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Park Hyatt Ningbo REVIEW - MASTER THREAD

Park Hyatt Ningbo REVIEW - MASTER THREAD

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Old Nov 6, 11, 5:15 am
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Park Hyatt Ningbo REVIEW - MASTER THREAD

Hi guys! Sorry for the long wait! Here is the report of my three-day stay (2nd-5th November) at PH Ningbo.

Let me just start off by saying that I am a big fan of PH's. I have been to PH Shanghai, PH Seoul, PH Saigon, PH Tokyo, PH Sydney and PH Melbourne. Each of these properties offer understated luxury, pampering services and insightful local knowledge.

Having said that, I would say the newly opened PH Ningbo represents a new high, if not pinnacle, in the PH portfolio. From its hardware to software to food to environment, everything at the PH Ningbo is top of the line. For those people who regularly visits Japan, I would say PH Shanghai is your China's equivalent to PH Tokyo, wheras PH Ningbo is your China's equivalent to HR Hakone.

Introduction

PH Ningbo is China's third PH (after PH Beijing and PH Shanghai) and second Hyatt Resort and Spa (after HR Jingjin City). The hotel is located on the banks of Dong Qian Lake -- the largest freshwater lake in Zhejiang province. The water surface area of Dong Qian Lake (20 km2) is more than four times the size of West Lake (4.4 km2), where HR Hangzhou is situated.

PH Ningbo has 236 rooms, including 42 suites and ten free-standing villas. Construction work began in 2005, and the hotel was originally set to open in 2008. Due to the 2007 financial crisis, however, all hotel constructions in China came to a halt between 2008 and 2010. As a result, the opening date of PH Ningbo was postponed to 2011.

Although the official homepage says that the "hotel is just a 2.5-hour drive from Shanghai", according to Google Map and my own experience, PH Ningbo is actually a 3-hour drive from Shanghai CBD, a 30-minute drive from Ningbo CBD, and a 40-minute drive from Ningbo Lishe International Airport.

PH Ningbo is owned by Yintai Property Co. Ltd, who also owns PH Beijing. Hyatt Hotels Corporation is responsible for managing the hotel property. The whole PH Ningbo/Dong Qian Lake project costs 1.3 billion RMB and the development work is split into two phases. The PH Ningbo we see now is only at the end of phase one.

PH Ningbo is designed by Sylvia Chiang Design LCC, a design firm based in San Francisco (I heard that the original designer of the hotel passed away recently). Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG) is responsible for the design of the general look of the Dong Qian Lake project.

PH Ningbo features two restaurants: the Dining Room, an all-day dining venue that serves both Chinese and Western cuisines; and the Seafood House, which allows guests to choose their own 'catch of the day' and preparation methods.

PH Ningbo also features the Living Room, a venue where friends can meet and enjoy aperitifs, and the Tea House, a souvenir shop that sells tea leaves and serves tea and desserts.

Other facilities include Yue Hu Spa, fitness center, indoor pool and outdoor infinity pool.

PH Ningbo is still in its soft opening. The only facilities opened at the time of writing is the Dining Room and the fitness center. The hotel aims to be fully open on 1st January 2012, but might further delay to February.

Currently PH Ningbo only accepts phone reservation (number is +86-574-28881234). Price of a standard room starts from 1200 RMB per night + 15 % tax (without breakfast). The price fluctuates depending on the actual date and is expected to double after full opening. Also, please note that PH Ningbo has not yet sorted out its Goldpassport system, so no points or stays will be credited during its soft opening mode. Although the hotel will try to honour Diamond benefits, they are not yet obliged to do this either.

Transportation

Ningbo Lishe International Airport has flights arriving from: Fukuoka (Japan), Incheon (Korea), Bangkok (Thailand), Kaohsiung (Taiwan), as well as Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Xi'an, Xiamen, Nanchang, Haikou, Shantou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Nanjing, Kunming, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Zhuhai, Hefei, Guilin, Chongqin, Dalian, Qingdao, Wuhan, Fuzhou, Harbin, Urumchi.

Travellers coming from Shanghai may consider taking either the high-speed train (from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, ~3 hours, 96/120RMB) or bus (from Shanghai South Railway Station, ~3 hours, 99 RMB) to Ningbo, and then taxi to the hotel. Most taxi wouldn't know where the hotel is, so please bring a map of the hotel and the Chinese address with you.

