Throughout my career, the area I’ve visited most often is Heshan, China. The area is in the southern part of the Guangdong Province, and it is where my then-employer’s largest garment factory was located. Over eight years of working with this manufacturing partner, I had numerous opportunities to learn about this area by exploring its varying restaurants, shopping centers and hotels.
For the first several years visiting Heshan, we consistently stayed at The Country Garden Phoenix Hotel. The rooms are spacious, the décor is ornate and beautiful, and the restaurants always provide an excellent dining experience. One of the best Coconut Curry dishes I’ve ever tasted was in their hotel restaurant for lunch service. I’ve been trying to replicate it at home ever since. Large banquet rooms can be reserved for large groups, and I’ve had the pleasure of eating many team meals there as well.
My first visit there in 2014 was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken. The team that I traveled with quickly became fast friends of mine, and most of them I still stay in touch with to this day. Most of us were new hires at the company and we worked long hours every day to make good impressions. In the evenings, we were hosted at dinners in elegant Chinese restaurants where the local team helped us to try all of their favorite foods. One evening, they took us to a local restaurant that made Italian pasta, pizza and desserts. A short walk from our hotel, we actually went back there a second time before we left!
While that Italian restaurant no longer exists in the area, and the excitement of traveling to Heshan eventually became just a normal part of our annual calendar, we never encountered a bad trip. And I have to attribute that 100% to our amazing hosts. The people we visit in this area of the world are unmatched in their level of hospitality. It’s hard to compare to other trips because we all got to know each other so well, we almost felt like a group of friends getting together every few months.
In more recent visits, we started staying at a brand new Four Points by Sheraton Hotel that was built in Heshan. The new hotel is beautiful. Its restaurant is also extremely nice, although its menu is a little more American-ized or European. If and when I go back, I will likely stay here again. There’s something about that classic Sheraton smell that draws me back again and again.