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A Case Study in Careful Planning and Execution

publication date: Feb 18, 2012
author/source: Terence Ronson ISHC

The PuLi Hotel & Spa Shanghai – 5 years in the making | By Terence Ronson

A Case Study in Careful Planning and Execution

The PuLi Hotel & Spa Shanghai – 5 years in the making | By Terence Ronson

Five years ago, Project Manager (Patrick Chen) approached Pertlink to be IT Consultants for a hotel he was building in Shanghai, its projected launch was 2007. After an interminable long wait, this urban resort nestled between Jing An Park and the elevated Yan An highway in bustling Shanghai threw open its doors to the public just a few weeks ago. And first impression is…the delayed launch was well worth it! What was initially designed as an "Exclusive" property with club-like access to its F&B outlets solely by residents was altered to welcome non-residents as well. Some of that feel still filters through with the walled garden environment surrounding the hotel and Club floors between levels 20 and 26 that suggest you are part of a select crowd.

Managed by Urban Resorts Concepts, The PuLi is a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World. It claims to be proudly traditional, distinctly modern. Interesting description. It echoes Pertlink"s core value - "modern thoughts, traditional values". – a meeting of the minds, so to speak…

Our involvement in the project went on and off for several years and was completed sometime back. Two of the original cast remained - Andy Sheu (Director of Rooms) and the colorful character, Interior Designer – Johannes Hartfuss of the Layan Group (Australia).

Since this project holds fond (and long lasting memories) for me, I decided that I must check it out and experience it first hand.

The PuLi (website | brochure) was designed to be an oasis in the middle of the city. And it felt just that. It was really hard to find (a blessing perhaps) without a GPS navigator. (GPS reference: 31°13"23"N, 121°26"39E Google Maps).

The grey slate walls and bamboo trees lining the perimeter give an air of wonderful anonymity and emanate an almost zen-like feel as you enter the property.

The lobby epitomizes the concept of lobby socializing where along one wall is a really l-o-n-g bar that is multi-purpose in design and operation. It"s a bar, a service counter and a Reception Desk in one. The rest of the area is made up of comfy lounge chairs, works of art and the floor to ceiling library complete with a diverse mix of books.

The Reception counter is the first I"ve encountered that only uses Mac Books for workstations – there are 5 of them – black color and each one equipped with a Logitech Trackman Wheel mouse. We especially like this mouse on the front desk since its easy to maneuver and can be fixed in situ.

Standing back and looking at the counter enveloped in dim lights, the illuminated and distinctive Apple logo on the back of the computer"s lid stood out. The symbol of cool, the Apple brand, was everywhere! I spotted at least five MAC users among the guests using the complimentary Wi-Fi in the lobby area. The Library is also home to an iMAC. Lucky I"m a MAC fanboy! A Speedtest of the Wi-Fi resulted in a 9Mb download speed and 10Mb upload speed – impressive.

Inside the wood floored and stone walled guestroom, you will find plenty to keep you entertained, hydrated and comfortable.

Fortunately, or unfortunately – this property has direct sunlight (even on a typical overcast Shanghai day). And if you like this kind of ambience, once you sit in the in-window sofa – you might be as well be in heaven. However, the direct sunlight brings a heating/cooling issue – so if you find the room a tad warm like I did, a quick flick of the switch labeled "blinds", will instantly diffuse the light, and help cool the room down. Incidentally, it would have been a nice touch if the Receptionist "Jimmy" who escorted me to the room pointed out that the blinds could be closed for added comfort. I just wonder if Housekeeping partially close the window blinds after cleaning the empty room so as to help lower cooling costs?

As dusk descended, the lights of Shanghai came alive from the surrounding buildings and passing cars.

As is becoming commonplace in this type of property, there is a Nespresso Essenza coffee machine along with a few capsules. They were color-coded on the machines" easy to follow operating instructions. A selection of organic teas included my new-found favorite – Chamomile Citrus. What a treat!

