Business Traveller gets a sneak preview of the forthcoming Ritz-Carlton property in Hong Kong, located within the soaring 118-storey ICC building.
Ritz-Carlton is gearing up to open its second property of the year, following the unveiling of the Ritz-Carlton Toronto last week (see online news February 17).
Regular visitors to Hong Kong will know that this is in fact the second property by the brand in the city, the original Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong having been located in the city’s Central district on Hong Kong Island. This hotel closed in February 2008, and the building has now been demolished.
The new incarnation of Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong is located within the mammoth 118-storey ICC (International Commerce Centre) tower, the tallest building in Hong Kong since its completion last year.
It also boasts the third highest roof in the world (ie: not including spires or antennae on the top of buildings), after the Burj Khalifa and the Shanghai World Financial Centre.
The building is situated in West Kowloon, a relatively new district of the city which also houses the W Hong Kong (click here for a review) and several large residential towers. The area is served by the Kowloon MTR metro station, located underneath the ICC tower and with connections to the Tung Chung and Airport Express lines.
The Ritz-Carlton hotel has been sometime in the waiting, with the original opening date of last September having been delayed. Indeed much of the ICC tower is now already occupied with offices of companies including Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse, and Elements shopping mall (which takes up the first couple of floors of the building) is full of upmarket boutiques and eateries.
But the hotel is now set to open on March 29, and with reservations being taken from this date, and several events already in place for April, it looks like this opening date will be adhered to this time round. Ritz-Carlton also has an official grand opening event planned for May 3.
Arriving via a sweeping driveway with views of Hong Kong Island, guests enter through a lobby on the ninth floor of the building, with lounge furniture and Pastry Gems cafe. From here guests take a 52-second lift journey all the way up to the reception on the 103rd floor, making the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong the highest hotel in the world, surpassing the Park Hyatt housed within the Shanghai World Financial Centre.
Décor has a warm, Art Deco feel which will be familiar to guests in other Ritz-Carlton properties. Just below check-in is the 102nd mezzanine floor, housing most of the hotel's food and beverage outlets, all with stunning views of the city from all sides of the building.
Choices include Italian eatery Tosca, Chinese restaurant Tin Lung Heen, a lounge and bar featuring a crystal fireplace (pictured below), and the Chocolate Library serving savoury chocolate dishes, chocolate-based drinks and even chocolate afternoon tea.
The 312 guest rooms are on floors 106 to 117, with entry level Deluxe rooms starting from 45sqm, rising to the 400sqm Ritz-Carlton suite. Rooms are smart, with a muted cream / beige décor which includes cushioned seating by the floor-to-ceiling windows to allow guest to make the most of the incredible views – looking down at some of the residential buildings below it's easy to forget that they themselves are lofty skyscrapers, as they seem tiny in comparison to the ICC tower.
In-room features include free wifi, nespresso machines, iPod dockings, large walk-in showers and separate bathtubs. The 116th floor also houses an 860sqm ESpa facility with nine treatment rooms, and a club lounge which will offer six food and beverage “presentations” throughout the day, and which also features a small meeting room. It almost goes without saying that again the views from here are breathtaking.
But the hotel's piece de resistance is undoubtedly the 118th floor, which looks likely to break several world records when it opens. Ozone will be the highest bar in the world, and will offer Asian tapas and DJs in an ultra modern setting with curved white pillars and a honeycomb effect ceiling. One side of the bar will feature an outdoor terrace (albeit with high glass panelling), which will also be the highest of its kind in the world. The top floor also houses a gym, saunas, and a 20m indoor pool (the highest pool in the world?), with a ceiling made up of changing LED lighting.
Back down to earth the hotel's meetings and events facilities are housed on floors three and eight (there are no floors four to seven as these numbers are considered unlucky). The offering here includes a ballroom which will be the second largest in Hong Kong after the Intercontinental, and over 50 weddings have already been booked for this space in 2011.
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will make headlines when it opens next month, and is likely to provide worthy competition for other luxury hotels in the city including the W, Grand Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental, and Hong Kong's Grand Dame of hotels, The Peninsula.
Beware vertigo-sufferers though – the Ritz Carlton's location nearly 500m above sea level means the property is not for the faint hearted.
For more information visit ritz-carlton.com.
Report by Mark Caswell