When the Grand Hyatt Shanghai opened in the landmark, 88-story Jin Mao Tower in March 1999, grand was not the first word that came to mind to describe the surrounding Pudong New District. Century Boulevard, the areas main thoroughfare, was still a dirt track. The Pudong International Airport was months from completion, as was the first subway line connecting Pudong to the rest of Shanghai on the west side of the Huangpu River.
But the Jin Mao Tower stood as a bold glass-and-steel exclamation point on the Pudong landscape, a defiant declaration that prosperity and development would soon flourish in this nascent economic zone. From the hotels prime position atop the Jin Mao, in the 53rd through 87th floors of Chinas then-tallest building, the management of the Grand Hyatt Shanghai were confident that if they built an outpost of luxury and style in Pudong, people would come.
555 rooms, Rates: 3,500 yuan to 42,300 yuan ($512 to $6,195)
And so they have. Over the past decade, as Pudong has evolved into the Wall Street of China, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai has been the hotel of choice for many of the 250-plus Fortune 500 companies in Pudong several of which are downstairs neighbors in the Jin Mao Tower. Having played host to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Global CEO Summit in 2001 and the Asian Development Banks annual meeting in 2002, the Grand Hyatt has proved itself as a destination hotel, where power brokers from around the world gather not only to view the landscape of Shanghai but to change it. Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city, full of energy and very dynamic, says hotel general manager Christopher Koehler. As a landmark in this city, our hotel and its grandness certainly symbolize the citys character.
From the 1,200-seat Grand Ballroom near the hotels base to the chic Cloud 9 bar on the 87th floor, the Grand Hyatts well-rounded facilities make it easy for traveling executives to hold court. The hotel boasts nine restaurants and bars, under the direction of executive chef Massimiliano Ziano, which span the culinary spectrum and truly stand out among the citys wealth of fine-dining options.
In the Grill deals are cut over prime Black Angus steaks or fresh Boston lobster and a bottle of Chateau Latour. In Canton where every items price ends in the Chinese lucky number 8 successful executives celebrate their good fortune with shark-fin and birds-nest delicacies. In the Zen-garden atmosphere of Kobachi, guests unwind over abalone with sake. And in the Piano Bar, its a cigar with a 35-year Glenfarclas, neat.
A key ingredient in the Grand Hyatt Shanghais success, of course, is the view. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the Chicago-based architecture firm whose credits include the Burj Dubai and the new U.S. Embassy in Beijing, designed the hotel around a futuristic 33-story barrel-vaulted atrium, so that every one of the 555 rooms has floor-to-ceiling windows and sweeping panoramas of the Shanghai skyline. Of special note, the Grand Deluxe River View King rooms on the hotels western side boast 180-degree windows on the Huangpu River and the sprawling city beyond. Even the rooms oversize white-marble bathtubs come with a view as does the grander sky pool in the pampering Club Oasis spa.
Although the decor by Bilkey Llinas Design includes traditional touches here and there a well-placed Chinese porcelain in a hall, handsome gold calligraphy on a bedroom wall all that glass and steel lend a modern edge to the hotels art deco motif, in keeping with contemporary Shanghai.
In todays Shanghai all the buzz centers on Expo 2010, which opens in May. As the city prepares to welcome some 70 million guests during the expos six-month run, the field of five-star hotels in Shanghai and Pudong especially has grown more crowded. In fact, the Park Hyatt Shanghai opened its doors in September 2008 in the Shanghai World Financial Center, right next door and just enough floors higher to steal away the title of worlds highest hotel from its older sibling.
As far as Koehler is concerned, with the Grand Hyatt Shanghais age has come maturity and wisdom. Many of the original staff are still on board, and their experience translates into a more professional and personal level of service, which Koehler calls authentic hospitality. His staff has witnessed incredible change in Pudong over the past ten years from their proud place atop the Jin Mao, and that perspective gives them an advantage to better serve their guests.
Having ten years experience is definitely a benchmark for us, Koehler says. Yet we continuously aim to improve our standards of service and provide the very best care to our guests each and every day.