Tag Archives: Hong Kong

After malt whiskies in the club lounge, we return to our room on the thirty-third floor of the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, and find a note from the concierge. It’s a follow-up to a request my wife made earlier in the day.

“We have checked with the silversmith in the convention centre, and they can fix your silver necklace,” the message says, “but it will take seven to 10 working days.”

Richard Greaves 1 squareIt then lists another jewellery store that can fix the broken clasp the same day, 30 minutes’ cab ride away.

It’s the kind of obliging assistance we received continually during a recent four-day stay at arguably the finest meetings and convention hotel in Hong Kong.

Our 40-square-metre club room, with its vast white bed, muted carpets and colourings and classy artworks, had panoramic views of Victoria Harbour – and, everywhere, the city’s slim, towering skyscrapers which at night gleamed and twinkled like a giant jewellery box.

The food, service, facilities and proximity of this property to the pulse of the city may help explain why it’s won a swag of industry awards – such as best business hotel in Asia, best meetings and conventions hotel in Hong Kong, best city hotel for business events and others.

But there’s plenty of competition in the luxury hotel category in Hong Kong. Why should PCOs favour the Grand Hyatt? Richard Greaves (pictured above), Area Vice President and General Manager, is clear on this. A key factor that sets the hotel apart is attention to detail and emotional engagement with clients and guests, he explains.

“We strongly believe that to create exceptional event experiences for guests, we must first make the effort to get to know them beyond a mere superficial level, more like a friend,” he says.

Seafood & Oyster Bar + Salad Bar_3mb“How else can we expect to exceed their expectations and create the special details that make an event memorable?”

It’s a familiar theme, often-repeated by hotel operators, but the Grand Hyatt’s success suggests that it’s not just talk. The hotel has 22 flexible event venues which are much in demand for repeat business for meetings, incentives, conferences and private parties, catering for anything from 12 to 1,600 guests. The Grand Ballroom is one of the largest in the city, while the Poolhouse, an outdoor venue overlooking the swimming pool and gardens, can be set up to handle welcome or farewell cocktails.


In particular the hotel is a sought-after spot for weddings, of any size up to 888 people. Accommodation is included in wedding packages and there are preferential rates in its 542 rooms and suites for the guests. “We’re honoured to be regarded as the hotel for glamorous events,” says Richard.

“Our service team has always been our most recognised asset. It takes years of training and expertise to take care of the logistics of week-long events, as well as the everyday needs of conference guests and others staying at the hotel at the same time.”

Attendees have much to choose from pre- and post-conference, Richard adds. “The city, especially Wanchai where the hotel is located, has a lot to offer.”

Grand Deluxe City RoomFor example they can visit the Wanchai wet market for a glimpse of local everyday life. Or take a tram for a slow tour around Hong Kong Island, visit heritage buildings and temples around Wanchai, hop on the Star Ferry to cross Victoria Harbour, or shop in Central and Causeway Bay (10 minutes by taxi).

There are 11 restaurants and bars in the hotel, and a great spa (The Plateau) atop the building.

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong’s clientele typically includes financial and tech companies, and it hosts many medical and pharmaceutical conventions. Because it’s located next to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, it’s naturally popular with people attending trade shows.


From USD 245

So, what everyone considering arranging an event immediately wants to know: how much does it cost to book this gem of a property? Room rates online start from around USD245, and the Club rooms – offering access to the big club lounge with its jaw-dropping views of the harbour and sunsets – start from around USD 500. The conference full-day rate is from around USD154 per person, but the operators stress that PCOs and other event organisers should contact them to start a discussion about prices and venues.

Siteseer says:

In the pantheon of good hotels in the former British colony, this is up there with the best. To help celebrate its thirtieth anniversary this year, most of the event venues have been renovated, as have the classy, understated rooms and suites. The club lounge, to which we had access, offers drinks all day and a free-of-charge, sumptuous buffet in the evenings. The eclectic mix of Asian and western fare here included pastas, patés, dim sims, seafood, soups, salads, hot and cold savoury taster dishes and much else. The staff were smart, charming and never missed a trick. Because it was my wife’s and my wedding anniversary, a bottle of champagne awaited us in the room when we arrived. And a charming card. We look forward to returning.

