I have just returned from a week long preview trip of Beijing for the upcoming Olympic Games. It was truly the best trip of my life - and trust me, I have been on a lot of trips. But Beijing is by far the most interesting place I've seen. I wanted to take a moment to write on our Sports Traveler Blog to let everyone know about some of the great sights that I saw as I previewed our tours for the upcoming Olympics in August.
Our onsite partners for this event are fantastic. Already, they have everything planned and are ready for our Sports Traveler clients to arrive. I previewed our tours to the Great Wall and I took a tour of the Forbidden City. I even took a Hutong Tour and had tea with an older Chinese couple in their home - something that I think everyone should make time to go do.
The scene in Beijing is something special. It's modern and old world. Crowded yet you will find peaceful parks to sit and relax. The food is excellent. I have many restaurant selections that I will list on our site in the coming days. I'm not a fan of 'Scary Chinese Food', like the miscellaneous animal parts in bowl. Beijing has become so Western that I never had to worry about eating something scary. I had Spanish Tapas, Brazilian food, and Asian Fusion to name a few.
That said I have to say my experience in Beijing was so great because I was part of a tour - I was never without access to an English speaking guide. This city is not one that an American can just show up and try to manage by themselves. Coming to Beijing really cemented in my mind the reason we have decided to sell the kind of tour we are offering for this year's Olympics. You cannot fully enjoy this massive city solo. I met many American's on the airplane ride home from Beijing that did not share in the same positive experiences that I had. The reason was because they were not on a tour during their stay in Beijing.Our tours allow our travelers the opportunity to navigate Beijing safely and with ease. English is not widely spoken in Beijing but because I was being guided through the city this was a novelty to me, not a detriment. If you have booked a Deluxe or Elite level tour with us you will find your experience to the be the same as mine. I really feel bad for the tourist's that are attempting to take on this event by themselves and not be on a tour.
I also took a look at all the hotel properties that we have available for travelers to reserve. Many of them are brand new and are just now opening. All were excellent. I really liked the Courtyard by Marriott Beijing and the Novotel Peace Hotel for those looking to find a nice quality hotel at a good price. These hotels are close to Wangfujing Street - by the way, this place is going to be where it is at during the Games. Also nearby are the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The hotel that blew me away was the Marco Polo Parkside. I can't express how fantastic this hotel is. If you are a luxury traveler, this is where you must stay. The spa is the most unbelievable setting I have ever seen. Every detail is taken care of at this hotel. It's also a great place to drop in and catch a nice bite to eat in between events because it's within walking distance to the Olympic Green. You can actually see the National Stadium from most of the rooms.
It's not too late to make reservations. Some newspapers are writing that we are in our last minute stages of booking this trip. It's not so. We have airfare blocks still available for much cheaper than you can buy online plus we have plenty of availability at the best hotels in town - mostly American and western owned, clean and personally inspected by our group.
I am looking forward to returning to Beijing in August and meeting all of our clients that are traveling with us. I have a million stories and memories already from this preview trip. I invite you to join us and make your own memories in August.