Bayhood no.9 Golf in Beijing, rolling hills, prime forests and lakes.

Located a short 30 minutes’ drive from central Beijing, Bayhood No9 is an exclusive premier golf club and resort which covers 133 hectares (329 acres) of rolling hills, pine forests and lakes. Beihu, which is the area surrounding the club, has a rich history dating back more than 600 years.

During the Ming Dynasty, it was used as the imperial hunting grounds and was also the site of one of the four imperial gardens situated outside the capital.

Designed by award-winning Canadian firm Nelson and Haworth Golf Course Architects, Bayhood No.9 offers a beautiful 18-hole course covering 80 hectares (198 acres), two practice greens, a 9-hole night-time course, a driving range and a state-of-the-art Clubhouse.

Not for the faint-hearted, Bayhood No.9’s signature hole comes after 17 challenging holes in a tranquil setting. The 18th hole is set in an amphitheatre of mounds and trees as well as a lake which is strategically guarded by a bunker. The water lies at the edge of the small undulating green of the finishing hole, near the world-class Clubhouse and spa. Bent grass which is known for its lush green colour, is used for putting the greens while Kentucky grass is used for the fairways.

The driving range which covers 10 hectares (25 acres) has fully equipped short game facilities which adhere to United States Golf Association (USGA) standards. The 40 driving stations and 22 private rooms with double-bay driving are also available for rental. Travellers can also enjoy amenities such as high-definition television screens, high-speed internet connection, shower rooms and dining areas.

In March 2007, Bayhood No9. opened the first and only British Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA)-branded golf academy in Asia. which offers the latest technology in golf analysis covering all major aspects of the golf swing and game. This means a team of certified golf instructors from the PGA-managed St Andrews Links Golf Academy is at hand to provide coaching programmes customised according to the members’ skills.

The Clubhouse at Bayhood No.9 offers a beautiful setting to enjoy a deserved drink at the 18th hole. At the Dining Room, some 18 private dining rooms serve delicious traditional Cantonese cuisine to members and non-members alike, Plans are also underway to open a boutique hotel with private villas, conference facilities, a luxurious spa and fitness centre.

Grand Hyatt Beijing – Unique Ambience which is ideal for relaxation.

Atop China’s largest shopping complex, Oriental Plaza, and only a short walk from Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Grand Hyatt Lays claim to the ultimate location in town. Set in the centre of Beijing’s business and commercial district, it has become an ideal base for business and leisure travellers alike. Within the prestigious Oriental Plaza, some 120,000 sqm (1.3 million sq ft) are dedicated to boutiques, cafes and restaurants in one of the most popular shopping destinations in the capital.

A short walk through the picturesque Changpu River Park leads to the city’s major attractions which include Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven and Wangfujing shopping street.

The spacious interior is flooded with light, and full-length windows throughout the hotel offer impressive views of the city. Blending Western and Asian influences, guest rooms are stylishly simple with rich woods, crisp white linens, suede sofas and artwork from local and Asian artists. Deluxe rooms offer separate dining and living area with a kitchenette and private bar. For added decadence, the Grand Hyatt’s Diplomatic Suites are fully equipped apartments with a spacious living area and even include a 107-cm (42-inch) flatscreen television, DVD, CD and MP3 players, and an in-room fax.

A suite butler is on hand to unpack luggage and order drinks while one can enjoy unparalleled views from the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Forbidden City.

The star attraction of the fully equipped fitness centre is a stunning resort-style indoor pool which stretches between Roman pillars and palm trees. Replete with multiple jacuzzis, underwater music and a virtual sky featuring different weather patterns, the pool has a unique ambience which is ideal for relaxation. Surrounding the pool area, a lush tropical landscape conceals a gym and spa. To meet the needs of its business travellers, the hotel has dedicated nearly 3,000 sqm (32292 sqft) to meeting rooms, conference facilities and majestic ballroom offering the latest technology.

With plenty of restaurants and bars around the Grand Hyatt, there is no shortage of options for evening entertainment. Within the hotel itself, visitors can also find delectable cuisine and a lively atmosphere. Redmoon popular for its sushi-style lunches and evening cocktails, creates a sexy underground retreat with its blazing fire, red sofas and wine cellar.

