Tried & Tested

Hotel Check: The Westin Beijing Chaoyang

28 Feb 2010 by Business Traveller Asia Pacific
Even at 9pm when I arrived from the airport, the lobby was buzzing with activity. With high ceilings that reached to about three storeys, the lighting challenge was met by positioning four tall lantern-like installations and pin lights in strategic corners to create a welcoming atmosphere. During the day, the glass façade lets in a stream of natural light. Small meetings are possible in the Exchange lobby lounge, but I wouldn’t advise it with the constant flow of guest traffic. WHERE IS IT? Beijing has grown big enough to have two hotels of the same name, a situation the Westin chain has capitalised on. The first property, Westin Beijing Financial Street, opened in 2006, one of the area’s earliest tenants (InterContinental also opened at the same time, followed by Ritz-Carlton a few months later) of a 35-block area that is billed as China’s “Wall Street”. While the stock exchange isn’t located here but in Shanghai and Shenzhen, the central bank and the government’s three national regulatory commissions are. Westin Beijing Chaoyang, which made its debut in June 2008 right before the global economic crisis, is part of a large mixed-use complex. Chaoyang has always been known as “embassy row” and the home of the popular Sanlitun bar street. Beijing Capital Airport also falls under its jurisdiction. Should you be visiting one of these Westins, make sure you have the concierge write out the Chinese name of the exact hotel as they are quite far from one another. With the city’s infamous gridlocks, arriving at the wrong hotel and having to rush to another one to make the appointment is no joke. ROOM FACILITIES Guestroom floors occupy floors seven to 34 and feature a mixture of room types, with the four Diplomatic Suites on levels 30, 31, 32 and 34 and the Presidential Suite on level 33. My Renewal Suite was one of 48 units, featuring a bevy of touches to ensure a restful stay – an uncluttered layout, a comfortable sofa, large windows, the services of a “bathologist” who prepares the bath depending on what you’ve selected from a menu, Bose sound system, Heavenly Bed (available as well in all room categories) and massage chair among others. There were workdesks in the sitting area and the bedroom, but I chose the living room to park my laptop in order to draw a line between work and rest. The charge for 24-hour internet access is CNY120 (US$17). I enjoyed spending time in the bathroom, which featured good lighting, two immaculately white sinks and an extraordinarily long shower area that could host a small party, or so I thought. RESTAURANTS AND BARS Grange is a fine-dining steak outlet featuring a 1920s lounge area to enjoy drinks before the meal proper; Australian beef and fresh seafood star on the menu and wine by the glass is available. Zen5ses showcases the best of Cantonese cuisine which can be enjoyed in the main dining room or in one of 11 private spaces. Taste serves as the hotel’s showcase for interactive all-day dining, and non-Executive Floor residents have breakfast here from 6.30am to 10.30am. Exchange, Touch and Mix provide the beverage and drinks factor, complemented with DJ-spun and live music. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The business centre, located on level three, furnishes secretarial and business support, while the gift shop features a selection of premium souvenirs and gift items. On the same floor is the 700sqm Jinmao Ballroom which takes up to 450 people theatre style and the Crystal Ballroom good for 150 people. Both are divisible for smaller functions. Seven meeting rooms are also available. LEISURE FACILITIES The fifth floor consists not only of The Heavenly Spa by Westin with 10 treatment rooms, but also a fitness centre with Technogym equipment and floor-to-ceiling windows and an indoor pool with cabana-style seating set under a strikingly designed ceiling. The water is normally kept at a pleasant 28ºC, and on colder days, a degree higher. HOW MANY ROOMS? The inventory consists of 550 guestrooms, including 401 Deluxe Rooms, three WestinWORKOUT Rooms, 93 Renewal Rooms, 48 Renewal Suites, four Diplomatic Suites and a Presidential Suite. ROOM HIGHLIGHTS With 100m space allotted to the Renewal Suite, it felt like a small apartment that one could move around comfortably. PRICE Internet rates for a stay in March started from CNY1,667 (US$244) for a Deluxe Room. CONTACT 7 North Dongsanhuan Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100027, tel 86 10 5922 8888, www.starwoodhotels.com/westin Margie T Logarta  
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