Barbra Austin

Correspondent

  • Hong Kong, China, Asia

Barbra Austin is a Forbes Travel Guide Correspondent who is based in Hong Kong and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. A former pastry chef, she lived in New York City for many years before decamping for Paris, where she began writing about food. Now in Hong Kong, she is filling up on char siu and cheong fun but hasn’t tried snake soup just yet. She has written for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Frommer’s and Zagat, among others.

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  • On January 28, 2014
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What restaurants does The Langham, Shenzhen have?

    The Langham, Shenzhen houses five distinct restaurants offering a range of cuisines.

    T’ang Court serves Cantonese cuisine, but is also known for its Peking duck. The elegant dining room is divided into sections by glass partitions etched with flowers, and colorful glass fixtures hang from the ceiling.

    Silk, The Langham, Shenzhen’s all-day dining venue, offers buffet and à la carte selections, serving both Chinese and western dishes in an airy space in shades of blue.

    Duke’s does triple duty as a wine bar, restaurant, and jazz venue. It’s a clubby space with high ceilings, dark wood walls, and plush seating. The menu features tapas and grilled items.

    Palm Court lounge, which is located on The Langham, Shenzhen’s lobby level, is a place to enjoy afternoon tea or a drink. It’s a grand space, with two story ceilings, wood paneling, plush purple carpeting, and dramatic artwork.

    The Gazebo is the place for a light bite by the outdoor swimming pool, and is subject to the operating hours (6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.) of the pool. But right now, since the outdoor pool is closed due to nearby construction, the Gazebo is not open for refreshments at this time.
  • On January 28, 2014
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What are the rooms like at The Langham, Shenzhen?

    The 352 rooms at The Langham, Shenzhen are luxurious and have an insulated feel. Three room types — Deluxe (430 square feet), Grand (550 square feet) and Grand Langham (600 square feet) — are furnished with the group’s signature “blissful bed” with feather topper and crisp white, 300 thread count cotton sheeting, minibar consoles in deeply varnished wood, French press coffee maker or Nespresso machine, writing desk, and seating. The headboards are tufted leather, the seating upholstered in textured velvets, and the carpeting is densely piled. Ivory walls with crown molding and recessed ceilings frame a regal color scheme of deep greens, blues, golds and burnished browns. Chinese art adorns the walls. Marble bathrooms, with separate bath and shower, are standard in the rooms at The Langham, Shenzhen, as are tech features such as Wi-Fi, bedside panels to control the lighting and drapes, alarm clocks with iPhone/iPad dock, and 46-inch LCD flat-screen televisions. Suites are done in the same style, with loads of additional space, a separate seating area and guest lavatory.
  • On January 28, 2014
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the design style of The Langham, Shenzhen?

    The design style of The Langham, Shenzhen combines a classic European aesthetic with Chinese detailing and a dash of contemporary glamour. The lobby makes a strong first impression: It’s a sea of white marble, illuminated from above through a massive light feature of long crystal pendants that arc around a central column. Nearby, a sweeping staircase climbs to restaurants and ballrooms above, bringing a sense of ceremony and grandeur, even if you’re just headed to the bar. Throughout The Langham, Shenzhen, textured fabrics and tufted upholstery are used to create richness, along with crown molding and many meters of polished wood. Hand-painted Chinese murals grace the walls between rooms, and Chinese decorative objects are placed in rooms, but in keeping with The Langham brand, the overall design is classic European, or at least an evocation of it.
  • On December 18, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    Does Hua Spa offer couples treatments?

    Hua Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou offers the ultimate in pampering à deux. Two packages are geared toward couples: The Four Seasons Luxury includes and aroma bath, body polish, aroma crystal massage and facial, plus a drink and light snack. The shorter De-Stress package includes a scrub, massage and facial, with lunch on the pool terrace. Not what you’re looking for? Custom experiences can also be created with help of the spa staff.

    Of the nine treatment rooms, three are deluxe suites with their very own extra-large whirlpool, perfect for a pair. Like all of the treatment rooms at the Guangzhou spa, the suites have a shower, steam room and changing area, too, so there’s no need to retreat to the separate men’s and ladies’ locker rooms before or after treatment.
  • On December 18, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What kinds of massages are offered at Hua Spa?

    With a wide variety of massage styles available, it’s easy to find your bliss at Hua Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou. The Four Seasons Aroma Crystal Massage is a 90-minute treat where the therapist uses yellow turquoise crystal stones that are believed to heighten intuition, creativity and wisdom. Lomi lomi is a 90-minute Hawaiian-style massage that employs flowing strokes to encourage the release of emotional energy that is stored all over the body. With the Four Hands Relaxing Massage, two therapists work on you in synchronized motion for an hour and a half of heaven. In Healing Stones, deep-heated stones and warm oil bring stress relief and improved circulation. For Personal Remedy, you choose your own essential oil, pick the length (60 or 90 minutes) of your treatment and tell your therapist where it hurts. This one is all about you. The Oriental restores your chi with 60 or 90 minutes of traditional Chinese massage that uses acupressure and kneading. The 75-minute Foot Massage Ritual will make your feet feel good, but your therapist will also work pressure points in your foot that are believed to be connected to other parts of the body, for all-over wellness. The shorter De-Stress Head Massage is a 45-minute service that delivers relief where you need it most: the head, neck, shoulders and face.
  • On December 18, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What kinds of skincare products are used at Hua Spa?

