WHAT’S IT LIKE? Made even more luxurious, following a CNY290 million (US$38 million), nearly five-month refurbishment late last year. What used to be apartments on the 22nd to 28th floors are now suites, including a 96-square-metre Executive Suite made up of three standard-size guestrooms. On the 30th floor is The Carousel, including the Executive Floor Lounge and The Carousel Buffet Restaurant offering breakfast, afternoon tea and happy hour for Executive Floor guests. By night, a section of it transforms into a venue for buffet dinner, available to in-house guests and the public.
Other additions include enhanced lighting to the “A Dream of Red Mansions” mural in the lobby, a health food restaurant and China’s first standalone Angsana Spa by Banyan Tree. Opened in 1985, The Garden Hotel was one of three five-star properties to open in Guangzhou, together with the White Swan Hotel and China Hotel – A Marriott Hotel.
WHERE IS IT? Strategically located on Huanshi Dong Lu, Guangzhou’s financial hub, and within easy access of the ferry terminal and Baiyun International Airport. Nearby is the future Metro Line 5 railway, linking Guangzhou and Dongguan, due to complete in 2009. The upscale Guangzhou Friendship Store and Huanghuagang Park are also in the vicinity.
HOW MANY ROOMS? A total of 828 guestrooms and suites in the West Wing and 152 apartments in the East Wing, down from 1,028 guestrooms including suites in the West Wing before upgrading.
ROOM FACILITIES: Air conditioning and heating, multi-channel television, IDD phone, complimentary wired and wireless internet access, safe and minibar are room standards. My recently expanded Executive Suite (pictured) on the 23rd floor featured four distinct sections – a living area with a sofa, flat-screen TV and CD/DVD player; a sleep area with another flat-screen; a work space with a moderate-size desk, wired and wireless broadband connection and an exercise bike that allows pockets of time for relaxation in-between meeting deadlines; and the most intimate space is found at the suite’s end: a large open bathroom with a tub, separate rain shower and WC areas, a third flat-screen TV, L’Occitane products and two sinks, as well as a changing area with a vanity desk, full-length mirror, space for clothes, laptop-size safe and iron. Other thoughtful touches included private check in, welcome ginseng tea and fruits, reading lights by the bed, use of the Executive Floor DVD library and no additional charges for express laundry service.
RESTAURANTS & BARS: Eleven altogether. On the first floor are The Cascade Café, Tavern Bar, Lotus Pond for casual drinks and Tea Lounge; on the second, Lai Wan Market for dim sum and Furusato Japanese Restaurant with private tatami rooms; The Connoisseur (French) and The Peach Blossom (Cantonese) on the third; The Long Life health food restaurant on the fourth; The Carousel Buffet Restaurant on the 30th; and a delicatessen on lobby level.
BUSINESS FACILITIES: The business centre on the third floor opens from 0700 to 2300 and provides services like name-card printing, translation and cable broadband access. A column-free grand ballroom can hold up to 1,200 for meetings or an 85-table banquet, while 10 function rooms accommodating 16 to 450 are equipped. Smaller meetings and private parties can be held at The Pavilion in the garden.
LEISURE FACILITIES: A 24-hour gym, an outdoor pool, steam and sauna, squash court, table tennis room, entertainment room/aerobic room and the Angsana Spa, all on the fourth floor; and a tennis court near the hotel’s east entrance.
VERDICT: Thumbs up for comfort and convenience during my one-night stay.
PRICE: From CNY1,330 (US$174) nightly in a Superior Room. No extra fee for children under 12 sharing the room with parents.
CONTACT: 368 Huanshi Dong Lu, Guangzhou 510064, China, tel 86 20 8333 8989, http://www.thegardenhotel.com.cn/