Made in China’s contemporary decor, which features full-length windows, brick walls and an open kitchen, reflects the modern slant on Chinese specialities such as Peking Duck and Beggars Chicken.

At Noble Court, diners can enjoy a more traditional fare of classic Cantonese cuisine alongside signature dishes such as Succulent Pork Ribs Flavoured with Coffee, The Grand Cafe combines a variety of Western and Asian flavours in its show kitchen, and for traditional Italian fare, Da Giorgio has created an intimate bistro atmosphere with lovely views across the green-tiled roofs of a traditional courtyard house.

Ascott Beijing Serviced Apartments, Luxurious Living in China’s vast capital.

Combining personalized service with the facilities and space that define luxurious living in China’s vast capital, Ascott Beijing Serviced Apartments offer a welcome alternative to the numerous five-star hotels available in the city. Rated first in the Top 100 Serviced Residences rankings for four consecutive years, the deluxe apartments offer much more than a place to stay.

Designer furniture, state-of-the-art technology and excellent amenities ensure all of the comforts of the finest luxury hotels with the self-containment and proprietary sense of one’s own space.

Ascot Beijing is within walking distance of a host of offices, shops, restaurants and sightseeing attractions. Nearby, Oriental Plaza is home to Beijing’s largest shopping mall and some of the city’s most prestigious office space. Worker’s Stadium, which has long been a magnet for the city’s hottest restaurants, is a gentle evening stroll away, mere minutes by taxi.

Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Chaoyang Park and Beijing Railway Station are all also within a convenient distance. For anything further afield, Ascott Beijing thoughtfully provides a limousine service facilitating access to any part of town.

The spacious apartments cater to business travellers and long-term residents. With options that range from one to four-bedrooms, both single businessmen and large families can enjoy the luxury accommodation, Interiors are simple and elegant, using predominantly light colours to convey brightness and freshness.

Asian artwork and Chinese screens add bold Oriental touch to neutral backgrounds, Pale fabrics, wood furniture and state-of-the-art technologies set a modern and sophisticated tone. A kitchen with fully fitted stainless steel accessories includes a six gas-ring oven, a washing machine, dryer and microwave.

A hatch through to the living room and dining area allows light to flood across the work surfaces and is an indication of the strong sense of fun and inventiveness that permeates the design.

The ensuite marble bathrooms, equipped with a deep-soaking tub and separate rain-shower, are separated from the bedrooms by a glass panel, Satellite television and DVD players from an impressive home entertainment unit that can be enjoyed from the living area and the bedroom.

With such creative comforts on hand, a night in at Ascott Beijing can be considered to be on par with a night out in China’s dazzling capital. A daily-maid service, laundry and dry-cleaning services, and home delivery from the on-site mini-mart allow guests to avoid the hassle of domestic chores. Further relaxation can be found within the abundant facilities. Flooded with light from a glass roof and surrounded by palm trees, the indoor pool emits a warm and inviting glow.

A jacuzzi, steam room and sauna with a relaxation area ensure the perfect wind down after a day of meetings or sightseeing. The Health Club also features a fully equipped gym with personal television screens and an aerobics studio. Families residing at Ascott Beijing can make use of the separate children’s pool and the 24-hour baby-sitting service.

Businessmen have access to high-speed internet connection throughout the building and a business centre with secretarial support. Three restaurants serving Asian and Western cuisine, are located within the building for those who fancy a quiet meal in its luxurious confines.

Ascott International also runs Somerset Grand Fortune Garden, Beijing and Somerset Zhong GuanCun serviced apartments.

The combined 375 luxury residences feature similar facilities found at Ascott Beijing, with fully equipped kitchens, home entertainment systems and contemporary settings. At each, an indoor pool, sauna and health centre offer a calming respite from the city outside. A breakfast lounge and meal delivery service provide for the occasional night off, while a wireless Internet connection within the apartments and a fully serviced business centre keeps guests connected.

Close to the numerous restaurants and bars around Sanlitun, Somerset Grand Fortune Garden is located in the 3rd Embassy District, within walking distance to the Lufthansa Centre and its surrounding offices. Somerset ZhongGuanCun can be found in the heart of Beijing’s high technology zone in Haidian District, 15 minutes’ walk to the new Beijing Olympic Village.

