Lighting up The Harbor

When business took a big dip around this time last year, the Hotel Inter-Continental Hong Kong made the most of the lull by sprucing up the property just in time for the surge in U.S. business this year.

By: Cheryl Woodruff

When business took a big dip around this time last year, the Hotel Inter-Continental Hong Kong made the most of the lull by sprucing up the property just in time for the surge in U.S. business this year.

“October is one of our strongest months,” said spokesperson Carole Klein. “The U.S., especially the West and East coasts, continues to be our strongest market, representing close to 50% of our business.”

Featuring the most spectacular harbor views of any hotel in Hong Kong, an unforgettable waterfront lobby, a feng shui-inspired spa with private saunas, and the innovative seafood restaurant Yu, it’s no wonder the hotel is frequently highly ranked in surveys by Conde Naste Traveler, Travel & Leisure, and other publications.

The 17-story contemporary-style, red-and-black granite building has three-story, plate-glass windows showcasing the sweeping harbor views from the lobby, restaurants and guest rooms.

A huge, outdoor swimming pool is surrounded by gardens, a terrace with a bar and three spa pools set in granite with glass walls.

Yu restaurant serving such entrees as Yu drunken prawn on crystal pastry cannelloni and lobster bisque cappuccino features a unique undulating bubble wall with two fish tanks inside.

Two-thirds of the 422 guest rooms and all of the 92 suites overlook the harbor. Large Italian-marble bathrooms with sunken tubs and separate showers highlight rooms and suites.

All units offer air-conditioning, air-purification systems, safes, minibars, refrigerators remote-controlled televisions, Internet and e-mail access, and two-line speakerphones with voice mail.

What’s New

Inter-Continental has made significant changes since it took over the property last year:

The lobby is lighter and brighter with shades of off-white, celery and eggplant, modern furniture and sycamore paneling.

The new, mezzanine-level Club Inter-Continental, a technology-equipped lounge for business guests, was designed with the pale colors and sycamore paneling of the lobby, plus translucent glass walls and checkerboard floors. Of course, the backdrop of the room is the hotel’s signature panoramic harbor views.

Cocktails, champagne, wine, hors d’oeuvres, afternoon tea, pastries and a variety of soft beverages are served throughout the day.

Unveiled Oct. 1 was the expanded 2,345-square-foot spa and fitness center. Additions include three massage rooms with teak floors and sycamore and blackwood walls, each with its own Japanese-style garden. The spa is known for its feng-shui design and its green-granite rooms with private saunas, steam-showers, whirlpools and jet-lag treatments. The amount of cardiovascular and resistance equipment in the fitness center has doubled.

Plume, the famed European fine-dining restaurant, which closed in January, is scheduled to reopen in September 2003 with a world-renowned chef and a new dining concept, Klein said.

On my two-day, jet-lagged stay last winter, I was struck by the elegant Asian decor that accentuated the harbor views. The lobby cafe, opening onto the waterfront, gives the impression of the lobby and water overlapping.

The suite accommodations were the perfect antidote for my foggy mind and tired body: A mirrored entry led to a living room with recessed lighting, Asian art, grass-cloth walls, raw-silk accessories, bamboo furniture and views of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island.

The bedroom included a walk-in closet with built-in drawers, a sitting alcove with a sofa, and a king-size bed sporting a silk spread.

The unit featured a marble powder room with a pedestal sink, a dressing room with a vanity and a huge marble bathroom with a separate shower and a whirlpool tub from which I savored white wine and harbor views.

The butler provided service with a capital S, appearing within minutes every time I pushed a button (once accidentally in the middle of the night).

The hotel is located on Salisbury Road in Kowloon, in the center of the shopping, dining and entertainment district. Chek Lap Kok airport is accessible via public transportation, and the hotel offers Mercedes limousine service.

Hotel Review

Hits: Views, ambience, location, service, food, spa, suites.

Misses: In a state of flux due to new ownership when I was there, but now settling down.

Clientele: Mostly business, 50% from the U.S.

Be aware: Too many shopping temptations nearby.

Rates: Rooms $250-$326; suites $634-$1,442. Contacts: 800-327-0200;