View From The Ritz-Carlton
Bedecked In Pearls By Amy
HE most magnificent hotels in the booming megalopolis of Shanghai are the Four Seasons, St. Regis, Westin and Ritz-Carlton. We stayed at the world class Portman Ritz-Carlton, 45 stories of 578 rooms, 4 restaurants, a bar and a top quality gym. It’s located at the Shanghai Center which also includes a medical clinic, supermarket and, of course, Starbucks.
Friendliness and courtesy abound t this fabulously opulent hotel for high powered business travelers. I was even surprised that each time I went out or came back the plainclothes security man, whom I never met before, smiled and greeted me by name. (Portman Ritz-Carlton, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu. Tel. +86-21 6279-8888. www.ritzcarlton.com.)
Outside this elegant 5-star hotel, nightlife was teeming along the busy Nanjing Road. Attractive boutiques and luxury shops, such as Louis Vuitton, illuminated this commercial artery. Young people filled all available outdoor tables at Starbucks, creating their own electricity in this corner of the boulevard.
Shanghai being the Pearl of the Orient, we made our way crosstown to Pearls by Amy where everyone spoke fluent English. This place, often frequented by celebrities and VIPs, is where I bought Nina a magnificent pearl necklace at one-tenth the cost in New York. There are two stores: 1445 Gu Bei Lu and 77 Xiang Yang South Road. Tel. 86-21 6275-3954. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.amy-pearl.com.
At 13 million, Shanghai is the most populated in China. It is besieged by roaring bulldozers. Gaze at the horizon in any direction, and you’ll see a hyperactive cranes reaching for the sky. According to China Today, Shanghai has become the site of the largest number of skyscrapers in the country.
Although Shanghai attracts its share of visitors, it is being further developed more as a business magnet rather than a tourist destination. Buick is represented here, turning out Chinese models. The most common symbol in this car culture is Volkswagen.
Explore the picturesque area called the Bund, a sweeping waterfront with colonial architecture and graceful riverbank promenade. Across the Huangpu River looms the impressive Pudong, the city’s eastern district. Here is Lujiazui, is the pulsating financial heart of this part of China, although it is trying very hard to surpass the reputation of Hong Kong and Beijing to become the country’s paramount money magnet.
Pudong, sparkling with its modern architecture, is also the site of the eye-catching Oriental Pearl Tower. Beneath the tower lies the Shanghai Municipal History Museum, well worth a visit.
We wandered around the Yu Tuan Market, the old city market that’s a block long. The landmark Tea House is definitely worth a visit. Originally built in 1848, the bottom of the building is square, like the earth. Top of the building has eaves, holding up the sky. It is designed to make you feel immortal.
Just don’t forget to take along a camera, or two.