The award-winning Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel Shanghai is located inside the Himalayas Center right in the heart of the trading district of China’s most happening city. Easy to get to from both of Shanghai’s two airports’, with around 40 minutes by taxi from Hongqiao Airport, and around 30 minutes from Pudong International Airport, the hotel is also a stone throws away from Huamu Lu metro station at Line 7, which easily connects to Longyang Road metro station on line 2 from where guests can catch the futuristic Maglev train straight to Pudong International Airport.
The cubic-shaped 23,000 sq meter Himalayas Centre is a landmark building that combines nature, humanism, and fine architecture. It takes on the form of a jade piece with heavenly inscriptions that breaks forth from the ground. The project consists of not just the Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel Shanghai, but also a fabulous shopping mall. In the 4th quarter of 2012, an art museum and a theatre would also be opened at the location.
Jumeirah Group opened its first luxury hotel in China in 2011 and is now present in Dubai, London, Frankfurt, the Maldives, Shanghai, and in Abu Dhabi. The luxury hotel industry in China is growing at an alarming rate. A few things separate the Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel Shanghai from the others in this competitive industry within this part of Shanghai. Hence why the hotel has adopted the concept of ‘STAY DIFFERENT’ to everything they do.
One of the things that sets the hotel apart from the others is its lavish lobby and its dramatic ceiling complete with a 260 sqm LED screen, the largest indoor screen in Shanghai which displays various multimedia animation to reflect the four seasons. Every successful hotel manager will tell you that the lobby is their favourite part of the hotel because this is where they can get a true feeling of how well their hotel is doing.
Immediately as you enter the lobby, apart from the LED screen roof, the first thing that strikes the visitors eyes is the enormous amount of space in the 16-meter high lobby which contains exactly 1,000 Chinese characters on the pagoda style roof, and some of the finest pieces of art around the whole of Shanghai. When one observes any of these 42 delicate pieces of value, you realise that this hotel lobby is truly the envy for all other luxury hotels to gasp at.
The 42 art pieces are a personal collection of the hotel’s owner, Mr. Dai Zhi Kang. The 47-year-old property tycoon, with a personal fortune net worth of $1.2bn is keen in his pursuit of contemporary art. Dai is a collector of modern Chinese art and has an established a museum in his Himalaya Centre to house the collection. Rising from his humble beginnings, firstly as a student at Remin University and later as a Banker, Dai changed course and invested in the booming Chinese property market to eventually become one of the most successful people in modern China. From our brief conversation I got to know that he is also an avid collector of rare ancient scrolls and sculptures.
Guests are allowed to borrow a complimentary iPod nano at the lobby, pre-loaded with information in Mandarin and English, and they can listen to all the history and detail of each art piece. The complimentary Lobby Art Tour which is open to the public also explains the Feng Shui elements of the design of the hotel which contains a full sized antique pagoda in carved rosewood. Things such the mirror and the fountain (which bring energy of the feng shui element of water), and the dragon boat made of African Rosewood, are some of the things that are displayed to deliver the good wishes to all the guests for a smooth stay. There is that air of elegance which stays with the Chinese thought of pursing a higher achievement in life. The dragon boat certainly displays that.
You are not just exposed to fine art, but effectively you can read a 5,000-year-old story with the ‘Thousand Character Essay’, which each character has a unique meaning, epitomising the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy. It’s a strong fusion of local Shanghainese culture, Arabic influence, and an essence of the pastoral life of the common people of this country that is brought out clearly by the design of the tasteful piece. After all, would you expect anything less from a world-class architect as Arata Isozaki, and interior designers KCA International (from Burj Al Arab fame)?
Indeed Jumeirah is about affluence, as well as being different. The latter term is perfectly exemplified when you see a group of Chinese musicians dressed in traditional Arabic wear (burkas and all), and playing Arabic music. It may come across as being a bit odd and eccentric, however that’s the beauty of enjoying Arabic culture in China.
Fond memories of my stay at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers came to mind as I presided towards my generously spacious room, which granted priceless views across to this modern part of Pudong district. Though the views may not be as extravagant as those offered by the riverside at the Bund (unless you like to admire the view of the massive yet blandly designed Shanghai exhibition centre, or some of the villas, each costing around US$6 million, located right opposite the hotel), the hotel does offer sheer tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown Shanghai.
There is an air of traditional Arabic elegance spiced up with Chinese affluence, and this all hides behind the aroma of the hotels furnishings. It may not be easy to see for the guest, however the ethos of the Jumeirah brand is to bring a little bit of the Middle East to wherever they are situated and in Shanghai, and it is no different. I suppose a replica model of the seven star Burj-Al-Arab hotel situated in the lobby blends in well with the surrounding art pieces.
Want to feel like Chinese royalty? Each of the 339 rooms and 62 suites are lavishly furnished with jade piece, and Feng Shui elements, and state of the art facilities. The temptation to combine business with pleasure can be just too much when one is offered a contemporary Chinese scholar’s work table complete with all the internet connectively for all kinds of international electronic equipment.
Creature comforts that will leave any other hotel drooling with envy include the easy one-step bedside master switch, 42-inch LCD television, and richly thick 600-thread cotton duvets and pillows. As for the bathroom amenities, the hotel has stuck with the unique brand concept of ‘STAY DIFFERENT’. So unlike other hotels where you may just get one of either luxury toiletry brands, at the Jumeirah you get both L’Occitane and Acuqa Di Parma toiletries- all along with a soaking bath, separate rain shower. To top it all up, you’ll be glad to know that the hotel boasts the fastest complimentary internet connection in Shanghai at 60 MB. After a long day in the hustle & bustle of the city of over 19 million, it really is an oasis to escape to where you can just hide yourself in sheer luxury away from the crowds. Its projects such a cosy feeling that it’s almost easy to forget that you are in China.
Fans of the Jumeirah brand have not been let down when it comes to providing world-class cuisine. Three of the five dining venues at the hotel provide exquisite authentic cuisine from all around the world. Bringing in world class chefs who may even double as undercover artists because that’s how presentable their dishes are.
Indulge your taste buds into ‘Shang High’, provides an authentic Shanghainese dining experience, while J MIX projects the finest Japanese dishes, and Grill Room is for those with a western penchant. The hotel does not fail to be different in this department because very few luxury hotels in Shanghai offer a true Shanghainese cuisine, instead opting to go for either Cantonese or Sichuanese dishes. It saves the guest time for drifting down the tedious and narrow lanes of Shanghai to find true authentic Shangahinese cuisine.
The Jumeirah Himalaya Shanghai excels in providing the best of what people really want in Shanghai, and that is either Shanghainese or Japanese cuisine.
The heights of glory don’t just rest there. This hotel is more than your average five-star lay over. There are snippets of the Jumeirah that make you feel that you have come to somewhere magical, and the ethos displays exactly that. It will keep you wondering if it’s real or just a fantasy.
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