    Carefully chosen skincare products from some of the most respected brands in the business are used in the treatments at Hua Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou. London-based Aromatherapy Associates is renowned for its essential oils, which are found at top spas around the world — including this one. You’ll also see Ainhoa, a Spanish brand known for using luxurious ingredients such as caviar and even diamond powder in its powerful formulas. Also on the Guangzhou spa’s menu, products by Biologique Recherche, a French company that takes a rigorous scientific approach to beauty, developing products (mainly organically derived ones) through extensive laboratory research.
  • On December 18, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What’s the best time to visit Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou?

    There isn’t really one time of year that’s better than any others to visit Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, though South China can get very hot and humid during the summer months. Late spring and early summer are the rainiest times, and the city can be hit by typhoons that come up across the South China Sea. Late autumn is the most pleasant time of year in Guangzhou, with lower humidity and comfortable temperature. If you can, avoid traveling to the luxury hotel around the Lunar New Year, the region’s biggest holiday, when airports here can get very crowded with people flying to visit their families.
  • On December 18, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What are the rooms like at Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou?

    If all the world’s a stage, then the guest rooms at Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou are the skyboxes. Located on the 74th through 98th floors, every room has floor-to-ceiling windows for spectacular views of the Pearl River or the city. The interiors are chic and contemporary, with gray, ivory and taupe tones accented by teal or plum-colored upholstery in the seating area, and by layers of blue in the carpeting, which looks like the sky in a traditional Chinese landscape painting. The beds sit against gray leather headboards and are covered with an expanse of luxurious ivory cotton sheeting. Workspaces are furnished with glass writing desks and two ivory swivel chairs. A black lacquered console conceals the mini-bar. For entertainment, you’ll find a 42-inch LCD TV, iPod dock and an MP3 connection. The best part of the luxury hotel room, however, might be the oversized marble bathroom, furnished with a deep soaking tub that’s almost impossible to resist.
  • On December 18, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    Where is Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou located?

    Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou is located in Zhujiang (Pearl River) New Town, which is part of the Tianhe district. Sitting directly on the Pearl River, with the Canton Tower on the opposite bank, this is a newly developed area, home to an ever-growing number of steel and glass towers, as well cultural landmarks — the Guangzhou Opera House, most notably — that together make for a fascinating assemblage of contemporary architecture. Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport is a 30- to 45-minute trip by car, and Guangzhou East Railway Station is about 10 minutes away. The older city center is also about 10 minutes away by taxi, and the Guangzhou hotel is convenient to the Metro subway system as well.
  • On December 12, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What kinds of massages are offered at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Guangzhou?

    The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Guangzhou offers a range of massages to scratch every itch and untie each knot. The 30-minute Stress Zone focuses on the neck and shoulders for quick tension relief. A 60-minute Reflexology treatment works the pressure points in the feet, but its benefits are felt throughout the body. The vigorous, 90-minute Thai massage uses movement and stretching to loosen the body. The Traditional Chinese massage employs a combination of focused pressure at key points and long strokes to encourage greater energy flow within the body. Aromatherapy massages (60 or 90 minutes) exploit the benefits of essential oils while applying a gentle, soothing touch. The classic Swedish massage (60 or 90 minutes) combines long, strong movements and focused pressure to release pesky tension. Finally, the Hot Stone Therapy treatment (60 or 90 minutes) uses black granite stones, strategically placed on the body, to promote the deepest relaxation and promote healing.
  • On December 12, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the style of The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Guangzhou?

    The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Guangzhou uses a mix of styles, both European and Asian. Crystal chandeliers hang over the marble-topped, mirror-paneled reception desk. The salmon hued locker room leads to wet areas with mosaic floors and iridescent tiling which, along with the stone benches in the steam bath, have a distinctly Mediterranean tone. The relaxation lounge is furnished with claw-footed chaise lounges whose accent pillows have a fleur-de-lis motif, for an 18th-century French feeling. The 11 treatment rooms are customized for different experiences — water treatments or Thai massage, for example — but all reflect the classic European elegance found throughout the hotel, combined with dark wood detailing and furnishings that recall dynastic China.
  • On December 12, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the design style of The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou?

    At The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou, classic European elegance is injected with Chinese details and an auspicious dash of feng shui. Contrasting marble floors run throughout public areas, topped with floral rugs in bright pastels. Details like neoclassical pillars and crown molding emphasize the Old World feel, as do the swag drapery, tufted brocade upholstery and brass fixtures used throughout. If fundamentally European, there are numerous reminders of the Guangzhou hotel’s location, starting with the triple tiered fountain in the reception lobby, composed of lotus, kapok and peony blossoms, its constant waterfall a symbol of prosperity, according to feng shui principles. Look for other Chinese details, including vases and similarly decorative objects, wood carvings (especially in the Lai Heen dining room), wallpaper depicting Chinese landscapes and the lovely piece of imperial embroidery on the wall in the Pearl Lobby.