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Temple Hotel in Beijing

The Temple Hotel, BeijingToday the Wall Street Journal published an informative article about a temple-turned-into-hotel. The story has a bit of a fairytale: While cycling through a hutong in Beijing’s Dōngchéng District (东城区) a Belgian business man discovered a run-down temple from the mid-18th century. With the help of two Chinese investors he renovated it, transformed into a boutique hotel, filled it with contemporary art (James Turrell !!), and included a French cuisine fine dining restaurant that even makes the Chinese floating in.

 

WSJ article

Temple Hotel Website

“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.

 

China prospects at the Cote d’Azur

Nice red cars in front of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France

 

The ILTM Cannes 2013 report

 

 

After a heroic helicopter flight to Cannes, France, which was followed by a fabulous turbot at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc (it was a wild one, according to the menu), JSB last week attended the official opening of the leading luxury fair ILTM (“International Luxury Travel Market“) at the city’s famous Festival Centre. Besides talking about “luxury as the new religion“, they denied the existence of an economical crisis there. And they preached a “living instead of owning“-lifestyle. We were sure to be at the right place at the right time.

 

On the following days (Dec. 3rd and 4th) an exclusive crowd was allowed in to meet up to 1,450 luxury tourism exhibitors. We got one of the sought-after festival passes and especially looked out for Greater China news. We didn’t have to search for long, as the international brands’ run to China is unbowed.

 

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Promising hotel openings

 

For the Mandarin Oriental hotel group China is already the second largest source of business (17 percent), and it will presumably soon overtake the US market in importance. At present there are four future mainland China properties in development. The one in Beijing is scheduled to open next year, followed by Chengdu (2015), Chongquing (2016), and Shenzhen (2017). Furthermore there will be a new MO in Taipei soon.

 

An up-and-coming brand is Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. They plan to double their properties (currently 18) within the next five years. They recently opened at a top location in London (near the Royal Opera House) and just announced to take over the prestigious Hotel de Crillon in Paris in spring 2015 (believe it or not: Marie Antoinette took piano lessons there). The future top player also reaches out for China: Early 2014 they will open an arty hotel in Beijing’s Chaoyang District (朝阳区), right across the CCTV Tower. Its homepage already looks extremely promising. The Rosewood Chongqing will be the group’s second China opening (2015).

 

 

Hot springs / Individual travelers booming

 

After plastering the main cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong) and hoisting flags in China’s secondary megacities, the Chinese luxury market has finally discovered the beauty of nature. Last year we already reported about the Six Senses plan to open a sustainable resort at Sichuan’s Qing Cheng Mountain, which now is scheduled to open in June 2014 (we promised to stick to it, remember). There is more to come: From early 2016 on the Six Senses Wuma will play on Taiwan’s hot springs near Taitung. Hot springs will also be the main theme in Ninghai (near Ningbo, Zhejiang province). The group however is cautious with announcing an opening date (“The sooner, the better”).

 

Other resort brands joined this trend. Thailand based Anantara – a pioneer in terms of conservation activities – opened this year the Anantara Xishuangbanna, which is the first five-star resort in Yunnan’s scenic pu-erh tea region. Next month the group is furthermore planning to open its third property (there is another one in Sanya already): The Anantara Emei will be located right on the foot of the Emei Shan, which is considered one of the four holy Buddhist Mountains in China (Sichuan province). Its Buddhist statues are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

 

 

Banyan Tree is another rapidly emerging company (headquarter: Singapore) that considers sustainability an important part of its philosophy. After hotels in Shanghai (2012) and Tianjin (2013) it opened its first Chinese hot spring resort in Beibei near Chongqing this year. More than a dozen hotels are scheduled to open within the next four years. Listed for next year are spa resorts in Yangshuo (Guangxi province) and Huangshan (Anhui province). Under its Angsana brand Banyan Tree also launched a resort in Tengchong. It will be followed by the Angsana Xian Lingtong (Shaanxi province).

 

This wave of new resort hotels shows the growing importance of individual luxury travelers in China. According to David Spooner, Banyan Tree’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, already 63% percent of the Chinese travel individually, many of whose are under 35 years of age.

 

Pearl of the fair

 

Besides the above mentioned hotel brands we found an exquisite independent property that opened very recently in Beijing: The Lv Garden Huanghuali Art Gallery is – as you can already tell by its name – a hotel with a museum-like character. The architectural theme undoubtedly is the Forbidden City. It only has 38 rooms, all of which are decorated with original traditional Chinese art and classic huanghuali furniture. The hotel restaurant follows a farm-to-table approach and serves what it calls “Yan Cuisine”: traditional food presented in a modern way. It is a member of the Preferred Boutique hotel association.