Anantara Spa offers visitors peace and tranquility in Beijing

Located an hour’s drive from Beijing, Anantara Spa offers visitors peace and tranqullity at Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski. The spa is designed on three levels and covers 1,000 sqm (10,800 sw ft) set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Badaling Mountains and Great Wall. Villas are located on the slopes of the mountain range, and the entire Commune Resort is an architectural and design showpiece created by various renowned architects haying from locations around Asia.

Anantara Spa, which opened in September 2006, is MSPA International’s fourth spa in China. MSPA further operates spas throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa and has put its vast experience in the wellness industry to full use in Anantara Spa by the Great Wall.

Guest of Anantara Spa experience an environment of serene contemplation, combining modern architecture and ancient surroundings. A total of 15 single or couple spa suites, designed to provide privacy and space for all guests, feature steam showers, wooden bath tubs and ample relaxation and changing areas. The spa is completed by a full-service beauty salon and Yoga Deck, where classes are conducted with magnificent views of the Great Wall. Anantara Spa experiences draw on the richness of the surrounding cultures as well as the philosophy of ‘flow of water without borders’. Guest may choose from the spa’s signature journey and rituals or create their own individual experience.

Treatments draw from Ayurveda, Balinese, Thai and Chinese techniques. Fresh indigenous ingredients are used throughout, such as ylang ylang, lemongrass, ginger, local fruits, natural volcanic pumice, powdered spices, organic honey, yoghurt and cucumber.

In the signature treatment, ‘Culture of Anantara,’ a floral foot bath leads into a Sandalwood and Ginger Oriental Massage, followed by nourishing Walnut, Green Tea and Honey Body Polish, and the journey into wellness is completed by and Aromatic Flower Bath for those who wish to indulge in a full-day Anantara Spa journey, the ‘Anantara Rejuvenation’ includes Ayurvedic Steam, Rose Body Polish, honey and Milk Bath, Aromatherapy Massage, Rejuvenating Facial and choice of Manicure or Pedicure. Spa cuisine and refreshments are served during this total treatment immersion.

Men are invited to enjoy spa treatments such as the ‘Gentleman’s Own Facial’ or the ‘Mountain Retreat.’

Shrouded in legacies and folktales and times of past, each Anantara Spa can be found nestled in settings that interweave nature with tradition, and is designed to stir the movements of human emotion. If balance, energy and a sense of peace and tranquility are qualities that one seeks, Anantara Spa is surely the ideal journey’s end.

Beijing the cultural capital of China

Beijing is the cultural capital of China, with every type of artist drawn to the city, a trend that can be traced back to dynasty days, But for decades, few were able to get ahead in a country emphasising Chinese Social Realism. Art took a backseat to politics in 1942, when Mao Zedong proclaimed that ‘art must serve politics’. From that time on, art was not something reserved for the upper classes, but a tool of and for the masses.

For the next three decades, art was put on hold. And, while art returned with a vengeance after China kicked off its reforms and opening period in 1979, it’s still by no means free. Politics no longer rules art, but it still manages to interfere, with artists often forced to deal with censors. However, as international consumer tastes – and not Maoist dogma – increasingly dictate artistic trends, Chinese artists have to a certain extent been freed to make a great artistic leap forward that has resulted in unprecedented new art forms.

The Shangri-La Hotel in Beijing’s bustling business district.

With a prime location near Beijing’s bustling business district, Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing is immensely popular with vacationers and business travellers alike. Listed on Conde Nast Travellers 2003 Gold List, it was also voted the ‘Best Hotel in Beijing’ by Global Finance in 2004 and one of the ‘Top 3 Business Hotels in Beijing’ by AsiaMoney in 2006.

In March 2007, Shangri-La hotel, Beijing completed its US$50 million expansion project, bringing its number of guest rooms to 670 with the unveiling of the new sophisticated Valley Wing Located in a 17-storey modern glass tower. With a walk-in wardrobe and a spacious lounge area, each premier room in the Valley Wing measures at least 50 sqm (538 sq ft) and features high-speed and wireless Internet access.

