The Shangri-La Hotel: Beijing’s sanctuary for all senses – Martin Ricker
When international travel and busy work schedules dominate your agenda, it's nice to let someone else take care of your every need. The Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing does exactly that and more. Martin Ricker experiences what the hotel can offer at first hand.
Long-haul flights, time differences and the pressures of work can leave body and mind feeling at best hazy and at worst completely shattered; however, knowing that at the end of your journey there is team of people waiting to look after your every need takes much
of the stress out of business travel.
The five-star, 670-room Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing is located 35 minutes by car from Beijing's Capital International Airport on the western side of China's political and cultural metropolis. It boasts four high-class restaurants, three bars, a spa, a health club, an indoor swimming pool, and an entire wing dedicated to business executives, high-profile figures and celebrities.
Beijing is a leading destination for business executives wishing to take a slice of one of the world's most dynamic economies, and the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing is the ideal location to do business or simply kick back, relax and unwind.
My journey to rejuvenation began at the airport, where a spacious hotel car was waiting to take me through the city's busy traffic, which streams between seemingly endless residential and business office blocks that make up modern-day Beijing.
On arrival at the hotel, which is located near Beijing's central business district, I was directed to check-in at reception at the Valley Wing Lounge, which is located on the 12th floor. This area has been designed with the business traveller in mind and is for the exclusive use of guests staying in this part of the hotel.
The Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing was first constructed in 1987 and the original building is known as the Garden Wing. A second tower, the Valley Wing, was added in 2007. The cultural and political heart of the city is a 20-minute car journey away.
Valley Wing Lounge
I stayed in a 50m² Premier room, which was spacious, light and fully geared up for the luxuriously comfortable stay expected from a five-star hotel. But the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing goes that extra mile: as a business traveller, I was offered additional complimentary services, which are provided to all guests staying in the Valley Wing. This included a free shoe shine, and pressing of my suit and shirt on arrival.
The Valley Wing also has a range of higher-end suites - Diplomat, Grand Diplomat, Specialty and Presidential - which are usually occupied by A-list celebrities, foreign heads of state and senior government personnel. The Presidential Suite has enormous double-height ceilings and all suites contain every conceivable luxury.
In the Valley Wing Lounge, guests can access complimentary breakfast, beverages, 'free-flowing' wine and Champagne, and snacks throughout the day, and enjoy a happy hour from 6pm to 8pm. It's the ideal place to check emails or conduct informal meetings with colleagues or business associates. The lounge also contains meeting rooms (available for up to two hours a time) for more formal business engagements.
Peace of mind and body
Since its inception, the ethos of Shangri-La Hotels has been based on 'Shangri-La' - a fictional paradise created by James Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon. Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing in particular is designed to symbolise the values of serenity, personal peace and well-being. On the fifth floor, this ideal has been blended with Chinese philosophy and recreated in the CHI, The Spa. Here, the focus is on chi (or qi), the personal life force that governs well-being and personal vitality. CHI, The Spa massages and treatments are based on the natural healing methods found in the traditional well-being practices shared by many Asian cultures.
When entering the spa, each guest is greeted in a relaxing atmosphere and asked about their specific tastes so that the treatment is tailored to suit them. CHI, The Spa offers a range of massages, body treatments, therapies, facials and body-wrap experiences. I opted for the popular CHI Balance massage, 75 minutes of sheer bliss - all the stress and tension across my whole body was eased with a gentle, yet penetrating, palm-pressure massage.
CHI Balance is based on the chi elements; earth is the building chi, wood for movement, and fire for clarity and peace of mind. After my treatment, the effects of a long-haul flight had evaporated and I felt fully recharged.
Dining for all tastes
S.T.A.Y. (Simple Table Alleno Yannick) is the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing's signature dining experience, the creation of Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno. The S.T.A.Y. concept is new for a hotel restaurant: it features a communal dining area as well as traditional seating, and a 'pastry library', where diners can select their own dessert or have one made to their taste.
During my stay, the French-trained chefs had introduced the new spring menu, which featured foie gras, pan-seared tuna belly and Kobe steaks. In his restaurant, Alleno's style is to blend French classics with a twist through the clever play of simple ingredients and innovative presentation.
The hotel has three other restaurants located in the Garden Wing: Shang Palace, a traditional Chinese restaurant that also offers private dining; Nishimura, a contemporary Japanese restaurant; and International Buffet, which provides an array of culinary delights, such as fresh crab, lobster and mussels, as well as Chinese, European, Indian and Japanese cuisines. Shang Palace and Nishimura are also ideal locations for guests and visitors looking for a business lunch or dinner.
During the warmer months, guests can enjoy an outdoor bar and snack service in the hotel's oriental gardens, which also provide beautiful settings for private or business functions.
The Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing experience caters for every need and allows guests the time to mix business with the finer things in life.