Also, please note that if you would like to travel to anywhere from the hotel, the hotel needs 30 minutes to book the taxi in advance. The taxi will charge 30 RMB pre-booking fee.

What is currently operatonal?

- Dining Room (from 6.30am to 11pm, last order at 10.30 pm)
- Living Room
- Room service (made by Dining Room)
- Fitness center
- Room and suites
- Cable TV
- Broadband internet and wifi (wifi was very slow on some occasions)

What is currently unavailable?
- Seafood House
- Tea House
- Yue Hu Spa
- Indoor pool
- Outdoor infinity pool
- Bike rental
- Hotel limousine

Last edited by kuponuts; Nov 6, 11 at 5:54 am
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Old Nov 6, 11, 5:17 am
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Here are some photos I took at PH Ningbo.

Before my arrival
I took bus from Shanghai South Railway Station to Ningbo South Bus Station, and then taxi from Ningbo South Bus Station to PH Ningbo. I did this because I wanted to see the 35 km-long Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which the bus drives through. Unfortunately, it was raining the day I went to Ningbo, so I did not get to see much.

The taxi driver had no problem reaching Dong Qian Lake, but had great difficulty finding Dayan Road where PH Ningbo is located. Luckily I had my iPhone/Google Map with me so I was able to point him to the right direction. For newcomers, however, I strongly recommend you bring the Chinese address and a map of the hotel with youu. This will save a lot of hassle.

My check-in experience

The taxi driver and I had problem finding the hotel lobby. There were plenty of road signs in the hotel area, but the words were really small. We could not read the words as the rain was really heavy.

At the end, the driver dropped me in front of a building that looked like the hotel lobby. It turned out the lobby was somewhere else, so I had to walk with my luggage in the rain for 100 meters before actually arriving at the 'real lobby'.

A staff was stationed outside and he helped me carry my luggage into the hotel. There were three desks at the reception. Four handsome staff were standing behind two of the reception desks. Their eyes were gleaming with excitement when I walked into the hotel. It was as if they had been longing for a guest to do check-in (this is soft opening afterall and there are few guests staying at this hotel).

The staff realised that I was a Diamond. She apologised for the fact that I would not be able to get points or stay credits during the hotel's soft opening. She said that however, she could comp breakfast and upgrade my standard room to a suite. I told her that this was more than okay.

The General Manager, the Executive Assistant Manager of Rooms, and the Front Office Manager then came out to greet me. They told me that they had been longing for my arrival and once again apologized for the many inconvenience at the hotel due to soft opening. They kindly walked me to me room, which made me feel like I was a VIP.

Room

I was given suite 213. Apparently, it was the largest suite with the best view in the hotel right at this moment.

When I opened the door, I realised the suite was HUGE!! I don't know the exact dimension, but I think the area was at least 100 sqm (120 sqm including the balcony). Unfortunately I could not verify the information as the room dimension information is still not yet available on the PH Ningbo website.

On the right of the entrance, there was a guest toilet with a TOTO Neorest 600 and a washing basin.

As I walked into the suite, I could see a huge sitting room with two long sofas, a coffee table, a 40-inch Philips flatscreen TV and a Bose DVD player; a drinking bar with a wooden bar table, four bar chairs, a normal-household-size fridge, Nespresso coffee machine, tea-making facilities and a washing basin; and a balcony with a wooden rocking chair, a wall mirror, a ceiling fan, a balcony table and two balcony chairs.

Diamond amenities were a bottle of wine, six red apples, a jar of chocolate cookies placed on top of cinnamon sticks, six Pocari Sweat and six madeleine cakes.

When I walked into the bedroom, I found a king-size bed with Simmons (I checked) mattress with white textured cotton bed sheets and four pillows, another 40-inch Philips flatscreen TV, a Bose iPod docking station, two phones, a clock, and a dressing area behind the bed.

Next to the bedroom is an open bathroom with a large bathing tub, two washing basins, another toilet with TOTO Neorest 600, and a shower/steam room area. The bath amenities were Le Labo Bergamote 22.

Curtains and window screens were automatic. Power sockets were plentiful and multi adaptable (i.e. you don't need to bring your own power adaptor). Hair dryer was a weak 1200-watt hotel hair dryer.

Guest services
PH Ningbo has the best guest services I have ever experienced in China. People who are used to travelling in China would know that services is usually a weakness in Chinese hotels. However, I felt that I was in the hands of professionals and that they would take care of everything for me whilst staying at this property. This was the same feeling I got when I was staying at PH's such as PH Seoul and PH Saigon -- not PH Shanghai unfortunately.

