Month: April 2015

Review: Executive Lounge – Marriott China Hotel – Guangzhou China

On occasion I see on the Facebook adoption boards questions regarding the Executive Lounge at Marriott’s China Hotel in Guangzhou China; what is it? Is it worth it? and so on. What follows are images and impressions based on our own experience; your mileage may vary.

There are actually two Marriott hotels in Guangzhou: the Marriott China Hotel & Guangzhou Marriott Hotel Tianhe; note that if are or intend to be a client of Madison Adoption Associates they only will let you use the Marriott China Hotel; the other being too far from all the offices and such they need to bring you to when completing the adoption process; it really taxes their resources and time.

From what I gathered from people we spoke to the three primary hotels they were using were the China Hotel, The Garden and the Guangdong Victory. We never stepped foot in the Victory but from what we are told it is a budget friendly hotel which people enjoyed – it also has a great location being on on Shamian Island. The Garden is the most opulent of the three; a really beautiful place with very nice rooms; we made a few trips there; they have a very good western friendly medical facility on location anyone can go to and another family we became friends with was staying there. One thing that I did not care for though was the strong perfume or flower scent when you entered the building; I am not one of these people who cringe at the slightest scent but, man, it was pretty powerful; fortunately it seemed to really be centralized around the lobby and entrance.

We stayed at the Marriott China Hotel; the deciding factor for us, and a number of families, is that you can pay for it with points from the Marriott rewards credit card; which we didn’t have but signed up for when we found that they had a promotion which gave you anywhere from 50,000 – 70,000 points if you spent X amount over a period of time. After the costly debacle with our original adoption home study agency we really had to watch our spending so this was certainly a blessing; it pretty much paid for the room Sue and I had with Lemondrop.

One option Sue went back and forth on was whether or not to get the Executive upgrade; this gives a few extra perks including access to their Executive Lounge. She decided to give it a try & after one visit we went right down and upgraded the boys room as well.

The hotel has a very popular buffet restaurant, Cafe Veranda, Sue and I tried it one day, the boys ate there at least twice that I know of; it is very nice although a bit loud when full of diners – it also can be a bit pricey if it is your primary eating place; we knew with my gluten intolerance that we were not going to be trolling the streets looking to sample the native culinary fare & cost was a issue for us. I think the extra cost for the upgrade, taking into account that there were two people in the room, was roughly around $30 for the two of us and when you consider that we ate there pretty much exclusively as well as had unlimited bottled water and refreshments you can see we saved a lot of money. I have read that it is also cheaper if you do the upgrade prior to traveling; either by calling Marriott or calling the hotel directly than if you wait till you are there.

Below is a sheet that was in our room detailing the operating hours, what the offerings are and such; it is pretty self explanatory.

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A note on the name in the letter above, Yourick ‘t Gilde; a the very nice gentleman who provided me with a note in Chinese for me to present to servers anywhere we went explaining my gluten issues or if I had questions what was safe for me to eat there in the lounge. You can read about that HERE.

As stated in the letter the lounge is on the 17th floor, Sue and I stayed on the 16th, the boys were on the 15th. Your room card controls the elevator; if you don’t swipe it in the elevator but just use the buttons your floor options are limited; after the boys got the upgrade their card allowed them to get to the 17th floor.

There is an attractive staircase going from the 16th to 17th floor as well, and a very friendly host/hostess will most often be standing near the top of it & ask your room number before you can enter the lounge area.

EXEC Lounge

This is the main serving area of the Executive Lounge restaurant here.

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In the morning there was a nice breakfast buffet with eggs sausage, bacon, congee (with and without chicken) & oatmeal, among other things, and in the evening hot snacks; enough to fill us up. Along with the main courses we found, depending on what time of the day it was, areas with fruit, juices, breads, cheeses, desserts, salad, soft drinks, bottled water, cookies, candy, coffee’s, teas and tasty yogurts; most of it was a gluten fest, but I never went hungry.

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In the alcoves off to the side you will find the offerings of breads, cheeses, cold cuts, salads, pastry’s, fruit, etc.

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That above is the salad bar, let me note something here. If you go to China you will undoubtedly be warned about the water and eating things that have been washed in it; this might lead you to want to veer far and clear then of the salad bar. Hotels like the China Marriott though cater to business clientele from all over the world and nothing will shut them down faster to potential customers than a reputation for unsanitary food. My stomach has a hair trigger – I ate salads on a number of occasions during our stay and never had one single issue. I’m pretty certain that the hotel makes extra effort to clean their produce in water that is bacteria free; water that is either treated with a anti-bacterial like bleach (actually a common practice in our western restaurants), previously boiled or perhaps ‘bottled’.

