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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.

 

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 

 

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.

I bet you want to book a room at the Peninsula….

…after watching this video:

 

 

There are business hotels and there are leisure accommodations. And then there are Peninsula Hotels. In fact, the Hong Kong based luxury accommodations chain meets the challenge of combining both characteristics, like probably no other brand on the market.

 

I had the chance to stay at two of their properties so far. Last year I slept my way through the high-end hotels of Los Angeles; with the Peninsula Beverly Hills being by far the most welcoming accommodation on that trip (regular guests find their initials embroidered on their pillows!). In 2010 I even stayed at the famous “Pen” in Hong Kong, which made it onto my personal world’s-best-five-hotels list. It has it all: A great history, a perfectly attentive staff, an unparalleled view out of its steam bath, and a maximum of elegance combined with a certain low-key approach – despite its ownership of the largest private Rolls Royce fleet in the world.

 

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What makes the Peninsula brand so special is among other reasons its long-term way of thinking. The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, as the sole owner company is called, busily works on maintaining its existing hotels at the edge of perfection, rather than to compete in the general run of hotel openings, as most of the other brands do. The cultivation of its image stands above all.

 

Visualized Hospitality

 

Last year the hotel group started to release a short film series called “Peninsula moments”. Every month there is another video published that features a certain Peninsula property. The films are produced by the highly acclaimed Ridley Scott Associates, and directed by Jean-Claude Thibaut and Antony Crook. I think each of these pieces make you want to book a guest room there.

 

The first hotel video was about the chain’s flagship in Hong Kong:

 

 

There are also a “Making of” clips:

 

Hong Kong:

 

 

Beijing:

 

Besides Hong Kong and Beijing there is a third Greater China Peninsula property in Shanghai.

 

Stay tuned!

 

China: A core pillar of current development

 

China’s dynamic market was allusively one of the key topics on this year’s International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) in Cannes, France. Held in the city’s Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – famous for also serving as the venue for the Cannes Film Festival – from December 3rd to the 6th it brought together around 2,700 VIP buyers and sellers, making it probably the most important luxury tourism fair on earth.

 

Nearly all of the leading luxury hotel chains were there, some of which presented their future plans at the Media Centre to a selected crowd of luxury travel editors and writers. One of them was Duncan O’Rourke, Chief Operating Officer of the German-although-Thai-owned Kempinski Hotels. He proclaimed the group’s ambitious plan to become “the global market leader of food and beverage”. Furthermore he announced that Kempinski is planning to open 85 (!) new hotels in the next twelve months, 18 of which will be in China – i.e. in Chongqing (重庆), Taiyuan (太原), and Yixing (宜兴). And as if that were not enough, he announced the creation of Nuo. This new Asian-Chinese-concept-hotel-brand will focus on the needs of Chinese business leaders and will start from 2015 in the primary cities Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. O’Rourke agreed to give JSB an interview in the near future in order to talk about these breaking topics in detail.

 

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Ritz-Carlton informed about a new co-operation with Mercedes Benz: From now on Chinese Mercedes Platinum Card holders will receive a very special papering. This will include among others an upgrade to a suite by booking “only” a club room.

 

After hard times Regent Hotels & Resorts are trying to get a lasting food back into the global luxury market. Their president Ralf W. Ohletz pointed out an architectural impact of specific requirements of Chinese tourists: The balconies of future hotels in China’s secondary cities will provide constructional sun protections, instead of opened balconies that are generally common in the West.

 

Paul James, Global Brand Leader of three luxury brands under the Starwood Hotels and Resorts umbrella (St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels) pointed out his idea to classify the “new” global locations as part of a modern Grand Tour. New openings of The Luxury Collection in 2012 included the hotels Twelve at Hengshan in Shanghai and The Royal Begonia in Sanya. A new W hotel is scheduled to open in Guangzhou in the first quarter of 2013.

 

A much more moderate expansion policy is pursued by the Peninsula Hotels. This exclusive group will open only one new hotel next year, and this will not be in China. The reason is worth the praise: The company does not only manage all of its hotels, it also owns them, which wisely leads to smaller but more enduring steps. Nevertheless there will be China related Peninsula news in 2013: The legendary Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong will finish a 55 million Euro renovation in April 2013. From then, all the rooms will provide a state-of-the-art design that was inspired by contemporary jets & yachts. Besides that, local artists were involved in designing the new interior.

 

Furthermore I had an interesting chat with Marie Giuge Perry, Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Six Senses Resorts & Spas. With a new property opening in 2013 near Chengdu they want herald a new age of sustainable tourism in China. An interview with Mrs. Giuge Perry will be published on JSB very soon. Stay tuned!