Put on a happy face, and smiles spread. Smile at someone and they might smile at someone else. Personally, the gal would much rather go to a luxury hotel where smiles are big and infectious and even break into laughter at times. Such was the case at Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, where GM Greg Liddell – the youngest of four, unlike that other leader mentioned yesterday – was bright at a button at 7.30 am despite dancing the night away with a bunch of arbitration lawyers. He was joined at breakfast by the hotel’s chef Richard Ekkebus, who also miraculously manages to run not only this restaurant, Amber (it has two Michelin stars) but Fifty 8° Grill in Mandarin Oriental Shanghai.
Breakfast in Amber is, despite the faces above, an incredibly serious affair. This is Power Breakfast. I know only one person, a top executive from Discovery Channel come from Singapore to meet Hong Kong’s Great and Good. Greg Liddell, of course, knows everyone in the room. This is à la carte: if you want a buffet, head down to MO Bar where the buffet looks jolly good, but I guess it doesn’t suit serious investors who want to do mega-bucks business over muesli and a piece of wholegrain toast.
This is the venue which later in the day hots up with celebs and DJs and sometimes such visiting singers as Harry Connick Jr.
Anyone staying overnight here will be impressed by many things, not least the people. Jojo in guest relations is such a honey I cannot be the only one who would be drawn back here, to be looked after by her. She knows the way round the integral Landmark mall, although you do not need to go outside the hotel at all. Fashionistas love the fact that you can go into a private Dior boutique direct from the lobby, or into the Prada inner sanctum up on the 15th floor.
And everyone is impressed by the fitness here. There is pilates, there is yoga, and a lovely warm pool. The gym has supplies of bananas and apples (wrapped, for hygiene), and staff who understand the machines and can quickly find BBC for you. There is a spa, of course, with marvellous Sodashi mud preparations.
On the food side, the VIP welcome in your room is healthy and unusual. Having already launched a campaign to abolish doing itsy-bitsy things with fruit that take up precious kitchen time and produce something that few probably eat, I love what I see here. Whole fruits are put on skewers, which make them even easier to eat than if they were lying on a plate. I also appreciated having simple veggie crudités, so easy to eat. And, just as my friend Stacy Small had when checking into Rosewood Mayakoba for ILTM Americas, I too had, here, copies of newspapers from home, to keep me up to date with D. Cameron and Co.
If you have a room, as I did, with a circular bathtub separating the bedroom from the living/work areas, you can get exercise by squeezing between the edge of the bathtub and the shower wall to one side. I wonder how many have got wedged (probably not the muesli and one-toast CEO).
But I was off to a new restaurant, so new it was opening tomorrow. This was a trial. What had been a Chinese restaurant above the Landmark mall – integral with the Landmark Mandarin Oriental – will be Le Dôme de Cristal, a French restaurant with good sponsorship from Roederer. Designer Steve Leung has taken the doughnut-shaped room and made its central space, looking down into the mall – a white-gauze feature (if you know Sur Mesure de Thierry Marx, a Patrick Jouin creation at Mandarin Oriental Paris, the two have similarities, only here no bits of white fabric deliberately waft off the walls, and here you have a hemispherical dome over the whole caboosh).
Le Dôme de Cristal is part of Ambrosia Cuisines Group, and here group GM Gary Kwok and his colleagues have brought in a Frenchwoman, Pauline Steiner, to help the top chef, Stanley Tang. We started with a single white pearl oyster, from France, went on through Irish beef and New Zealand Pinot Noir to end with the most divine gold-leaf champagne jelly with fresh grapes. Wonder which Cristal they used for that, surely not the Cristal 1990 Methuselah 2000 that is part of the historic collection on display, and on offer, here? And with that, it was time to wish Gary Kwok and his team good luck, and head back all of 200 yards to Landmark Mandarin Oriental, the luxury hotel that becomes an instant home.