Beijing, China

After touching down at Beijing Capital International Airport, we’re greeted by airport VIP staff to assist with our immigration and customs clearance.  This tiny, delicate looking woman keeps us nearly running behind her as she sprints down the hallways.  At luggage claim, she insists on helping us load all three heavy pieces of luggage onto a wheeled cart which she proceeds to push through the customs control point.  After customs, she turns us over to hotel personal for the 45 minute private car service to the Shangri-La Hotel.  Located on the top  16 floors of the (currently) tallest building in Beijing, the Shangri-La provides luxurious 5-star accommodation near the airport and many city attractions.  A not-to-be missed experience is the 80th floor Atmosphere Bar where you’ll rub shoulders with some of Beijing’s party crowd.

After only a single night at this amazing property, we’re moving to the nearby Four Seasons Hotel. This will be our Beijing base as we join the group of other travel advisors and companions for a 12 day tour of China including Beijing, Xi’an, Hangzhou and Shanghai.

Our first day in Beijing begins with a tour of the Temple of Heaven, Panjiayuan Market and the Summer Palace.  The huge park surrounding the Temple of Heaven was as interesting as the temple itself.  On this Sunday morning, thousands of Beijing residents are out exercising – taking advantage of the workout course, dancing, running and playing card games and dominoes.  Panjiayuan Market was a typical central city market, with a leaning toward jewelry, metal artwork  and antiques.

At the Summer Palace we are treated to lunch and a site inspection at the Aman Resort.  Located within the original Summer Palace grounds, the hotel has lovingly restored many of the original buildings into superb guest rooms and suites.  With a moratorium on new construction, the movie theatre, spa, gymnasium and pool is underground in massive rooms that occupy 3 stores below the lobby building.  This not-to-be missed property provides exclusive private gate entrance to the Summer Palace grounds and after-hours access complete with a private cocktail party overlooking the 700 acres of lakes, gardens, palaces and temples.

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