Written by Kevin Revolinski
Shanghai is the commercial and financial capital of China and money flows like a wild river. But when the Hurun Shanghai Wealth Report revealed one in every 175 people in the city is a millionaire (in US dollars), it surely raised a few eyebrows. The city’s development has been a spectacle to watch; the skyline is a postcard- picture of prosperity, and while traditional noodle shops are still a few beats beyond the glitz, the new money has demanded a profusion of stylish and luxurious avenues to spend it.
The prime real estate in this town is the Bund, a row of classy, turn-of-the-20th-century financial buildings along Zhongshan Road on the west bank of the Huangpu River. Hyatt on the Bund sits at the north end and offers suites with spectacular views of the river and city skyline, with 24-hour concierge and room service. The Yuan Luxury Spa, with wraps, massages, facials and full-day packages, eases you into the city life. Don’t expect to do anything but live large by reserving the two-level Chairman Suite with rooftop terrace and outdoor jetted tub.
The Portman Ritz-Carlton lies deeper within the city along West Nanjing Road and provides a contemporary look at Chinese luxury. Rosewood furniture in the rooms, city views, plush bedding, as well as all the high-tech plug-ins (complete with a technology butler) and meeting spaces you need to take care of business is just the beginning.
Even better, try the other side of the river in Pudong in the center of the Lujiazui business district. Again Hyatt provides its five stars for a view toward the Bund with much of the Pudong skyline intervening. Grand Hyatt Shanghai occupies Jin Mao Tower, making it one of the highest hotels in the world. Secretarial and translation support for work time, while four-fixture marble baths and feather down duvets in stylish Art Deco rooms are for relaxation time.
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Royalty and superstars have dined at M on the Bund, the first restaurant to open in this historic quayside. Serving exquisite Middle Eastern and European fare, it has landed itself on numerous lists of the best restaurants in China (and even the world).
Three on the Bund puts four award-winning restaurants -- Jean Georges, Nougatine, Whampoa Club and New Heights – under one roof, along with boutique shopping and a spa. Make reservations to dine in The Cupola, the rooftop perch with its domed ceiling and private butler, and order from any of the restaurants.
Slightly off the beaten Bund, Cool Docks may still bewilder taxi drivers. The new commercial development along the Huangpu River is part of a trend in Asia: a “lifestyle center” where visitors are truly immersed in contemporary culture amid high-class shops, chic bars and fine restaurants. One such eatery here is Rico Rico where Executive Chef Reynaldo Deluna brings Chinese influence to Latin-style dishes suitable for photos. Stop in for dinner or just some Spanish tapas, and then explore some creative signature cocktails put together by the well-traveled manager.
M1NT looks out from floor-to-ceiling windows on the 24th floor and is home to a gourmet restaurant, cocktail lounge, and very exclusive nightclub. One doesn’t have to be a member, but it helps. Reservations are mandatory, but it’s worth it when the price for dinner also includes rubbing elbows with some serious VIPs.
Jin Mao Tower is one of the world’s tallest buildings, and right up there in the clouds is Cloud 9. Champagne and sparkling wines, tapas, unique signature cocktails and a 360-degree view from the 87th floor makes it not just one of the more remarkable gathering places in Shanghai, but the world.
A bit lower to the ground but certainly not down to earth, Hong Kong’s KEE Club offers its Shanghai manifestation, a regal members’ club set in two 1920s stone villas. The space makes you feel as if you are a special guest in a royal private residence. For a night of wine, music, fine food and fine people, KEE fits the bill. Apply online before your trip.
Seeing the Sights
There is much to see in Shanghai and it all starts with the skyline itself. At 1,536 feet, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower is the third tallest tower of its kind in the world. One can make the tourist run to the top on the Pudong side of the Huangpu River, or just enjoy its place in the skyline view from one of the restaurants or bars on the Bund.
Follow Nanjing Road to People’s Square to find the Shanghai Museum which houses over 120,000 pieces. There you’ll find a home to Ancient Chinese artifacts and arts, jade, bronze sculptures, paintings, calligraphy and even fine furniture.
Originally constructed in the late 16th century, Yu Garden is five acres of manicured gardens and stately halls laid out in the Suzhou style. Adjoining it is a market showing a wide range of Chinese eats and a tourist mart. For a fitting end to the day, head back to the Huangpu for a dinner cruise along the dark waters between the Bund and the glittering Pudong skyline.
VIDEO: THE KEE