The gal decided it was time to write about the perfect recovery from a long – well, just under 12 hours – flight. First, pre-flight included, instead of the train, the fabulous 17-minute walk from London Heathrow Terminal Five’s main terminal, underground to Satellite C, from which all 380s leave. Onboard there was lots of sleep. On arrival, eschewing people-movers meant a longish walk to immigration. Being hand-baggage only allowed a quick exit, to be met by the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong greeter (you can always tell a good luxury hotel by its greeters with big hotel-name boards stationed at both exits from the baggage hall). The navy Rolls-Royce had instant and reliable WiFi, and 30 minutes after leaving the airport, it arrived at the 118-floor hotel – at 480 metres, the highest-reaching in the world.
I was taken straight up to the 103rd floor reception, in a silent elevator that takes 80 seconds (there are 88 elevators in the entire building, which also houses W Hong Kong). There, it was a 20 second walk across the lobby to the next elevator block, up to bedrooms on floors 104-117. What time would I like the IT man? 45 minutes later, exactly as scheduled, technology guru Michael Wang appeared, took only ten minutes to put a VPN, to allow access to Google and the like in mainland China, into both my iPhone and my MacBook Air, and fixed an errant Mozilla Firefox. Was there anything else he could do? Please call him any time. Next was exercise, floor exercises in the lovely corner suite 115-22 – so high that big cruise ships down there look like Dinky toys – followed by a great workout in the Technogym on the top, 118th, floor, with an outside terrace.
Then it was straight to the spa (down to the 116th floor for that), an ESPA cocoon with a sensational therapist who did, I think, a recovery facial while I had a recovery sleep. And after that a shower and hairwash, and back up to the 116th floor Club Lounge, where all the female staff look like Chanel models, in black and cream suits, with pearl necklaces. Wow what a schedule. I was then introduced to the hotel’s fascinating Almas Caviar House & Prunier bar, down on the 102nd floor. Interestingly, Swiss entrepreneur Peter Rebeiz has leased this bijou bar, a super-luxury venue for anniversaries and the like, for a glass of Champagne Paul-Etienne St-Germain Epernay with a tasting of caviars (note the plural) and balik. Rebeiz took over Caviar House from his legendary father Georges Rebeiz, and expanded the company through partnerships both with balik salmon and Prunier, now led by Yves St-Laurent’s long-time partner Pierre Bergé who, among other fine things of life, bought the caviar farm started in Gironde by Emile Prunier back in 1920.
This luxury hotel is non-stop surprises. Entering Tosca, the super two-floor Italian restaurant on the 102nd floor, is truly like a red-carpet occasion, except that the floor lighting is vivid blue stripes – see the video below. The space is a kaleidoscope of colour, as shown in the top photo here, and Pino Lavarra is an electric personality of a chef, as is his colleague, boss of all the cooking here, Peter Find, who was also there. So, what an evening. Glasses of Paleo vino da Tavola di Toscana 1990 were poured out of a two-foot-high Riedel decanter with a neck longer than a swan’s: Ricco de Blank, planning his visit next week to Monaco’s Grand Prix, had a risotto and fish, Pierre Perusset, talking about camping next week in Kazakhstan, and I both started with stuffed Neapolitan artichoke hearts. By now I felt fully recovered from that flight, and ready for bed. SEE THE VIDEO BELOW