More information:

+852 2584 7068


Click here for more prices.

IMG_9071HK highres straightLobby 2018 2mbGrand Club Lounge - Night timePoolhouse exterior med res


To the denizens of Hong Kong, time is money, and a minute lost is a potential step away from fortune. As locals will tell you, that’s the main reason the city never sleeps and its streets are constantly busy.

Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui - Chin Chin BarIt’s also why the very upmarket five-star Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui, set among the towering skyscrapers of the Kowloon Peninsula, has a strategy to keep its staff happy and motivated. It’s the most effective way to ensure guests get what they need, when they want it.

“Every minute counts in Hong Kong,” explains Mandy Law (left, main picture), the hotel’s Director of Sales. “We know that motivated staff supply the professional, friendly and prompt service that business guests expect and keeps them coming back.”

To help ensure they stay committed, the hotel’s employees enjoy flexibility in many of their working arrangements and managers make support and encourage them at every opportunity. “We have empathy interviews, for example, and really listen to what they want,” says Marketing Communications Manager Karen Ching (pictured right, with General Manager Richard Simmons). “And we make a special effort to treat casuals just as well. The benefits are real. The feedback we always get is ‘I feel like I’m treated as a person when working here’.”

Feedback from MICE guests, similarly, shows that the approach works well, Mandy says. One guest wrote: “The event service [people] did not only work on keeping the organisers happy, they cared for the participants’ wellbeing. They took ownership of our event to do the best for all present, regardless of whether they were VIPs, organisers or just participants . . . which for me personally was very touching.”

Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui - Hugo's Private RoomClassily furnished

Located in the Tsim Sha Tsui business and tourist district, this is a classic Hyatt establishment, many of whose 381 elegant and understated rooms have a panoramic view of the city’s harbour.

It has four restaurants and occupies levels three to 24 of the mixed-use complex K11, one of the tallest buildings in Kowloon. There’s direct access to two subway (MTR) stations in the complex.

From here it takes 20 minutes to travel to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and 50 minutes to Mainland China via the MTR.


The Regency executive club arrangement, whose guest rooms occupy three floors, gives access to daily complimentary buffet breakfasts, an all-day coffee and tea service, and substantial evening canapés and cocktails in the exclusive lounge.

Pillarless ballroom

The hotel has 590 square metres of meeting space on the lobby level, including a 335-square-metre pillarless ballroom, the Regency, which has a five-metre ceiling. It can accommodate up to 400 guests and be partitioned into two venues. Meanwhile five “salons” can be configured to provide flexibility for planners arranging smaller events. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the pre-function area and most of the salons are flooded with natural light, which Karen Ching says keep attendees fresh during meetings.

In line with what some other upmarket properties are now offering, the Hyatt supplies a free smartphone in each room, giving guests unlimited local and international calls to the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan, unlimited 3G Internet access, interactive maps, a city guide as well as a list of offers across Hong Kong.

Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui - Hotel ExteriorGreen initiatives

The hotel recently won a medal in the “GreenPlus Award 2015” for a variety of initiatives to embrace CSR. “More and more people are asking about our green initiatives,” says Mandy Law.

These include installing LED lights and water-saving devices in rooms, accessing an “aquaponics” food production system that grows fish and herbs together, recycling glass and plastic, and replacing gas steam cabinets with electric versions in kitchens, allowing steam to pre-heat water for dishwashing machines. This Hyatt participates in a sustainable seafood program and no longer serves shark’s fin.

Meeting package: US 112

The Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui offers a variety of packages aimed at the business tourism sector. The recent “Executive Meeting Plan” started from HK$868 (US$112) per person, including lunch, coffee breaks, AV support and equipment. The online rack rate for rooms is around USD 275, but planners are urged to contact the reservations people to discuss options.

