China used to be a place where one can easily find high-end properties for a lower cost, but perhaps due to the Universiade Games being held in China during my stay there, it was now proving to be a relatively costly place to stay in the city. Wanting to get a taste of the city of Shenzhen as I make my way to Hong Kong, I decided for a night stay in the Sheraton. Stopping over in Shenzhen wasn’t a mistake but choosing this hotel was. First off during my arrival, there was hardly any bell boy on the front door and no one came over to help me with luggage until like 2-3 minutes later. Maybe it was due to extra preparations for the University Games, but still no excuse in my opinion, as the true test of an organization comes in times of crises.
Heavy security entering the main lobby was also another nuisance, but I admit that wasn’t the hotel’s fault. Check-in was alright and there was a special SPG member’s line which was nice. But I have to say the lobby is really not to my kind of taste in terms of decor. It just reminds me of those old Chinese style hotels circa 1980s. While it might be fitted with marble and chandeliers, I would rather be in a cool lobby like the Andaz anytime. Tracking back to the check-in process, I enquired with the front desk agent on places to eat, and she only referred me to the hotel’s restaurant. I even specifically asked her twice about places to eat outside the hotel, but she again referred me to the 2 hotel’s restaurants which wasn’t even open yet when I arrived. I am really frustrated by hotels that really try to push their guests to go dine at their establishments. Hotels need to understand that providing great lodging experience is what they should concentrate on. What I really appreciated and know from my stay at the Westin Guangzhou was that even SPG Gold get a choice of welcome amenity. I picked the free internet since my rate didn’t include internet nor breakfast.
As with all check-ins, the agents will always try to mention how great the room assigned is, but when I head to my room on the middle tiered floors, it was nothing spectacular. There was some minor irritation though like close proximity to the ventilation ducts and a view into the courtyard which makes the room dark in the afternoon and the noise might be a nuisance to some. But with just one night stay and not wanting the hassle, I just stuck with this room. The saving grace to the room was perhaps the large and spacious bathroom which had a nice soaking tub and a walk-in shower. However this makes the room seem pretty cramped and the dark decor made it even seem smaller. So on the overall, I don’t feel particularly comfortable staying in the hotel.
Location of the hotel is at Shenzhen’s new central business district in Futian and there is a shopping mall called Central Walk in the middle of 2 rows of skyscrapers which offers a wide variety of food outlets and also contain a Carrefour hypermart in the basement. There is also a subway station connected to the mall so transportation shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Other amenities of the hotel includes a landscaped swimming pool in the middle of the 3 towers that comprise of the Sheraton Shenzhen Futian, and the middle tower is actually the corporate headquarters of the company that owns this property.
I managed to get a late check-out time of 3 pm from the hotel and arranged for transportation to Hong Kong which was duly managed by the concierge. While the concierge staff was helpful and provided maps and assistance in booking the transportation, they did it with a stiff kind of service. In addition there doesn’t seem to be excellent communication amongst the team members which caused some confusion during check-out. Nothing that disrupted my travel plans anyway. Somehow this Sheraton reminded me of its sister property in Jakarta, and I wondered if Starwood is positioning its Sheraton brand into the lower rungs.
This brought me to think about my next stay in Hong Kong which was at the Sheraton Towers in Hong Kong. I had decided to save substantially on accommodation costs by switching to the cheaper Sheraton Towers from the W Hong Kong. As much as I am a fan of the W in Hong Kong, the promotion Sheraton Towers had on its Towers Club Room seemed more value for money, and since I haven’t had the chance to stay in this property, I decided on the Sheraton.
The Sheraton Towers in Hong Kong is located in a much more accessible tourist location, beside the Peninsula, right by the waterfront and the Club Lounge has possibly one of the nicest views of the Hong Kong skyline. Shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui is just steps away, and so is the Star Ferry to Central. So this would be an advantage to the W for those with shopping and dining in mind. The only drawback is that this is a much older property though it was renovated and did not feel outdated as I entered the lobby. The main check-in and reception area is located on the second floor, and i was given directions but not led into the check-in area. Since the common check-in line had some queue, I decided to head to the Towers Reception which could be accessed by another side elevator. As expected, the Towers Reception is a sit down affair with my check in details being prepped beforehand in a nice folder. These little features make me remember a particular property and truly differentiates one from another.
I was provided with a room that had partial harbour views of the Western district, but other than that, there was no added benefits for SPG Gold members. Since I was staying on the Towers Room, internet was complimentary, along with evening canapes and breakfast at the Oyster Bar on the top floor. The room itself was unspectacular and a bit on the small side. The one thing I did not like was their wooden corners on the beds which one can easily knock into when crossing the room. In fact I knocked myself twice, and so that really made me wish the room was slightly larger. Compared to the new Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui which also has small rooms, I would have preferred the latter since it felt much more comfortable. The room in the Sheraton was just too cluttered with too much furniture. Sadly, the bathroom also tried to fit in too much, including the miniscule bathtub and a walk-in shower. In my opinion, with such a small space constraint, they should have just went away with the bathtub and stuck with just a walk-in shower, so as to provide more space in the room.
Amenities provided in the room was by Crabtree & Evelyn which was uncommon since it was a Sheraton and I was half-expecting the generic Sheraton toiletry kit. What was more suprising was the provision of a small tube of L’Occitane cream during turndown service for the first night, and chocolates for the second night. There was also a welcome fruit platter in the bedroom on my arrival. These little gestures are things that I appreciate once again!
The ability to view the night scenery from the Towers Lounge was a draw to why I would want to stay here and I was sorely disappointed by the small size of the lounge considering how many Towers Club guests there are. By evening all the seats were packed that the receptionist had to open up the meeting room to allow guests to sit down and eat there. This was when perhaps one might feel shortchanged. However, the Club Lounge did offer an excellent variety of snacks and drinks, including nachos with 4 different types of dips, fruit platters, sandwiches, desserts and the light but excellent Kronenbourg 1664 beer from France. First time seeing this anywhere in a hotel club lounge!
Breakfast in the Oyster Bar was also great with guests being able to select from a menu and I noticed that the relatively large number of Japanese guests in the property might have resulted in a Japanese and Chinese breakfast set option, all served in a nice Japanese lacquered box. I had the western option on both days, starting with Eggs Benedict on the first day and Banana Pancakes on the second day. On top of the menu selection, guests could also help themselves to toast, pastries, yogurt and fruits from the buffet table.
Other amenities in the Sheraton Towers Hong Kong includes a swimming pool which was a bit small and not as amazing as the W’s rooftop pool that affords one of the most amazing rooftop pool vistas. On the day of departure, I headed to the airport on the hotel limo which was once again a pleasure considering the amount of luggage I had. And the most memorable part of the journey was discovering the wireless internet service within the limo which allowed me to ‘check-in’ my location as I crossed the Tsing Ma Bridge. Given that my stay in Hong Kong was cheaper than the Shenzhen property, I was definitely more keen to return to the Sheraton in Hong Kong, provided costs remain the same or lower. Any higher and I would rather pick the W. And for those looking for a hotel in Shenzhen, I suggest the Westin Nanshan which seems nicer and is located closer to the tourist sights.