The mini bar is free (filled with soft drinks, beer and juices – refilled once a day) and also a carton of fresh milk. A small bowl of fruit was provided (green apple, orange and kiwi – sadly no banana) along with some delightful chocolates. This was accompanied by a glass cloche-covered plate of delicious Brie cheese, cookies and half a fresh fig.

The small bottle of 2004 Cotes Du Rhone will be a takeaway to be savored another day. The room had 8 bottles of distilled water (4 of which were pre-chilled in the fridge) – a great thought. However a more environmentally -friendly combination could have been one large bottle to pour and 4 small ones as back-up. One other pleasing touch would have been for Jimmy who took me to my room, to have offered to make me a coffee.

It is important to note that this is the first hotel I have stayed where there is no phone in the toilet – only a power socket. Intriguing. But outside we certainly future-proofed this room - there are 18 empty power sockets for you to choose from!

The bathroom/bedroom are really as one, with a divider behind the bed, and sliding glass doors to give you that extra privacy, if needed. The big bath sits under the window, and is very inviting especially with the TV in front of it and side views of the city. There are two Villeroy & Boch pedestal washbasins with joystick-like water control, and beside each one is a multi-function shaver socket and power socket for your BYO items, or to plug in the supplied Vidal Sasoon hairdryer.

At each side of the double bed, above the nightstand, there are switches to control the lights, and two international power sockets for you to use. Below, the unit there is one more.

Close by the bed is a Bose Wave radio with illuminated clock (handy to view at night) that has a CD inside labeled "PuLi music" – it had but one 4-minute track on it (ITunes [perhaps mistakenly] interpreted the title as: Ride & Shake - MONSTER GRIP - Liquor Store Slaps) – which is the same background music playing on the ISTV system when you enter the room. Would have liked more tracks of this type of music. The room compendium is in the same rack and contains the "Take Home Menu" – a.k.a. Room Service.

Inside one of the many cupboards, is a DVD player, and adjacent to it, a TECHNOLOGY KIT complete with four cables – VGA, Ethernet (although there"s free Wi-Fi), RCA cables, and a male-male 3.5mm audio cable. Enough for the great majority of travelling folks, and the box has good illustrations and details how to use them all. Another cupboard houses the safe which is a good size and contains not only a power socket so you can charge your laptop, cell phone or camera, but also a light to see those all important diamond stud earrings. I could not find a torch.

The desk sits beside of one of the windows, and the view is either over the highway below, or the 32" Sharp Aquos LCD TV – which incidentally is mounted on a pull out swing bracket allowing easy viewing from almost anywhere in the room including the toilet cubicle providing you don"t mind the lack of privacy by leaving the door open. There"s some good functionality on the TV such as weather, World Clock, flight arrivals and departures, City info and Currency Exchange rates. You can also find Hotel info along with some movies and music on demand.

Opening the desk drawer reveals a varied selection of stationery supplies and an elegant ballpoint pen. This is the second hotel I"ve encountered in as many weeks that have stocked-up on pens that are consistent with the image the hotel wants to project. It came with a black color pencil made from recycled newspapers and magazines whose days, I fear, with the release of eBook readers, are numbered. More on that subject another time.

Beside the desk are more power sockets and receptacles to plug in all your gizmos using the cables supplied in the Technology kit. Some may find it a tad low but the hotel had design issues that needed to be addressed. I still think it works.

Unlike many hotel rooms these days there is just one phone by the bed (Alcatel), and to be honest, I"m not sure that the average traveler needs more when most now prefer to use their mobiles. The hotel also provides a mobile phone that can be used in-room or anywhere in Shanghai – so you are never far away from the hotel or your room. Calls made from the unit will be charged back to your room account.

The wooden floors did not bother me since most times I like to walk around either in my socks, or bare feet. For those who may be concerned over cleanliness, disposable slippers are provided. It may a good idea if staff wore soft-soled shoes to stop the noise created by their heels or soles resonating on the stone or wooden floors. Old fashioned Chinese slippers could go well with their interesting Chinese-worker style uniforms.