Complimentary breakfast and beverages, including champagne, wines and canapes, are available all day in the grand Valley Wing Lounge, the largest executive lounge among Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts worldwide.

CHI, The Spa, is also a brand-new facility at the hotel covering 1,000 sqm (10,764 sq ft) and is equipped with 11 luxurious private suites. The exclusive treatment rooms are modern interpretations of Tibetan temple with Himalayan art decorations.

The combination of scented incense, music from Tibetan singing bowls, and shimmering light contributes to a serene atmosphere. At the health club, one is spoilt for choice with the wide variety of fitness facilities such as the 25-m (82-ft) heated indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, steam room and an outdoor jogging track on the rooftop garden.

Visitors can also take an hour-long cruise on the River Dragon, on 11-m (36ft) long vessel commissioned exclusively by Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing. The 38-seat traditionally designed barge heads towards the Summer Palace along the Chang River and recreates the imperial route that only members of the Chinese royalty enjoyed in the past.

The ride offers views of ancient bridges, temples and courtyard houses on the riverbanks and ends with a fully guided tour at the historical Summer Palace.

The addition of Blu Lobster, a contemporary restaurant and cocktail lounge, enhances the dining experience with its inventive Western Cuisine and one of the finest selection of Bordeaux wines in Beijing. Other restaurants include Shang Palace which focusses on Cantonese specialities, Cafe Cha with its open kitchens and individual food stations, and Nishimura which has a sushi bar, teppanyaki, rabatayaki, and traditional tatami rooms.

Visitors can also enjoy cocktails at Cloud Nine Bar, voted the ‘Best Hotel Bar in Beijing’ by Forbes.

Beijing’s Imperial Tombs

A valley just 59 km (31 miles) north of Beijing, on the way to Badaling, was chosen in 1409 a the final resting place for the Ming Dynasty emperors. Taking into account traditional percepts of Chinese fengshui, or geomany, the 13 tombs (three other emperors were buried elsewhere) are scattered over a basin approximately 40 sq km (15 sq miles), surrounded by mountains on three sides facing the Beijing Plain in the south. Emperor Chongzhen, who hung himself in April 1644 as rebels crashed the gates of the imperial city, was the last Ming emperor to be buried here.

The Manchu successors to the throne gave him a fitting burial in line with Chinese imperial protocol, albeit on a smaller scale than his predecessors. The Eastern Qing Tombs, 125 km (78 miles) northeast of the capital, and a two-hour or longer drive away, are said to be more extravagant and interesting-and in better condition – than their Ming cousins.

The site holds the remains of five emperors, 15 empresses and 136 royal concubines. It was chosen by Emperor Shunzhi, the first Qing emperor to rule over China, who stumbled upon the site while on a hunting trip.

Of the nine tombs open to visitors, two are particularly noteworthy: that of Emperor Qianlong, who died in 1799, and Empress Dowager Cixi, who died in 1908.

Kuomintang General Sun Dianying and his army carried out a methodical looting of the complex in 1928, stripping it of Cixi’s precious ornaments. The complex was restored by the People’s Republic of China, and it is still today one of the most elaborate of the Eastern Qing Tombs and the most splendid architecturally. A side hall displays some of the personal effects Cixi had amassed over the years. An enormous stone tablet takes up the entire middle section of the steps leading to the main hall of mausoleum. Its high relief is adorned at the top with a phoenix (a symbol of the empress) and at the bottom, a dragon (a symbol of the emperor), suggesting that the Empress Dowager was far greater importance than the emperors – which was indeed the case for music of her life in the imperial court.

Kerry Centre Hotel – In the heart of the business district and nearby embassies.

The hip and contemporary Beijing Kerry Centre Hotel is situated in the heart of the business district and close to embassies, and some of the city’s best sightseeing sports which include the Silk Street Market and Ritan Park.

Within five years of its opening in 1999, the hotel has already received numerous accolades, including the prestigious Five-Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences in 2013 and 2004. It was also voted one of the Top Five Hotels in Beijing by Euromoney in 2001.

Designed and furnished like a swish, modern home, its rooms are equipped with four-pipe temperature control and an ergonomically designed executive desk. Travellers staying in the Horizon Club rooms can enjoy benefits including the 24-hour butler service, suit pressing, an in-room fax machine and scanner, complimentary high-speed Internet access and use of the Club’s plush meeting room. Evening cocktails are available every night at the Horizon Club lounge.

