Black Enterprise international travel guide – best hotels, restaurant and entertainment
The increasing integration of world economies and the flourishing of trade between nations have made international business travel as easy as flying from Los Angeles to New York. To meet these travelers’ demands, foreign hotels are offering more amenities, from business centers to fitness facilities.
Here are six key ports of call–Accra, London, Madrid, Milan, Singapore and Toronto–for doing business around the world. While each city boasts hundreds of hotels, restaurants and activities that cater to a business clientele, here are a few suggested places where African American traveling executives should feel comfortable. Fluent English is spoken at most of them, but it’s a good idea to make an attempt at the local language. The hotel rates given are for single occupancy, standard rooms per night and quoted in U.S. dollars.
Tip: Remember to save your receipts and file your VAT (value added taxes) form’s for a tax refund before returning stateside.
Accra is quickly becoming a prime manufacturing and agribusiness capital for West Africa, and an investment and tourism epicenter.
HOTELS: The Labadi Beach Hotel (Tel: 011-233-21-772501), the area’s first five-star hotel, is located 15 minutes from the airport and central Accra. A business center, conference meeting rooms, banquet facilities, swimming pool, tennis courts and a fully equipped health club are available ($215). The Novotel Accra City Center (Tel:011-233-21-667546) is located a half-mile from downtown Accra. A free shuttle is provided to and from the airport. The 190-room hotel offers in-room movies, currency exchange, a travel agency, boutiques and baby-sitting services. Secretarial services, 24-hour room service, a pool, tennis and golf are also available ($130).
RESTAURANTS: Some of the city’s best restaurants are found in the hotels where business is negotiated over lunch or dinner. Ghanaians, however, have a passion for Chinese food. But for the best in local hot and spicy fare, the Country Kitchen (Tel: 011-233-21-229087) offers traditional meals such as “fufu,” a pounded cassava dish served with palm nut soup. Choice Italian cuisine can be had at Ristorante Bella Napoli (1 Akosombo St.; Tel: 011-233-21-778077).
AFTER HOURS: Ghanaians typically retire early, but on the weekends The Golden Tulip in Accra, The Cotton Club in Osu, and Balm Tavern in Kaneshie all come alive. The big hotels also have casinos.
CITY TIPS: Taxis are the most reliable mode of transportation, and they’re relatively inexpensive. You don’t need an address; just tell the driver where you’re going.
Home to many of the world’s largest banks, London is one of Europe’s financial pulses. It’s also the European hub of many American corporations.
HOTELS: The five-star Le Meridien Piccadilly Hotel (21 Piccadilly; Tel: 011-44-171-734-8000), located in the heart of Piccadilly Circus, offers a health club with sauna, Turkish bath and 24-hour room service among its amenities. Of its three restaurants, the Oak Room is the preferred setting for business luncheons ($335). Bailey’s Hotel (140 Gloucester Rd.; Tel: 011-44-171-373-6000) offers the comforts of a luxurious home with first-class service and convenience in an elegant Victorian setting. It’s located in the residential area of South Kensington, only a few tube stops away from London’s business district. Excellent conference and banquet facilities are also available ($165).
RESTAURANTS: London is home to myriad ethnic restaurants, from Caribbean to Mongolian to old English fare. Some of the best Indian food in the world is served at the award-winning Chutney Mary in Chelsea (535 Kings Rd.; Tel: 011-44-171-351-3113). Reservations are suggested. A place for simple good food and a diverse crowd is Smokey Joe’s in southwest London (131 Wandsworth High St.; Tel: 011-44-181-871-1785). This internationally known bistro features Caribbean as well as soul food, such as jerk chicken and barbecue ribs.
AFTER HOURS: The Moonlighting Club (16-17 Greek St.; Tel: 011-44-171-734-6308) is where Stevie Wonder and Blair Underwood cool their heels to sounds from reggae to contemporary to Motown, while The Jazz Cafe (5 Parkway, Camden Town; Tel: 011-44-171-916-6060) is London’s premier club.
CITY TIPS: Taxi fares are very high, but “mini-cabs”–regular cars for hire–are available for less. Like many cities in Europe, London’s underground or tube is the simplest and fastest way to get around. The last trains generally leave Central London between midnight and 12:30 a.m., after which “night” buses are available.
A banking and finance center and the capital of Spain, Madrid forms a nucleus from which information, transport and tourism radiate outward to the rest of the country.
HOTELS: There are more than 50,000 hotel rooms in Madrid. The Hyatt Park Villa Magna (22 Castellana Ave.; Tel: 800-228-9000 or 011-34-1-576-7500), located in the central financial and business district, offers private meeting rooms and a business center and is within walking distance of the city’s exclusive shopping district ($350). One of Spain’s most exclusive and lavish hotels is the Ritz (Plaza de Lealtad 5; Tel: 011-34-1-521-2857). Many of its spacious suites are furnished with antiques and handwoven carpets, which make for elegant business entertaining. Private limousine and helicopter service is available, along with a complete fitness center and spa ($320).
RESTAURANTS: Dine with clients at Cafe Balear (Sagunto 18; Tel: 011-34-1-447-9115) on sumptuous paella (a rice dish that includes a variety of meats and seafood). Reservations are advised. La Trainera (Lagasca 60; Tel: 011-34-1-576-8035) is the queen of Madrid’s seafood houses where crab, lobster, shrimp and mussels are served by weight. Reservations are suggested.
