Historic Chinese garden-style hotel collects top accolade in 'Venice of the East'
Suzhou, China (August 29, 2008) /China Newswire/ — The historic Garden Hotel Suzhou, a former state guest house and private residence of Kuomingtang leader Chiang Kai-shek, has earned 5-star status.
The premier business hotel in China's 'Venice of the East' received the top rating from China's National Tourism Administration (CNTA).
It follows last year's 260 million CNY makeover and re-opening of the former manor which hosted visits by over a hundred Chinese and international political leaders as a state guest house.
CNTA's National Star Rating Committee approved the rating following rigorous, unannounced checks of both service and facilities.
"It was our biggest dream to transform this state guest house with 56 years of history into a 5-star hotel," said General Manager, Catherine Chen Tie Ying.
Since taking over the luxury hotel, her ambition was to "catapult the Garden Hotel Suzhou into the rankings of the most unique and scenic hotels in China".
In pursuit of this vision, Garden Hotel was the first hotel in Suzhou to install 'Opera' hotel management software, while introducing international management standards and hospitality experience.
The luxury property features 238-rooms with 93 Deluxe Rooms, an Executive Floor of 60 Executive Rooms with its own Executive Club Lounge serving coffee, tea and assorted snacks, a Presidential Suite and two Ambassador Suites.
The elegant revamp by Guotai International Group transformed the hotel with a minimalist 'home and garden' theme.
Comprehensive conference facilities, a modern business centre, luxurious spa, gym and a boutique were also incorporated in the renovation.
The most expansive woodland grounds of any hotel in Suzhou are strewn with rock formations, waterways, lily ponds and ancient trees – some up to 500 years old.
Among new signature restaurants, Lotus Pavilion, overlooking landscaped gardens, specializes in authentic Suzhou and Cantonese cuisine, fresh fish and local and seasonal specialties from the Yangtze River.
Breezy, surrounded by a lush garden, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets complemented by an international a la carte menu. Rhythm Lounge is a casually elegant bar showcasing renowned wines and spirits from across the globe with a live band performing nightly.
The hotel's traditional Chinese gardens and historic remnants include Shanqing Buddha Hall, built by Qing Dynasty Emperor Tongzhi in 1869, which was restored during the makeover.
The grandly decorated Palace of Wu District is a former underground command facility which has hosted Chinese leaders including Jiang Zemin, Li Peng and Zhu Rongji.
Also in the grounds is a memorial to the 1971 insurgency and the 'Famous Gardens of Suzhou', a tribute to the 1,000-year-old Wu culture.
The hotel has been voted one of the 100 Best China Hotels by Travel + Leisure and a Top 10 LOHAS Hotel by National Geographic Traveler.
In the heart of Suzhou, famed for its canals, bridges, pagodas and meticulously designed gardens, the hotel is conveniently close to both Suzhou Industrial Park and Suzhou's newest and most hi-tech Industrial Development Zone.
The Garden Hotel Suzhou is just 45 minutes from Hongqiao Airport and a 15-minute drive from the train and bus stations.