High at the Ritz: Unrivalled views at the world's tallest hotel
We visited the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong's construction site recently and we're still reeling. The half-constructed Ritz Carlton at the top of the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong will be the tallest hotel in the world when it opens at the beginning of 2011.
On our visit, we stood at the 102nd floor, where a couple of restaurants are currently under construction, and peered out the large windows to ogle the sight of Victoria Harbour. Vertigo ensued and we had to grab hold of the raw concrete walls to steady ourselves. It wasn't just the distance from the ground -- nearly 490 meters -- that inspired light-headedness, but the sheer beauty of Hong Kong under our feet had a knockout-punch effect on our senses. For a few seconds we forgot to breath, as our eyes met the full 180 degree-plus spread from Tsim Sha Tsui East to Central, to Sheung Wan, and then to the mouth of Victoria Harbour, widening out into an expanse of South China Sea that eventually merged with the shimmering horizon.
In every way, this is a hotel destined for hyperbole, but to say that the view is truly incomparable is no stretch of vocabulary. See the virtual tour above for a taste of what I'm going on about. It was taken from the ICC's observation deck at the 100th floor -- called sky100 -- a couple of floors below where the Ritz Carlton is going to be. It's a good way to warm up before an actual first-hand experience when the hotel is finally completed.
The 312-room Ritz Carlton Hong Kong will occupy levels 102 to 118 of the ICC, usurping the Park Hyatt Shanghai as the world's highest. Such ambitious plans for the Ritz in Hong Kong is indicative of the brand's increasing orientation towards Chinese consumers. In 2006, the Ritz only had one property in greater China, but by the end of this year, it will have eight. Chinese guests seem to be at the top of the Ritz's priority list.
"The Chinese are traveling more everywhere," says the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong general manager Mark DeCocinis to Forbes magazine. "Their influence will be very important to us."
Forbes reports that of the visitors to the Ritz Carlton brand's Asian hotels, 70 percent are from within the region. Of those, 60 percent are Chinese. As a reflection of this, the Hong Kong flagship hotel will focus on providing food and amenities that suit the expectations of Chinese travelers.
That includes six dining venues starting with designer Italian and Chinese restaurants on the 102nd floor, to the outdoor bar and eatery on the rooftop with unrivalled views of the city. The ESPA pampering facility will take up the 116th floor with nearly 900 square meters of treatment rooms, each with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to hypnotic views. The fitness center will have the usual state-of-the-art gym equipment, but will stand out with a massive LED screen ceiling over its indoor pool.
Sounds like the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong has ambitions to redefine luxury for their Hong Kong guests, no matter where they're from.