The new complex covers a space of 36,000 square metres, and combines retail, dining, leisure and entertainment into one. Qingdao has no shortage of malls, but what makes this one stand out from all others is the interaction of the mall’s indoor facilities with the outside environment. The mall includes a large boardwalk and sea-view platform offering 270 degree views of the Qingdao Bay. The platform also has over a thousand seats for outdoor eating and drinking. Another major stand-out feature is the European-style village within the complex. Like Solana in Beijing, stepping into Xinhai Square’s “European Village” is a bizarre experience, which seems to momentarily make you forget about the China at its doorstep. Re-creating or imitating whole European villages is a common feature of China’s modern urban planning, but for many expats, this creates a fine line between “modern” and just plain old tacky.
Whichever way you choose to look at its design, one fact is clear: Xinhai is definitely one of Qingdao’s new shopping hubs. The mall, which consists of two stories above ground and one underground, stocks a number of national and international brands that are entering the Qingdao market for the first time. In fact, 80% of the brands are new arrivals in Qingdao. What’s more, Xinhai Square not only caters to enthusiastic shoppers, but foodies should also find a home here. The mall contains a supermarket and food court, as well as cafes and restaurants catering to both Chinese and Western tastes. Shoppers looking for a cool summer treat can indulge in Haagen-Dazs, or sip on an iced Starbucks coffee on the boardwalk. There are plenty of entertainment options for kids too, with a “family living center”, a ‘Kaku’ animation shop that features parades with characters from the Kaku children’s TV channel, screenings of animated films and many other fun activities.
The Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center abolished its entrance fee well over a year ago, so whether it’s an international shopping experience you’re after or a leisurely boardwalk stroll, Xinhai Square is one of the best and most convenient places to go.