WHAT’S IT LIKE? This property is part the new wave of Le Méridien hotels that have made their French roots as well as design and art the inspiration for their service proposition. The concept, launched in 2008, goes beyond scattering contemporary, and often quirky, art pieces throughout the hotel (rooms included) to help guests discover the cultural life and sensitivities of the local community through various off-site activities. For example, Le Méridien Xiamen can arrange a special itinerary around Gulangyu Island, which is renowned for its music-loving residents and where it was said that in the old days, each house had a piano. The “transitional portal”, featuring a striking artwork on the front door, is also present at this Le Méridien in a floral motif in vivid colours.
The lobby boasts high ceilings and contains three F&B outlets, the Latest Recipe café, Lattitude 24 bar and Le Mei Chinese restaurant.
WHERE IS IT? Located on a hillock overlooking Xiamen Bay, the hotel is a quick 8km ride from Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport. While not exactly in the city centre, it is not far from any of the good restaurants and the ferry terminal to the car-free island of Gulangyu (“Piano Island”), once the enclave of foreign residents. Taxis are plentiful and it will never be a problem to catch one. Non-Mandarin speakers should be sure to have the address of the place they are heading for written down in Chinese, as well as the address of Le Méridien for an easy return.
ROOM FACILITIES All guestrooms are equipped with a 42-inch plasma TV, dual-line speaker phone, workdesk complemented by wall-mounted outlets for charging and connecting laptops to TV monitors, internet access (both wifi and wired at RMB80/US$12 per day’s use for superior and deluxe rooms and free for the higher-tier categories), bathrooms with a separate tub and rainforest shower, personal safes and the expected fine linens and trove of pillows, complemented by a clock-radio-iPod docking station on the night table and mood lighting feature above the sleeper. Extras in suites include the DVD, VCD and CD player and separate sofa seating areas in the living room. The oversize windows and balconies, incorporated in the sleek design, help to enlarge spaces in general, allowing the standard entry tiers – classic and disabled tiers (36m) – to appear roomy. There is a choice of smoking or non-smoking units.
In line with the hotel’s penchant for the unusual, even the clothes’ cabinet reveals a contemporary Chinese illustration. It proved too charming to conceal that I left the closet doors open throughout my stay.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Even with a packed schedule, be sure to take in at least a breakfast or two at Latest Recipe (6.30am to 11pm), featuring signature items by Jean-Georges Vongerichten such as the yummy croque madam reinvented, smoked salmon and silken tofu, and espresso-steamed eggs. Illy provides the morning brew. Lattitude 24 is a circular outlet, dominated by a ruffled lighting fixture, that serves as part meeting space, part chill-out roost. Le Mei features Cantonese and Chaozhou cuisines and 12 private rooms. I had a tasty meal by myself here, which was marred somewhat by the scanty English skills of the waitstaff. They kept bringing me the wrong order even when I had pointed to the selection I desired – written in Chinese – in the menu.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The grand ballroom has ceilings soaring to 10m and a pre-function area designed to host cocktails or a buffet arrangement. The function rooms are on the first and second floors and boast natural light, wifi and the latest audio-visual technology. The gardens offer alternative venues that lend themselves to themed events, while a private dining setup is possible in the courtyard with a fountain.
LEISURE FACILITIES An indoor heated pool, steam bath, sauna, gym and spa with private treatment rooms are available. But I suggest taking advantage of Xiamen’s unpolluted environment to do some brisk walking or jogging around the pleasant hotel grounds.
VERDICT Extremely comfortable and stylish rooms that are conducive for work and relaxation. The hotel’s perch on a hill helped create the ambiance of a restful aerie.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 336 guestrooms in the following categories: superior, deluxe, special needs, Le Royal Club, junior suite, diplomat, premiere and the presidential suite. Alongside the hill are villas and luxury villas
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS Views of a grassy knoll or serene garden courtyard from the guestrooms in the main building, which provide refreshing diversion from the computer screen. The guestroom technology is more than adequate to keep one connected or entertained, including sensuous mood lighting in the bedroom.
PRICE Internet rate for a mid-February stay in a superior room starts from US$128. Special packages are also available.
CONTACT Le Méridien Xiamen, 7 Guanjun Road, Xiamen, Fujian Province 361006, China, tel +86 592 770 9999, www.lemeridien.com
Margie T Logarta