Visit hongkong.tsimshatsui.hyatt.com, call +852 3721 1333 or email hongkong.tsimshatsui@hyatt.com.

Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui - Regency Suite Harbour View

Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui - Hugo's




Hong Kong is overcrowded, often smoggy, clogged with traffic and nobody there gives a damn about the environment. Right?

Wrong actually. As travellers’ enthusiasm for green products and services grows unabated, more and more hotel and meetings facility operators in this beehive of a city are embracing environmental credentials to meet the expectations of MICE visitors – and help give the seven-a-half million inhabitants a vision of a sustainable future.

Swimming PoolThe autonomous Chinese territory is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Yet, in addition to its other virtues, more local operators are promoting the fact that about three-quarters of it is countryside, with easily accessible walking trails and islands.

“Not far from the commercial district, as close as a five-minute cab ride, visitors can enjoy the silence of a country trail or take in the views of the harbour from a ferry to an outlying island,” says Gregory So Kam-leung, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, writing in the South China Morning Post recently. “Few cities have dense urban and commercial districts within such easy reach of harbour and hillsides.”

Eaton example

One hotel property that’s proud of its sustainability credentials is the four-star Eaton, in the city’s Kowloon area to the north of Victoria Harbour. Last year it won a gold award in the Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence (and other accolades), in recognition of its efforts to cut waste and source sustainable food.

Why? With 465 guest rooms and ten meetings and events venues, the Eaton has recognised that it makes good business (its occupancy rate is typically 80% to 90%) and environmental sense to make genuine efforts to be sustainable.

One noteworthy achievement is its investment in a drinking water purification system that removes bugs from H2O and allows glass bottles to be sterilised, refilled and reused and sealed in guest bedrooms. It’s already helped the hotel eliminate the use and disposal of 350,000 plastic bottles a year, says Environmental Officer Katrina Cheng (pictured below, right).

IMG_0536“Waste in a small territory like Hong Kong [1,100 square kilometres] is a big concern,” says Katrina. “It’s becoming an issue for hotel guests and MICE clients in particular expect us to acknowledge and do something about it.”

Shark’s fin soup, which represents a growing environmental issue across Asia, has been removed from the Eaton’s menus, which Katrina acknowledges has had some impact on the F&B business, but “it’s an important step for us”.

The hotel gets its seafood from sources that are reliably certified as sustainable and insists on buying Fair Trade products wherever possible. These feature in its “Green Meetings” package, offered standard with no premium, which includes “low-carbon menus,” “Fair Trade coffee breaks,” waste recycling and so on.

The list doesn’t end there. The hotel provides refillable dispensers in bathrooms, LED lighting, acoustic wall panels in bedrooms made from recycled materials and “low-carbon dining options”. Each year 300 staff volunteer for a beach clean-up day and other community service activities. “We all take it very seriously,” says Katrina.

Complimentary enticements

In addition to pushing its green credentials, the hotel seeks to add value to keep customers coming back, says Public Relations and Communications Manager Erica Chan (pictured above, left). Residents can enjoy complimentary walking tours of local shopping precincts like Temple Street and the Jade Market, take a free daily tai chi class and use on-the-house smartphones in every bedroom offering free mobile data, local calls and international calls to selected countries, says Erica.

There’s a roof-top outdoor pool and well-equipped gym, and an executive lounge arrangement, the “E Club,” aimed primarily at the business tourist sector, six restaurants and an alfresco bar. The E-Club guests are served free beers all day, free cocktails and canapes in the evenings, and can take their breakfast at an exclusive buffet in the lounge.

Executive Room“We’re in a great location three minutes’ walk from the Jordan subway station in Kowloon, which tends to offer a more authentic Hong Kong experience than Hong Kong Island which is more commercialised,” says Erica.