At the rear of the Long Bar is The Garden, which has a resort-like aura. Lined with bamboo trees, the area gives an air of tranquility. Apart from the distraction of the occasional car horn and wafting techno music, you could almost imagine you are in a Balinese garden complete with l-o-n-g water pool. Wi-Fi is available in the garden.

I went there around 6pm and the sun had already set. There was a bit of a breeze which gave me a slight chill. But I was determined to stay outdoors to smoke a cigar. A pre-dinner Bloody Mary seemed right to kick-of the evening. And this came with salted roasted almonds, olives and wasabi peas. In the rush to get there, I"d forgotten to pack my cigar torch, and had to make do with the supplied matches that were tough to use because of the wind. Maybe worthwhile for the hotel to invest in a cigar torch.

Dining in the second floor Jing An restaurant was a real treat. The room was beautifully decorated and carried through the wood theme found all over the property.

A few highlights of the meal were the warm bread rolls accompanied by butter pots of foil wrapped salted or un-salted Beurre Echiré -- a real favorite!

For a starter, I had Foie Gras with Smoked Chocolate (amazing tasting combination), and the main course was Lamb Noisette with Pomegranate sauce. As a dessert I chose the Artisan Cheese plate with jam. These were topped off by a cafetière of Chamomile Citrus Tea and Petits Fours. My only comment about the meal is to use less parsley for garnish – it was on all three of my ordered dishes. Also, quite impressively the waiter knew the names of the cheeses, however, he openly admitted that he did not know which was which.

For those of you who like working out or relax, the Spa and Fitness area located on level 2 have probably everything you need. There is the beautifully laid out Anantara Spa, a Technogym-equipped gym, and a 25m long swimming pool that has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the park for the entire length of the pool.

Even though the hotel is partially open and scheduled to be all ready by December, I"m told they are running full occupancy. It"s no wonder then that when I went for Breakfast at around 0930 the room was very busy.

After being quickly seated and served coffee, I was directed to help myself to the buffet where you can choose from juices to include fresh watermelon, at least 12 types of pastries plus breads, yoghurt, fresh and dried fruits (such as cranberries) and cereals.

I couldn"t help but notice the fresh granola bars and beigels, and sampled them both.

The granola bars were soft and crumbly, and I was pleasantly surprised by the exploding flavors as you bit into them. The taste of the top part of beigel which I had toasted was reminiscent of Welsh Rarebit, and the bottom half was crispy and chewy - delicious especially when coated in Beurre Doux unsalted butter and some of the preserves (jam, honey and marmalade) provided on the table in nice little white pots.

For the Yoghurt, I mixed this with various nuts and seeds, and some fruit puree – Yum!

Main course was à la carte, and I opted for the omelette with smoked salmon – another particular favorite of mine. The presentation was great (apart from the green parsley again) and I lightly dusted it with salt flakes presumably Himalayan found on the table along with the Peugeot pepper mill.

Choosing a seat facing out of the window, I overlooked the park and could catch glimpses of people enjoying some Sunday relaxation and a couple of joggers, perhaps getting ready for the hearty Meat Pie lunch promotion at The PuLi.

Just before checkout, I imbibed some more delicious tea in the Long Bar while using the Wi-Fi. This time, I asked for Chrysanthemum and the giant flowers inside the cafetière were most beautiful against the backdrop of the purple flowers on the table.

The PuLi could perhaps be described as eye candy for the soul, and restful to the mind and body. Job well done guys - finally!

© Terence Ronson HFTP, HTNG, ISHC | www.pertlink.net

The PuLi Hotel and Spa OCT 24 & 25 2009

Terence Ronson
Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR)
Phone: +852 946 80848
Mobile: +852 946 80848 / +86 136 402 45142
Fax: +852 3010 0124
Email: terence@pertlink.net

Hospitality NetPertlink Limited
2/f, 22 Stanley Mound Road
Stanley, Hong Kong (SAR)
Phone: +852 946 80848
Fax: +852 3010 0124
Email: Terence@pertlink.net
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