number of celebrities, including Charlie Chaplin, and the playwright Noel Coward who completed his famous work Private Lives while staying there. It’s now part of the Fairmont Group, which has luxury hotels and resorts throughout the world.
by Andy Moreton
Shanghai is the jewel of modern China – a fascinating and vibrant city. Luxique can guide you to the best of its luxury hotels, including the Four Seasons Shanghai, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai and the J W Marriott Shanghai.
China’s financial capital, Shanghai, is gearing up for Expo 2010, which opens in the city on May 1st and lasts until the end of October.
More than 190 countries and 50 international organisations have signed up to participate in this world fair, which has the slogan ‘Better City, Better Life’. Attractions range from French musical fountains to German Bratwurst sausages.
China is the first developing nation to host the World Expo and officials hope it will improve Shanghai’s position as a global city. It’s doing its best to impress visitors, with the city government splashing out more than $700 million (£454 million) on renovating the Bund riverfront, as well as $45 billion (£29 billion) to upgrade transport and infrastructure.
Of the 70 million visitors expected, many will come from other parts of China, although officials concede that the event will be beyond the means of many ordinary Chinese. An average one-day ticket costs 160 yuan ($23/£15) – a large sum for the country’s low-income groups.
by Andy Moreton
This might be just the time to visit the jewel of modern China, and Luxique has a selection of luxury hotels in Shanghai. They include the J.W.Marriott, which is offering a 15 per cent discount package – with certain conditions – throughout the duration of Expo 2010.
The Chinese authorities have approved the construction of a Disney theme park in Shanghai.
“China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for the Walt Disney Company in mainland China,” said Disney president and CEO, Robert Iger. Disney already has operations in Hong Kong, where its fifth resort was built in 2005.
A 1.5 square mile block of land has been earmarked for the Shanghai project, but there will have to be considerable compensation paid out to residents forced to move. The cost of relocation to make way for the first phase – the park, a hotel and retail outlets – is put at £523 million ($880 million).
Disney will hold a 43 per cent share in the project. The remainder will be controlled by Shanghai state-owned companies. Chinese state media said the park would cost up to £2.1 billion ($3.6 billion) and be opened around 2014.
Disney has been trying to build a park for years in Shanghai, in an effort to take a firmer foothold in a fast-growing China market where success has eluded most Western media companies.
by Andy Moreton
As Disney confirms, Shanghai is the jewel of modern China - a fascinating and vibrant city. Luxique can guide you to the best of its luxury hotels, including the Four Seasons Shanghai, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, and the J W Marriott Shanghai.
The authorities in the Chinese city of Shanghai are starting a campaign to try to weed out and correct badly-phrased English on signs in public places.
Chinglish, as it’s known, has become a source of embarrassment for the Chinese, but has provided endless fun for English-speaking tourists. Shanghai wants to change matters, not least because it’s expecting millions of visitors for the World Expo fair next year.
Student volunteers will check the English on signs throughout the city and if the translation is less than accurate, whoever was responsible will have to correct it.
There are numerous examples of Chinglish such as:
· In a hotel lift: Please bump your head carefully
· In a hotel lobby: Please leave your values at the front desk
· On the subway: If you are stolen, call the police at once
Sometimes, there’s a glorious mixture of English words, Chinese grammar and incorrect phrases, such as the poetic The rust embroidered shoes approve the zero concurrent y camp.
But the one I like most is the park sign reading Tender fragrant grass. How hardhearted to trample them. Much more endearing than ‘Keep off!’
by Andy Moreton
Shanghai is the jewel of modern China - a fascinating and vibrant city. Luxique gives you a plain English guide to the best of its luxury hotels, including the Four Seasons Shanghai, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai and the J W Marriott Shanghai.
The most popular tourist attraction in China, the Great Wall, is even greater than previously thought. A two-year government mapping study has uncovered ‘new’ sections covering hundreds of miles.
