Wow, it has been hectic and exhausting, but also exhilarating! Shanghai is quite fascinating--now I understand why so many artists and writers moved here in the early 1920's. The Bund, the name of the river, has a stunning wide, elevated river walk with a spectacular view similar to Hong Kong on the Kowloon side but is so much more beautiful and engaging: full of people and families with their kids, even late at night. Beautiful buildings in Neoclassical or Art Deco style with 5-star hotels/high-end retail or government agencies flank the Bund on one side, while the other side has an amazing mixture of bustling high-rise buildings with animated lighting that are constantly trying to outdo each other.
On Tuesday we researched 12 hotels which would be competitors for our new hotel and then took the bullet train to Nanjing. Nanjing is said to be a beautiful city, but all we saw was a hotel and our client's high-tech office headquarters in a business park across from the hotel. The day was filled with multiple presentations before we headed back by train to Shanghai, with client meetings till 10:00pm. Just before midnight we checked into the Waldorf-Astoria, an old grand neoclassical hotel along the Bund. Such a treat, luxury can become so addicting.....sophisticated and stylish pampering. The old building used to be a gentlemen's club--a large new addition was designed in a more contemporary Neoclassical style.
This morning consisted of more hotel research in a charming area consisting of old Shanghai-style brick houses with narrow alley ways turned into chic restaurants and retail--so relaxing and different. Lunch at Shanghai Tang cafe: soy and chili marinated jellyfish with fungus as the appetizer--about as strange and exotic to taste as it sounds--chewy and spicy... We have a design workshop this afternoon with a client and are anxiously waiting for new ideas to finalize all vertical circulation and area locations. We need to resolve all circulation within a few days as the structural engineers are to complete DD drawings within 10 days and they are to start construction in two weeks. The concept design ideas were approved and it is exciting to move forward with this fashion-inspired boutique hotel mixing contemporary hip and cool interiors with a new Art Deco exterior along a narrower river Bund.
It's 10:30 PM, I just moved all my heavy luggage (not all clothing… mostly work samples!) to another hotel, Les Suites Oriente, along the Bund to continue the hotel research--much tighter accommodations, but the bath tub centered at the window overlooking an amazing angular view of the Bund with views to both sides of the river is a unique experience. The bath tub has a headrest but I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for the exposure. The toilet has a phenomenal view as well, yet there's no view from the bedroom; the interiors all have Scandinavian classics blended in as furniture.
Tomorrow is Saturday and I am so ready to relax, explore Xintiandi, a charming old Shanghai-style area, possibly delight in some retail therapy, sip tea at one of the cozy cafes, and explore a bustling underground market with all the designer wares imaginable while holding on tightly to my purse and negotiating with my limited Mandarin language skills. It all seems so fun, passionate and enduring. After, I'll check out of my loo with a view to explore in depth an eclectic boutique hotel named the Waterhouse that's also on the Bund, but in an area that's barely developed. The hotel is small--19 rooms only, and designed in an old warehouse setting, again, with Scandinavian furnishings..., reminds me of my Danish roots. The hotel has a fabulous cafe with the most tasteful morsels, but one night only and then off to Guangzhou for 2 days of coordination meetings and then a design workshop in Hangzhou, which should be a beautiful city built around a lake that emperors used to bring their concubines to cool off. I forgot to mention it is about 96 degrees with very high humidity; sweat is dripping from my forehead, a melting sensation satiating and layering the exotic experience.
Time to count some Z's.
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