Interview with Waldorf Astoria Shanghai's General Manager

Interview with Waldorf Astoria Shanghai's General Manager
There are many luxury hotel choices in Shanghai. Why should someone choose your hotel?

The international fame of the legendary Waldorf Astoria brand and service, plus the lure of a location on the celebrated Bund certainly differentiates it from other hotels. With a century-old building that was once the famed Shanghai Club as well as a new annex tower, the hotel, true to its brand essence, is uniquely reflective of the heritage of each location – legendary history of the Bund complemented by the cosmopolitan development of the area.

Equally important is the legendary True Waldorf service that makes us stand out from other hotels. Our gracious staffs are dedicated to continuing the tradition of being “first in service”, offering all guests a truly personalized experience during their stay or visit.

What are your hotel's WOW factors?

Waldorf Astoria is a brand that anticipates and fulfills the needs of today's luxury global traveler by providing guests the opportunity to live the Waldorf Astoria legacy of unparalleled services. From bespoke temperature and lighting discernment to tailored tunes, the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund refers to its guestrooms and suites as offering "better than home" residential comforts through an unambiguously tailor-made ambience, perfecting an immaculate haven.

The 257-room Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund comprises two connecting buildings. The Waldorf Astoria Club (heritage building), which previously housed the renowned Shanghai Club (famed as an exclusive Gentlemen's Club in the 1920s), is located at No. 2 on the Bund. Across an immaculate courtyard is a new-build contemporary tower located parallel to the Bund, on Sichuan Road. The Waldorf Astoria Club has 20 luxuriously appointed suites while the Waldorf Astoria Tower has 272 rooms and suites, including a Noble Suite and the Presidential Suite.

All rooms and suites are decorated in timeless style and with chic amenities, each well appointed for the ‘better than home' mood, with walk-in closet, marble-finished bathroom featuring double vanity area with bathtub, and both rainforest and handheld showers, in-room entertainment, and more. Complimentary in-room internet access and coffee/tea making facilities provide that added convenience. Almost half of the room inventory overlooks the scenic Bund while others enjoy heritage views.

On the people side, our staff are focused on making our guests experience a WOW one. We offer truly personalized service to all our guests, every little attention to detail is taken care of. Like the heated toilet seat cover to the jars of complimentary chocolates and nuts placed in the room.

Not forgetting our own very special triangular elevators that have been restored in exquisite detail and is operated by our Piccolo Girls who will not only bring you to your required destination but can also share with you the history of the building. They are our Waldorf Storytellers, helping to spread the wonderful history of our building and brand.

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai

What are the top accommodations in your hotel?

We have two different sets of top level accommodation in our hotel, the Presidential Suite located in the Waldorf Astoria Tower and the Waldorf Suite located in the Waldorf Astoria Club building.

Some of the more notable guests who have stayed in these suites include the Prince Consort of Denmark, Crown Prince of Luxembourg and Belgium, the Princess of Sweden, celebrities and movie stars Faye Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Susan Sarandon and Matt Dillon.

You step into olden-day glamour and contemporary luxuries when you enter the parlour of the Waldorf Suite located within the historical Waldorf Astoria Club building. The light, colonial interior within a spacious 3.8m high ceiling is complemented by painted plaster walls, white painted timber panelling and wood floor, with dark mahogany traditional furniture in silver neutral fabric palette. Decorated in classic European style with timber flooring, the living room is the epitome of fine hospitality, and especially so with a selection of Christoflé glassware complemented by the latest LED flat screen, sound bar and built-in DVD player (blue ray); iPod accessories and InnCom panel which allows pre-setting of room temperature and lightings and control of the shades. The bedroom features the Waldorf poster bed – a romantic, wooden frame canopy bed with high mattress topped with pristine linens and plush pillows. A fully fitted walk-in closet provides privacy and comfort all at once. The bathroom has a checker board heated floor in richly grained stone, perfectly synergized with a heritage style, wood frame double vanity, claw foot bathtub and shower room and TV in the mirror. For your toilette, branded amenities are available from Agraria, a San Francisco-based company with luxury home amenities offered to a large and loyal following in major retailers the likes of Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and more. 24-hour Residential Butler service and a dedicated Concierge Lounge are available for Waldorf Suite guests.

