Recap: World Travel Awards Asia & Australasia Gala Ceremony 2017

High speed Shanghai - arguably China’s sexiest city - was selected as the destination for World Travel Awards Asia & Australasia Gala Ceremony 2017.

And for good reason. Few cities exude such a tangible sense of up to the minute cachet and cool, and chances are everyone from your dentist to your best friend and old flame, has a trip booked to the dynamic Chinese metropolis that’s home to the historic Bund - a sweeping neoclassical curve of former trading houses, foreign banks and customs buildings beside the busy Huangpu River.

Factor in the French Concession - one of the city’s most beautiful areas owing to its low-rise, villa-lined leafy backstreets - the ever-taller architecture, fabulous food and a buzzing fashion scene, and you have one of the world's most thrilling international cities.

Of course, Shanghai is also where you’ll find the Grand Kempinski Shanghai, the venue for the prestigious awards ceremony.

Located in the Lujiazui financial and trade section of Shanghai’s prestigious Pudong District, the hotel offers 686 impeccable guest-rooms - including superior, deluxe and executive room types - plus the Diplomatic, Imperial, Studio or Presidential suites.

Beyond the bedrooms, guests can take advantage of the hotel’s four gourmet restaurants, three bars and onsite health club, while the city’s famous landmarks are a short stroll away.

Rudiger Hollweg, General Manager at Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai, said: “We are extremely proud and honoured to have hosted the 24th annual World Travel Awards Asia & Australasia Gala Ceremony at Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai, an iconic luxury hotel in one of the most exciting cities of the world.” 

The show itself took place on the evening of Saturday 4th June 2017 and was compered by the hugely experienced Shanghainese host and presenter, Justin Gu. 

The glittering red carpet ceremony also showcased some of China’s finest traditions including kirin (a celebration, through song, of the mythical animals of Kylin who promote peace and prosperity) and performances such as Su san danced with moonlight. The latter takes inspiration from the Peking Opera, a complicated Chinese stage art that combines performances, acrobatics, gongs, drums, facial paintings, music and more to dazzling effect.

A horse racing ceremony, deriving from the prairies of China and featuring galloping horses, music and drums as well as beautifully dressed performers, completed the mesmerising line up of performances.

Speaking after the ceremony, World Travel Awards Vice President, Chris Frost, said: "What a fantastic evening it’s been here at Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai.

“It has been an honour to recognise some of the leading hospitality providers from Asia and Australasia tonight and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to each and every one of them.

“I look forward to seeing many of tonight’s winners later this year at the Grand Final in Vietnam, where they will compete for the global titles.”

Partners for the Asia & Australasia Gala Ceremony 2017 included TV5 Monde, Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration, SriLankan Airlines, and Vietravel.


PHOTO GALLERY: hyperlink to

ASIA WINNERS: hyperlink to


EVENT HIGHLIGHTS: hyperlink to


Shanghai Nights

In a city that is already home to more hotels than you can shake a stick at, you might question the need for three more.

However a stay at one of the following luxury hotels, all due to open their doors imminently, should put that thought to rest. 

Situated in Shanghai's historic neighbourhood of Dazhongli, The Middle House is a Piero Lissoni-designed temple to cool Italian design. Elsewhere The Bulgari is moving into the former Shanghai Chamber of Commerce Building, while over in the bustling Bund district, Ian Schrager is set to open The Shanghai Edition.

Recently released figures show that Shanghai - which scooped the trophies for ‘Asia`s Leading Festival & Event Destination 2017’ and ‘Asia`s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination 2017’ at the prestigious 2017 World Travel Awards - was visited by 8.54 million tourists in 2016, an all time high.

Hainan Airlines permits pets to fly with their owners

Every year before Chinese New Year - the most important family gathering festival in China - dog owners have to decide whether to leave their poodles with a pet store or face a long drive with their dogs to their hometown provinces.

Fast forward to 2018 and it’s all change. Happily Hainan Airlines - which picked up no fewer than 10 awards at the 2017 World Travel Awards including World's Leading Excellence Inflight Service - has said it will allow some pets to travel with their human companions in the cabin, making it the first domestic commercial airline to do so.

However travellers hoping to take to the skies with their furry friends must meet certain rules and regulations.

The combined weight of the pet and its box - which must fit under an airplane seat - should weight no more than five kilograms. Pets must stay in their boxes during the entire journey, so as not to disturb other passengers, and wear masks so as to prevent noise.

Passengers should make in-cabin pet reservations 24 hours in advance as the airline allows only two pets for each flight, and only pets older than six months are permitted to fly.

Furthermore pet owners need to show certificates of animal vaccinations while applying for the service -  and pay a fee of 800 Yuan (US$165) for each flight.

The new policy is currently in a 12-month ‘pilot stage’ with passengers departing from nine Chinese cities - including Guangzhou, Qingdao, Changsha, Haikou and Xiamen - able to reserve the service.

Passengers who do not want to fly with pets onboard can ask to rearrange their flight free of charge.

"It is still on a trial basis, and all feedback will be collected and considered to help improve our cabin service," a Hainan Airlines employee said.