Ten function facilities

The ten function rooms include three ballrooms, one of which can accommodate up to 500. The hotel’s events business is roughly split between local companies and delegates from southeast Asian countries – Singapore in particular – as well as Australia and the UK, says Erica.

“We deal with a lot of pharmaceutical companies. They can be demanding customers but we like that; it’s a challenge and keeps everyone sharp.”

Though some critics of Hong Kong point to higher room rates than those in other southeast Asian nations like Cambodia and Vietnam, there’s much to recommend it, especially for shorter (two- to three-day) events, observe Erica Chan and Katrina Cheng.

As a business, financial and trading centre, Hong Kong is accessible to about half the world’s population via a flight of five hours or less. The public transport system is cheap and one of the best in Asia. Entry is hassle-free, with visa-free access for about 170 countries.

And finding the right venues at the right price is not difficult. Hong Kong has some 74,000 hotel rooms and tourism authorities expect another 10,000 to come on stream by 2017. That may explain why the number of overnight MICE visitors increased from 1.2 million in 2009 to 1.8 million in 2014, even though leisure tourism numbers have declined slightly in recent months.

E Club (2)Another drawcard, according to local journalist Yonden Lhatoo, writing in the South China Morning Post, is that Hong Kong is the safest city in the world, with a good, corruption-free police force. “The can-do spirit is for real,” he says.

Meetings packages from HKD 350 a day

Meetings packages at the Eaton Hotel including coffee breaks, break-out facilities, lunch and AV equipment start from around HKD 350 (USD 45) a day and the rack rate for the rooms is around USD 200.

For more information, go to hongkong.eatonhotels.com.

Eaton_eco-friendly purified water system


In addition to being able to berth the world’s largest cruise ships – of up to 220,000 tonnes – Hong Kong’s glitzy, high-tech new cruise terminal at Kai Tak is making its mark as a genuinely different big-events space.

Opened in 2013, the 200,000-square-metre facility is set on the site of the old airport close to the heart of the city. It’s already hosted major shows including well-attended events for Mercedes, Audi, and Tesla, boxing tournaments and large-scale public expos visited by 30,000 or more people. Smaller very recent gatherings have included an event for the Virtuoso luxury travel network, which saw one of the check-in halls decked out as a traditional Hong Kong marketplace.

2The check-in and baggage halls double as events spaces. Most popular, however, is the apron which offers panoramic harbour views, and has hosted a number of fun runs and other big public events.

“The auto shows have been fantastic because they’re all about design, and the makers can juxtapose their new cars with the beautiful building and panoramic views of Victoria Harbour,” explains Jeff Bent (left), Managing Director of Worldwide Cruise Terminals, which operates the USD 1 billion facility. “This is true for other products that include design elements, and we expect to host more of these shows in the future.”

Audi A8 launch

Banquets are also part of the operators’ strategy. Those such as a recent banquet for an Audi A8 launch are typically set in the two check-in halls which cover 3,000 square metres each. Also on site is a large Chinese banqueting facility that seats up to 960 people, says Jeff. “This has played host to a number of fantastic dinner events, like the Operation Breakthrough charity boxing match and dinner and a Rugby Sevens dinner. We hold weddings and corporate meetings in this facility ten to 20 times a month.”

Bus services currently run to local MTR (subway) stations, and a new Kai Tak station is scheduled to open in 2019 at the end of the old runway, which will further aggregate interest and attendances.  Ferry service from points around Hong Kong to the terminal is available on a charter basis. Meantime the government will auction a plot for a hotel with about 500 rooms directly adjacent to the cruise terminal later this year. Also planned is a sports stadium and water sports centre.

16585711034_ea1afb2451_o“The Kai Tak terminal truly is a unique venue, and Hong Kong is an outstanding location to hold events,” says Jeff.

“It provides visa-free access for approximately 170 countries and territories, terrific hotels and great air connectivity, with multiple daily direct flights to North America, Europe and around the world.”


