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Coming full circle

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-03 09:36
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Coming full circle 

The revolving restaurant on the 45th floor of Radisson Hotel New World offers a bird's-eye view of Shanghai and an extensive menu from a handful of countries. Shi Yingying reports

With what looks like a spaceship perched atop a 208-meter tower, it is hard to miss the Radisson Hotel New World, even on busy Nanjing Road in central Shanghai's People's Square.

The stunning revolving restaurant, Epicure on 45, adds to the city's skyline and marks the hotel's uniqueness.

"It's a source of pride to us that we have a property with a revolving restaurant in a location like this," said the hotel's General Manager Maurice Cook. "If you want to have a bird's-eye view of Shanghai, this is the vantage point you should look from."

The restaurant, which completes each revolution in two hours, offers dishes from a handful of countries.

"One thing about revolving restaurants is that it's usually very difficult to cook there because of the space limitation. Hence, many revolving restaurants choose to settle for buffet," says Cook, who started his career in the field of food and beverage 36 years ago.

However, with 160 choices on the menu, including Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Western cuisine, choosing what to eat in Radisson can be something of an ordeal.

"It's such a big menu that some of our guests tell me, 'It may take me half an hour to get through it', " Cook says. "But that means a great variety for our guests."

Not until you step into the circular restaurant on the 45th floor of the hotel building can you understand what Cook means when he says "one restaurant, four kitchens".

The core of the circle is occupied by four open kitchens visible to dining guests. They've made of glass and steel with all manner of seating arrangements available, including romantic seating for couples and isolated private rooms.

"We came across the idea of running four individual kitchens for one restaurant five years ago when the hotel was opened," Cook says.

"Guests adore the design, and we now have more than 70 people for dinner on an average evening, which is the highest occupancy rate in the area for this kind of restaurant."

On the extensive menu that borrows from all corners of the world, the restaurant is promoting a set of dishes under a different theme every month.

"Epicure on 45 is for people who want a special dining experience," Cook says.

With their stomachs full, guests then need a comfort zone in which to relax. The Radisson New World has 15 non-smoking and 25 smoking floors, as well as four rooms designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities.

"Right from the opening of the hotel, we assigned these non-smoking floors, so you don't have the smell of stale cigarettes," Cook says.

In this regard, the Radisson was ahead of the curve. The local government banned smoking in schools, hospitals and other public places last month, weeks before Expo 2010 kicks off. The hotel pushed the envelope by prohibiting people from lighting up in its lobby lounge.

"One advantage of this law is that I was able to cut smoking from the lobby lounge," Cook says.

"We had complaints from guests time to time about the smell there and, due to its size, which is too small to spilt into two areas, I decided to ban it outright."


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