China started out the year on a high note as it prepared to host the Summer Olympics, and then fell into a series of disasters: the violence in Tibet, Olympics torch protests in the West and the Chengdu earthquake that killed more than 60,000 and left 5 million homeless. The country has gotten high marks for the way it aided earthquake victims, and China may limp into the Summer Olympics this August with the world on its side, rather than being harshly critical.
A Studio 7 Bedroom at Opposite House
Beijing is on the brink of welcoming an estimated 550,000 overseas tourists and 2.58 million domestic visitors between August 8 and 24 for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Beijing natives say this is the best time of the year in the capital, with exceptionally clear skies. August and September mark the end of Beijing’s summer and the beginning of autumn, with the highest temperature around 86 degrees and the lowest temperature around 60.
There are close to 40 five-star hotels in Beijing and the city is expected to add 4,000 upper-end hotel rooms this year, bringing the total to 7,000.
The city has an extensive public transportation network of subways, buses and city rail high-speed trains. Running at intervals of three to five minutes, these high-speed trains are the fastest and most convenient public transportation. In preparation for the Games, Beijing has also inaugurated a new subway to zip passengers around the city.
Visitors to Beijing will want to see the Forbidden City, the largest palace in the world; the Summer Palace; the Great Wall; and the Yuanmingyuan Garden. Several tour operators have options for multi-day river cruising on the Yangtze River. These cruises usually embark from the river cities of Yichang, Chungqing or Wuhan, and would make a nice pre- or post-option for a Beijing visit.
New Beijing Hotels
This August, Beijing will see a new cutting-edge luxury hotel with such features as a stainless-steel swimming pool and an exterior of green glass. The Opposite House is the first in a series of hotel properties from newly formed Swire Hotels. The Opposite House is designed by the celebrated avant-garde architect Kengo Kuma from Japan with edgy Shanghai-based designers Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu responsible for designing the restaurant and bar level Kuma describes the overall green color scheme as the calm of an “urban forest.”
Guest rooms are open and simple with natural brushed oak floors, furniture and bathtubs, with subtle touches of Chinese decor, as well as spa-inspired showers.
All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, and the best views are those from the Penthouse Terrace on the 5th floor. Studio 70 is a spacious 753 square feet, making it a good choice for couples. Special features include a large dining table and office. The Penthouse has a kitchen, indoor and outdoor dining areas and a 2,583-square-foot outdoor terrace. The hotel has seven sets of connecting rooms. Studio 95 and Studio 115 both have a large seating area and a separate television area.
The hotel’s spa has two treatment rooms, one of which can accommodate couples. Spa treatments can also be arranged in the guest’s room.
Bei Restaurant at The Opposite House
The Opposite House has a Mediterranean restaurant, Sureño, which features a wood-fired oven, with a surrounding counter that enables patrons to watch the chefs at work. The Asian restaurant, Bei, features five warm boxes that house private dining rooms—which are entered into through large bronze doors and across water channels. Each room has its own character; in the largest, water streams down the walls.
Agents can contact Marcos Pires, director of sales & marketing ([email protected], 011-8610-6417-6688).
Beijing recently saw the inauguration of a new five-star Millennium hotel, the Millennium Beijing. The 521-room hotel is in close proximity to the China World Trade Centre, making it a good recommendation for business travelers.
The hotel has free high-speed broadband Internet connection, a business center, fitness center, indoor swimming pool, five restaurants and bars and one executive club lounge.
Premium lodgings at the hotel are the Presidential Suite (#2708), Grand Millennium Suites (numbers 2608 and 2508) and the 12 Executive Suites. These all have a combination of city and garden views. The hotel has 32 sets of interconnecting rooms.
The general manager for the Millennium Beijing is Kurt O. Wehinger (011-8610-8587-6888, ext. 5589, [email protected]). He can be contacted through his secretary, Joanne Chua (011-8610-8587-6888, ext. 5589).
The spa has 12 treatment rooms; three of these are suites. The Lymphatic Massage and the Instant Revival Treatment are standouts; we hear the most popular masseuse is Amy Li. Book treatments for clients ahead of time by contacting Spa Director Stanley Mah (011-852-9889-7766, [email protected]). The spa manager is Ryca Ang (011-135-5235-4276).
A room at the Millennium Beijing
Signature dishes at the Millennium’s restaurant, Yao Chi, include Yao double-boiled bird’s nest with red dates and rock sugar, best grade shark’s fin braised in superior stock and braised superior grade shark’s fin with fresh crab meat. At CBD, suggest your clients order porcini chanterelle and morel mushroom soup with crème fraiche. Advance table reservations are recommended, and can be made by calling 011-8610-6530-9383.
The hotel has many travel agent liaisons: Grace Han, assistant director of sales (011-8610-8587-6888 ext. 5305; [email protected] niumbeijing.com); Alfred Li, senior sales manager (011-8610-8587-6888, ext. 5310, [email protected]); and Jenny Ding, sales manager (011-8610-8587-6888, ext. 5320, [email protected]).
Shangri-La’s second Traders hotel in Beijing, the 419-room Shangri-La Beijing, scheduled to open in August, will be conveniently located in the northeast of Beijing’s Central Business District, about a 20-minute drive to Beijing Capital International Airport. All of the Shangri-La Beijing’s rooms have either city or garden views. The hotel is a freestanding building looking out toward the city, and on clear days there are views of the Fragrant Hills. The garden view is of the hotel’s 9,840-square-foot, landscaped terrace garden with Chinese pavilions, a koi pond and waterfall.
The five-floor, 77-room Traders Club will offer special amenities such as private meeting room, express check-in and checkout service and an exclusive club lounge for daily breakfast and evening cocktails. In addition to lounges and a café, the hotel will have a Chinese restaurant with 13 private dining rooms over two floors.
The travel agent liaison is Veronica Leung, director of sales (011-8610-6841-2211, ext. 6969, [email protected]).
For more information, check out our China Travel Resources page.