The gal is on her way to what is fast becoming the most enjoyable, the most stylish and, she suspects, the most worthwhile of all the world’s growing number of hotel investment conferences, HICAP. Why it is enjoyable will be revealed. Why it is worthwhile is borne out by the fact that the A List of global owners and investors, and operators – and designers of the calibre of Julia Monk and Bob Puccini – turn up here, in Hong Kong, and they stay right through the event. Stylish? Well, Jean-Jacques Reibel, MD of host hotel, InterContinental Hong Kong, was there by the front door when one regular aficionado arrived, a day ahead of main events.
It is now routine. Arrive a day early to enjoy the hotel. Settle in to room 316, which is incredibly convenient as it is on the same floor as the two gyms – really good Technogym equipment, lots of fresh fruit, look out at the base of the pool complex, and open 24/7, as all gyms should be. My desk, which has adaptors and all the supplies I need, is right by the all-wall window and I look out at passing traffic, foot traffic on Avenue of Stars immediately below and a variety of waterborne vessels, from junks to cruise ships, plying the harbour waterway between here, the Kowloon mainland, and Hong Kong Island.
Routine, that first night, is my annual dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred STEAK HOUSE winebar + grill, girls’ night out or three little maids from school are we, Carole, Linda and me. Once a year, Franco Leung, who has undoubtedly had his horizontal-topped coiffure inspected this morning, before our arrival, greets with a big smile, offers 2008 Morey-St-Denis Frédéric Magnien. There is a special Japanese beef promotion, he says, which means no need to practise weightlifting by perusing the main, leather-backed two-fold menu, made heavy by its inner-lit LED facility allowing the words to be seen easily.
The appetiser salad bar is better than ever – I must have eaten almost a whole avocado – and quickly replenished. All 100 seats are taken and the table next to us turns over twice, which shows how long we three were nattering. One 14-ounce Omi wagyu A5 from Shiga Prefecture (recommended with a Hibiki 17-year Japanese single malt, actually), choice of nine salts, ten steak knives and 15 mustards. This is a luxury hotel that does not stint, although I hope its financial controller does not read this!