China - Longjiang

· Travel

Longjiang is in Guangdong province, Southern China and under the administration of Shunde District. Getting there is straightforward, coach from Diamond Hill to Courtyard by Marriott, Longjiang took four hours.

Chinese New Year travel into China can be erratic depending on the time and day of departure. I've gone in on the first day of CNY and it was chaotic; thousands of people crossing, long queues at the foreigner passport desk, traffic jams etc.

We used Shenzhen Bay where the queues are shorter, and the negotiation of Hong Kong and China border controls quicker. Because we went in a few days before CNY, the whole process of getting off the coach, going through HK immigration, then China immigration, and getting back on the bus took less than half an hour. Somewhat of a record.

Again, the good thing about our coach travel into China is that we get dropped off at our hotel. This is a big plus. Courtyard by Marriott adjoins an office building and is near a shopping centre and many shops.  

Within walking distance, you can find many restaurants, noodle shops and then there are the usual Western brands (KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Starbucks). In the basement next door is an excellent home furnishings shop opposite a huge Park N Shop supermarket.

This home furnishings shop is owned by Lesso - a HK-listed Chinese company - and everything inside was discounted by 70 percent. We guessed the hotel, adjoining office block and shopping centre was a development owned by Lesso.

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There is also an ultra cool feature about this hotel in that there's a robot. I tested it twice and was impressed. Just call guest services, ask for an extra towel / toothbrush / shampoo / any non-food & drink items, and they get the robot to deliver.

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Slight error; the robot doesn't deliver food or drinks. Guest services told us it was because they fell out so it's only for towels, shampoo, etc.

The hotel robot. Charging up before charging up to the guest room.

Once the robot arrives at your door, it calls the room phone and announces it's outside. Instructions on what to do are displayed on the LED screen on top between the antenna. Then a panel door will slide open and your stuff will be inside. After that, you give a performance review, and the robot trundles away.

It may sound gimmicky to have a robot butler but consider how long it must have taken to decide, test, implement a robot in the hotel. My view is that this was Hotel Robot Version 1. Imagine what Version 4.0 will be like?