Hong Kong Travel Guide
With the holiday season just a month or so away (sorry to be the bearer of bad news), Shangri-La is giving members of its Golden Circle rewards program the opportunity to help out two Hong Kong based charities, Oxfam Hong Kong (which aids poverty and disaster relief) and MedArt (which brings care to those in long-term confinement, such as prisons, psychiatric institutions, hospices, homes for the elderly, etc).
For every 1,000 points given by a member, Golden Circle will donate $20 to one of the charities on the member’s behalf. The minimum donation starts at 2,000 points and can be increased by increments of 1,000 up until a maximum of 10,000, equivalent to a $200 cash donation. Members may donate by visiting the “Redeem Points” section on Golden Circle's website.
The donated points are forfeited from your account in exchange for the donation made by Golden Circle. How much these points are actually worth varies. For example, at a Shangri-La "collection A" hotel, a standard room is worth 1,000 points/night. At the highest tier of hotels, "collection G," a standard room is worth 20,000 points. So, a guest who donates 2,000 points sacrifices a two-night stay and the hotel donates $40 to charity.
We've long been suspicious of the in-room hotel safe after personally encountering safes that simply didn't work and after hearing several tales of the safe getting robbed, like this one. But if you were still trusting the hotel safe to keep your valuables protected, this story may really cause you to think again.
At the posh Peninsula Hong Kong, one of the most high-tech hotels in the world, a man wearing hotel slippers tricked the staff into thinking he was a guest, not only gaining access to a hotel room but also getting the password to the in-room safe. Here's how he did it:
"Speaking in English, he told hotel staff that he had lost his room key and demanded another one," the [South China Morning Post] cited a Hong Kong police officer as saying, adding that the man provided details of the 47-year-old male occupant including name and birthdate, without saying how he had obtained such information.
After entering the room, the man "telephoned the front desk from the room saying he had forgotten the password of the safe and asked for assistance to open it", the officer was quoted by the SCMP as saying.
The thief managed to walk away with about $4,900 in cash, a computer, a wallet and a piece of luggage. So far, no arrests have been made but we're pretty sure that couple will never, ever, ever, use the hotel safe again. Or maybe, Hong Kong just needs to beef up their hotel security. After all, a HotelChatter tipster was able to uncover where NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was hiding out, thanks to a very nice hotel operator.
Traveling with some pretty nice stuff but don't want to use the hotel safe? Read our tips after the jump!
If you ever need to track down someone in a hotel, it helps to put someone who works in a hotel on the job. When we guessed the whereabouts of the PRISM whistleblower, Edward Snowden, this morning, we threw out a couple of not-so-serious hotel guesses. But someone reading our story took it very seriously.
Our own Macau Deepthroat, as we call him, noticed the interview setting that Snowden did for the Guardian UK looked very similar to the rooms at The Mira Hong Kong in Kowloon Park. A quick Google image search confirmed this for him. Then MD went to the next level. Here's what he did:
With this bit of information I called to the hotel and claimed that I had sent a fax to Mr Snowden but it had never reached his room. The friendly operator confirmed then that Mr Edward Snowden had checked out at 12:30 pm and explained that this may have been the reason why he never received my fax message. I thanked her and ended the call.
I then called a second time to the hotel, this time I asked for the reservations department and pretended to be interested in extending Mr Edward Snowden's stay as he had to remain in Hong Kong due to unforeseen circumstances. I only provide the name and the fact that he had checked out of a Parkview Room today and a second later the reservations agent happily provides me the room number (on 10th floor) and quotes the rates for an extension of stay...
As I work in hotels, I know how to play the game and get the information one wants...
Where Snowden has gone is anyone's guess but we're sure the CIA and the NSA are on it. Meanwhile, the Mira might need to have a conversation with their "friendly" operators.
UPDATE: Our own Macau Deepthroat has uncovered Snowden's hotel. Alas, he has already checked out.
Yesterday, the Guardian UK published (with his permission) the identity of the 29-year-old man responsible for leaking the National Security Administrations's classified surveillance program, PRISM to the public. His name is Edward Snowden and he is currently hiding in a hotel in Hong Kong, fearful of the repercussions yet convinced he has done the right thing.
As you can imagine, he's pretty paranoid. But at least he's making good of the hotel's room service, something he can't do at the Hilton New York. The Guardian reports:
In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. "I've left the room maybe a total of three times during my entire stay," he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room too, he has run up big bills.
He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.
With the identity of the leak revealed, now the new mystery iswhere is Snowden spending his (limited) days?
The boutique brand will feature a burnished bronze "dragon" that will wrap around the facade of the new building acting as a screen for shielding the interior from heat and harnessing solar power.
