Who is Bastien Gonzalez, the curious global whisperers ask? Insiders know, and share details. OK, he is French, and was hurt in a ski accident. During his subsequent six months in physio, he met a podiatrist, and his life changed.
He spent three years studying podiatry, and after graduation opened a studio in Place des Vosges and word began to get out. He also trained others – all Beautiful People with great conversational skills – in chiropody, massage and podiatry.
He has his own sanctuaries in London, New York and Paris but there is a also Bastian Babe, male or female, offering your feet tender loving care at luxury One&Only hotels, and in such venues as Barcelona (Mandarin Oriental), London (Cadogan Hotel, where clients include Gwyneth Paltrow), Singapore (St Regis) – and in Hong Kong, at Landmark Mandarin Oriental.
The gal, who is up there with GP when it comes to BG worship, was sadly not at Tony’s place long enough for foot ecstasy.
Tony is Tony Costa, the uber-networker who is GM of Landmark Mandarin Oriental. It was he who brought Bastien in, and after five months foot heaven is so over-booked that Tony Costa might well double the size of the facility. But then he uses his imagination the whole time.
He once hosted dinner for Harry Connick Jr in the hotel’s yoga room, and other guests, including Richemont Chairman Francis Goten, entertainer Michael Wong and his super-model wife Janet Ma, Shanghai Tang Chairman Raphael Le Masne and an assortment of tiptop media were concentrating on conversation and food rather than the environment.
And the food, of course, came from Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s highly respected chef, Richard Ekkebus. There are lots of nice guys (and girls) around Landmark Mandarin Oriental. It is that kind of place.
At a full-house lunch in Ekkebus’ restaurant in the hotel, Amber, a couple of days ago, one of the girls brought out amuse starters with a slice-of-apple-shaped smile. There were little bites, including a cucumber cannelloni, in reality a tube of cucumber, and a one-mouthful of foie gras cream.
You can tell this is a two-star Michelin place. It is designed by Adam Tihany, in shades of brown, with a ceiling sculpture, an S-shape formed of 4,320 long brown tubes hanging down. Weird but works.
Apart from the Presidential Suite (a David Collins confection), the rest of the 114 bedrooms have been designed by Peter Remedios, whose work includes Grand Hyatt Tokyo and Mandarin Oriental Munich (question, who else tends to muddle-the-Peters, Remedios with Marino? it is Peter MARINO who always wears black, and usually leathers, and could give Karl Lagerfeld a run for his money when it comes to cutting a pretty obvious character with his gear).
Many of Landmark Mandarin Oriental bedrooms have centrally-set circular bathtubs, and all have yoga mats and cool colours. Try the fig and aloe Apivita body lotion, one of the most soothing messages to come out of Greece for years.
Talking of which, beetroot is not only antioxidant and good for long life, but somehow eating it is pretty soothing, too. Amber’s beetroot salad includes just a hint of crème fraiche, also good for something.
The restaurant has an Australian truffle promotion on right now and oh, wow, the black truffle risotto is near orgasmic.
There are now so many truffle farms Down Under, incidentally, that there is an Australian Truffle Growers Association, and its next annual meeting is coming up, in Daylesford Vic, August 17-19, 2013 (there are workshops on training truffle-hunting dogs, and how to grade truffles, and marketing initiatives, and the final gala has as speaker Alf Salter, Chairman, Wine&Truffle Company, who is quoted as saying that finding a great truffle has the same inner peace as going to church).
Some feel like that about retail. Shopaholics should head in and out of Landmark Mandarin Oriental as it is directly connected to, no prize for guessing, Hongkong Land’s The Landmark, a massive complex built partly on the site of the former Hong Kong Hotel (in 2003, part of Landmark’s Edinburgh Tower was converted, with the help of architects Kohn Pedersen Fox, into the Landmark Mandarin Oriental).
There are so many stores here. See the Cs, to give a guide – Calvin Klein Jeans, Carven, Céline, Chanel – which has a VIP suite in the hotel for its top clients – Church’s and CoStume National… and so on And being Hong Kong you can walk from hotel to the stores, and back again or on to Mandarin Oriental or anywhere else you want to go without ever having to go outside. Hong Kong Central’s above-ground system of glass-sided walkways from and right through office buildings is a marvel.