Nov 10, 2011|
The lovely folks over at GHC organized a press outing to the new Hilton in Guangzhou, and because I was chained to my desk last week I sent the inimitable Penny Zhou in my stead. A Hangzhou native who’s lived in HK for years, I figured she could put her film-critic skills to work analyzing and checking out yet another ‘zhou. It’s super easy to get up to GZ, she found, because it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour ride from Hung Hom station. The Hilton, located in a bustling shopping area, is a mere 10 minutes’ walk from the station—perfect for a no-hassle weekend getaway.
The beds, Penny reports, are ginormous—so much so that when an NBA player (who they didn’t name, hmmph) came to town recently, out of all the hotels in the city he could only fit his long limbs into the Guangzhou Hilton’s bed and shower. A highlight for Penny was the multi-course feast at Sui Xuan, which serves hearty, delicious Cantonese cuisine with a modern, western-friendly twist.
Think BBQ suckling pig, steamed grouper and braised sea cucumber with Chinese mushrooms. Yum. Penny also noted that though the Hilton brand is more traditionally associated with the American hotel market, it’s done a bang-up job making itself appeal to mainland travelers. For example, they use gold décor and accents (gotta have some bling) but in a tasteful way that doesn’t repel western visitors.
As for stuff to do outside of the cushy hotel, by all accounts Guangzhou has a lot going on that’s under the radar. A dear friend who wrote about the city for Travel & Leisure magazine highlighted a nascent arts and live music scene, quaint Chinese-style backstreets that have managed to evade the wrecking ball (amen) and the striking, year-old opera house designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid.
Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe, 215 Linhe Xi Heng Rd., Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510500, China.
Want to head home for the holidays but didn’t get your act together to secure flights early on? It’s not too late. If you book by November 22, Dragon Force Travel has flights to Vancouver starting at $5,300, to Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas and other western cities starting at $6,300 and to Toronto, New York, Montreal, Chicago and other eastern cities starting at $7,600. Yeah, those rates exclude taxes and fees and depend on availability, but they’re not bad. All flights are on Air Canada, and you can fly from December 3 to March 21.
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For weekends away, heavy, bulky guidebooks seem like overkill. But I, a self-proclaimed over-planner, definitely don’t want to rock up to my hotel with no ideas about what’s new and cool in, say, Beijing, Melbourne or Sihanoukville—especially if I only have two days to pack it all in.
Fellow columnist Yalun Tu (who’s also a former classmate of mine, don’tcha know) has been hard at work on a side project that aims to ease my dilemma. He launched a weekly newsletter called Spreeluxe that is a well-designed, easy-to-read round-up of the top five attractions in a given city. With handy categories like “stay” (The Quincy in Singapore), “eat” (Ana Pavilion Restaurant in Nha Trang), “do” (TT Bamboo Cooking School in Luang Prabang) and concise, lively descriptions of the hotspots, Spreeluxe is a joy, not a burden, to read.
It’s sort of like a Daily Candy for travel (and, um, it’s weekly). With one click of the mouse you can pull up the newsletter in PDF form for easy printing. Now, to plan my next weekend getaway… oh wait, I’m going to Kenting soon. Watch this space for a full report on my trip to southern Taiwan. Bon voyage!
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