Each of the 138 rooms is individually designed to reflect the flare of the historic Wan Chai neighborhood. Keeping with Hong Kong's colonial heritage, the rooms will marry both Asian and European influences with a modern touch. Along with the unique design, the entire property will offer complimentary WiFi throughout.
Mandarin Oriental is in a serious party-mood these days. We’ve already talked about the $60,000 New Year’s Eve package that lets you ring in 2013 baller-style in Las Vegas, but next year will bring a whole range of celebrations on the other side of the world when Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong turns the big five-o.
Difficult as it may be to imagine, given the maze of skyscrapers in the city today, but when the hotel opened in 1963, its 27 floors made it the tallest building on Hong Kong Island, and the first in Asia with bathtubs in every room.
A Grand Deluxe Harbour View Suite
Six months or so later, the first phase, covering all rooms in the Peninsula Tower, is complete. We love the warm colors and the artwork on the wall in the Harbour View room; inspired by Chinese ink paintings, these are three-dimensional branches, leaves, and blossoms made of laser-cut bronze-lacquered stainless steel. Flora and fauna inspired details show up throughout, with a Grand Deluxe Suite having a similar design woven into the carpet.
Changes in décor may be the first thing you notice, but in-room technology is where the hotel has gotten serious with its upgrades.
If you couldn’t make it to Marc Jacobs’ New York City fashion show last night, perhaps you can try his tea instead?
MO Bar, at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong has linked with the designer to create an afternoon tea modeled after…a handbag.
We know it’s early in the week and day and the coffee may not have sunk in yet, so we’re going to try and explain this the best we can. “The Lindy” is a handbag from Jacobs’ Fall 2012 collection and the MO’s Exec Sous Chef Sidney Schutte thought it would be cute to bring some elements of the bag's shape, color, and print into the tea presentation—namely the bow and the mini studs.
Over on Jaunted, you can get our inside looks at some of the world’s best airline lounges, so we thought we’d do something similar here and start talking about some of the hotel lounges we’ve frequented lately for our series on Hotel Club Lounges. Today, we're having a look inside the Executive Lounge at the Conrad Hong Kong, and some impressive thunderstorms out the window.
Earlier this year we had a peek at the pool that belongs to the Conrad Hong Kong, a 61-story tall tower attached to the luxury Pacific Place mall on Hong Kong Island. Now we can follow up with a little more detail on the hotel's Executive lounge, located on the 59th floor.
When booked on the Executive floor, you are whisked straight up to the lounge upon arrival for check in, while sitting down and having your first drink. Located on the harbour side of the hotel, the lounge offers fantastic views over Hong Kong Island towards Tsim Tsa Tshui across the water.
Executive floor rooms are from floor 57 and up, but we'd recommend to request a room on floor 58, 59, or 60. Floors 58 and 60 are connected to the lounge via a small spiral staircase, which makes popping to your room much easier than waiting for an elevator for all of two floors.
You know how much we obsess over the kind of toiletries we find in hotel bathrooms so when we stayed at the Upper House in Hong Kong last year, we kind of didn't know what to do with ourselves when we opened up their toiletry kit.
The kit, given to every guest in every room category, featured REN facial and body products along with a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, nail kit and even nail polish remover. Toiletry overload! In a totally awesome way of course.
But the best part of it all was a plastic "Airline Security Bag" in case you want to stash some of these toiletries in your carry-on for the flight home. Being religious users of plastic baggies with TSA-approved sizes, this was an especially nice touch.
So we have to ask...have you ever seen this sort of "toiletry" before? Let us know where in comments below! Or just dish out your favorite hotel toiletry finds. We can never get enough of those!
The hotel is attached to Pacific Place, one of many luxury shopping malls in the city. It's also across the way (via an indoor walkway) from the Island Shangri-La Hotel, another traditional luxury hotel.
Since rooms go for about $573 a night here, we made do with peeping in on some of the other parts of the hotel. Sadly, we didn't get inside a room but you can always study those here.
When HotelChatter popped into the Peninsula Hong Kong just over a year ago, there wasn't much that we didn't like at the hotel from the welcome amenities to the in-room telescopes, the bedside tech control panel and the white-gloved service.
But all this "classic lushness" may have been a little too "classic" as the hotel has just announced the start of a major guestroom redesign which will update all 297 rooms in both of the hotel's towers.
Conceived by The Peninsula Hotels in-house design team, the newly enhanced rooms showcase the finest materials and craftsmanship, boasting a bespoke luxury residential feel. With an accent on Classic Modernity, simplicity and chic elegance, the new room aesthetic melds the distinctive design touches and practicality present in today’s luxury yachts, motorcars, and private jets, taking The Peninsula guest experience to the next level.