Posts tagged Tradition Well Served

“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.