Getting a taxi was easy. I would ring the conceirge 30 minutes in advance and they would take care of everything for me.

I also asked the staff about bike rental as I wanted to do cycling around Dong Qian Lake. The staff kindly arranged the bikes for me on two occasions. They provided me with a local map and advised me on the best route to take.

On one day, the chain on my bike came off and I was stuck in front of Fuquan Shan area, 14.5 km away from the hotel. It was raining and I had no choice but to ring the hotel for help. The concierge immediately notified the Assistant Front Office Manager, and he came to pick me up in a Mercedes Benz van. He kept on apologizing for what happened to the bike, despite the fact that I broke the bike.

When I got into the car, the AFOM offered me water and tissue papers. When I arrived at the hotel entrance, I found two staff already waiting outside the hotel entrance with a tray of cold towels in their hands. Again they apologized for what happened to the bike. I felt so embarassed because I was the one who broke the bike and caused all the hassle. At the same time, I was so grateful for the care and kindness of the staff at PH Ningbo.

Dining
Food at PH Ningbo was phenomenal! I have dined at other PH's before; the food was good, but the price was really expensive and the taste rarely wowed me. I came to PH Ningbo with no expectation and I was completely overwhelmed.

I have dined six times at the Dining Room. My personal favourites at dinner include: french fries, pork wonton in chicken soup, pan fried dumplings, xiao long bao, Ningbo roasted vegetables, seafood steamed egg, Caesar salad and mushroom soup. My favourites at breakfast include chicken congee, danish, xiao long bao and fresh fruits.

The price and serving size were extremely reasonable tpp. For example, the pork wonton in chicken soup I ordered one night was HUGE -- and costs only 55 RMB! The waitress split the wontons in two bowls, and each bowl still had like eight wontons in a big bowl of chicken soup. Mushroom risotto and mash potato as side dish were 35 RMB each. Caesar salad was around 90 RMB.

The food was so good I had no problem dining at the hotel every meal everyday. Water was a bit expensive though -- 80 RMB for a 875mL bottle of Saratoga!

Last edited by kuponuts; Nov 6, 11 at 12:48 pm
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Old Nov 6, 11, 5:18 am
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Conclusion

PH Ningbo is now one of my favourites, if not my top favourite PH. I think it is a great place for couples and families to spend 2-3 day together relaxing and venturing. The hotel's facilities, services, food and environment are all top of the line. Despite the fact that it was raining throughout my stay, I still had plenty to do and see. I don't do sports normally, but I still had great fun cycling around Dong Qian Lake. There were temples, historical buildings, art musems, sculpture parks, tea farms, honey farms, lotus ponds, water parks, organic vegetable farms, hills and valleys scattered around the area.

And the fact that PH Ningbo is a category 3 hotel in the Goldpassport system makes this a great property to use points on, whether rooms or suites. For the time being, I recommend people paying the soft opening price as the room rate is almost guaranteed to double when it officially opens.

Last edited by kuponuts; Nov 6, 11 at 1:18 pm
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Old Nov 6, 11, 7:42 am
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ever so glad to hear that you loved ningbo.... sounds like i shall have to pay them a visit, come next april.... v. much looking forward to reading more about your time there. thanks truly for writing.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 8:19 am
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Great to know - thanks! From Shanghai, what's the best way to get out to Ningbo to check it out? The website says 2.5 hours drive. Is there a train?
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Old Nov 6, 11, 1:21 pm
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Originally Posted by thesilb View Post
Great to know - thanks! From Shanghai, what's the best way to get out to Ningbo to check it out? The website says 2.5 hours drive. Is there a train?
I actually wrote about this:

"Travellers coming from Shanghai may consider taking either the high-speed train (from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, ~3 hours, 96/120RMB) or bus (from Shanghai South Railway Station, ~3 hours, 99 RMB) to Ningbo, and then taxi to the hotel. Most taxi wouldn't know where the hotel is, so please bring a map of the hotel and the Chinese address with you."
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Old Nov 6, 11, 5:21 pm
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You said that "...please note that PH Ningbo has not yet sorted out its Goldpassport system, so no points or stays will be credited during its soft opening mode."

