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'I love Bali - and I love Shanghai more'

BENOIT Amado is fascinated by traditional Chinese culture and art and is learning Chinese so he can better communicate with locals and his hospitality team.

The 33-year-old Frenchman is General Manager of the Grand Mercure Hongqiao Shanghai, which he has helmed for two years.

He was previously posted in Bali for five years by Accor Hospitality.

"I spend my off hours learning about traditional Chinese painting and although I am just a beginner, I can draw lifelike bamboo," said Amado, who hails from the Basque region.

He said he fell in love with Shanghai at first sight when he was posted.

"Bali is a paradise for all kinds of pleasures. I love Bali - and I love Shanghai more."

After graduation in 1999, Amado left home with his car and a couple of bags. After traveling and doing a lot of jobs, he decided it was time to see the world.

He joined the hotel industry over 10 years ago and has acquired a wealth of experience in England, Ireland, Belgium, Tunisia, Senegal and Bali, Indonesia.

In April 2009 he was named General Manager of the Grand Mercure Hongqiao, previously working as Executive Assistant Manager since 2008.

"Running a hotel is one of my favorite things. I like meeting and helping people," said Amado.

Location and service are keys to success, he said, noting that the hotel is conveniently located in the business and exhibition district of Hongqiao, close to downtown Shanghai and Hongqiao Airport.

It welcomes visitors for both long-term and short-term stays, families as well as business people.

Amado noted that Shanghai is a combination and juxtaposition of East and West, creating many awesome and beautiful effects.

Chinese learning

When he arrived two years ago, Amado began learning Chinese and soaking up culture. The city not only has a modern and fun face, but also an old and very traditional culture, he said.

"Everything is different but different is good. I like exploring," he said.

This year Amado has spent more than 60 hours learning Chinese; the Frenchman is also fluent in Spanish, English and Indonesian.

Learning Chinese is necessary to get access to the world of Shanghai locals, he said.

It also will improve efficiency and teamwork of his hotel staff, thus improving customer service.

The spacious, contemporary-design hotel has 484 rooms, including one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites, with full facilities.

"We hope to give the best service for a reasonable price," said Amado, noting that there is broadband Internet access, LCD TV, 24-hour room service and complete business facilities. FedEx Kinko's is in the hotel.

The 1,000-square-meter multifunctional area includes a grand ballroom and 10 multifunctional meeting rooms.

"I am interested in eating and cooking, and our hotel provides really good venues for food and beverages," Amado said.

Grand Mercure Hongqiao Shanghai offers fresh and delicious East and West cuisine.

"I enjoy being in Shanghai," he said.

"And I hope people coming to Grand Mercure Hongqiao Shanghai enjoy our hotel too."

2009-recent: General Manager of Grand Mercure Hongqiao Shanghai

2006-2008: Executive Assistant Manager of the Novotel Nusa Dua Hotel & Residences in Bali/Sofitel Royal Seminyak

2004-2005: Resort Manager of the Elysian Five Star Resort Bali

Before 2004: Extensive hotel industry working experience worldwide including England, Ireland, Belgium, Tunisia, Senegal and Bali Indonesia.

Favorite Dish

Ile flottante: A classic French dessert of sweet meringue mounds floats in cr'me Anglaise custard sauce, topped with drizzles of caramel.

te de boeuf: Juicy rib of beef steak served with rosemary butter.

Best Deals

A Sunday for kids and parents! Savor a delicious BBQ buffet feast in L'Atrium Restaurant. Chef Sacha will recreate this feeling with a unique selection of dishes such as wild turkey and grapes, boned rib of beef, vegetables and homemade gravy.

Date: Sunday, 11:30am-3pm

Venue: 2F, L'Atrium Restaurant

Price: 188 yuan per person, including free flow of wine, beer and soft drinks. Service charge 15 percent. Underlooked Perks

Grand Mercure Hongqiao Shanghai teams up with FedEx Kinko's to offer everything you need for your business trip work. Services include: typing, printing, photocopying, telephone/fax, computer use/internet service, equipment rental (LCD projector, DVD player, etc), binding, lamination, translation service, express business card printing and free access to 20MB high speed wireless Internet.


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