Upon exiting the arrival hall, I was met with a staff member from the Westin Guangzhou, and was promptly directed to wait for the hotel limo. As there was another hotel guest arriving that day, I had to wait for the second car, which turns out to be the larger Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The initial impressions with the hotel was thus very excellent, having picked me up from the airport in a timely manner and ferrying me right to the lobby doorstep feeling pampered. Inside the limo, a bottle of mineral water was ready to refresh myself from the flight and fans built-into the seats helped to cool me down from the tropical summer heat in Guangzhou.
The ride to the city took around 40 minutes, and there wasn’t at any time I had to lift a finger to pick my luggage since help was always available. I was just required to head forward to the check in desk to register myself. Again this process was quick and efficient, just the way most great hotels do it. If hotels were to take longer than 5 minutes to check me in, I do expect a chair to sit down while they do that. In this case, I got my keys quick and was directed to the elevators which will take me to my room on one of the higher floors. The only thing they didn’t care to provide was a map of the city or any welcome drink which I really enjoyed in the Le Meridien Jakarta. As SPG Gold members, I was offered a choice of free internet, welcome fruit or some other amenity I couldn’t remember. Since internet was already included in my rate, I chose the welcome amenity.
My last stay at the Westin in Sydney pleased me so much that the Westin brand is perhaps one of my favourite brands in the Starwood group of hotels and resorts, next to the St Regis and the W. The rooms in the Westin Guangzhou exceeded my expectations, since it was a bit like a junior suite, with a large marble bathroom that has all the amenities including a separate bathtub and a walk-in shower, in a layout reminiscent of the Fairmont Yangcheng Lake. A large glass window opens out from the bathtub to the bedroom and can be closed with electronically operated shades. No wonder then that some people do comment that Asian based properties are usually more luxurious that their American counterparts.
The bedroom itself was spacious and had much more space than I needed for a night’s stay. A fairly large L-shaped sofa sits at the corner of the window that provides an amazing vista over the city of Guangzhou. The location of the Westin beside Guangzhou’s tallest tower – the CITIC Plaza, provides an excellent focus point as well. The dark wood furnishing created a cosy ambience for the room and the large space within the room didn’t make it claustrophobic. There was also a Herman Miller work chair which was very comfortable to sit on. Somehow, Starwood Preferred Guest Gold counts for something in China based properties, and I was provided with a generous fruit platter and a plate of delicious hawthorn jelly candies which was nice.
I used the internet for a bit before setting off as I wanted to ascertain the routes to take. The internet was decent and I was able to use the wifi with no issue at all. After a short break in the room, I headed to the concierge to request for a map of the city and asked for directions and recommendations on where to visit. I chose to make my way towards the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and was shown the directions to the nearest subway station and which stops to make transfers on the subway. On my return to the hotel, I was also able to do a Skype conversation on my iPad with my parents before taking a shower. The only problem I encountered was at night when somehow the internet connection was disabled or disconnected which even the technical staff wasn’t able to fix late at night.
Dining in the hotel was excellent as I had dinner at their Chinese restaurant which serves really delicious Cantonese dishes and soups. The restaurant also seems to serve exotic seafood dishes including some wild sea turtles and fishes which are really foreign in their aquarium. Breakfast, meanwhile was served at the mezzanine floor at the Taste Cafe, which was crowded and noisy. Perhaps I was spoilt by breakfasts in the Club Lounge in other properties. There was a mix of Continental, American and lots of Chinese options for the breakfast buffet. Besides the usual dim sum and egg station, I was also able to grab some dough fritters and soya bean milk which is a trademark breakfast staple in the southern part of China and South East Asia.
Other facilities within the hotel includes an indoor and outdoor swimming pool that was excellent, though I didn’t manage to find the time to utilize these. There was also a spa and fitness centre on the same floor. The most notable drawback of this hotel has got to be the distance to travel to some of the sights in the city. However the low cost of the taxis and the easy access to the subway makes it a very easy choice. It also wasn’t too expensive compared to hotels of a similar standard in Shanghai or Beijing. The wonderful quality of the staff in this hotel was able to cater to guests’ needs and they were able to recommend the right places such as when I wanted a foot reflexology at night. In addition, on the day I was due to depart to Shenzhen, they were able to arrange last minute transportation arrangements when my plans to ride on the high-speed train did not proceed as expected. And for people looking for a business hotel, this property sits right smack in the middle and would be an excellent choice indeed!