More links with the mainland
Connectivity will expand further with the introduction of high-speed rail service to major cities in mainland China from 2017.  The terminal can also serve as an excellent platform from which to launch meetings and incentive travel via cruise ships, he adds.

“MICE is a very nice niche for Hong Kong. The [visitors] are generally affluent, educated people, and they often stay for leisure. Events bring in a lot of business travellers, and it’ll be great to add another niche to the mix of affluent leisure travellers.”

Big step for the cruise industry

Jeff believes the terminal represents a huge step forward for the cruise industry in the region, because cruise lines for years have indicated they would like to deploy more capacity in Asia; now they’re getting the facilities allowing them to do so.

Passenger numbers at Kai Tak are growing – from over 100,000 in 2014 to an expected total of over 200,000 in 2015 and more than 300,000 in 2016. Eight lines called at Kai Tak in 2014, ten are calling in 2015, and 17 have booked calls in 2016.

More and more local people are discovering the complex. Its five restaurants and shops opened last September, and its leafy rooftop parks get 4,000 visitors a day on weekends and holidays. It featured in two movies released over the Chinese New Year holiday, and will be in more forthcoming productions. And more recreational events are coming up over the summer, such as the ‘White Party,’ a major social event in Hong Kong.

Web: www.kaitakcruiseterminal.com.hk

Email: jbent@worldwideflight.com.hk








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Crystal Liu, communications manager at the Mandarin Oriental in Macau, is a bit like the hotel, and the former Portuguese colony, itself: energetic, welcoming and engaging.

“Macau is a beautiful experience,” says Crystal, whose enthusiasm for the city and hotel is matched by that of her colleagues. “It’s older than Hong Kong, and really easy to get around. It’s also foreigner-friendly; I know because I was born and raised in Taiwan and love it here.”

Spider crab wrapped in lobster jelly, avocado and mango sauce with Sturia caviarThe smallness of Macau, one of two “special administrative areas” of the People’s Republic of China, is an asset, she says. The exotic city is just 29.5 kilometres in area, so you can easily see the main attractions in two or three days – and that helps events organisers focus on the activities they’d like business visitors to embrace while they’re there, and absorb everything the place has to offer.

With 213 rooms and suites, the four-year-old, five-star Mandarin Oriental is also tiny by the standards of the city, some of whose massive casino hotels have 3,000 to 4,000 rooms. (Five of the world’s 10 largest casino resorts are here). Classy, luxurious and understated, it’s more like a hostelry you’d expect to find in Europe. “If you have thousands of rooms it’s difficult to provide personal service,” says Crystal. “We differentiate ourselves by being small, and handling smaller MICE groups of up to 200, so we can provide personal service which makes guests’ experience more pleasant.”

This includes the best attentions of a team of smiling, obliging staff, in-room check-ins, treatments at a spa that’s won a “Grand Jury” award in one of China’s top spa recognition programs, and meals at a splendid French restaurant (Vida Rica). The latter is a place of shimmering glass and elegant furnishings and design that’s rated as the number-one eatery in Macau on TripAdvisor, and recently won a top service award from the Macau Government Tourist Office.

IMG_8923At lunch at the Vida Rica one day, I tantalised my tongue with one of French chef Dominique Bugnand’s signature dishes – onion soup (below) – and fresh rolls baked on site, along with lobster-, caviar- and truffle-filled dim sims. It was sensationally good. His signature dishes include “spider crab wrapped in lobster jelly, avocado and mango sauce with Sturia caviar” (above) and “carrot mashed with orange dust and grilled shallot banana”.

An epicurean sensation

The breakfast buffets, also served here, are an epicurean sensation, an eclectic fusion of East and West, with fabulous fresh fruit – all imported – and omelettes to order jostling with noodles prepared at a buffet, sticky rice, fresh sole fillets, dim sim, salads, delicate sausage tarts, quiches, and much else.

Guests can choose to sit in the main dining area or in one of the four semi-private rooms, useful for gatherings of up to 16. For those requiring yet more intimacy, the chef’s table provides a fully private option.

