Yes, the people of InterContinental Hong Kong worked like crazy throughout the whole few days of the Hotel Investment Conference Asia-Pacific, usually known as HICAP.
Led by the boss of this highly-profitable luxury hotel, Jean-Jacques Reibel – recognisable by his royal blue glasses – they were human computers rather than robots. They anticipated what you wanted, they called you by name (apparently they had been doing photo recognition and various other mind-tricks for weeks beforehand). The gal was impressed, as were all the other hundreds of delegates to HICAP who sensibly booked into the 514-room hotel during the stay.
Take the concierge, Louis Baleros. He was buying clothes wanted urgently by a family member of one delegate, he was helping another whose bags had not arrived.. Take the marvellous Club Continental, on the hotel’s second floor, where Manager Ida Wong and her team of 12 were, well, perfect (I am sure they all collapsed afterwards). Fortunately I was on the third floor, in room 316, for some of the best views out across the harbour, looking across to Hong Kong Island. It was very soothing to be able to escape to my room – and look out of the window.
Anything on the third floor is also handiest for us fit-folks. The gym, there on the third floor, is open 24 hours a day, with great equipment (Technogym, of course) and a Power Plate and supplies, well replenished, of apples and bananas and lots of water. The outside pool and its hot and cold plunge pools are there (with tai chi every morning at 6.30). And the spa is there. Enter past goldfish in a bowl, go into a haven of calm after the bustle of the conference. Relax, as I did, with a half-hour shoulders and upper back massage and you will feel a different person.
Every year this hotel adds something new. Last year it was the amoeba-shaped Table JJ Built (or at least supervised), the two-ton wood table by Jake Walker, with a main body of African Padua, plus African Rosewood, American Burled Poplar, standing on steel-core legs. It is a continuous prop for people to lean against, sit up next to. This year the new thing is a redo of Yan Toh Heen, the Michelin-starred restaurant that has been redesigned by Henry Leung of Chhada Siembieda Leung. Here you enter past a wall of celadon squares that were once place mats: these are interspersed with the silver napkin rings that were used in the ‘old’ look.
The hotel has such great restaurants. There is a Spoon by Alain Ducasse, and the maestro himself will be here for the restaurant’s ten-year anniversary dinners on November 22-23, 2013. There is also a Nobu – and THAT maestro, Nobu Matsuhisa, was apparently here this week but I sadly missed him. But, good news, I dined in The Steak House Wine Bar & Grill, one of the best steak places of all time (and a HOTELS magazine ‘Ten Best Hotel Restaurants’ winner). From Frankie, the Manager, who gives returnees such a welcome that he seems to know exactly what they ate last time, to the copious salad bar with its artichokes and cheese, and of course the steak. Frankie had already chosen for me – Australian, ribeye, right? But I was able to choose my own knife, from a choice of 11, and, as always, the mustards were another you-choose.
There just was not time to do justice to this luxury hotel during HICAP. It did seem that whenever I had a moment to be in my room yet another ship, big or small, was going past. It is hard to work when there is such a view. When I left it seemed many of my friends were there to say goodbye. It was almost tear-jerking.