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New plaza jostles area's top centers

A high-end leisure center emerging as a new element in the Lujiazui financial hub in Pudong New Area is heating up the market share battle in catering and accommodation sectors on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River.

Opened last week by Guangdong merchants, Grand Century Plaza, with a business area of more than 23,000 square meters, claims to be the "new noble" in Pudong after the Super Brand Mall, Thumb Plaza and newly opened 96 Plaza.

The recreational and shopping center currently has a hotel, a wine and cigar bar, a spa club, a teahouse and a Cantonese-style seafood restaurant. Projects such as beauty salons, gift shops, fitness gym, Western restaurants and interior design boutiques are planned within two years.

"Pudong has great potential. It is fashionable and international, boasting the best shopping and nightlife," says General Manager Stephen Hu. "We are quite optimistic about this project."

'High-end luxury'

Located in the Lujiazui hub and near the Shanghai World Expo site, the project on Pudong Avenue has its own geographic advantages.

The two-level underground parking lot, covering 5,000 square meters, can park up to 300 cars and is one of the biggest among the area's leisure centers.

Probably because it is run by Cantonese, the plaza spares no effort in promoting its concept of "high-end luxury."

The seafood restaurant uses lobsters flown from Australia and sashimi and shark's fin from Japan.

Its most expensive "presidential room" is even furnished with a giant crystal table that offers 20 seats, a sound-controlled fountain in the center, gold-plated columns and an open kitchen.

"What we want is to create a supremely luxurious environment for our distinguished guests," Hu says.

With a strong Southeast Asian architectural style, the 4,000-square-meter Yayi Spa that occupies two floors is probably the biggest one in Pudong.

After a soft opening period of about three months, Grand Century has attracted an increasing number of customers from nearby office buildings who choose from the restaurants' dim sums for lunch and buy a simple foot massage to relax after work.

Large-scale project

"We've seen this area's great development potential," Hu says.

"That's why we have positioned such a large-scale project here, which is actually our group's first in Shanghai."

Its location on Pudong Avenue, which is now being improved and expanded, is on the main road traversing the most bustling and busy section of Pudong New Area.

By 2010 when the transit project is completed, the road that links to one end of the Yan'an Road Tunnel, will substantially cut travel times between the two banks of the Huangpu River. Metro Line 14 is also planned along the road.

The area's Diequan Hotel recently was appointed by the World Expo organizers to provide accommodation during the six-month event.

"The plaza is just to test the water. If it goes well, we plan to invest more in the city," says Hu.


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