Using infra-red range finders and GPS devices, experts discovered parts of the wall concealed by hills, trenches and rivers stretching from Hushan in Liaoning province in the north to Jiayu Pass in Gansu province in the west.
The official China Daily newspaper said the newly-mapped parts of the wall had been built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) to protect China against northern invaders and had been submerged over time by sandstorms that moved across the region.
Recent studies by Chinese archaeologists have shown that these sandstorms are reducing sections of the wall in Gansu to ‘mounds of dirt’ and that they may disappear entirely in 20 years. The studies mainly blame the erosion on destructive farming methods used in the 1950s that turned large areas of northern China into desert.
In recent years, China has begun restoring parts of the wall as well as trying to curb commercial development on or next to the ancient structure.
The Chinese say: ‘If you haven’t climbed the Great Wall, you haven’t been to China.’ The sections around the Chinese capital, restored since the Communist Party took power in 1949, draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
But tourist encroachment has also been a problem, with state media saying that around Badaling, near Beijing, almost every brick on a popular section of the wall has been carved with people’s names or other graffiti.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers an unrivalled selection of luxury hotels in Beijing, boutique hotels Shanghai and other parts of China.
The electric bike could be the future; for many Chinese it’s the present.
The e-bike is assisted by a battery-powered motor that makes pedalling feel almost effortless. With China being a nation of 450 million cyclists, it’s caught on there with astonishing speed; industry analysts believe two-thirds of them could eventually switch to electric power.
One man is determined to show the world the benefits of the e-bike – and he’s not Chinese. Guim Valls Teruel, a 33-year-old from Barcelona, is riding one around the world from Beijing to London, where he hopes to arrive in time for the 2012 Olympics.
Using solar power to recharge his three batteries, Mr Teruel plans to pedal-glide through five continents before arriving in England via Ireland.
“Millions of Chinese people already use them and they can be an important part of a green revolution in the rest of the world,” said Mr Teruel, who’s lived in China for two years. “It’s so easy, it feels like you’re floating.”
The e-bike has been much slower to catch on in Europe and the United States, even though it is has zero emissions, is whisper-quiet and can deliver a commuter to his desk without the need for a shower and a change of clothes.
However, there are now signs that the e-bike is about to make a breakthrough in Europe, starting among the cycle-loving citizens of the Netherlands.
by Andy Moreton
Travelling to China or farther afield? Let Luxique help you book unique luxury hotels Beijing or award winning luxury hotels in Shanghai.
Barbie’s 50th birthday has been marked by the opening of the world’s biggest Barbie store – a £20 million ($28 million) six-storey pink palace in Shanghai.
The store has 1,600 products for sale, all associated with the doll known by the Chinese as ‘Ba Bi Wa Wa.’ There’s a catwalk on which younger girls can model Barbie-esque clothes, while assistants will help them sing and dance to the ‘Barbie Girl’ song. For older women, a line of clothing will be on offer from Patricia Fields, the designer behind Sex and the City.
And then there’s ‘The Pink Room,’ a bar complete with karaoke, a DJ and pink martinis. “Barbies want to talk to Kens, you have to have a place for that,” said Hayes Zhou, the food manager at the store. Visitors can also use a day spa and get a hair cut or a manicure.
The California-based makers, Mattel, had been looking at various Asian cities for the superstore, but Shanghai had apparently shown the most passion for the Barbie brand, not only among girls 3 to 8 years old, but for teenagers and mums too.
“We’ve been working on this idea for three years, then we came to the decision that since it is a whole new concept, it should be happening in the most ‘future’ place in the world,” said Mr Dickson. “That’s why we have chosen Shanghai, the most modern and fashionable city.”
by Andy Moreton
We at Luxique agree with Mr Dickson. Our Top Destination guide describes Shanghai as ‘the jewel of modern China, a cosmopolitan hotspot at the vanguard of the resurgent People’s Republic.’ And of course we can help you book the very best luxury hotels in Shanghai