Howard Johnson puttin on the ritz in Shanghai

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SHANGHAI -- A new hotel infrastructure is, of course, part of Shanghais building boom. 

When the 720-room Hilton Shanghai was built in 1988, it was the only five-star hotel in the city. The deluxe hotel count today is somewhere around 20. A JW Marriott opened in December. A second Marriott is planned for a 2007 opening, as is a Ritz-Carlton.

The newest international property in the city is the 300-room Westin Shanghai, located a few blocks from the Bund.

I stayed there one night in a beautifully furnished room with a river view, a sitting area, a comfy Heavenly Bed and a modern bathroom. 

The hotel has three restaurants, a deli, a pool, a health club and an amazing glass staircase that rises from the lobby in a waterfall of changing colors.

For more information, call (800) WESTIN-1; or visit www.westin.com.

For the next two nights, I couldnt resist moving to the Howard Johnson Plaza, upon the recommendation of Irene Chen, Pacific Delight Tours director of tour development, whom I met earlier aboard Viking River Cruises inaugural Yangtze River sailing.

It was good advice, for I was in time for the hotels Spring Savers, with double-room rates starting at $118 plus 15% tax; doubles normally start at $230.

And who would expect to find a deluxe Howard Johnson property in Shanghai, especially one with a grandly columned lobby and inlaid marble floors?

It is one of six in China, where Howard Johnson International has upscaled its product line. The flagship Shanghai hotel opened a year ago, and the company is in the process of developing nine additional hotels in China to establish a presence in every major business center.

Located a block from the Nanjing Road pedestrian mall and a 10-minute walk from the Bund, the five-star Howard Johnson Shanghai has 360 guest rooms, including executive suites on the 23rd to 27th floors.

My room was spacious and attractively furnished with a TV; high-speed Internet access; a two-line phone and dataport; full amenities in the bathroom; a minibar; and a view of Century Square.

Guest facilities include four restaurants, an indoor pool, an exercise room and a spa. For more information, call (800) I-GO-HOJO or visit www.howardjohnson.com.

To contact reporter Carla Hunt, send e-mail to [email protected].

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