OLD WORLD MEETS NEW TRADITIONS

The newly opened St Regis Chengdu brings new levels of luxury and sophistication to one of China’s most historic cities, discovers Nick Walton.

With its distinctly Old World charm, combined with cutting edge technology and unravelled service levels, the new St Regis Chengdu is a fitting addition to this ancient city’s hospitality offering. Part of China’s portion of the Silk Road, Chengdu has been welcoming travellers for centuries and its newest indulgent house of slumber sets a new benchmark for high end leisure and corporate travellers bound for the gateway to the West.

Known as the Silicon Valley of China and home to more than 250 Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, Motorola, IBM, Coca Cola and Toyota, Chengdu is no stranger to corporate travellers, while its panda breeding facilities and stunning mountain landscapes welcome millions of domestic and international holiday makers each year. The St Regis experience begins at Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport, one of the world’s busiest. The hotel’s dedicated arrival team meets in-bound guests, escorting them to luxury hotel sedans that whisk them away on the 30 minute ride into the city centre and the St Regis hotel, located at the heart of the city’s financial belt, just steps away from Tianfu Square and Chun Xi Road.

Opening exactly 110 years after the first St Regis launched in New York, the new Chengdu hotel not only exemplifies the luxurious virtues of the Big Apple original, but redefines them for the modern China market. Its vaulted yet intimate, Art Deco-inspired lobby by interior designers DiLeonardo Design is a far cry from the crowded entrances of mainstream luxury hotels in China’s largest cities; dedicated butlers – a signature St Regis amenity that’s well received in the Middle Kingdom – is on hand to escort guests to one of 279 elegantly-appointed guest rooms and suites, for an in-room check-in. These welltrained butlers also offer packing and unpacking services, act as extensions of the concierge, and provide pressing, turn-down and tea and coffee service.

The butler’s insider knowledge proves indispensable when it comes to navigating our sublime St Regis Suite, one of eight room categories. The suite features floor-to-ceiling windows that bathe an expansive living room and dining table for six in natural light. Beyond is a master bedroom with a king-sized bed by Simmons, a large leather-topped work desk that doubles as a dresser. The master bathroom – there is another off the vestibule – features a soak tub with television, double vanities in Italian marble, Remède bath amenities, and a cavernous rainhead shower, while a walk-in dressing room is hidden away down a short corridor. It’s the attention to detail that will stand out; the bedhead is faux leather the colour of dark chocolate, the wood work through the suite ranging from maple to espresso. A minibar and coffee machine are hidden away in a stylish Oriental-style hutch beside a glossy dining table and lounges in pale gold and all the electronics in the room, from the 46-inch LCD television to the Bose surround sound system, are controlled by an iPad mini in a leather case. With dual entrances and plenty of space, the suite is as perfectly suited for intimate meetings as it is for a couple’s weekend escape.

The hotel’s split personality continues to its six distinctive restaurants. In Unesco’s first City of Gastronomy, Asian food is a religion and the St Regis has a little something for every diner, from the all-day international dining of the Kokai Studios-designed Social, with its living cooking stations and indulgent, lingering breakfasts, to the extensive wine collection of Decanter, the glass-lined private dining room of which is a popular spot with local oenophiles. Yan Ting is a specialty Chinese restaurant with a menu laced with Cantonese and Sichuan signature dishes, while the intimate Drawing Room in the lobby is home to the hotel’s signatures, a decadent afternoon tea featuring a champagne sobering ritual, and the Chuan Mary, a spicy, Sichuan peppercorn-laced local rendition of the St Regis classic cocktail. On the hotel’s upper levels, Yun Fu boasts four expansive private dining suites, complete with electronic mahjong tables, spacious living areas, and beautifully inlaid dining tables, while Vantage XXVII, an outdoor rooftop cocktail bar on the 27th floor, remains the place to be by Chengdu’s social set.

The St Regis’ all weather potential extends to its many outdoor facilities, from the spa’s outdoor relaxation lounge and the al fresco dining terraces, to the expansive pool deck; the St Regis is the only hotel in town to offer both an outdoor swimming pool and an indoor heated pool, ideal amenities in a city where temperatures fluctuate greatly through the year. The indulgent indoor pool, with its adjacent over-sized Jacuzzi and St Regis Athletic Club fitness centre, is complemented by one of China’s most advanced day spas. The new Iridium Spa is a sumptuous urban oasis designed by acclaimed Austrian agency Schletterer that boasts nine treatment rooms – including five signature sky loft-styled suites with holistic cocoon suites – and a menu of holistic wellness journeys punctuated with local ingredients, including the famed organic tea that has drawn travellers to the city for centuries. www.stregis.com/chengdu

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