East China's coastal metropolis of Shanghai is famous for the three supertall skyscrapers that pierce the Lujiazui skyline. But there are three other towers - those of Kerry Parkside - that deserve just as much attention. This modern complex includes office space, serviced residences and a sprawling underground mall. But the crowning achievement, for business and leisure travellers alike, is without doubt The Kerry Hotel Pudong.
Kerry, a brand that falls under the umbrella of elite international hotel chain Shangri-La, is a breath of fresh air for the Shanghai market, both in terms of location and ethos. Situated beside the vast green expanse of Century Park, the hotel sits outside the busy downtown bubble in an area featuring wide, leafy streets (that are never clogged with traffic) and high-end housing. Despite the resort-style setting, though, the city proper is mere minutes away, either by taxi or subway. The Maglev train, which links to Pudong International Airport, is also easily accessible via the Metro Line, so there are literally no headaches when it comes to transport.
Once you arrive, you will quickly notice just how relaxed the atmosphere is - and that is precisely what makes the place so special. The Kerry Hotel Pudong is as sophisticated and sumptuous as any in the Shangri-La portfolio, with levels of comfort and service that can only be described as world-class; and yet, at the same time, there is a sense of easy-going calm which is a universe away from the overblown swankiness of many top hotels. It is this unpretentious climate that makes all visitors, whatever their purpose in Shanghai, feel so blissfully comfortable. If only more five star hotels embraced such a philosophy.
Bliss is also unavoidable in the opulent rooms, of which there are 574 - including 33 palatial suites that include a separate lounge for entertaining or relaxation. Half the rooms overlook Century Park, the city's largest ecological reserve, while the other half gaze out over the Shanghai New International Expo Centre. In addition, the suites and club rooms also have access to a lounge on the third floor which serves food and drink throughout the day, including a superb breakfast spread and a happy hour in the evening. It's a perfect place to conduct business, have a romantic cocktail, or just relax with your family.
If you're into fitness, The Kerry Hotel Pudong might just have the finest health club in all of Shanghai. Kerry Sports, as it's known, draws members from across the city - and no wonder: it covers an area of 6,000sqm over three floors, with state-of-the-art exercise machines, bright and airy studios, various classes, and personal trainers who speak wonderful English and won't be angry at you for asking basic questions. The gym is open all day, too, so you can pump iron or jump on a bike whenever you feel the urge. And don't forget to check out the health club's outdoor facilities, including a running track, basketball and tennis courts, a garden, and even a casual restaurant that hosts barbeques during the summer.
It's not just calorie burning that happens at Kerry Sports, though. You can chill out in the 25-metre pool, relax in the grand changing rooms (there are Jacuzzis, saunas and steam rooms in both sets), or enjoy a fresh smoothie as you consider your next move. There is also a spa, where trained practitioners can treat you to a heavenly wushu-inspired massage. In case you were wondering, there's no violence involved. The wushu part of the experience involves a lot of stretching with bamboo poles - and it will leave you feeling stress-free for days.
Children are wonderfully catered for as well in the form of Adventure Zone, a stunning 700sqm land of fun and games that includes a Role Play Village, a special cafe serving tasty delights (be sure to try their popcorn), three party rooms, and an amazing indoor theme park of epic slides and cushioned tunnels.
On top of all these super features, The Kerry Hotel Pudong houses a number of impressive eateries. Their all-day dining restaurant, The COOK, features 13 show kitchens that serve authentic cuisine from around the globe - and it's all cooked fresh to order. You merely tell the chef what you want at the relevant counter, have your personalized table card swiped, and a few minutes later the dish is delivered right to you. Delicious and efficient.
For devoted carnivores, there is The MEAT. This American-themed steakhouse and specialty grill is well-known across the city for its prime selection of grass-fed beef. Its signature dish, the stunning (in both size and taste) Ningaloo Tomahawk, is displayed in a dedicated meat-ageing room beside the entrance. For lovers of top-quality meat, there is no greater sight in the world - except perhaps when the juicy mega-steak is placed in front of you. But be warned: you'll need at least three people to polish one off.
If you're a fan of good beer, you should certainly pay a visit to The BREW. This warm and inviting Australian-designed pub is popular across Shanghai for its craft beers, produced onsite by Kerry's brewmaster Leon Mickelson and his dedicated team. Be sure to indulge in a sample tray, which lets you taste all six of The BREW's delightful concoctions. And don't leave without trying their home-made cider. It's the best in all of China. You can even enjoy a tour of the micro-brewery and have a tasting class with the brewmaster himself if you ask in advance.
Finally, for those in need of a business or event space, The Kerry Hotel Pudong can't be beaten. There are a total of 16 furnished rental offices available for short-term use, as well as 26 multi-function rooms. But the real jewel in the crown - or jewels, I should say - are the two enormous pillar-free ballrooms. The larger (2,239sqm) and smaller (1,016sqm) ballroom can even be connected by a short tunnel to create a venue of unrivalled size and elegance. Indeed, the plush decor and 9-metre-high ceilings make this one of the city's grandest location for meetings, celebrations, press conferences, weddings, and even fashion shows.
If you plan to spend any time in Shanghai, either as a business or leisure traveller, The Kerry Hotel Pudong has everything you could ever ask for. To begin your journey, check out the official website: