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
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.
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!