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30 September 2015

ANCIENT TRADITIONS AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT SHERATON SHANGHAI HONGKOU

by Francesca Lesca (Italy), Les Roches Jin Jiang student, F&B Management Trainee at the Sheraton Hongkou Hotel, Shanghai

One of my favorite aspects of working in China is getting in contact with its culture and traditions.

After my discovery of Qixi Festival on August 20th, the so-called Chinese Valentine’s day in which couples came to the hotel to experience romantic packages, it was a time to celebrate Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival. This ancient festival is an occasion for families to gather and give thanks for the harvest, as well as pray for luck, health and a bright future (which traditionally is intended as money, a good marriage and children).

I’ve been to China long enough to know by now that every important occasion involving family revolves around food. In the case of Mid-Autumn Festival, it’s all about Moon Cakes - round delicacies, with savory or sweet thick filling - are usually cut in small wedges and then eaten by family members together, to symbolize the reunification of the family.

As a common gift among families, friends and business partners, most 5-stars hotels in China create their own signature Moon Cakes. Shanghai Sheraton Hotel Hongkou prepared a combination of traditional and innovative Moon Cakes: all linked by the attractive and colorful design of the package, based on local artist Lu Xinjian’s Shanghai No.3.

Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou Hotel's signature mooncakes and, on the right, Shanghai No.3 by Lu Xinjiang

This vibrant, energetic, google-maps inspired painting is on exhibition in the lobby and it’s one of over 30 art pieces that are not only essential to the décor of the hotel, but to its atmosphere as well. My first impression of the hotel came from the Cross 2015-9, the massive 220x818 painting by Ding Yi covering entirely the wall behind the reception in warm, red tones and suggesting a feeling of “home”. Since I started my internship this art piece has been temporarily replaced by Shanghai No.16 and other pieces from some of China’s leading contemporary artists have been added to the collection.

Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou Hotel's Lobby with Shanghai No.16 and Ekaterina, Guest Service Manager

 

Guests have been showing their appreciation and curiosity about these new art works and I’ve often been engaged in interesting conversations about the materials used, the artists and the idea behind them. QR codes are strategically positioned next to these works and enable the guests to get access to more information.

 

Despite the fact that the hotel was not built on Feng Shui principles, it nevertheless incorporates traditional Chinese elements in a contemporary key. In YUE, the Chinese Restaurant, private dining rooms are named after a bird of classical Chinese poetry, reflected in paintings by artist and poet Sun Lei at the center of each room.

Following a tradition started in the 1950s, when hotels stopped being mere revenue centers and slowly became important contributors to the development of art and culture, Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou Hotel is a great example of how a 5 star hotel nowadays is so much more than just a place for guests to stay and have a rest. It is also a space designed to experience art, a universal language.

 

Since my previous post I realized an internship in hospitality it’s not only about technical skills gained on the job, or management techniques developed, but also a much wider knowledge acquired through the contact with guests and colleagues, the culture I live in, and unexpected stimuli – all this gives me new insight into the career I chose to pursue.