Posts Tagged ‘Kowloon’

Hong Kong – All About Shopping?

August 31st, 2010 at 12:14 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

“You can see all there is to see around Hong Kong in a couple of days, Mr. Richter.

People really come to Hong Kong for the shopping.”

So said one of the concierges at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Hong Kong island, where we had just checked in after spending a couple of days in Macao (or Macau – both appear correct spellings) and a few more days across the harbor from Hong Kong island in Kowloon back in July.

The concierge was mostly right – shopping does seem to be the big draw in Hong Kong, with high end brands offered left and right in excess beyond compare. And while fashion – ranging from Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Versace, to Prada, Chanel, and Gucci – is ever present, even more rampant are jewelry (spelled locally as “jewellery”) stores. We thought Aruba’s dozens of jewelry stores were bad, but in Hong Kong shopping areas (which seems to be pretty much everywhere that tourists might wander), there are hundreds if not thousands of jewelry shops. Most numerous among those appear to be the chains of Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook, of which there are dozens on the so-called Golden Mile of Nathan Road, Kowloon-side.

And expensive watches from Rolex, Piaget, Patek Philippe, and a host of others are easily found at either their own stores, or any of the countless jewelry stores.

While we are certainly materialists and capitalists ourselves (my weakness being technology “toys” and kitchen equipment), the sheer materialistic excess we saw in Hong Kong was beyond comprehension.

And more interesting is that the primary wealthy consumer who comes to Hong Kong to shop for jewelry and name brand couture is Asian, frequently from mainland China, a communist country. I won’t even pretend to understand the sorts of economics that would allow someone from mainland China afford one or more $20,000 Rolex watches.

The other thing we found prevalent in Kowloon (but not Hong Kong island) were touts, typically all of Indian background, offering replica watches, like Rolexes and bespoke (custom, made to order) tailoring services. It was almost impossible to walk down Nathan Road without a dozen approaches for a custom suit or a knock off watch.

In any event, not being consumers of fashion and bling, we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves. And we did. More on that in upcoming posts.

A small photo gallery is below. Click on the images to get slightly larger versions. Larger versions are on Flickr.

 

The Peninsula – A Few Images

July 18th, 2010 at 4:53 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Before moving on to observations and photos of Kowloon and Hong Kong, I’d like to provide a few more photos of The Peninsula hotel we stayed in.

The Peninsula at night, with fountain

The Peninsula at night, with fountain

If you ever end up coming to Hong Kong, we can highly recommend that you spend at least a night or two at The Peninsula, and definitely splurge on a Harbour View room (see the previous post on why I think that).

Doorman at The Peninsula

Doorman at The Peninsula

Our room itself was large and comfortable, and quite quiet (with the exception of a loud neighbor one afternoon – but that was short lived). The view was exceptional, and the service quite good.

The Peninsula at night

The Peninsula at night

However, what really made our stay special was the Concierge staff, whom I peppered with dozens of questions about everything ranging from dining, street food, and public transportation, to markets, sight seeing, and getting a last minute table at the posh in-house French restaurant for only dessert one night. Most often it was Kandi at the Concierge desk who fell victim to my questions, and she handled all my queries wonderfully well.

Kandi - our most excellent concierge at The Peninsula

Kandi - our most excellent concierge at The Peninsula

The other thing The Peninsula is known for is their afternoon tea, but we didn’t find it to be anything extraordinary compared to other afternoon teas we have enjoyed around the world. However, being a guest at the hotel, you can get a table reserved for you – something that mere pikers off the street (and there are hundreds who wait in line for the afternoon tea) cannot get.

Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula

Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula

The lobby at The Peninsula

The lobby at The Peninsula

(For the record, the absolute best afternoon tea we have ever had was at the Amstel hotel in Amsterdam last October. It was a veritable tea tasting and feast, with seven different types of tea served and enough finger food for a small army. Maybe I’ll get a chance to post pictures of that at some point.)

 

And We Continue to Be Spoiled…

July 17th, 2010 at 11:20 am (AST) by Jake Richter

We had booked our first five nights in Hong Kong at The Peninsula, rated one of the top hotels in the world. Part of the Fine Hotels and Resorts Package we booked through American Express Travel included complimentary airport transfers, a room upgrade, and afternoon tea for two at The Peninsula.

The airport transfers are extra special, however, as The Peninsula has the world’s largest fleet of Rolls Royce limousines, and that’s what you get chauffeured in from the airport on Lantau island to the hotel in the Tsim Shu Tsui section of Kowloon. But the service doesn’t start with the drive. As we deplaned, moderately well rested due to the comforts of our first class flight, we were greeted at the gate by someone holding a sign up with our names on it. He took our carry-on bags and rolled them to the immigration line (sadly, there was no shortcut or express lane for us there), while telling us about The Peninsula and answering any questions we had about Hong Kong.

After immigration we picked up our bags (which came off the conveyor belt quickly because they were priority tagged) and were brought past customs and then outside where our custom dark green Rolls Royce limo was waiting, along with Lee, our driver.

The Peninsula's Rolls Royce airport transfer at night with Lee driving

The Peninsula's Rolls Royce airport transfer at night with Lee driving

It was an incredibly smooth 25 minute ride to the hotel, where our luggage was whisked away and we were brought to our room by Tiffany, a delightful young Chinese woman, who checked us in while in our room (actually, our second room as the first was a bit smoky smelling). We ultimately ended up on the 25th floor, with a room overlooking Hong Kong island (more on the view later).

Daytime view of The Peninsula's Rolls Royce limousines

Daytime view of The Peninsula's Rolls Royce limousines

Our luggage gets loaded into the Rolls Royce limousine upon departure from The Peninsula

Our luggage gets loaded into the Rolls Royce limousine upon departure from The Peninsula

And, yesterday (Friday), we took advantage of the transfer in our package to have another Rolls Royce limousine drop us and our bags off at a hotel on Hong Kong island. The bags stayed and we continued on by ferry to Macau (which I hope to document in a future post).

Dennis drives us to our next adventure in Hong Kong in one of The Peninsula's Rolls Royce limousines

Dennis drives us to our next adventure in Hong Kong in one of The Peninsula's Rolls Royce limousines

We could definitely get used to being chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce limousine, but it’s not likely to happen on Bonaire or anywhere else on a regular basis, I think.

Linda the rock star

Linda the rock star

Jake's Rolls Royce self-portrait - can you smell the leather interior yet?

Jake's Rolls Royce self-portrait - can you smell the leather interior yet?