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Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

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Bradford West...
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Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

We are going to Shanghai for a weekend in May (The Canadian Victoria day long weekend). So we will arrive at PVG Friday afternoon and will be leaving for home Monday afternoon.

We would like to visit Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai in two days (Saturday and Sunday). We don't care about spending too much time in each location. We just want to go to each important tourist sight and take a few pictures and claim that we've been there.

1. Is there any recommended reliable driver with car that we can hire to do all these for us?

2. Would it be too aggressive if we want to take in Nanjing or even Ningbo as well?

3. What hotel would be the nicest and newest 5-star hotel in Shanghai? We don't want to rough it. We prefer the newest 5-star hotel. Cost is no concern.

Thanks in advance.

Bradford West...
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11. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

Thank you everybody for the valuable input in this subject.

I have almost finalized on the plan.

Day 1: Arrival 15:20. Do Shanghai city

Day 2: Drive to Zhouzhuang and do sightseeing. After lunch, drive to Suzhou and do Suzhou. Evening drive to Hangzhou. Overnight Hangzhou.

Day 3: Do Hangzhou for the whole day. Evening drive to Shanghai.

Day 4: Do a bit more Shanghai in the morning and fly back home at 15:45

We will stay at the Park Hyatt Shanghai. For Hangzhou, which hotel is the nicest? I am thinking Sofitel West Lake. Is there any other nicer albeit more expensive hotel in Hangzhou?

Thanks again.

Shanghai, China
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12. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

Sofitel Westlake is among the best located upmarket hotel in Hangzhou.Other compatible is probably Hyatt Regency.The others r cheaper so i will not mentioned them as u have no budget constraints.Try to catch the Tang Dynasty Village show in the evening.

Melbourne, Australia
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for Beijing, Lijiang
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13. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

If you stay at the Sofitel West Lake then stay on the Club Floor & demand a room at the front ( they do have a lovely presidential suite ). Perfect spot.

I am intrigued by your itinerary so tell us how you went!!!

Have fun,

Annie.

McGregor, South...
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14. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

I have stayed at both the Sofitel West Lake and the Hyatt Regency. The former was a few years ago so things may have changed. I would certainly opt for a lake view club room at the Hyatt although it is likely to be expensive. The hotel is very well located particularly to view the 'fountain show' on the lake which is entertaining. Their Chinese restaurant was also very good and much better than the food at the Sofitel (at the time I visited). Rooms are somewhat dated but adequate. The Club Lounge has a pleasant outdoor terrace. Staff were all very pleasant. The whole hotel gives more of a 5 star feel than the Sofitel. However, it will seem like nothing compared to the Park Hyatt in Shanghai so don't expect a similar experience!

McGregor, South...
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15. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

"Day 1: Arrival 15:20. Do Shanghai city"

Dont expect to arrive and be checked in to the Park Hyatt much before 17.00

Bradford West...
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16. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

So in Hangzhou, I have to decide whether to go with the Hyatt Regency Club King Lake view room (CNY2570) or Sofitel Suite (CNY2538). Both have the lake view.

What is the "Fountain Show" as macsym mentioned? Is it a daily event and approximately at what time does it go on? We will likely arrive at Hangzhou late after a whole busy day of Zhouzhaung and Suzhou. I guess it will be dark anyways when we get there.

Another factor to decide is which hotel is newer? In China, it seems to me that the upkeeping of hotels is not as good. So the newer the hotel, the better it is. This is the main reason I picked the Park Hyatt in Shanghai.

Macsym, your remark about getting to the hotel in Shanghai after 17:00 is respectfully noted. Yes. I don't expect much of a day left on our first day. This is okay. we have another day in Shanghai in April (a month earlier) when we are doing another trip in China. We are making 2 trips to China in 2 consecutive months!

McGregor, South...
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17. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

The 'fountain show' is a water/music/light 'experience'. It takes place for about 15 minutes at various times during the day and evening (last show might be about 9pm cant quite remember). Its worth seeing!

Have a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjGQdqh8Jhs but it is better when it is dark as you get the benefit of the coloured lights.

Neither of your hotels are particulary new. It may not be important to you, but the swimming pool at the Sofitel was not very pleasant and the lobby areas of the Hyatt are much more spacious.

Do you have a Hyatt passport (loyalty card) if not it would be worth applying for one - you would probably get enough points from your stay at the Park Hyatt to pay for at least an upgrade at the Hyatt Regency or if you stay at both this time enough for a free night at a Hyatt elsewhere!

Bradford West...
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18. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

Thanks, macsym.

You mentioned that the fountain show has a music component. If it is played a few times a day, wouldn't that be very noisy and annoying?

Yes, I have a Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum tier membership. I don't think I will ever achieve the Diamond membership status which entitles me to a free upgrade every time.

On the other hand, I am a Sofitel A|Club Platinum member. This will give me an automatic room upgrade upon check-in. So this may also be a consideration factor too :)

McGregor, South...
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19. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

I don't remember being disturbed by the fountain music.

