As always it was great to have such a genuine welcome back at Hong Kong’s luxury InterContinental Hotel, says the gal. There was the chief concierge, Louis Baleros, third generation of a hotel family – his own sons, he says somewhat sadly, thought about it, but one is a social worker, the other a policeman. It does seem as though all the 800 staff members who make this busy 514-room hotel operate so smoothly love it with a passion: interestingly, at least 150 of the team were here before it switched from Regent to InterContinental, in June 2001, and for them it will be business-as-usual when the hotel once again becomes Regent, in about three years’ time.
No-one knows how different the new-look will be as the designer has not yet been chosen, but I certainly hope some touch points will remain. Take the lobby table, a touch point in more senses than one as it is used for learning against, as in the photo, and for sitting at, and it is also, well, just there, as a prominent art work. Finished in 2012 by Jake Walker, the two-ton structure has a top of padau, African rosewood, and American burled poplar, all supported on steel-core wood legs. As always, my stay at this familiar hotel started with an evening on-the-town, right here in the hotel, anchored by dinner, orchestrated by Franco Leung, manager at STEAK HOUSE winebar+grill.
No need to choose the menu or wine, he had both in hand. He presented a board holding a storybook-like Angus ribeye, from the border of Illinois and Indiana. Would this do (big smile)? He presented 2014 Gevrey-Chambertin Cuvée Alexis, Jean-Micheli Guillon. Later, after the copious salad buffet, and coinciding with the now-cooked steak-on-a-plate, came presentations of sauces (8), steak knives (10, including the Michael Jordan I took), and mustards (15). I was also shown, that evening, the new-look Yan Toh Heen, moved to a new location to give better views over Hong Kong Harbour and to allow entry when the hotel is closed, from 2020, for its new look. As the video below shows, designer Henry Leung has created an absolute jewel-box of a restaurant, with a striking sculpture at its entrance.
I did have a memorable omakase lunch at Nobu but no time to eat either at Rech by Alain Ducasse ort the always-packed Harbour View buffet. Although InterContinental Hong Kong could be said, with some justification, to be a collection of superb dining and drinking venues, it is also a serious business base. And when top business is here, it congregates in the second floor Club InterContinental, which fortunately has brilliant acoustics so you can hear the person you are meeting but no-one else. I met up, for instance, with Kenneth Macpherson, ceo EMEAA of IHG, who raved at length about some of IHG’s other brands, say Avid and Kimpton and VOCO. Actually when it comes to this particular hotel, it honestly does not matter what it is called as its reputation speaks for itself. NOW SEE ROOM 318, AND THE JEWEL OF YAN TOH HEEN…