 

Year-round moon festival in HK

Hong Kong’s so far only Design Hotel, the Mira in Kowloon, got a sister these days: The Mira Moon is located on the island side, in the buzzing Wan Chai District. Like the Mira the Mira Moon is owned by the Henderson Land Development Company, the third largest Hong Kong real estate developer. The hotel will be lead under the baton of Martin Lee Ka-shing (李家誠), who is the son of the Henderson owner Lee Shau-kee (李兆基).

 

The central theme in the playful interior design  is the jade rabbit from China’s Moon Festival myth (click here to read more about this story). AB Concept and Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers are responsible for the public spaces, whereas Marcel Wanders (in partnership with the yoo design studio) designed the guest rooms.

 

In Hong Kong terms, with 91 rooms the Mira Moon is quite a small hotel and hence will probably create a private atmosphere. Among the amenities guests will find a complimentary minibar with soft drinks and beer, an iPod docking station and complimentary Wi-Fi. There is no spa area, but a 24-hours fitness room. And floor-to-ceiling windows, of course.

 

There is also an opening offer until Dec. 31, 2013.

 

Mira Moon on the Design Hotels homepage

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:
 

 

Whizzkid castling at Caprice

Fabrice VulinA job castling is currently happening in one of the Chinese world’s best restaurants. After eight years in Hong Kong as executive chef of Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel, and after capturing the peak of three Michelin stars without stepping down, Vincent Thierry has decided to accept a new challenge in Bangkok.

 

Thierry will be replaced by another French whizzkid: Fabrice Vulin, who has been sucessfully defeating two Michelin stars at the Relais & Chateaux hotel „Château de la Chèvre d’Or“ in Eze (South of France) for three years.

 

The cuisine is expected to maintain its current cuisine style, which is creative French. As Thierry has left Hong Kong already, in the meanwhile the remaining team is waving the Four Seasons flag. It consists of Jeremy Evrard (director of restaurants ), the Caprice sous chefs Cyril Boulais, Aaron Li and Chun Wai Law, and the Caprice pastry chef, Marike van Beurden. Fabrice Vulin is expected to start his service in November.

 

Caprice @ The Four Seasons Hong Kong

 

New h(e)aven for connoisseur drinkers

Yún Bar & Lounge Looking for a sundowner or a night-time cocktail in Beijing? The Peninsula recently opened a rooftop bar there, on its 15th floor.

 

With cocktails and long drinks the Yun Bar & Lounge is about to become a new bon vivant’s meeting place. One of the signature drinks is called Beijing Emperor: Strawberries and lemon juice are mixed with vodka and filled-up with Peninsula champagne (produced by Deutz). Adventurous connoisseurs might instead go for a cocktail with Chinese herbs or with a juice from the Shān Zhā (山查) fruit (which is said to fix blood pressure problems). Of course there are plenty of classics on the list, too.

 

“Yún” (云) means cloud. The venue is opened daily from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

 

Yun Bar & Lounge @ The Peninsula Beijing | Homepage 

 

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.

 

www.verticalrun.cn

 

China World Summit Wing Hotel’s homepage

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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.

 

 

Eatable gems at the Ritz-Carton HK

Ritz-Carlton's Damiani afternoon tea

 

Although very much changed since the Chinese took over in Hong Kong, some of the British heritage is still left. Besides disciplined people in waiting lines at double-decker tram stations there is another beloved custom that Hong Kong people would never allow to die. We are talking about the afternoon tea, which almost always comes with a three-tier plated tower set filled with delicious goodies.

 

The lobby café of the Peninsula Hotel offers the most classic afternoon tea atmosphere, but also countless other places keep up with this tradition. Some hotels create themed afternoon tea festivals, like the MO Bar at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, which regularly co-operates with fashion designers.

 

Another hotspot is the Lounge and Bar at the The Ritz-Carlton, whose helicopter-like-view alone would be worth a visit. The hotel recently announced a future collaboration with the Italian jewelry brand Damiani. Upcoming September the hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef Richard Long will oversee the creation of savory bites and mini pastries inspired by Damiani’s Belle Epoque collection. The tiny artworks will come colored like gems that you otherwise find on jewelry and include – among others – a five-textured limoni tea cake, a golden Sicilian pistachio and raspberry croissant and a tiny ring shaped “illy” tarte.

 

The Damiani afternoon tea will be available through whole September 2013, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is priced at HK$ 388 for one or HK$618 for two persons (plus a 10% service charge).

 

Homepage of The Lounge & Bar at The Ritz-Carlton HK

 

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