Let me spoil the surprise for you. I love the Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park. I thought it was a fantastic hotel that enhanced my weekend in Shanghai in every way. As the world's tallest Renaissance, it has only furthered my love of Marriott's Renaissnace brand, no matter what the naysayers say.
I took the Maglev train from Shanghai Pudong Airport to the 2 Subway line, and the 2 goes right to Zhongshan Park. As soon as you get out of the subway car, there are signs everywhere to point you to the Renaissance. Eventually you walk through an underground mall before finding the entrance to the hotel.
Checking into the hotel is a bit of an experience in itself. When I walked up to the concierge to check in, he informed me that check-in was actually on the 25th floor. Um. Okay. Neat.
The elevator only has a few stops. The first floor is the concierge and gift shop. The 10th floor is comprised of meeting rooms and the business center. The 12th floor is a full-service gym, which is external to the hotel, but hotel guests can use it for free! More on this later. Arriving on the 25th floor, guests are greeted by a beautiful lobby. It's actually two stories tall, with restaurants on the second floor.
Checking in was a pleasurable experience. The front desk agent was extremely friendly, and he recognized my platinum status, telling me that I had been upgraded to an executive suite on the 51st floor. Score. He told me that the top floors (58-59) were the lounge and that I had access to it for complimentary breakfast, lunch, and heavy appetizers in the evening. Dessert would be served after that and the lounge would stay open until midnight.
I was very pleased with my room. It turned out to be a two bathroom suite with a rain shower, which seem to be in just about every high-end hotel in Asia now. The living room area had a boss speaker system and a large HDTV with a DVD player. There was a nice work area. The next room over was the bedroom, and it also had another 42" TV in there with another bathroom attached to it. The bed was quite comfy, and the view of Shanghai out my windows was outstanding.
I didn't have time enjoy too many hotel amenities on my first night. I had to get ready and go out on the town with my friend who I hadn't seen in years!
The next day, though, I spent more time at the hotel, and I made sure to visit the Weider-Tera Fitness Club. I have one complaint about this place: temperature control. I think this is just Asia, though. Whether in Thailand, China, or India, I have found that the average gym temperature has been about ten degrees warmer than I would have wanted it. Gyms in the U.S. are typically kept quite cool. Moving past that issue, this is a fantastic gym! There were two rows of treadmills, and the treadmills had great views of the city streets. There were actually a few machines that were reserved for hotel guests only. An extensive selection of free weights and machines await you, and if you choose to duke it out, there's a boxing ring as well. A Renaissance Hotel station, with an attendant, is placed right near the elevator, and you can get water bottles and towels here.
Just taking it easy, I had room service on Saturday evening. Having already had my fair share of Chinese food, I was quite content to just have a huge burger and fries. The Renaissance didn't mess it up. It was a great burger. I went up to the lounge afterwards to have some dessert and relax with my computer for a while.
The lounge is fantastic. The only Marriott / Renaissance lounge I've seen that has come close to this one is at the Renaissance in Mumbai. This lounge is two stories tall, with a spiral staircase taking guests up to the top. The top floor has conference room space that businesspeople can rent. Food and drinks are located on both floors, but the bottom floor seems to get the larger spread of food. There are televisions and tables lining the window, and the view was even better than the one in my room, being seven floors higher!
Checking out, I was sad to leave. Perhaps it is just that I realized how much more I like Shanghai than Beijing. Or perhaps I just can't let go of that Marriott loyalty, and I feel dirty leaving them for a Westin 650 miles away :-). In any case, I really enjoyed my stay at the Renaissance Zhongshan Park. I really recommend it if you're in Shanghai. And if you're a Marriott nerd, it's always fun to say that you've stayed at the world's tallest Renaissance property. I'm a bit over halfway done with my trip to China, and I'm going to miss it when I leave!