BACKGROUND The hotel opened in 2008, the second international-brand property in the Tianhe District (Ritz-Carlton beat it by a month), which was just beginning its transformation into Guangzhou’s new CBD.
WHERE IS IT? Right next to the central section of Huacheng Square in Zhujiang New Town (aka Pearl River New City), to the east of the old city centre. Line 3 of the Guangzhou Metro is 5-10 minutes’ walk away, and this connects direct to Guangzhou East Railway Station as well as the airport. By car the former is 15 minutes away, and the latter 40 minutes.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Once the tallest building in the area, the 25-storey Grand Hyatt is now dwarfed by more modern surrounding towers. However, its excellent location facing directly onto the green park of Huacheng Square, and its southerly aspect facing Guangzhou’s most iconic architectural masterpieces, gives it a distinct advantage over many newer rivals.
The lobby is on the 22nd floor – it was the first “sky lobby” in Guangzhou – with guestrooms on floors 4-21 (there are 365 rooms and suites in total). From street level you must ascend to the lobby then switch to separate lifts down to your room. A bamboo theme runs through the hotel – the lobby uses stylised vertical wooden beams like a bamboo forest, as well as rough black stone on the walls. The décor is a combination of rich, dark woods and textiles, and warm, muted lighting – it’s the classic Hyatt atmosphere of understated luxury.
ROOM FACILITIES I was in a Grand Park View room (45 sqm) which, as its name suggests, looked down on Huacheng Square and a clear view of the iconic Canton Tower. The room was an unusual design, with the toilet to the right on entry, and two sliding doors on the left into the bathroom area, with the sink between them and the wardrobe part of this area. The large walk-in rainforest shower stall took a central position in the room’s floor plan, and also contained a square, Japanese-style bathroom tub, a glass panel separating it from the bedroom area. The bed backed onto this and faced the windows, a sideboard with Nespresso machine and minibar next to a sofa and ottoman on one side, the work table on the other.
While all aspects of the room fulfilled the expected requirements for this category of premium hotel, there were a few issues. The property is almost nine years old and has not had a refresh yet. This is noticeable in the hardware, for example the docking station is for an iPhone 4, which is useless if you have a later model; there’s a smaller than normal TV; and no USB ports. Additionally, I did notice small chips and scuffs on the furniture and doors – all minor stuff but picky guests might take issue.
To be fair, none of this affected me negatively during my stay – experienced travellers carry what gadget accessories they need and the hotel can supply adapters, etc with a simple call to guest services. Also, I personally liked the room layout and thought it worked to the hotel’s strengths, though customer feedback has shown that some do not, with for instance the square bathtub coming in for criticism because you cannot recline in it.
In a city like Guangzhou, with so many new hotels launching and adding to the competition, modernisation is essential to keep up with rivals. The hotel management have listened carefully to feedback from their clientele, and a renovation is planned to start this summer, beginning with the entry-level rooms.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS The Grand Club lounge is on the 20th floor (Club rooms are on floors 18-21), and serves breakfast for guests with Club access, as well as evening drinks and canapés (a meeting room is available here too).
There are three restaurants, and this is a particularly strong selling point for the hotel – it gets plenty of custom from guests of other hotels because of its reputation for authentic cuisine. On the 22nd floor are G Restaurant, serving contemporary steak and seafood fare, then across a sky bridge and covering the whole floor in the hotel’s sister building is Market Café, a highly popular international buffet establishment featuring eight live cooking stations and all-round panoramic views of the park and city.
From here you can ascend to the 23rd and 25th floors, where The Penthouse offers modern Cantonese dining in a cosy dining area plus a range of attractive private rooms – very good for small events or meetings combining dinner. Lastly, G Bar (22/F) is a small drinking lounge with live music in the evenings and a relaxed, casual ambience.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Until last month the hotel’s grand ballroom was the largest in the city at 978 sqm (Ritz-Carlton now holds that crown). Catering to up to 720 people banquet style, it is found on the third floor along with five other function rooms of varying size.
LEISURE FACILITIES These are on the 24th floor, and include O Spa (with some treatment rooms also on level 23), a well-equipped 24-hour gym and a 25-metre pool (open 7am-10pm), all with great views.
VERDICT A patriarch of the city’s Tianhe CBD, this hotel may be due a refresh to its rooms, but you still get the brand’s high-quality service, excellent F&B offerings and a superb location and view. Jeremy Tredinnick
PRICE Internet rates for a Grand Club View King room in mid-April start from RMB2,070 (US$301) including taxes and surcharges.
CONTACT 12 Zhujiang West Road, Pearl River New City, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510623; tel +86 20 8396 1234; guangzhou.grand.hyatt.com