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Four Seasons’ revolutionary new approach to design, with ultimate service levels

Four Seasons’ brand new opening in Pudong, Shanghai’s business district is not only the mark of a new chapter in the history of the Canadian chain, which turned 50 this year, but also a revolutionary approach in luxury hospitality. The new hotel succeeds in blending Four Seasons’ established core values and unique informal luxury, with previously unseen cutting-edge design for a Four Seasons property. The modern skyscraper structure would not reveal the spectacular interiors, a symphony of international contemporary design, sensibly and respectfully mixed with elements of Art Deco from Shanghai’s golden age – the 1920’s and 30’s.

Floor to ceiling windows with a wide bay in all rooms as well as bathrooms, provide sweeping views of the city’s skyline, including the iconic Pearl Tower. My favourite moments of relaxation at the hotel included watching the sunrise from my bed and taking a bath at sunset (the already famous Four Seasons bed felt even more comfortable than at other properties…). The luxurious colour palette, often in bold mixes, coupled with an array of detailing such as: hand-stitched red leather on certain furniture pieces, a rounded headboard, sliding panels with inset black silk – all make for a comfortable and the same time glamorous feel.

Many of the public spaces at the Four Seasons Pudong are adorned with contemporary art. Among my favourite are: the suspended sculpture of leafed metal strips, which shifts color patterns with natural light and the bronze ”athlets” series of statuettes on the hallways of the SPA.

The SPA of the hotel covers the entire 41st floor was yet another exquisit suprise, with an innovative open space which includes a beautiful infinity edge pool and a relaxation area which resembles a lounge, with its very own bar and comfortable couches. There is also a separate whirlpool area, with the same floor to ceiling windows, a 24 hour gym (state of the art Technogym equipment) and several treatment rooms.

The SPA is branded FLARE – an unsual aspect for the Four Seasons, not to mention the fancy purple logo on the in-room SPA menus. The classic, understated and simple Four Seasons in-room guide has been replaced by a stylish one, with Art Deco black and white motives, with purple colour layout details on the interior. I had a ”Hello Handsome” men’s facial, bespoke with Guerlain products – which was great (both effective and relaxing) – with a highly trained therapist.

Throughout my entire stay, I was truly impressed with the remarkable level of service which the Four Seasons has achieved in less than a month from opening and the efforts of the entire team. On every counter with a hotel staff, I could feel their passion, dedication and genuine warmth, striving for perfection. I have felt deep respect and care in every gesture of the staff, with a constant desire to anticipate needs.

In line with the innovative approach at the Pudong property (again, unusual for a Four Seasons), staff wear fashionable uniforms, more like outfits – these are different for each department, for instance, Front Office and Sales would wear elegant black (Chanel deux piece for women and elegant suits for men), while staff at the French-Japanese fusion ”Camelia” restaurant (also the main restaurant of the hotel) would wear a more informal style – for instance, men had green jackets and black trousers.

As for food, my favourite were the sushi bar (a separate part of the Camelia restaurant) and the traditional Chinese ”Shang Xi” restaurant – an elegant setting, especially for dinner. At the time of my stay, Shanghai’s unique hairy crab season (every year late October – beginning of November) was featured in a distinct menu, with a choice of traditional and more modern dishes based on the famous hairy crab. I have learned that hairy crabs from Yangcheng Lake outside of Shanghai are the most highly prized, and once graced the Emperor’s dinner table.

The location of the hotel in Pudong makes it ideal not only for business travellers but also for leisure travellers – Shanghai is one of the most important luxury shopping hubs in Asia, with all major international luxury brands represented – fashion, jewellery, watches etc. There is also a wealth of activities and sightseeing, not to mention great restaurants. As I wanted to experience a more traditional and historical Shanghai, the concierge arranged a tailor made tour, which included the French Concession area of the city, from the late 19th and early 20th century, with superb architecture and a special boheme vibe.

Oliver Petcu in Shanghai

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