Archive for the ‘China’ Category

The Perfect Locale for Art Lovers in Shanghai

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Monday, October 31st, 2011


If art is your passion, then the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China is just the place for you. This historical hotel offers guests the architecture of the early 1900’s, mixed with the most cutting edge and stylish designs of today. Visitors to The Swatch Art Peace Hotel may attend a variety of exhibitions on the premises. The top floor of the building hosts the Shook! restaurant and a multimedia space that can be used for concerts, press conferences, movies and various other public and private events. From the roof terrace, guests can admire a panoramic view of The Bund and the spectacular sights of Pudong across the Huangpu River.

In addition to guest rooms, this hotel offers gifted artists from around the world, including China, a chance to live and work in studios in the Hotel for a four month period. Artists are chosen by the Selection Committee, includes Nicolas G. Hayek and Georges N. Hayek, Chairman and CEO of the Swatch Group; Esther Grether, Board Member of the Swatch Group; George Clooney, actor; François-Henri Pinault, CEO of PPR; Mikhail Kusnirovich, Chairman of the Strategic Development Committee of GUM; and Sir Francis Yeoh, Chairman, YTL Group.

Taking Fun to a Whole New Level in Shanghai

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

As a travel specialist I am always in search of the most fun and unique experiences I can find. In Shanghai, China I was able to find just that and it was called, Shanghai Sideways. With this tour, guests enjoy a two, four or full day tour of the city in a WWII motorcycle with sidecar. Of course the bike is driven by an experienced guide but each bike can take two passengers, one on the back and one in the sidecar. While moving about Shanghai, your “Insider Guide” stops to give you a bit of history and take you to the more off the beaten path locales.

It’s fun…’s exciting…and it’s one of the coolest things we did in Shanghai! Check out our video below..

Creating Amazing and Unique Experiences on the Great Wall

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Thursday, October 20th, 2011

As a travel specialist, I am always in search of unique and memorable experiences and lunch on the Great Wall of China is just that. Hosted by St. Regis Hotels, our day included cocktails, phenomenal entertainment and a gourmet lunch. Truly spectacular!

Amazing Experiences in China – Dinner at the Summer Palace

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Thursday, October 20th, 2011

This evening we had a truly amazing experience, dinner in Summer Palace in the Garden of Harmonious Pleasures. Our evening was hosted by Aman Resorts and their hotel is adjacent to the Summer Palace and truly spectacular in and of itself. This was an evening that will be with me for the rest of my life and one that I will look forward to planning for my own clients and groups.

Discovering the New China

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Today we had the opening session of the Virtuoso’s Chairman’s Event in Beijing, China and it was a completely eye opening experience to me.  Our speakers included a government official from the Department of Tourism, Lijia Zhang, author of a book entitled Socialism is Great and David Ben Kay, who was a liaison for Microsoft located in China, who now has a company in the 798 Art District helping people outside China start businesses within China. They also had two college students speak about their lives growing up in China and how different they were from their parent’s lives.  Each person’s perspective was unique and it was truly enlightening for me both as a travel specialist and as an American.  

To be completely honest, and I’m almost embarrassed to say this, prior to this meeting and prior to my trip to China, my perception of China had been somewhat warped by television and a lifetime of education on communism. Even though China was a destination full of culture and history, it was a country with a government with an agenda.   A country of people who ate anything that walked, crawled or flew and a destination with people who had little to say about their lives and their future.  A country with an agenda to take over the world, by continually loaning money, like a loan shark, who will eventually use that power to control everyone else’s destiny.  Although some of that may have been true in the past, I am quickly discovering that is not the case in China today nor with the citizens of China.

With over 1.3 billion, yes that’s billion with a ‘B’, citizens in China, things are changing.  Young people are able to make choices. Choices of careers, of schooling, of what they wear and how they think. They are able to aspire to become something other than what their parents and grand parents were.  Lijia Zhang talked about how in her parents lifetime in China, they lived like ‘A frog in a well’ or someone who could not escape their destiny and could not see anything more than what was in the well. She talked about how much that has changed and how different things are in only the past twenty years. One of the college students spoke about how his primary goal was to be happy in life and find a career that was truly fulfilling to him, a concept that was unheard in the past.  The other student was studying journalism and was planning to teach at a  college in the US next year, as long as she gets the job, before returning  to China to become a professor of English to Chinese students. David Ben Kay spoke about entrepreneurs and artists coming to China to build businesses.   All of these realities were something completely incomprehensible to the people of China  years ago but are exciting opportunities for the people of China today. 

