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Mice Net : August 2009
news 768 Art Factory An abandoned factory area designed by East Germans has been converted into the So-Ho district of Beijing. The Ullers Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA) was established by a Belgian art patron. For organisations looking for a different environment, UCCA provides a fascinating look at modern Chinese art at a location which offers unique event and meeting space. Visit www.ucca.or.cn. Aman junkies The usual stroll through the Summer Palace had an impressive finish. A sleekly attired hotel staffer suddenly appeared and led us along a pathway to a surreal Aman property nestled alongside the palace grounds. It appeared to be part of the palace itself with its Chinese compounds and gardens. But a staircase leads you down to a remarkable underground spa and pool, plus a luxury theatre where you could lay back and order your favourite movie on the big screen. “The Last Emperor” topped the request list. It is the ultimate corporate retreat or incentive. Visit www.amanresorts.com. The Regent What on earth? The coach traveled down a dark country road on the outskirts of Beijing, got lost, but ended up at the intended destination - The Green T.House, an exclusive restaurant with private spa well-suited to a small group. Don’t think old Chinese tea house. Think strikingly modern décor, a space of calm beauty, all the concept of a founder and creator Jinr, an enigmatic young Chinese artist/musician with the vision, and obviously the clout, to create what is called the coolest bathhouse in China. There is another one in downtown Beijing. Visit www.green-t-house.com/. Communing by the Wall The Great Wall is a fair slog from Beijing. Badaling is the closest point, almost two hours from the city. But you have the possibility to do this in style. Visit the Wall, then retreat for your meeting to the nearby Commune with its 43 stunning villas designed by 12 leading Asian architects. Visit www.communebythegreatwall.com/en/. The Regent Faultless in service and comfort, don’t overlook the pair of magnificent Sandalwood chests in the regent’s foyer, on loan from the property’s owner who has established a Sandalwood museum near her Beijing mansion. Peel back the layers in this city and you find remarkable people. This powerful property owner is just one of them. Visit www.regenthotels.com. The Westin The Westin outshone itself with a lunch that oozed class and creativity. From the point of arrival to the executive staff farewell at the front door, the Westin site visit was flawless. Outstanding fusion food was delivered in a stylish setting. A master calligrapher was on hand. Lilting Chinese music played by a young female band. Waiters with walkie talkies timing service delivery to the second. And senior Westin staff, including the GM, on hand for the duration. The high degree of professional pride would inspire confidence in any event organiser. Visit www.westin.com. New convention centre Opening late in 2009, Beijing’s newest facility is situated in the Olympic precinct, overlooking the Birds Nest Stadium. A feature in the foyer is the copper wall of the auditorium. you wouldn’t want to be transferring from a downtown hotel each day, but there’s going to be two adjacent hotels offering more than 750 rooms, plus another 30 hotels within a 5km radius. CNCC will host this year’s CIBTM industry trade show, and has snared the 17,000+ pax cardiology congress in 2010. Visit www.cnccchina.com. What’s not to like? Sounding like an ambassador for Beijing, I’m finding it hard to talk of faults. Okay, the heavy traffic is unavoidable. Be careful when planning events involving transfers, especially in peak times. The major ring roads help, but you have to get off them sometime! Some industry colleagues suggest the Chinese are hard to pin down with shifting sands agreements, so working with them can be frustrating. I’m sure it’s an art, and mutual respect is important. When dealing with government officials, the formal bureaucratic approach can be intimidating. But I found Beijing people had a keen sense of humour – ironic and sharp, peppered with amusing references to Chinese proverbs. These are people worth knowing, worth visiting, and worth cultivating. Visit Beijing and you will see the future, and you may wish you could speak Mandarin like Australia’s Prime Minister. Thank goodness so many of them speak English. mice.net 17