27 April, 2012

A staycation at The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

27 April, 2012

After living in this city for nearly five years, I thought I knew it all. I knew the quick weekend getaway spots, the restaurants to bring out of town guests, and where the best places to be pampered were. Well, it seems that my knowledge was lacking a major part of what is on offer here in this fine city. Enter The Ritz-Carlton!

I assumed that the hotel would be similar to its former version that was located in Central several years ago. Boy was I wrong! This Ritz is a much newer, shinier version of its old self and now looks out over the harbour with pride! It’s located in ICC and occupies the 102nd to the 118th floors of the towering building; apparently guests call looking for a high room not realising that every room is soaring above the city!

The day I checked in was one of the sunniest and brightest days HK has seen in a while, so naturally I was already in a great mood for my mid-week staycation. I hopped in a taxi from Mid-Levels and was at the hotels’ 9th floor entrance at ICC within 15 minutes! Why did Kowloon always seem so far before?!? Two valets promptly greeted me upon arrival and, while my bag was whisked away to my room, I was led to the club level check-in on the 116th floor.

After a relaxing cup of tea at club level, I was led to the 113th floor where a simple touch of the keycard opened my room. The first thing you notice are the enormous windows overlooking Hong Kong, which seemed to appear as a blanket laid out at my feet! Once I pulled myself away from the view, I noticed that both the TV in the room and in the bathroom were greeting me by name! I had mentioned to the valet on the way up that my birthday was coming up… by the time I entered the room, there was a personalised birthday card from the manager waiting for me! There were also personalised stationary and business cards with my name and “In Residence” printed below; it’s simple touches like this that set the Ritz uniquely apart from other hotel chains.

While unpacking, I discovered a wonderful treat… His and Hers closets! While my other half and I love sharing a life together, we hate sharing closet space. Now we don’t even have to do this on vacations. Brilliant!

My favourite feature of the room was the window seat, which sprawled across the whole of the window. I promptly curled up like a kitten and let the beauty below me seep in! This feeling of contentment had a lot to do with the weather (in addition to the environment); ICC can easily be encased in a cloud during the more temperamental months of the year. I was told that some guests have actually complained and asked for a refund because the view wasn’t visible the day they visited. But to stay at The Ritz is to enjoy a luxuriously appointed suite, an unmatched level of service, and the convenience of being in the heart of a major metropolitan city… in short, you are buying an experience and the view is simply the cherry on top! Though the day outside may be hazy or grey, inside the atmosphere is always incredible!!

The club level is an extravagance worth splurging on. It is always stocked with drinks and nibblies, has an impressive high tea spread and an indulgent breakfast, as well. There are jars of sweets and cookies located throughout the room, so you are never more than a few footsteps from a guilty pleasure! I took full advantage of the high tea and free wifi and even managed to sneak a bit of work in too.

Once I felt that I was in a good place work-wise, I headed over to the spa to bask in a 90-minute Radiance Facial with a Jade Stone Eye Treatment. The spa was actually getting a bit of a face lift, so a few hotel rooms were transformed into temporary treatment rooms; no matter the change in venue, the experience was still divine! I was lulled into a near sleep while my therapist massaged and cleansed, and then massaged and cleansed again. The high point had to be when she ran the smooth cool jade stone roller over my face – I wondered to myself if I could pickup one of these rollers at the Jade Market, but then my thoughts wandered off and I went to sleep again!

Back in the room, I enjoyed listening to cool chill-out tunes on the provided iPod as I readied myself for dinner at Tosca with my better half. As we descended the escalator from the 103rd floor, we knew this was going to be an extraordinary experience. The walkways were lit on all sides with a red and blue glow that led into the main dining space and the floor to ceiling windows were like a movie screen showcasing the light show before us! We enjoyed a delightful Italian-inspired Tasting Menu with expertly-selected wine pairings and at the end of the meal, I was presented with a dense chocolatey birthday cake that I barely had room to enjoy… though I managed to find the tummy space somehow!

After dinner, we took the lift to Ozone on the top floor, which is a staggering 490 meters above sea level. The outdoor area was packed with what appeared to be tourists taking in the sights so we couldn’t be seated, but the drinks list is impressive and the cocktails delicious! Even if you don’t stay at the Ritz, you must stop by Ozone and have a liquid refreshment.

As my head hit the pillow that night, I realised that I actually had a choice for what firmness of pillow I would lie on. Does this get any better?! I went for the softer of the two and was lulled into a deep dream-filled sleep. When I woke to the early morning light, I couldn’t wait to go up to the club level and peruse the breakfast spread to view what might be included! Once there, I indulged in a very unhealthy yet delicious morning platter full of dumplings, pastries, and a few sugar sprinkled doughnut creations, while my husband had a more adult offering of perfectly portioned eggs, bacon, and fruit. I declared that I was also on vacation from both work and healthy foods! Check-out was seamless as all we had to do was fill out a small business card sized form and hand it over to the desk. This left us more time for a second round of breakfast goodies!

Though I had such good intentions of a morning workout and swim, I decided that I would also be on holiday from any activities that involved sweating. Nevertheless, both looked fantastically hi-tech, with the gym sporting TVs on every machine even while they faced that sonnet-worthy view. The pool boasted an enormous 28m x 7m LED screen on the ceiling… Attention to detail, once again.

Overall, I had an incredible time at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong! It made me feel like a star in my own city and I realised that maybe there is still more to discover here. If you are looking for an unbelievably memorable night away without really having to get away, how about trying a staycation here… It will remind you again just how special and beautiful Hong Kong can be.

SASSY DEAL: 15% discount on all treatments at The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA. All you have to do is mention the code “RCSassy” when making the booking. The offer is valid during weekdays only and valid from 1 May 2012 to 31 Oct 2012.

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2263 2263


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