Casa Botin (Cuchilleros 17; Tel: 011-34-1-366-4217), founded in 1725, is the oldest restaurant in the world. Its original ovens continue to roast pork and lamb specialties over oak logs.
AFTER HOURS: Unlike Americans, Spaniards don’t spend their evenings at home watching television. Instead, they can be found in the tapas bars and cafes on the side streets and along Gran Via socializing. (Tapas are small plates of food such as ham, olives, mussels or spicy fish that are shared among friends.) Two places to try: Los Gabricles (Echegaray 17; Tel: 011-34-1-429-6261) or Cafe El Espejo (Recoletos 31; Tel: 011-34-1-319-1122). If you’d prefer a more spirited setting, Archy (Marques de Riscal 11; Tel: 011-34-1-410-7343) and Villa Rosa are two of Madrid’s choicest nightspots, and Cafe Central (Plaza de Angel 10) offers jazz after 10 p.m.
CITY TIPS: Lunch, the big meal of the day, is eaten between 2:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon. Dinner is generally a light supper and is eaten quite late, after 9 p.m.
The commerce capital of Italy, Milan is also a fashion and film center. As such, business attire is formal and sharp.
HOTELS: The Palace (Piazza della Repubblica 20; Tel: 800-223-6800) is near the central train station and all business locations. The Palace offers business facilities as well as an indoor golf club ($240). Excelsior Hotel Gallia (Piazza Duca d’Aosta 9; Tel: 011-39-2-6785), a Forte Hotel, is centrally located and offers meeting rooms and a fitness club ($189).
RESTAURANTS: The Ristorante Solferino (2 Via Catelfidardo; Tel: 011-39-2-659-9886) is a country-style restaurant popular with the film and fashion set for lunch and dinner. At the world-famous Bice (Via Borgospesso 12; 011-39-2-760-2572) restaurant, the fashion and business world converge over Tuscan cuisine of veal, pasta and seafood. Have the concierge reserve your table at least two days in advance.
AFTER HOURS: Many small supper clubs and piano bars arc nestled in the old section of Milan known as Brera. For jazz, try Le Scimmie (Via Ascanio Sforza 49; Tel: 011-39-2894-02874) or Momus (Via Fiori Chiari 8; Tel: 011-39-2805-6227), an intimate, upscale piano bar.
CITY TIPS: Make hotel reservations well in advance. Most trade fairs occur between March and October, and rooms at good rates may be difficult to find. The city has taken on a faster pace and long lunches have been converted to one-hour reprieves. Factory outlets with designer clothes at 30% to 70% below retail also can be found around the city.
This island city is a central Asian trade route and a huge business and industrial center. It is fast becoming a high-tech capital as well.
HOTELS: Because of the trade and financial markets located on this tiny island, most hotels have business centers and health facilities to cater to the needs of the international business traveler. The Raffles Hotel (1 Beach Rd.; Tel: 011-65-337-1886), named after the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, has been restored to its colonial splendor–mixing tropical elegance with style. Hotel accommodations offer suites only ($500-$650). The Hilton International (581 Orchard St.; Tel: 011-65-737-2233) offers conference rooms, a health spa and a business center ($300) among its amenities.
RESTAURANTS: Singapore hosts an eclectic mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures, and this diversity is reflected in its array of restaurants. Take in the breathtaking view of Singapore from the Compass Rose atop the Westin Stamford (Tel: 011-65-338-8585). Continental cuisine is featured; specials change daily. Other quaint eateries are located in the Quays (pronounced “keys”).
AFTER HOURS: Harry’s Quayside Cafe (28 Boat Quay; Tel: 011-65-538-3029) in Boat Quay is a popular jazz club facing the Singapore river. Another cozy jazz spot is the Boom Boom Bar in Bugis Village (Tel: 011-65-339-1026). Its 1940s ambience is a perfect place for after-work relaxation.
CITY TIPS: Singapore is a duty-free shopping haven! You can get electronics, jewelry, clothing and leather goods for a fraction of what they cost in the States. Prices are negotiable in smaller shops.
Toronto is the most ethnically diverse city in Canada with some 70 nationalities speaking a hundred languages. It is Canada’s banking headquarters and home to many U.S. subsidiaries.
HOTELS: The Royal York (100 Front St. W., Tel: 416-368-2511) is Toronto landmark hotel brimming with restaurants and other facilities for the business traveler ($75-$150). A unique place to stay is the Skydome (150 Blue jays Way, 416-341-8990 or 800-341-1161). In addition to the 70 rooms overlooking the Blue Jays’ field, it features a state-of-the-art fitness center ($150).
RESTAURANTS: Dine on northern Italian cuisine under the high arch ceilings of Biagio Ristorante (155 King St. E., Tel: 416-366-4040). For intimate French dining or banquets, try the elegant Le Rendez-Vous (14 Prince Arthur Ave., Tel: 416-961-6111). For more casual dining try Alice Fazooli’s (294 Adelaide St. W., 416-979-1910). It used to be an old warehouse.
AFTER HOURS: The Senator Jazz Club (249 Victoria St.; Tel: 416-364-7517) is reminiscent of the blue-lite jazz nightclubs of the ’30s. Another local favorite is Judy Jazz (370 King St. W., Tel: 416-599-4000), located in the Holiday Inn On King.
CITY TIPS: Toronto is designed on a grid, which makes it easy to walk around downtown. Cabs are expensive and parking rates are high, so use the efficient, clean subway and bus systems.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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