“WANG Hau!’’ I bark at my cab driver from the backseat. She nods beaming at me and lays rubber on the road outside the nightclub I have just departed, not unfortified by strong drink.
Wang Hau, or “rocket ship’’ in Shanghainese argot (it means nothing in any other language or, indeed in any other Chinese dialect), is the local name for the JW Marriott in People’s Square, it means that building and no other in the conurbation (there being no rocket ships in the vicinity).
It is a relief for a Shanghai cabbie to have an unambiguous command from a Westerner, no preface of “could you please take me to‘’, or “good evening, if it’s not too much trouble could you please …‘’, that is just noise to a Shanghai hack.
Just say where you want to go, make sure they understand and sit back and try to relax, which means not paying too much attention to the traffic. And it’s impossible for them to give you the run around unless you’re way out of town; it’s the biggest building around, towering 60 stories above Tomorrow Square in downtown Puxi.
Riding in a cab in Shanghai is a lot of fun if you don’t care how long you live. With the video screens in the back seat it’s like the JW itself, a microcosm of Shanghai – the starship Enterprise lands in a parking lot (apothecary market) in Elizabethan England.
Turn your back on the JW and look down Jiang Yin Road and you could be back a few hundred years ago, turn around again and you’re looking at a building that would be at home in Star Trek.
Not that there are any apothecaries around. Nanjing Road would stand up against any shopping district on the planet.
And it’s next to a series of business complexes and on the subway, which gives easy transportation access to surrounding districts.
JW Marriott hotels lie at the top end of the Marriott hotel group’s selection of brands. Delivering flawless service in five-star surrounds, Marriott’s Puxi digs stand tall next to the historic Shanghai Art Museum. You just need to cross the street to People’s Park or it’s just a short walk to Xintiandi and Huai Hai Road (I pronounce it “War High” and people seem to get it.
In the heart of People’s Park of course is one of my favorite bars in Shanghai – Barbarossa, but of course that is another review.
I speak to Michael Mali, general manager of JW Marriott Hotel and Marriott Executive Apartments at Tomorrow Square Shanghai, who recently made the trip across the river from a hotel in Pudong and asked him what he liked best about living in Shanghai.
“The best of Shanghai is that it exposes you to both international and local experiences, sometimes it wows you and other times it will frustrate you to crazy,’’ says Malik.
“The restaurant business is more competitive than ever, guests can find a really good variety of fine dining establishments. A good example is along the Bund, which offers upscale dining and clubbing.
“If you want to explore a bit more, new bars are springing up around the French concession area, in particular El Coctail – great to try but make sure you make a reservation before heading there.’’
And what is the best thing about the JW especially for travelers seeking a refuge from the anarchic organisation of the streets, shopping and life in fast forward that is Shanghai below?
“Its convenient location in a landmark building with fantastic 360 degree views of downtown Shanghai. The outdoor swimming pool is a great getaway in the summer and it has the highest library in the world on the 60th floor.
“And to completely wind down, the spa is a glorious sanctuary offering a full range of pampering treatments.”
I must admit to trying the JW’s signature massage – a ‘four hand massage’ with personally blended oils and I can attest it was a Vishnu-like experience. Pure pleasure and importantly, it completely regenerated me for when I stepped out of the JW Starship Enterprise the following morning.
JW Marriott Tomorrow Square
399 Nanjing West Road,
Huangpu District Shanghai 200003 China
Phone: +86 21 53594969