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Five-star hotel delights in Suzhou

WITH its tree-lined lake, famous tranquil gardens and meandering interconnecting canals, Suzhou makes for a perfect summer escape.

In recent years the neighboring city has seen a sharp increase in the number of five-star hotels and they offer travelers a plethora of dining options.

Two with an extensive array of cuisines are the Pan Pacific Suzhou and the Kempinski Hotel Suzhou.

The Pan Pacific has five outstanding restaurants and bars offering everything from traditional Cantonese delights to favorites of Western fare.

Overlooking beautifully landscaped gardens, the Garden Brasserie is an all-day dining restaurant offering both Western and Asian dishes at its buffet and in its a la carte menu.

The hotel offers a range of dining styles, from Hai Tien Lo, which serves authentic Cantonese-style dishes, to the AVANTI Italian Kitchen, whose chef gives traditional recipes a modern twist.

Hai Tien Lo also serves traditional Suzhou cuisine. The restaurant's signature dishes include the mixed seafood with black truffle and the deep-fried lobster.

The hotel also offers attractive monthly specials, with the diverse culinary delights of India showcased in August at the Garden Brasserie.

An Indian chef prepares a large selection of dishes from across the subcontinent, with the lunch buffet costing 108 yuan (US$16) and the dinner buffet 198 yuan. There is a 50-percent discount for children between 3 and 12 years old and free for kids below 3.

AVANTI is getting into the summer spirit with a langoustine promotion. This slim, orange or pink lobster will be prepared in a number of creative ways - baked with Parmesan and grilled with a hollandaise sauce in an five-course set menu paired with Italian fine wine.

The set will be available throughout August and costs 399 yuan per person, including wines and 268 yuan without wine.

For those looking to quench a summer thirst, the laid-back Garden and Pagoda Lounges offer place to relax, unwind and enjoy an extensive range of wines, imported draft beers and premium teas and coffee. A live band plays nightly.

The Garden Lounge offers healthy fresh juices, including "Easy Awakening" made of carrot, apple, orange, celery and ginger; "Hello," "Better Day," "Fresh Air," "Brain Release" and "Pineapple Mauve." Guests can also make their own concoctions and the juices costing 58 yuan.

The Kempinski hotel offers a perfect escape to nature as it is situated within large parklands that encompass a 27-hole golf course. The hotel's Seasons Cafe on the third floor overlooks Dushu Lake and its surrounding gardens. The cafe is the culinary heart of the hotel, offering a wide selection of Chinese and Western cuisines.

With its large windows, the cafe has a refreshing, light and bright atmosphere and provides panoramic views over the lake.

There are four open food stations that treat guests to freshly prepared dishes, including seafood, Japanese sushi and sashimi, German home-made hams and local Suzhou dishes.

The Western section of the buffet features premium grilled meats, fish, fresh pasta cooked according to guests' taste and German home-made sausages.

The Chinese section emphasizes Suzhou specialties. A bountiful dessert section satisfies even the most demanding sweet tooth.

Its popular Sunday brunch is one of the best deals in the city, with a wide selection on offer form 11am to 2:30pm.

The brunch costs 218 yuan and includes soft drinks, juices and coffee and tea. Guests can pay 358 yuan and enjoy Kempinski Sparkling wine and Grace Vineyard Red and White wines, or pay 458 yuan and enjoy Moet Chandon Champagne.


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