There were three separate stations for coffee, various teas & hot chocolate so if one was out you could still get that important cup of go-go juice for the morning – and there was always someone to make sure they were filled again in good time.

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The main one, which you first come to as you enter the lounge, also has cookies and candy as well as cold drinks, water & yogurts.

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And, for those so inclined, in the evening, adult beverages are available….

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The seating area was spacious enough to accommodate our family of five; on occasion the boys sat away from us but most often were right near by and it was fairly comfortable as well. They did have a high chair for Lemondrop, but it seemed as though they were in limited supply as we had to wait on a couple of occasions for it to be available.

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Some families have stated that they were not able to get the upgrade, I have no clue why, if you are thinking of staying at the Marriott China Hotel and the Executive Lounge is something that interests you I would suggest that you contact them and see what they say; without exception everyone we spoke with was gracious and kind. As a side note, as an additional money saver if you dont have points but have AAA, look into their discount. We didn’t have enough points to pay for the boys room but the AAA discount, albeit not huge, did knock a little off the cost. Remember to bring your AAA card with you so that they can compare the number with the reservation and give you the discount; otherwise you’ll be emailing AAA in the states and trying to get proof that way….just saying  😉

One other side note, regarding our room and maybe the rest of those in the hotel as well: outlets. There are never enough outlets when we travel so I bring a power strip with us; the added issue here of course is the different voltages between China & the US. The rooms have power outlets catering to a multitude of international power plugs & voltages and, our room at least, also had a number of connections to connect our devices to the TV.

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Many of today’s electronics; cellphone chargers, laptops, etc, have the native capability to handle a range of voltages (look on the power brick; if it shows a range of, say, 110 – 240 volts you should be fine with either outlet, you may though have to get a plug converter to allow it to plug into the outlet.  BE VERY CAUTIOUS OF THE $20 ‘POWER CONVERTERS YOU CAN BUY IN STORES. Those are really not intended for sophisticated electronics and can damage them; they’re more for things with a heating element like a hair dryer.

Final thoughts.

Our trip to China was not intended as an exotic far east vacation; we went there with the sole purpose of bringing Lemondrop home. Money was an issue for us as was the limits imposed by my food allergy. For those going for fun and luxury & not overly concerned about cost The Garden may be for you. Honestly the Marriott China Hotel will IMHO be in need of a refurbishment at some point; there were a couple of issue in our room that showed wear and tear. For what we needed though it was ideal; the Executive upgrade worked exceptionally well for us; we never went hungry, the food was pretty good & since you are warned right in the room not to drink the water …

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(we read suggestions to not even open your mouth in the shower) just the fact that we had extra bottled water available to us (they included it daily in our room as well but we still needed more) saved us a good amount of money during our two week stay. All things being equal, if we found ourselves at this hotel again, I would get the upgrade in a heartbeat.

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Have a Magical Day!

One month; seems like she’s always been part of our family….

I can not fathom how different a life Lemondrop lived only a month ago; except that the constant hugs & attention, the long luxurious baths and frequent daily outings that she experiences now are far from it; she has settled in so well and is so happy, it feels like she has always been a part of our lives.

This week did indeed mark one whole month since she was placed in our arms. That was a tough day for her, certainly an emotional one for us, but fortunately, by the time we left the civil affairs office, she had not only calmed down but  had a smile as big as ours and it has only gotten bigger every passing day – as has ours too. What follows are a series of scrap book collages Sue created to commemorate the occasion as well as to give the adoption agency for their first visit status report they need to send to China…..

It is amazing to me what a difference one month can make in all our lives……

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Have a magical Day!

Rockin’ a New Hat

Lemondrop doesn’t really do hats; but she is so darn cute in them.

This one arrived today, just in time for her 2nd birthday tomorrow, hand made with Love by her Tante Sharon.

In order to get her to try it on Sue had to first put it on – with both her and I going Ooooo! & Ahhhhh!

Then I had to put it on, followed by the same Ooooo’ing & Ahhhh’ing (sorry no pics) and then Lemondrop would consent to trying it on.

I had to be quick but we did get the shot. Maybe I am prejudiced, but I think the cuteness factor is pegging the scale here…