When it comes to affairs of the heart, it seems loving couples in Shanghai prefer practicality over luxury. Hotels and restaurants have given up offering extravagant Valentine's Day packages this year as they've proved unpopular over the past two years.
Instead, the big sellers are packages ranging between 1,000 yuan (US$139) and 4,000 yuan - with new activities such as mixing cocktails to attract couples.
The Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, which promoted a Valentine's Day luxury stay in the presidential suite with all kinds of extras for 88,888 yuan in 2006, said the suite was under restoration, so the offer was canceled this year.
"The Valentine's Day package in our Chinese, Italian and Japanese-style restaurants are solidly booked," said Iris Yu, the hotel's assistant director of communications. "Lovers can not only enjoy delicacies but also learn how to make a special cocktail for each other."
The Pudong Shangri-La Shanghai, which offered a Valentine's Day package costing 388,888 yuan last year, said it has canceled the deal this year because it didn't arouse lovers' interest.
Fine food, chocolate and wine seemed to be more attractive to lovers than brand-name watches and jewelry, hotel officials said. And the hotel's packages ranging between 1,988 yuan and 3,488 yuan for two have been booked out.
The Radisson Hotel Pudong Century Park said its theme for this year's dinner is "My Funny Valentine," and couples can enjoy a mime show with their candlelit meal.
Some local couples said they wanted to do something different to celebrate Valentine's Day, rather than just have dinner together.
"Every year my boyfriend and I book a table at a hotel, but in fact we have dinner together every week," said Wendy Qian, a middle-school teacher. "So this year both want to try something different, maybe learning how to make chocolates together."
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is offering a different experience. Anyone who wishes to express words of love from the bottom of their heart can say it under water - and the aquarium will record the sound waves and present it to the couples, officials said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 14, 2008)