I guess you have read at least some of the TA reviews of the two hotels, but I copy below a comment from the GM in early 2008 which is after the time I stayed. I had a standard room facing the apartment block and one of the worst aspects of the hotel then was the so called restaurant CStrait Cafe. Obviously the restaurant and some other features have improved. At least you get views of the lake from the club lounge, which you dont from the equivalent at the Hyatt. I guess you will just have to weigh up the pros and cons of both. Perhaps if you do not arrive with high expectations then you will be fine at either!

Management Response

MagnifiqueHangzhou, General Manager

(Management representative)

May 23, 2008

Dear Sofitel Guests,

first of all I would like to thank all our guests that have taken the time to write about Sofitel Westlake Hangzhou following their stays over the past years. It is through such concrete feedbacks that we are actually able to enhance the quality of our services in order to exceed your expectations.

I would like to take the opportunity to update on all the actions taken to the key weaknesses highlighted through the comments of some of our guests:

Firstly and foremost the Location and View: the hotel is situated right along the lake banks. The lake, the entertainment and commercial areas are just a few steps away across the road. Nevertheless the hotel 's structure is such that the Northern side of the hotel faces Westlake Avenue which is the main Avenue of Hangzhou leading to the lake. Therefore 50% of our rooms (luxury room type) have a partial diagonal view to the lake and face the Westlake Avenue. On lower floors, the rooms face the high natural trees just facing the lake.

The remaining 50% of our rooms (superior room type) face the Southern part of the hotel and indeed a residential appartment building. Unfortunately this is the structure of the building. I have to say that some of our guests actually priviledge that side because it is very quiet and calm. I would advise anyone who would prefer the Avenue View to automatically choose our Luxury room types in order not to be deceived.

Furthermore our ART6 Terrace on the 6th floor and our Club Sofitel terrace on the 5th floor are unique selling points of Sofitel Westlake Hangzhou and will make you enjoy one of the most stunning, appreciative and relaxing views of Westlake.

For information as well, all the street and underpass constructions have been finalized 2 years ago and therefore this is not an issue anymore.

Breakfast Quality: We are very proud to announce that we have now opened ART 6, on our 6th floor, a state of the art all day dining western restaurant serving breakfast, lunch a la carte and dinner buffet or a la carte. The service and food quality stantadards are 100% of high level international standard and ART 6 enjoys already quite a good reputation amongts our guests. This venue replaces the CStrait Cafe, a subcontracted Taiwanese restaurant not managed by the hotel, and which many of our Guests were compelled to use in the past. We dare say with the utmost confidence hat all the negative comments received in the past have disappeared after the opening of ART 6.

Lobby bar ambiance: we are pleased to inform you that since the beginning of 2008, a live band performance is on stage every evening from 06h00 pm to 10h00pm with jazz music for your entertainment.

Poor English level of our staff: indeed this is a challenge in China as in many non English speaking countries. Since one year, the hotel has signed a contract with a local English University which provides on site 4 hours per week of English training from a British certified Teacher to all our staff. With persistence and continuous efforts, the level of English has noticeably improved.

TV Channels: the hotel is now equipped with 10 foreign language channels which include HBO and Cinemax, BBC, CNN and Discovery Channel, TV5, ESPN and Starsports as well as Japanese speaking channels.

Bycicles: the hotel is now equipped with brand new Giant mountain bikes as well as bycicles for the little ones.

Lobby Gift Shop: we are pleased to inform you that the Gift shop will be soon refurbished and will provide freshly baked French bread, croissants, sandwiches and wines for sale.

Sofitel Westlake Hangzhou is a 200 rooms hotel, boutique style hotel and therefore of a smaller size compared to other hotels. Actually, this characteristic and specificity allows our teams to fully concentrate on personalized service in order to create a home feeling away from home as well as memorable experiences.

As part of the Sofitel Accor Hotels & Resorts worldwide repositioning into the luxury sector as Sofitel Luxury Hotels, we endeavor to create harmony between elegance, freedom and what makes Sofitel distinctevely different: the French Touch.

We do hope the above clarifications have positively addressed some of the concerns mentioned in your feedbacks, rest assured that our team and I are fully dedicated in the strive to provide the best quality of services in order to make your future stays amongst the most enjoyable ones.

Thanking you once again for your constructive comments, my team and I remain at your entire disposal should you require any assistance.

Life is Magnifique!

Best regards

Guido Milner

General Manager

Bradford West...
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20. Re: Short (and rushed) trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou

Just checked out the locations and the satellite images/maps of the Hyatt Regency and the Sofitel Hangzhou, no doubt the Hyatt is in a way better location. This is the tie-breaker for me! The Hyatt is right at the waterfront but the Sofitel is located facing North. I don't think I would get an excellent view of the lake even if I was put in the best room.