Although you may pay a bit more, if you need to change or cancel your reservations, you aren't charged (assuming you make the changes within the acceptable timeframe), and you are able to arrange for conveniences like down pillows, or a non-smoking room, and feel somewhat confident that your requests have been noted by a human. Making reservations for China was a unique experience. We worked through an online service, sinohotels. Since there is no expedia equivalent and no guarantee that even if you called directly, you would find someone who could speak English, we had to rely on this online communication system.
The information about the hotel was scant. We couldn't find the address on any map and neither could the sino travel agent. I doubt he was even located in Beijing and from what I've read, many of these travel services are NOT even located in the country for which they're arranging travel. They simply make calls and can speak the language.
One thing we believed, and this turned out to be true, was that our hotel was very close to the rowing venue. We were about a 15-20 minute cab ride away. Cabs drove about 35 miles an hour on the road that connected us to the Shunyi Rowing Venue, otherwise, we might have been 10 minutes away.
The photo at the top shows the layout of the Flowery Bay Resort. Overall, we were lucky to have found this place. More details in the next post. I'm having a problem uploading pix today.