Things have been pretty busy here at the Talking Travel desk since our previous edition. The biggest news is that on September 30, 2014, the W Beijing Chang'an hotel will open, close to the southeast corner of the Jianguomen intersection, across the Second Ring Road and between the Ancient Observatory and Dongbianmen, site of the opening scene of Paul French's Midnight in Peking.
It's not W's first hotel in China (Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Taipei have them), but as I remember from the W in San Diego in 2003, it's like staying at your coolest friend's apartment while he or she is away. The interesting thing is, that site has been a hotel for decades, just not a W. Over the last few years, what was the Gloria Plaza Hotel – if you've been in Beijing a while you'll remember it's brilliant blue glass gleaming there in the corner of Jianguomen – was demolished, and the W built in its place. And that's all in less time than it has taken for a certain hotel that burned more than five years ago to be refurbished and reopen. The opening is still not listed as coming up on Mandarin Oriental's website. The Shanghai one is lovely, though. Anyhoo, W, Beijing welcomes you, and we look forward to you welcoming us over for a preview.
Speaking of September 30, from our "That Sucks" file comes news that China's telecom operators have been instructed to close all of their VIP airport lounges by that date. For anyone who has used one, while they're not plush, they certainly are oases of phone charging and connectivity. The official reason is that the operators have been told to cut marketing expenses by 20 percent over the next three years, and clearly this is a marketing expense. And now back to sitting on the floor charging your phone, and free Wi-Fi that takes more time to set up than the plane ticket you are flying on took to buy. Thanks. A lot.
Good news from Singapore Airlines: the premium carrier will cease the cargo handling of shark fin products beginning August 1, joining Philippine Airlines, which made the move earlier this year. Asian hotel chains like Shangri-La and Peninsula have led the way in corporate rejection of shark fin, and now Asian airlines are also playing their role. Look for a full feature on the fight against shark fin in the August issue of the Beijinger, out next week.
More Talking Travel on Thursday. Until then, one road flat safe.
Photo: Starwood Hotels
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