If it is only a (computer?) system issue, why couldn't you just send your folio to Gold Passport for post-stay points and stay credit? Or, is it that the PH Ningbo's rate was ineligible for Gold Passport points and stay credit?
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Old Nov 6, 11, 5:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Fly Me To The Moon View Post
You said that "...please note that PH Ningbo has not yet sorted out its Goldpassport system, so no points or stays will be credited during its soft opening mode."

If it is only a (computer?) system issue, why couldn't you just send your folio to Gold Passport for post-stay points and stay credit? Or, is it that the PH Ningbo's rate was ineligible for Gold Passport points and stay credit?
Hi FMTTM,

I don't know if it was a computer issue, but PH Ningbo told me that I wont be able to get points or stay credits during their soft opening mode on many occasions. They said this when I booked the hotel, when they reminded me about the booking three days before my arrival, when I checked in and when I checked out. Since they have said this so many times, I will just have to accept the terms and conditions when I buy into the rate.

I also asked Goldpassport in China about this. They also thought it sounded strange, but few days later they told me the exact same answer as PH Ningbo.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 9:30 pm
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In my opinion, you can just request the Folio (physically and online by e-mail), and submit the Folio to Hyatt Gold Passport in USA. IMHO, they will adjust your account accordingly
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Old Jan 8, 12, 9:37 pm
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Thanks for the great, detailed review.

I just booked a 3 night stay for the beginning of April. I managed to BRG it down to 1100CNY/night and also used a suite upgrade... Incredible value for a PH. Going from your pictures it looks like a luxurious and relaxing hotel.. Can't wait

Can't get over how cheap it is to dine here either

Any ideas on the cost of spa treatments?

Last edited by pogonation; Jan 8, 12 at 9:48 pm
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Old Jan 9, 12, 8:38 am
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Thanks for the great review kuponuts. How would you compare it to the Shangri-La (which is actually in the centre of Ningbo)? The PH looks very nice, however as I have an office in the centre I cannot imagine staying so far away (typically right now I stay at the Sheraton which is pretty good overall).
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Old Jan 9, 12, 2:09 pm
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Originally Posted by pogonation View Post
Any ideas on the cost of spa treatments?
I am not 100% sure but I think the spa is not ready yet. You can contact the hotel to check.
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Old Jan 9, 12, 2:16 pm
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Originally Posted by TRAVELSIG View Post
Thanks for the great review kuponuts. How would you compare it to the Shangri-La (which is actually in the centre of Ningbo)? The PH looks very nice, however as I have an office in the centre I cannot imagine staying so far away (typically right now I stay at the Sheraton which is pretty good overall).
I think they are on totally different levels. Shangri-la Ningbo is nice, but PH Ningbo is beyond nice.

Having said that, if you are in Ningbo for business, I think it is better to stay at Shangri-la than PH. You need to have the mind and time to relax in order to fully appreciate the luxury and tranquility that PH Ningbo offers.
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Old Jan 9, 12, 8:30 pm
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Originally Posted by pogonation View Post
Thanks for the great, detailed review.

I just booked a 3 night stay for the beginning of April. I managed to BRG it down to 1100CNY/night and also used a suite upgrade... Incredible value for a PH. Going from your pictures it looks like a luxurious and relaxing hotel.. Can't wait

Can't get over how cheap it is to dine here either

Any ideas on the cost of spa treatments?
Hi Pogonation, i also tried to do a booking for around the same time but the system is quoting me CNY1500 per night. Can i ask you if there is a special code for the CNY1100 rate? Thx.

BTW, thanks Kuponuts for your great review.
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Old Jan 10, 12, 1:49 am
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Originally Posted by kuponuts View Post
I think they are on totally different levels. Shangri-la Ningbo is nice, but PH Ningbo is beyond nice.

Having said that, if you are in Ningbo for business, I think it is better to stay at Shangri-la than PH. You need to have the mind and time to relax in order to fully appreciate the luxury and tranquility that PH Ningbo offers.
Makes sense kuponuts. Thanks for the review. Having travelled regularly to Ningbo for >15 years- and recalling how great it was when the Nanyuan hotel built the "new" tower- I have never had so many great choices in Ningbo- combined with the bridge to Shanghai vs. the old way (6 hour drive if lucky or transfer to SHA for the 15 minute flight to NGB which was often delayed for 3 or 4 hours)- as for luxury and tranquility? Wow- never thought about Ningbo in that way- a completely new perspective. I'll see if I can find any takers for a day of R&R together with Ms. Travelsig and I near Ningbo- quite a different take on what is usually a 20 hour working day
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