Beijing on a budget

Looking for a break that blends blockbuster sights, historic hutongs, cutting edge architecture and stellar street grub? You’d better make a beeline for Beijing. Check out TNT’s tips on how to make the most of the Middle Kingdom on a budget…


Seek out street markets
Chances are ‘chi fan’ (lets eat), is the phrase you’ll hear most often. Beijing has a thriving local gastronomic scene but, if money is too tight to mention, avoid high end dining joints like Beijing Da Dong Duck (, even if the restaurant does serve up superior versions of Beijing’s signature dish) and head to a night market like Donghuamen. The latter isn’t for the faint hearted (Beijing is city that adores its meat and subsequently you’ll see vendors peddling silkworms, scorpions, seahorse, snake and starfish and such) but it’s certainly lens friendly! Select your food-stall and then sit and feast with locals eating street nosh like noodles and jiaozi (steamed dumplings) that are guaranteed to have you keeling over in bliss.

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Hold your nerve and haggle hard
Beijing’s trendiest shopping street is without a doubt the pedestrian-only Wangfujing , but it’s also one of the most expensive. The budget conscious would do well to seek out the Silk Market or Yashow where industrious bootleggers will be happy to test your conscience by offering DVDs of Hollywood blockbusters long before they hit screens for a couple of quid. Here - so long as you haggle hard - you can pick up a pair of Louboutin look-alikes for a snip. Lastly if you’re in town on a Saturday or Sunday, head for the colourful Panjiayuan Antique Market – Beijing’s biggest and best-known arts, crafts, and antiques market and a photographer’s dream.

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Park life
Worried about all the calories you have been consuming on your hols? Your worry isn’t misplaced. Beijing adores the body beautiful - and that, my friend, demands a devotion to exercise. Ditch the gym though and tune into the Beijing vibe, by practicing Thai Chi, for free, in Ritan Park – easily one of Beijing’s prettiest parks. China’s capital city is punctuated with parks and, for most Beijingers, they are akin to a second home – a place to socialise, relax and yes stay fit.

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Walk this way
Walking is the best way to see Beijing - everywhere has something of interest - and happily it’s a free form of transport. However if you’re suffering from sore feet, hop on the subway which is cheap, clean, efficient and easy to use. Alternatively take a taxi. Drivers rarely speak English which can prove problematic if your Mandarin is miserable but they are inexpensive and (unless it’s raining) in plentiful supply.

Enjoy time out in Tiananmen Square
Only a philistine would leave Beijing without visiting the free attraction that is Tiananmen Square. Standing at 880 metres long and 500 metres wide, the world’s largest public square has enough space to accommodate up-to one million people. The square was originally designed and built in 1651 but has been enlarged four times since and is considered the symbol of the People’s Republic and the centre of Beijing’s landmarks. The iconic square owes its name to to its location - it’s situated in front of the south gate (Tiananmen) of the Forbidden City.

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Karaoke calling
Sanlitun - a popular nightlife destination - is where Beijing’s elite and expatriate population head when they want to let their hair down in a hip (read eye-waveringly expensive) haunt. However if you want to party for peanuts like a local and not a laowai (foreigner), look to a karaoke (KTV) bar. Karaoke might not top your Saturday night agenda back home in Blighty but trust TNT when we say that once you pick up the mic and play air guitar, you’ll soon discover that it’s actually a whole heap of fun. Prices for room hire vary according to time (as a rule, the earlier you go the cheaper it is) but as rule of thumb, expect to pay around 200RMB per room, per hour.

Body aching following a long flight? Try TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). TCM aims to balance your yin and yang and ward off disease and illness through a combination of nutrition, exercise and treatments such as acupuncture (where fine needles are inserted into the skin), moxibustion (an alternative to acupuncture which involves a therapist moving a heated cup of herbs above your body), mediation and traditional Chinese massage. All of the aforementioned can be tried on the cheap in any street corner parlour.

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Go to the Great Wall
Built between the fifth and 16th centuries, The Great Wall of China - the longest wall in the world - is arguably the symbol of China and no visit to Beijing is complete without making a pilgrimage to this UNESCO World Heritage listed site. Or as Mao Zedong himself once put it: “He who has not climbed the Great Wall, is not a true man.” 
However as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, guided tours to the Great Wall - built to function as an impenetrable line of defence - can be crazy expensive. If you don’t fancy forking out a fair amount of dosh, skip the official excursion and travel to the wall (we recommend the less touristy Mutianyu or Simatai sections) independently by bus. 

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Tea time
China is celebrated for its tea, which first rose to popularity during the Tang Dynasty over 1,000 years ago. As such, lost-in-time tea houses abound. You can while away a whole afternoon in a tea house enjoying an inexpensive cup of scented tea (spring), green tea (summer), Oolong tea (autumn), or black tea (winter) while watching Beijingers eating, drinking, doing business, chatting, playing chess and simply enjoying each other’s company.

Take advantage of the 72-Hour Free Transit Visa
Thanks to blockbuster sights such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City, Beijing is top of the bucket list for a lot of travellers - but obtaining a tourist visa isn’t exactly hassle free. The amount of detail required on the application (expanded from two to four pages back in 2011) plus the steep fee proves a little off putting to say the least. The good news, however, is that passport holders from 45 countries - including the UK, the US and Australia - can make three-day visa-free visits to the Chinese capital provided they have a valid passport as well as a confirmed flight ticket (to a third country or region) that will depart within 72 hours.

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