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“Tradition well served” – The Peninsula movie

Film still: The Peninsula lobby

Tension and excitement were all over at The Peninsula Hong Kong last month: The sexy Grande Dame – affectionately called “The Pen” among its patrons – turned 85. In fact, the celebrations started already earlier this year with so-called “Signature Sundays”, which included dancing in the iconic hotel lobby at tea time, spreading little gifts throughout the territory by pageboys in neat Mini Clubmans, and reviving the legendary tableside service at the hotel’s famous restaurant Gaddi’s. The hotel also commissioned the acclaimed comics artist Lee Chi Ching (李志清) to create an extraordinary ink painting (click here for the video of its creation process).


On the brink of the Anniversary Gala Event on December 11 the hotel presented “Tradition Well Served”, an updated version of a homonymous documentary that was produced in the course of the inauguration of the Peninsula tower annex in 1994. We were lucky enough to receive a copy and had time to watch it during the bygone holidays.


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By mixing rediscovered footage with new material this medium-length movie (45 minutes, directed by Libby Halliday Palin) tells the story of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels (HSH), the bearing company of the Peninsula brand, and its founding family, the Kadoories, who still own the prestigious enterprise.


As the Peninsula hotel chain considerably expanded since the first “Tradition Well Served” version, the added properties got their fair share in the new film. The feature starts with Chairman Sir Michael Kadoorie sitting on a boat cruising Shanghai’s Hangpu River (黄浦江) and recalling his first visit when he was seven years old. At that time, after World War II, the Kadoorie family owned some businesses in Shanghai, like the Palace Hotel (today’s Swatch Art Peace Hotel). That ended with the confiscation in course of the communist takeover. With an emotional opening of the Peninsula Shanghai on the Bund in 2010 the company finally returned to its origins.


When the Peninsula Hong Kong opened in 1928, the Kowloon peninsula was not really a place to be yet. The splendor reigned on the other side of Victoria Harbour, on Hong Kong Island, and according to an interview with Baron Lawrence Kadoorie (Michael Kadoories father) people at first laughed about the “white elephant” that stood, so to speak, the middle of nowhere. However, the cruise ships travelers disembarked on the Kowloon side and soon started to appreciate the Peninsula’s services.


The movie also introduces Kitty Cheung, a charming Hong Kong citizen who had the privilege to grow up with parties and dancing hours at the Peninsula. As a young and attractive lady she appears in several sequences of the historical footage, as well as in short comments at the age of 100 that were especially shot for the movie shortly before she died. During the summer months she and her family stayed at the exclusive Repulse Bay Hotel on Hong Kong Island, which was also part of the HRH group. The movie conceals that the hotel closed its doors in 1982, and despite of protests it was demolished in order to make room for a gigantic apartment complex. For some reason they later rebuilt it (reportedly in a smaller scale) and erected the new towers right next to the “fake”. The site is still owned by HRH.


Two thirds of the movie deals with the properties outside of Hong Kong and Shanghai, and includes historic footage of most of the locations.


It goes without saying that Peninsula guests can watch the movie during their stay in their rooms via the house TV channel. Residents of Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan can purchase “Tradition Well Served” at the online Peninsula Boutique. The DVD comes with an equally worth-seeing “behind-the-scenes” section. From February this year the movie will also be available on Youtube.


Ferry rocked the house

Bryan Ferry rocked the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong


That must have been quite a party yesterday: Karen Mok and Bryan Ferry rocked the house, chef Uwe Opocensky and his team cooked, and a dance group under the supervision of Willy Tsao jumped around. More than 800 guests were invited to celebrate the 50. anniversary of the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.


When the famous hotel opened as “The Mandarin” for the first time on September 1, 1963, it was not only the largest building in town, but also the first hotel in Asia with bath tubs in each of its 650 guest rooms. Oh, and there was also a world premiere: The hotel offered direct dial telephones!



Needless to say that the house was packed with beautiful and important people. Eye-catcher of the night was Helen Mirren (“The Queen”). She showed up in a sexy tight red Dolce & Gabbana dress (we wanted to post a picture of her, but we failed to find one that roughly reflected her grandeur). Other celebrities desired? Here’s an excerpt from the guest list: Maggie Cheung, Mary McCartney, Vivienne Tam, Frederick Forsyth, Darcey Bussell (ex-prima ballerina and president of the British Royal Academy of dance), Champagne producer Olivier Krug, predominant Pierre Gagnaire, and London’s mayor Boris Johnson.


You missed it? Watch at least the lovely façade projection:


Climbing stairs for a good cause

The 2013 Vertical World Circuit

Shangri-La’s China World Summit Wing Hotel at Beijing’s World Trade Center is getting ready for its first Vertical Run. On the 3rd of August hundreds of runners from all over the world will participate in a race that will include 2,057 steps from the tower’s ground floor lobby up to the helipad on the rooftop. After all, the athletes will stand upon the capital’s tallest building at a height of 330 meters.


The event was initiated by the hotel, and it will be part of the 2013 Vertical World Circuit (VWC), an international skyscraper racing circuit that is very well known for the Empire State Building Run-Up in New York City. Other venues can be seen on the chart above.


The race is open to both elite and amateur runners. Professionals like Mark Bourne and Suzy Walsham are said to have already paid their participation fees, starting at 60 RMB. The revenues will be donated to the Chinese Rural Kids Care institution. According to a press release, this charity organisation “provides kids from poor families with health insurance and is managed by a famous activist and opinion leader Mr. Dengfe.” Registration is possible until the 29th of July.


We mentally support this idea. However, if we were in Beijing on that day we would probably keep our fingers crossed at the hotel’s Grill 79 restaurant.




China World Summit Wing Hotel’s homepage


UPDATE [August 04th, 2013]: The race was won in nine minutes and 55 seconds by 28-year-old Thomas Dold from Germany. The fastest woman was Australia’s favourite Suzy Walsham (11 minutes and 47 seconds). There is also a short video on Youtube.



The Four Seasons HK calls for Instagram pictures



You visited Hong Kong recently and you took pictures there with your mobile phone? Then you might have what The Four Seasons Hong Kong is looking for. This noble Central district hotel launched a competition to find the best Instagram pictures of any of the following subject matter:


Tai Hang | Tai O | Lamma Island | Island tram | Victoria Harbour | Temple Street


Among several other prices the hotel will give away a two-night weekend stay in a Deluxe Harbour View Room with breakfast for two people. The closing date for entries is June 25, 2013.
You are reading this at your home in Australia or South America? Don’t ask us why you are excluded from this contest. Moreover, we will not be able to compete as the pictures you can see above were “only” shot with a Canon EOS-Camera, and not with a cell phone. Here you can read the rules in detail.


The competition on Facebook


Peninsula Moments in Shanghai


Back in March we already expressed our affinity for the “Peninsula Moments” video series by the Peninsula Hotels. Now the Shanghai episode is out. Enjoy.