The world's highest hotel opens in Shanghai, a Q&A with Priya Paul of India's Park Hotels, plus essential Lisbon addresses.
Five places to put on your itinerary:
01 Heritage Solar do Castelo – a small hotel inside the walls of the castle. Rua das Cozinhas 2 (ao castelo de S. Jorge) + 351 218 806 050 (below) 02 Galito – a family-run restaurant, where grandmother works in the kitchen, and son and grandson serve the customers. Rua da Fonte 18 D 1600-458 Carnide + 351 217 111 088 03 A Vida Portuguesa – sells classic, traditional Portuguese brands, including soaps, olive oil and coffee. Rua Anchieta 11, + 351 213 465 073 04 A Veneziana – best ice cream place, run by the son of an Italian gelato maker. Praca dos Restauradores 8, + 351 213 422 860 05 The terrace at Bairro Alto Hotel – relaxed bar with great views. Praca Luis de Camoes, 2, +351213408288.
In the heart of Shanghai’s Lujiazui financial district, the new 101-storey ShanghaiWorld Financial Center (SWfC) is finally opening its doors 11 years after the start of construction. Built by Japanese developer Mori Building and designed by US architects Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, the mixed-use tower stands at a striking 492m. Mainland China’s tallest tower, it has a simple, tapering rectangular shape and is highlighted by a trapezoidal opening at its peak.
On the top floor of the SWfC is the new Park Hyatt Shanghai, with commanding views of the city. Located between the 79th and 93rd floors, the Park Hyatt is the world’s highest hotel. With its 174 Chinese-influenced rooms and deluxe amenities, the Park Hyatt will be a strong competitor for the city’s existing luxury hotel offerings.
But views and services aside, the SWfC’s location in Shanghai’s Pudong district will be a headache for anyone travelling across the river to Puxi, the centre of Shanghai life. With cross-river transport links near capacity, guests would be advised to allow some extra travel time.
While it waits to play its hand on a potential takeover of UK carrier BMI, Lufthansa is making a move on SN Airholding, the parent of Brussels Airlines. It’s just what Belgium needs. In the absence of a strong national brand, an injection from Germany’s national airline in Belgium’s quasi-flag-carrier would not only raise Belgium’ s profile but would also give Lufthansa a host of routes to challenge Air France-KLM in Africa. Then again, it’s possible that Lufthansa might simply absorb the whole firm into its network.
Priya Paul took over the running of the Indian Park Hotels, part of her family’s company Apeejay Surrendra Group, in 1990 at the age of 24. She has overhauled the chain of boutique hotels and opened new outposts from Chennai to Bangalore.
What’s the secret of the Park Hotels brand’s success? Passion and creativity. Each property has a local vibe but a contemporary look.
What are the particular demands of Indian guests?
Indian guests demand a very high degree of personalised service. It’s something Indians are very particular about because even in their homes they are very well looked after; they have a lot of domestic staff. Budget hotels have just started coming into India so we’ll have to see how that changes consumer behaviour.
Does the Park Hotels brand have a global future?
We certainly see that we could be international – particularly in the Asia region. We have about 20 more hotels in the pipeline between 2010 and 2020.
What lies behind the boom in Indian tourism? India has become so much more visible in the international business community. Business travel will continue to be very buoyant. Although leisure travel is still low, the potential is tremendous and because it’s such a popular and exotic destination, the forecast is that tourism in India will continue to grow. theparkhotels.com
This month Aman expands its hotel network with the opening of Aman at the Summer Palace, Beijing. Then in December the group launches a Delhi property. That will mean Aman has Asia covered. Where next? A little bird tells us there could be three in development in South America.