Going to a conference? Well, the gal is going to show how to do it in style. First of all, you need a hosting hotel that understands luxury and business and pleasure, and nobody does it better than the fabulous 514-room InterContinental Hong Kong, which has recently been bought by locally-based Gaw Capital, and a Korean partner (it is said they are going to do major enhancements). Look out of public areas or your bedroom, if you are sensible and/or lucky enough to have booked a harbour-facing room, and you have a constant-changing criss-cross of boats and, in the near distance, Hong Kong Island. At eight every evening, the skyline over there becomes one of the world’s great light shows.
The hotel is home of the annual Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific HICAP, and I am, as always, here a day before the event starts so that I can unwind and stock up mentally and physically for the stress of the next few days. Were it seven in the morning I could do half an hour’s complimentary tai chi, pool-side with William Ng, who wears shiny white pyjamas. But of course I head to the third floor gym, which not only is open 24/7 but you can work out on your Technogym piece looking out at the pool – and afterwards rush into the glass-sided outdoor jacuzzi, and cold tub, looking out over the harbour. The sensible women among us make time at some point for a 75-minute refreshing facial in the spa, and then if you want to carry on the wellness tack, order an iHealth dish, nutritionally authorised by J.L. Adventist Hospital – and look out over the harbour.
The wellness tack is omnipresent, too, in the second-floor Club InterContinental, an absolutely fabulous facility. From breakfast, with Ferme des Peupliers yoghurt, fresh berry juices and eggs cooked to order through to your flute of Perrier-Jouët coming with a tumbler filled with one-bite vegetable crudités, this is ace. Ida Wong ran the lounge for some years and this week she has come back, to help out, and how good it is to see the hotel’s top chef, Nicola Canuti, there on duty at breakfast time. He has a lot to do this week. There will be a full-house in the hotel, plus others coming in for the days of the conference, and at the same time there are stunning restaurants to oversee. The hotel has two Michelin stars for its Yan Toh Heen restaurant, and one star for Spoon by Alain Ducasse. There is a Nobu and, my annual favourite, STEAK HOUSE winebar + grill.
Yes, my programme for the first night back in this luxury hotel includes dinner in the Michelin- starred STEAK HOUSE, which despite a well-advertised Morton’s just across Salisbury Road, is always packed out, every one of its hundred seats taken with happy discerning carnivores. Manager Franco Leung has already chosen my steak – a USDA ribeye. First we go around the amazing salad bar, and as my ribeye is brought, with spinach as requested, I am offered a choice of steak knives, and then a tray of 15 different mustards. And after that, I truly feel back home, and all set up for HICAP, especially since I have free use of Handy, a smartphone-sized hotspot that means my iPhone6 is online, wherever I am in the city (and, what is more, using Handy direct I can call anywhere in nine countries worldwide, including UK and US – for FREE!)