I found it really hard to find a recent review of this trip and operator before booking it in January (2013). As it was I think I had a fair understanding of what I was getting into but I thought I would do one when I got back for the benefit of others.
This is clearly quite a lot of detail so if you don't want to read the whole thing then in summary I would say this was extremely good value for money and we packed in a great deal of sight seeing in a very short time. It is probably the best holiday I ever had and we saw some fantastic sights all over China. It was well organised, the guides were superb and everything on the itinerary was covered (although the order changed around as required). There is absolutely no way we could have done as much in two weeks as we did on this tour on our own, nor could we have done it at that price. If we had a month to spare wandering around organising things as we went (which we don't as my wife and I both work) we might get through 80%. It's worth noting that I speak (very!) basic Cantonese (a southern chinese dialect) and Mandarin (the main language of china) and my wife is fluent in Cantonese and can understand Mandarin moderately well. She is a British born chinese person and we have been together for a long time but this was our first journey to the Chinese mainland together.
As long as you are aware of the negative aspects of a trip of this kind and are willing to accept them you should have a very good time. Just go in with your eyes open and the right expectations and you won't end up disappointed. It is very touristy, you are part of a tour group after all. As part of a group it will mean you are not in control of how long you might spend at places, this might mean leaving somewhere when you would like to stay longer or hanging around when you have seen enough and would like to move on. It's hard for tour companies to get this right I think but for me they did a pretty good job overall and it is just one of the downsides you have to accept with this type of operation.
There is shopping and you are taken to one specific shopping destination in each area; silk in Shanghai, pearls in Guilin, Terracotta warriors model shop in Xian and a Jade place in Beijing. There is no hard selling and each place had an area to sit and have a drink if you didn't fancy walking around to look at the stuff. There was a talk from an expert and a demonstration in each one and the quality of workmanship on display in some of them was quite outstanding. Some people loved it and bought lots of things (my wife for one - particularly in the jade place!). Some people didn't. In each case it was for about an hour. I thought with the exception of the pearl place they were all good (the pearls were fine but the 'expert' was a bit weird) and overall had no problem with it. Probably Wendy Wu get some sort of kick back for it from the government which helps to keep the cost of this tour down. Plus to be fair lots of people liked it.
Meals (other than breakfast which is standard hotel fare and eaten when you choose prior to the departure time for the day) are eaten in a chinese style. That means you sit in groups of c10 around a large table and multiple dishes are brought to the table from which you take as you wish in turn. This is a bit of an alien concept to some UK people who are used to having a large plate of food put in front of them and wiring in. It can require a bit of patience if not everything arrives instantly for example. The dishes were selected by the guides and involved a selection of local dishes from each place and some more general chinese food purchased with uk palates in mind. Generally everything had fewer chilli's in it then the locals would use for example, if you like heat in your food you can ask for chilli oil to be brought which we did on a number of occasions and was no problem at all.
Having read some reviews I was actually prepared not to eat with the group and to eat on our own as an additional expense of the holiday as I was concerned the quality would be poor. My wife and I are clearly used to pretty authentic chinese cooking and if the food was rubbish for the tourists I didn't mind spending a bit more to eat well while I was there. Other than two meals which were quite poor (funnily enough the first one we had was really awful and I thought all my worst fears were coming true!) the meals were actually very good, much much better than I had anticipated. As it turned out we ended up eating all of our meals with the group other than some late evening snacks. Some of the meals, the dumpling dinner in Xian and the Peking duck banquet in Beijing in particular, were really fantastic.
You will be travelling with 20 odd people from all over the UK and from all walks of life. On our tour most people were over 55, some considerably over. My wife and I are mid to early 30's and were by some way younger than most people there. There was a chap who was the son of one of the couples who was early twenties but he (and we) were the exceptions to the rule, at least on the tour we went on. There were a large number of truly wonderful, kind, generally lovely people amoungst our group. Sadly there were also a few really negative pains in the backside (didn't like chinese food, were generally unimpressed by almost every sight, couldn't wait to let out a snide remark about something etc etc etc), fortunately very few. Still it is part of the tour experience that you are sharing with a group and you may not get on with everyone, that's life.
From the reviews I read prior to booking, and even the Wendy Wu pre tour briefing docs, I was fully prepared for the hotels in the big cities (Shanghai and Beijing) to be fine (I didn't have high expectations but thought they would be ok and have full amenities at any rate) and those in the smaller places (in particular Guilin and Yangshuo) would be pretty basic and potentially not that nice. Actually it was the other way round, the nicest hotel we stayed in was in Yangshuo and it was really nice. The weakest was probably the Ramada in Shanghai but it was absolutely fine. All the hotels had wired internet in the rooms, TV's (only one or two english speaking news channels but lots and lots of chinese channels which my wife enjoyed very much) and A/C and were clean and comfortable. They all provided soaps etc as well. No complaints from us at all on the standard of the accommodation.
Transportation around the cities once you were there was by Coach. These were all in good nick and very comfortable. Transportation between cities was by air and these were actually very good. This was another thing I was surprised about as I was expecting easyjet on acid but they were quite the opposite. We flew with china southern and china eastern and both were great.
In each destination there was an optional activity that was an additional cost if you wished to take part. Shanghai was the Maglev train ride (we didn't do it but were the only people that didn't and everyone enjoyed it), Guilin/Yangshuo was a big outdoor show (we didn't do it but most people did and they said it was great), Xian was a night tour of the city (we did do this and I would definitely recommend it), Beijing was a Kung Fu show (we did do this and it was awesome, totally recommended). There was no problem with declining these and they ranged in price from about 10 pounds per person to about 25 pounds per person. All the ones people took part in they enjoyed as far as I could tell. Certainly the two that we did I can honestly say they were well worth it.
The tour is very busy and active but it is broken up and there are a lot of opportunities for rest and recuperation. There is a lot of walking but it is rarely strenuous and no one on our tour really struggled with anything other than some of the steeper climbs. If you are reasonably mobile and can walk around then you can do this tour I would say.
I've kind of run out of steam there but if you have anything else you would like to ask about go ahead and I will try and answer.