While Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, is a business crossroads for much of Asia, it also presents numerous options for leisure travelers.
Taiwan was occupied by Japan during the first half of the 20th century, and many echoes of Japanese culture remain. One of these is the prevalence and popularity of hot springs resorts. The closest is Hsin Peitou hot springs, about a 30-minute drive from the capital. Visitors will find a number of spa resorts here, as well as the Hot Springs Museum. Another option is the Wu Lai hot springs, about 12 miles southeast of Taipei.
The Taipei 101 skyscraper rises far above the city skyline
The city itself is a heady mix of cultures, with lots of options for filling leisure hours. You can spend the morning roaming the Taipei National Palace Museum, which houses the largest collection of Chinese artifacts in the world, including the crowd favorite, a delicately carved jade cabbage. In the afternoon, ride the fastest elevators in the world to the observation deck of the 101-story Taipei 101 skyscraper for a bird’s-eye view of the city. In the evening, visit the Hwa Shi Jie Night Market (Snake Alley), where denizens sip snake blood from tiny cups. Not surprisingly, Taipei currently takes a dim view of Snake Alley and encourages visitors toward more wholesome areas, such as the newly developed Xinyi District near the World Trade Center. Here, visitors will find a selection of cinemas, bars, restaurants and nightclubs. They’ll also have plenty of brand-name shops to browse in the Taipei 101 mall.
Where to Stay
Grand Hyatt Taipei is part of the World Trade Center complex and is 20 minutes by car from Taipei’s Nangang Exhibition Hall. Guests will find it easy to stay connected, since all guest rooms, restaurants and assigned public areas of the hotel have Wi-Fi capabilities. They can buy prepaid Internet access cards and borrow loaner laptops and wireless LAN cards in the business center.
A room at the Grand Hyatt Taipei
A nice touch is the hotel’s “YogaAway Program” on the pay-per-view TV system in the guest rooms. The program allows guests to stretch and bend in privacy. There’s even a yoga mat stored in the room’s closet. This is a particularly helpful option, since the hotel’s spa is closed for renovation until the fourth quarter of 2008.
The property has 856 guest rooms and suites. Guests have a choice of views, with the most popular being the view of the Taipei 101 Financial Tower. Other vistas include rooms overlooking the swimming pool, the city, mountains and the convention center. Guests can request their preferred view when making a reservation.
For those clients looking for extra amenities, services and a “hotel within a hotel” ambiance, suggest they book one of the hotel’s Grand Club rooms. Grand Club benefits include a separate concierge service, private meeting rooms, a full business center, Internet access and a private lounge offering continental breakfast, snacks and evening cocktails.
A temple fair at the Pao-an Temple
The hotel has a collection of residential, apartment-style suites on the 25th floor (the top floor of the hotel). These are the premium accommodations and include the Presidential Suite. In addition to Grand Club Lounge privileges, guests also receive butler welcome service, a complimentary minibar, Wi-Fi access, pressing service and use of a Grand Club meeting room, subject to availability. The Presidential Suite receives 24-hour dedicated butler service. This 2,367-square-foot accommodation also sports a living area, separate dining area, kitchen, master bedroom with a dressing room, library, study and an entrance hall.
For families traveling together, the hotel has 58 connecting rooms and 131 twin rooms where an extra bed can be arranged on request. Their “Very Important Baby” program provides an assortment of amenities and baby gear, from baby shampoo to strollers.
Foodies might enjoy the property’s nine restaurants and bars. The list includes such picks as The Pearl Liang Chinese Seafood Restaurant, which has an excellent wine cellar to accompany creative interpretations of Cantonese-style seafood and dim sum. Ziga Zaga serves up Italian fare and turns into a lively music venue at night. Restaurant reservations can be made in advance by contacting the Grand Hyatt Taipei’s Food & Beverage Sales Department (011-886-2-2720-1200, ext. 3198 or 3199).
The general manager for Grand Hyatt Taipei is David Pacey ([email protected], 011-886-2-2720-1234). Agents can feel free to contact him directly with VIP requests. If agents want to book tours for clients, they should contact the hotel’s concierge department ([email protected], 011-886-2-2720-1200, ext. 3101).
A guest room at the Westin Taipei
The Westin Taipei is on Nanking East Road, a 40-minute drive from the airport. The hotel has 288 deluxe rooms, including 42 suites. The Star Deluxe Suites are optimal picks for those looking for extra space—they have a separate living room. The hotel’s most requested rooms are the Westin Guest Office Rooms. These are a good recommendation for business travelers. For the best views of Yang Min Mountain, book one of the Executive Deluxe Rooms, numbers 02-08 on each floor. These also come with the perks of Executive Lounge services. The Presidential Suite is the ultimate accommodation in the hotel.
For pampering, the spa has six treatment rooms, one of which is a suite. The most popular treatment is the Luxury Anti-Aging Treatment. We hear that the favored masseuse is Angel Lin. Treatments can be booked ahead of time by contacting the spa director, Shireen Chow ([email protected], 011-886-2-8712-1269).
The Lantern Festival in Taipei
The hotel has five restaurants. The Yi-Yuan Pekinese Cuisine Restaurant is known for its Roasted Peking Duck; the Liu-Yuan Shanghai Cuisine Restaurant is celebrated for Steamed Beef Brisket with Ginger.
The hotel’s Churchill Cigar Room has an ever-rotating selection of cigars. Guests can relax with a cigar and a drink while they enjoy the live music.
Agents can direct special requests and questions to Phyllis Chuang, the sales and marketing executive assistant manager for the hotel ([email protected], 011-886-2-3518-3003).
When it opens in early 2011, Le Méridien Taipei will mark the brand’s first hotel in Taiwan. Its location in Hsinyi, Taipei’s central business district, will place Le Méridien Taipei close to the Taipei Convention Hall, the Taipei World Trade Center, Taipei City Hall and Taipei 101. The hotel will have 161 rooms, 17,000 square feet of meeting space, three restaurants, a lounge and a health club.