Luxury hotels with passionate GMs have a definite advantage over competitors. At InterContinental Hongkong, during last week’s fabulous Hotel Investment Conference (HICAP), Claus Pedersen was walking the floors by 7.05 am (perhaps he does this automatically every day, says the gal, but more likely it was just because he had 850 top hotel people, from all over the world, to look after). His 514-room property, by the way, is now owned by Gaw Capital, which won HICAP’s single asset-of-the-year award (see image, above), and Kenny Gaw said that the company was committed to a HK$1.5 billion to HK$2 billion renovation, though not starting until 2018. Let us hope they do not touch its restaurants, which are all extremely successful.
My own annual stay here, during HICAP, always starts with Tuesday night at STEAK HOUSE winebar+grill. Every year, the marvellously enthusiastic manager, Franco Leung, greets me as an old friend, which I am (but please change the ‘old’!). He always has my perfect steak ready to be cooked, a red wine ready to pour – this year, Gevrey-Chambertin La Gibbeyotte 2013. I love the enormous salad bar, which you can see in the video below. Chefs buzz about replenishing the avocado bits, the greenery, the marinated vegetables, though of course the whole parmesan must last at least a week. There are ten salts on the table, already, and a tray of nine mustards is brought, and a big selection of different steak knives. No wonder the 100-seat restaurant, which has a Michelin star, is filled every night.
But then every restaurant is filled – you even need to book a table for breakfast at the Harbourside all-day restaurant. Another element of home about this hotel is its second-floor Club lounge, which is actually a mezzanine, looking down through big glass walls on its airy main lobby below. Open from 6.30 am, it is manned by alert people who all seem to be super concierges, and the food product is superb, from the fresh-berry juice at breakfast through to the Perrier-Jouët and wines, and enough-for-a-full-meal, at dinner time. During HICAP, by the way, all the off-site main meetings seem to take place here (anyone who is anyone is clever enough to buy access to the lounge, and GM Claus Pedersen is clever enough temporarily to redeploy Ida Wang, who ran the lounge for many years before being promoted within the hotel, to help out).
Other good things about the hotel include two adjacent gyms, both 24/7, Technogym and lots of fresh fruit, and a spa that is so accommodating that they know busy conventioneers might need a sudden massage or facial to keep them going. I find it very soothing, by the way, entering a spa that has a big bowl of live goldfish at the door. And then, back home in lovely room 316, I noticed a tourist junk going by. It all makes me smile and realise yet again that a luxury hotel is a casserole of unlimited elements that combine to make a product that you want to come back to again and again. WATCH THE VIDEO, BELOW