IT WAS AWESOME
Early November 2001. It was a kind of `perfect storm`
Picture this- I cant even remember who, but was a friend of a friend or? anyways I mentioned I wsa going to Beijing and I was told he would see about getting a special rate as they had some connection to HOJO or was travel agent or ..... like I said, I dont even remember how, but we ended up with a very special rate- and I totally remember the rate- $30usd. So it was soon after Sept 11 2001 and people still were not flying much. Im not exaggerating when I say as we were arriving at the hotel, they were PUTTING THE HOWARD JOHNSON SIGN up at the front entrance. I remember hearing something about it just recently becoming this brand. The taxi driver didnt know it. I showed him PARAGON and he was good.
So we pull up to this nice but nothing too special looking hotel and it becomes immediately obvious that this was not a howard johnson even 2 weeks ago. We walk in, dressed nicely from out flight ( never wear jeans, always shirt with collar so you are considered for upgrade to business class) We looked ok, but apparently we were VIPs.
It took awhile to figure out what was going on but this is what I THINK happened
NEW Howard Johnson property ( first in china i believe) and as I mentioned, this was opening week or whatever. So I guessed that the official welcome visit from head office in America was planning to be there but cancelled due to 9-11 ( just an educated guess) So here we are- well dressed. from canada. booked at the last minute with some discount related to the company or ?????
So again, this is all just me guessing, but it makes sence since we are greeted with a bit of panic and people nervous or scared like they were dealing with important people
not guests or even important guests, we were VVIP and soon the General Manager was summoned. I spoke to her on the phone at first and I didnt clue in yet as to what was happening. I was in Beijing so I was a bit in awe. everything was new and interesting, so I didnt totally appreciate what was taking place. We are escorted to our room. BIG room. Suite with seperate bedroom and very big/very nice. Unfortunately it was quite noisy and I was a bit reluctant, but asked for a different room.
Moments later we were whisked to a new room. Also very nice. perhaps smaller but still a suite and very impressive.
Maybe 10 minutes later there was a phone call, the desk clerk apologising for such a small room and the bellman was on his way to take us to a better room.
I tried to protest, but soon enough we were in our third room. bigger, better, WOW the very best of the rooms so far.......
Starting to settle a third time I noticed it was a non smoking room.
I was really reluctant to call, but had to.
OH my goodness, so sorry, please forgive us, and again, a bellman was there to move us yet again
room number 4 was just crazy. A huge room with fresh flowers,orchids, HUGE and so luxurious. It had a bar/kitchennette sort of off to the side. there were 2 or three steps down to the main living area. Amazing furnishings, looked very old and museum quality ( artwork and some furniture) We were stunned.the bedroom was separate and very large. more flowers. a room sized walk-thru closet area and an amazing master bath. HUGE bathroom. Huge jaccuzzi tub and big shower. the bathroom had to be 500sq ft
more fresh flowers in the bathroom.and not just a small display of a few carnations.... the bathroom had exotic flowers and orchids. a HUGE display and other smaller ones.
the bedroom same, with 3 or 4 big bouquets and the biggest most colourful flowers, orchids, so beautiful and fragrant.
the main room had numerous `small ` arrangements, plus one immense vase filled on the dining table. there was a good sized tree as well.
We were blown away and still confused a bit. and thinking we need to confirm the price and make sure we were not going to be charged $1000 per night.
We had settled and the initial awe had subsided a bit, and decided to venture out and check out Beijing. Then the phone rang. The General Manager or big boss was officially inviting us to the city and the hotel. The whole story was becoming clearer. We were thanked for making it to the grand opening, too bad the other group had to cancel but they were delighted and honoured we came. We had 3 days/2 nights in the city and I was expected to take a tour of the property. Drinks, presents, food, lots of behind the scenes access.Many future plans were expained. This will be the main restaurant, this is the bar, the spa is expanding, there will be a new walkway access to the mall, etc etc
Then dinner and more business talk. I had to downplay my importance, I am nobody, this isnt really an official visit, yes I am here for the opening but you are wasting your time with trying to impress me.save it for the big guys, they will be here sooner than you know. This went over well, and I explained we were on a very short trip and were hoping to see some of the city and sights.
I think she was relieved and also soooo busy, she was just happy to not have to deal with me
Still, VIP treatment. Room service/restaurant/SPA/ ... we could have really taken advantage, but we didnt, mostly because we just wanted to go explore!
Limo back to the airport!
Directions: central location