Our 260sqm Presidential Suite is the epitome of luxury and elegance, housing a well appointed bedroom, an impressive living room to host your guests and a more private living room to unwind, a full service kitchen, a dining room and a study area. Both bedrooms are fitted with walk-in closets, marble-finished bathroom with double vanity area, bathtub and shower room, TV in the mirror, and plush amenities. The bathtub in the master bathroom also doubles up as a whirlpool for extra pampering. Noteworthy is the expansive walk-in closet in the master bedroom that will keep your wardrobe well organized. The suite is also equipped with full on-suite entertainment. The extensive space, convenience and grandeur culminate in the magnificent 180-degree view of the picturesque Bund and spectacular Shanghai skyline, bringing this exquisite suite experience to life.

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai Salon de Ville

What are the must-see sights and experiences in your city? What length of stay do you recommend for tourists?

When visiting Shanghai for business or pleasure, Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund's ideal location will present a variety of choices for guests to explore the vibrant city. The hotel is easily accessible by Metro and is directly linked to Yan'an Road which tunnels under the Huangpu River linking to Pudong New Area, the financial and commercial hub of modern China. Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund is located on the Bund Promenade, known for being the best vantage point for photographing the city's river-side scene, the modern skyscrapers of Pudong and the many iconic landmarks on the Bund.

On average, three to four nights is ample time for visitors especially those who have some business to conduct followed some time off to explore the city and its surrounding water towns and highlights; shop for antiques or knick knacks at Yu Gardens or Dongtai Road; luxury branded goods on Huaihai Road or the Nanjing West Road shopping haven plus experience the multitude of culinary offerings the city has to offer in its wide selection of quality restaurants, bars and lounges.

Is your hotel in a good location to discover on foot? What are the advantages of staying on the Bund?

With the infamous Shanghai Bund at its doorsteps, guests staying at the Waldorf are bedazzled by the myriad of things to see, do and experience during all hours of the day. At dawn, guests will be able to watch or join the many Chinese practicing tai chi or qigong and the dance enthusiasts trying out the tango. At night be enthralled by the spectacular lights from the Pudong skyscrapers. For those seeking art and culture, the area's most famous museums and galleries are just minutes away. For a taste of local delicacies, the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street is within walking distance, and the beautiful Yu Garden a leisurely stroll around the corner. Right across the Huangpu River is the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, offering a bird's eye view of the city. Hotel butlers will be readily available to offer suggestions, book reservations, make arrangements for a cruise along the river and more.

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai

What is the best way for guests to "arrive in style" to your hotel? How long is the trip from the airport?

Make sure you book your Waldorf experience starting with a personal meet and greet by our Concierge at the airport who will escort you to our luxurious Mercedes Benz S350. For Heritage Suites guests, your personal Butler will meet you at the airport ready to assist and guide you to our luxurious Mercedes Benz S350. You will be chauffeured right to our elegant entrance and escorted directly to your suite for in-room check in. We can assure you a seam-less experience to start the perfect Waldorf Astoria experience.

Any insider tips for visiting Shanghai? What should people know? Any do's and don'ts for travelers?

Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city, almost anything and everything is available here. If you are here on business, it is always better to plan to stay near where you will be doing your business as peak hour traffic can be tedious.

If on vacation, then the options are much wider. Make sure you allow enough time to see and experience Shanghai, from the wide variety of cuisines to the vibrant lounge and bar scene.

Also take note of the time of year you will visit and be prepared for the weather. There are four seasons in Shanghai, the best times of the year to visit would be spring and autumn. Summer temperatures can get pretty high and winter is not very pleasant with the cold and wet weather.

And do make sure you sample and experience all the amazing restaurants in the Waldorf Astoria. Check out the authentic and delicate dim sum brunch at Wei Jing Ge Chinese Restaurant or partake in the Sunday Brunch Tour starting with luscious oysters paired with flutes of bubbly champagne at the Long Bar. The tour then moves to the Grand Brasserie for an array of delightful treats at the buffet supported by choices of the chef's specialties from the Brunch a la carte menu. Also not to be missed is the fine cuisine of our French Chef at Pelham's our fine dining restaurant.

Hotel Profile, more photos: Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund

About: Mr. Simeon Olle, Waldord Astoria Shanghai GM