With these changes, there is a growing upper class in China, that is hungry to see the world and hoping to travel abroad and there is a sense of innovation that is truly exciting.   Matthew Upchurch, the CEO of Virtuoso and host of our trip, gave several statics in his portion of the opening session.  One statistic that stuck in my mind was that last year alone, over 79 million visa applications from foreigners to visit the US were not processed, primarily due to inefficiencies within the US government and a lack of emphasis on tourism in our country.  He continued by talking about how the processing of those visas would have resulted in over over 606 billion dollars and a half a million jobs in the tourism industry in the United States.  As a person whose career depends on tourism both within and outside of the US and as someone who is witnessing an economy in need of jobs, I see an opportunity that shouldn’t be passes by.  The opportunities to both embrace the ‘New China’ and embrace our the opportunities for tourism are exciting and should not be overlooked. 

Our meetings wrapped up with a talk from Guy Rubin of Imperial Tours and Patrick McCloud of A & K about China as an emerging destination.  They spoke about improvements to roads and airports and an increase in the number of upscale hotel options available to visitors.  They focused on how China has become a destination worthy of not just one, but many visits. From river cruises, to small villages, to emperors palaces and tombs, China has something for everyone. It is safe, it is unique and the history and culture will not disappoint even the most well traveled individuals. The food has been amazing and i have yet to be served even one bug, cat or lizard.  

China is an emerging destination and in my opinion, one that is worth visiting.  For you know that when Starwood hotels commits to opening a new hotel in a country every two weeks for the next two years, that something amazing is happening and you don’t want to miss it! 

Our arrival to Beijing

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Monday, October 17th, 2011

The Sights of Xian

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Most visitors arrive in Xian looking forward to seeing the Army of the Terracotta Warriors but soon discover that Xian has so much more to offer. As the former capital of China, the history is some of the finest and most interesting. From biking on the wall that surrounds Old Town, which is a about seven miles, to visiting The Great Mosque and market, Xian offers plenty to do and see. The key, I have found, is to work with a specialist who has connections, like Eastern Journeys. From moving past lines, to meeting the archeologists who are excavating the emporors tumb, every moment was truly special because of their expertise and connections.

The Terracotta Army of Xian, China

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Friday, October 14th, 2011

Over thirty years ago a farmer digging a well discovered one of the most amazing sights in the world, The Army of the Terracotta Warriors. Today, visitors to Xian, China marvel at the shear number of life-size soldiers, each hand crafted over 2,000 years ago and each completly unique.

Our Eastern Journey guide, Henry, knew everything there was to know about this World Heritage Site and had the VIP access to make our visit truly unique. From a special parking area to access to a private viewing platform away from the crowds, our tour of the Terracotta warriors was truly special.

The Journey to China

By Amanda Klimak CTIE   Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Today we journeyed from New York to Xian, China and although we traveled well over 20 hours, we feel relatively well thanks to Air Canada’s business class service. At a discounted rate of around $3,800, you can’t beat this bargain, especially when normal fares generally run $6,000 to $10,000. Our flight to Toronto was only one hour and our connection in the Toronto airport was efficient and comfortable. Air Canada’s Meet & Greet service gives guests a concierge escort thru the terminal and the Maple Leaf Lounge gives travelers with a longer connection a great place to rest. While on our flight to Beijing, we enjoyed gourmet food and comfortable lie flat beds. With a menu of movies, music and tv shows at our disposal, the flight passed quickly. We then arrived into Beijing, which is one of the world’s most spectacular airports. It’s stunning design, open air feel and convenient signage, make this a seamless part of out journey. Upon arrival in Xian there is a completely different feel, almost as if you have truly stepped into old world China. The city is much larger than I had anticipated and English is not as widely spoken. Our home away from home, the Shangri La Hotel is spectacular. With a traditional and elegant lobby and many dining choices, this hotel is a wonderful option for visitors to Xian. The gardens are definitely a highlight and surprise at this city hotel. Today we are off to see the Terra Cotta Warriors and the city of Xian. More to follow.