Sprawled across three floors and 6,000 sqm (64,560 sqft), Kerry Sports impresses with state-of-the-art facilities that include a gym with a extensive array of professional exercise equipment. Visitors can also relax in the five-lane 35m (115-ft) indoor pool which comes complete with jacuzzis, a heated indoor pool, and a plunge pool for children. A haven for fitness enthusiasts, Kerry Sports is equipped with squash courts, indoor tennis courts, and a recreation room for billiards, snore and table tennis. A multi-function court which incorporates an NBA-compliant basketball court and also double up as badminton courts, with a spectator seating capacity of 100.

As the hotel’s signature restaurant, The Horizon Chinese Restaurant serves authentic Cantonese, Sichuan and other regional cuisine, ranging from delicate portions of dim sum to magnificent banquets.

Centro Bar and Lounge is open 24 hours a day and offers cocktails, fine wines, live music and is suitable for breakfast meetings, happy hour drinks or late night entertaining.

Beijing Expat Family Interview

Hi Gale, nice to meet you. Could you please first introduce yourself and your family to our readers?

Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Gale and my husband Brian works a multinational company here in Beijing. Were from Yorkville, Illionois, which is a southwest suburb of Chicago. We have 2 daughters living in Beijing with us. Shelly is 11 and Amy is 8, they are both at International school. We have a 21-year-old daughter, Toni who lives in the United States.

Could you tell us why you came to Beijing with your family?

At the time of our move, Brian was working in Aurora, Illinois, and I was working in Joliet, Ilinois, We was offered the opportunity to move to China to help develop our companies China team. That was in October 2010 and by December 2010, we were living in Beijing.

It was a difficult decision to move to Beijing, since we do have our oldest daughter Toni living in the United States, who did not want to relocate to Beijing with us.

Do you enjoy living in Beijing ?

We have a great life in Beijing, we have been given an opportunity to see a part of the world we would likely never have seen otherwise. we get to meet people from all over China, as well as from many other countries and we have made friendships here that will last a lifetime.

There are challenges for us living in Beijing and living away from our families, that cause some days to be harder than others, but in general, we truly enjoy our lives here and would not change the decision we made to come.

We know that you took a spousal leave of absence from your job at the end of 2012, what made you decide to do that?

When we came to China, we thought we would be in Beijing for one year, Soon after, our stays was extended for another year, and then during that second year, it was extended for another 2-3 years. The decision to work for 1 year in Beijing was easy. But the thought of continuing to work in a foreign country and missing the opportunity to experience so much with my daughters was definitely a main factor in the decision. I wanted to enjoy this experience with my kids. Additionally, with having a daughter still living in the US, I wanted to be able to spend the summer’s back there and I couldn’t do that while working. I decided that after two years of working the best option for our family was to have me take a leave of absence, And I would be remiss if I did not mention that the “tai tai” life here is a definite bonus! I love the wonderful friend I have made here and cherish all the time I have with them as well.

So are you like a full-time mom now? What changed most in your life after you took a leave of absence?

Trying to juggle the responsibilities of raising a family in a foreign country with working full time outs the home was a huge challenges. After I took this leave, my life completely changed. I have time to focus on my daughters’ school work and be part of everything with which they are involved. I think it took a lot of pressure off my husband, so he can be more focused on his work. I also have time now to be involved in a lot of volunteer opportunities in the community and I am a runner and no longer have to get up at 4:00 in the morning to squeeze a run in before work!

It seems that you really enjoy the current life. Your oldest daughter Toni lives alone in the United States, so far away, So how often do you get together?

Being so far away from her has been the biggest challenge for us living in Beijing. Toni has been able to come and visit us here, as well as join us on vacation in Europe. We go home for the summer months, as well as at Christmas time or Chinese New Year. I take an additional trip home in the spring and fall to spend time with her as well so there is never more than a couple of months between visits. We also take advantage of Skype, Facetime, and other inexpensive ways of calling to we talk every day.

That sounds a good way to keep a family together. So what do you usually do for fun with your family in your spare time?