Onion soup with Gruyere cheese espuma and onion jam on toastAs you’d expect from a marque like the Mandarin Oriental’s, the food is just one highlight of a stay at the property, set in a narrow, black glass structure at the end of a point of reclaimed land, and linked to a swish shopping mall and MGM casino. My sprawling room is serene, spacious and comfortable with cream wallpaper and blonde wood panelling. I have my own coffee machine, the bedding is of goosedown and there’s a twice-daily housekeeping service. The window gives a panoramic view of a slice of the continental coastline and South China Sea, where ships of all sizes chug to and fro.

From the hotel it’s a ten-minute walk to the centre of town, with a swag of World Heritage Sites like the A-Ma Temple, a Taoist shrine built in 1488, the Dom Pedro V, one of the first Western-style theatres in China, and St Augustine’s Church, built in 1591. Macau became a Portuguese colony in 1557 and was eventually handed back to China in 1999. But the Portuguese influence remains widely evident – in the multilingual signage and street names (like “Avenida da Ponte da Amizade”), and smatterings of the language you hear being spoken by passers-by.

Macau International Airport and the China border are 10 minutes away by car, and the Hong Kong-Macau ferry terminal is a five-minute drive. You can directly access Hong Kong airport by ferry in 45 minutes and central Hong Kong in an hour. Cost: about AUD25.

Photo-Mandarin Oriental, Macau-Vida Rica Bar3Gambling hiatus

“Macau is the only place in the world where you get a mix of Portuguese and Chinese style,” says Crystal Liu, pictured above. “Around 70% of our visitors are from mainland China. We also get visitors from Australia, a key target market, the US, Europe and Taiwan, which is one hour and twenty minutes’ flying time away.”

Many visitors obviously come to Macau to gamble. Interestingly, the gambling sector’s winning run came to an abrupt halt recently when growth in its annual, USD44 billion earnings fell as a result of the Chinese government’s drive to cut corruption and over-the-top spending by public-sector employees. But this hiatus is widely expected to last a year at most.

In many ways Macau is a “weekend city”, says Crystal, with a huge influx of visitors coming across the border from the mainland and from Hong Kong on Fridays. A road link to Hong Kong in a year or two will make access easier still.

Photo-Mandarin Oriental, Macau-Ocean RoomThat’s why, she adds, if your schedule allows it’s better to organise conferences and events at the Mandarin Oriental during the week: you get a better rate. There’s also less traffic and the attractions like the temples and churches have fewer visitors.

“The number of hotels here is growing all the time, and with more new properties coming on stream and more competition, it can only be good for visitors.”

When to go

In addition to considering weekdays to get the best deals, some events planners may want to avoid September, when people crowd into the city for fireworks displays, and November when the Formula 1 grand prix is happening and rates are higher. But at any time there’s plenty to do, from bungy jumping to museum visits. “The cultural scene is very enjoyable, but it’s more than that,” says Crystal. “It’s a unique place; there’s nothing else quite like it.”

As the only non-gaming five-star hotel on the Macau Peninsula, the Mandarin Oriental Macau promotes itself as a useful venue for quiet, focused meetings and conferences. It has four dedicated event spaces including a 320-square-metre ballroom which can be separated into two smaller function rooms. These have large sea-view windows and a spacious pre-function area.

From HKD 2,288 (AUD 370) year-round, based on availability

The hotel’s website advertises “the best and most flexible rates” along with complimentary transfers for guests booking a suite, and a variety of other special deals. The “Ultimate Spa Escape Package,” for example, starts from around USD570 and includes a night’s accommodation in a guestroom or suite, buffet breakfast for two, a two-hour signature treatment for two at the spa and more. Another “Macau Cultural Discovery Package” deal offers tours of the city.

To find out more email momac-reservations@mohg.com.

The Siteseer was a guest of Mandarin Oriental Macau.

Photo-Mandarin Oriental, Macau-Swimming Pool1