We spend a lot of our time with our friends who have become like a family here in Beijing. We also go shopping, go out to eat, and for bike rides. We watch movies, and Sunday nights are our family nights and it usually ends with watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie. We also spend time at our church, and have made friends there and formed a small group that not only meets for Bible studies, but also just to enjoy this China journey together.

Some other things our family enjoys is playing Euchre with several other couples each month and Brian play badminton one night each week, as well as playing poker with the guys every other Friday night. I am an avid runner and was able to run the Great Wall Marathon in 2011. I am also in a book club which meets monthly, as well as being involved with a couple different Bible studies. I lead a Girl Scouts troop for five and six frills. Both our girls are in Girl Scouts, taking piano lessons along with various other instrument lessons at school and are involved in several after school clubs.

What’s the biggest difference between your life in China and in your hometown?

I think one of the biggest differences is not having out extended families close by. all of us expats are in a similar situation so we can all relate to each other. It gives us all a common bond that strengthens our friendships and makes us all like family to each other. We spend Thanksgiving Day enjoying a turkey dinner with friends rather than going to Grandma’s house, like we would in the US.

Another big difference is the travel here. We have had the opportunity to see countries that we have only read about! My children are not only getting the experience living in China, but also getting to travel all over Asia.

It’s an amazing adventure! Another difference is the number of people in China. Our home town in the USA has a population of 17,000, Beijing has well over 10 million people! Its a HUGE city and took some adjusting to when we first arrived.

Considering your work and life environment, I guess you can tell us one or two things about learning Chinese.

We are all learning the language through Chinese lessons at home and our daughters also learn at school. Through the help of taxi cards and English being widely spoken in this area of China, we have not experienced too much difficulty.

Obviously, it would be much easier if we could speak the language, but learning Chinese is more involved with just learning the language. It also means understanding the culture and accepting the differences. This sometimes can present a bigger challenge than not understanding Mandarin. After 2 years living in Beijing, we don’t experience “culture shock” too often anymore, but we do have to work on accepting how things are done here when they are different from how they are done back home.

Is there any advice that you could give to people to plan to relocate to Beijing?

Time goes so fast, Enjoy your days in China. There are always going to be hard days but someday this life here is going to be just a memory so make it count. there are days that we get homesick and it feels sad when we are missing a big event in a nice’s or nephews life back home, but this is where God has placed us right now, so there is a reason we are each icing this life here in China. Embrace that and enjoy the ride!

Thank you so much for sharing with us. All the best to you and your family for your further stay in Beijing!

Foreigners in Beijing – Lured by opportunities and cultural ferment.

Many foreigners tend to think of cosmopolitan Shanghai and its energetic people as the future of China. But anyone who has spent even a little bit of time in the Chinese capital will realise that dustily and at times dowdy Beijing is the place to make it or break it.

People from all over the country flock here, lured by its opportunities, the feel of cultural ferment, and the chance to reinvent themselves. Students, entrepreneurs, artists, chefs, designers and more all move around the city in a constant buzz.

While others may also think that Beijing, as the centre of the government, would be a somewhat suffocating place, Beijing, as the centre of the government, would be a somewhat suffocating place, Beijing’s native sons and daughters have a chutzpah that makes the city famous. There is an unusual freedom here that has made the city the creative centre of China, and which attracts artists from all over. Art galleries have blossomed in hotels, courtyard houses, old factories and an ancient watchtower. This is where the recording industry is located, and where serious musicians eventually end up. There are at least twice as many bands as any other city in China, and a slew of underground clubs and booming nightspots offering live music.

Meanwhile, even entrepreneurs find Beijing a mecca because they say the risks – and rewards – and greater here.

Beijing boats the best-educated citizenry anywhere in China, producing some 80% of the country’s PhDs; in fact, the city’s Haidian district is also known as China’s Silicon Valley. Finally, Beijing is also home to several million migrant workers, who are often referred to disparagingly as waidiren, or outsiders. This hardworking group is sometimes blamed for the problems confronting the city. However, economists say that Beijing would not be what it is today without this army of tireless labourers, construction workers, waiters and maids, who have kept the city buzzing along, taking on the kinds of jobs most others would prefer to avoid.