DAY ONE — I’ve got my eye mask, three different noise cancelling head phones to try, the iPad loaded with my favorite TV shows, my Kindle loaded with new mysteries, healthy snacks, special socks from SmartWool, neck pillow…have I forgotten anything?
I’m flying 15 hours nonstop to Hong Kong from New York and I’m dreading it. Yes, I’m flying Coach on Cathay Pacific. One break, when I went to check in, I discovered there was one last extra legroom seat available for $100. I grabbed it.
And I have to admit, the flight wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. The exit-row seat meant I had plenty of room. There were scores of movie and TV options but my Kindle and iPad kept me busy. My neck pillow kept me comfy until I somehow dropped it on the way to the bathroom—it didn’t turn up until we arrived in Hong Kong.
And the food was more than tolerable—chicken with soy sauce and shitake mushrooms, the first go round and then beef with oyster sauce for the second dinner (there were other choices too). The best: Hagen Daz ice cream bar for desert. The crew was nicer than I recall on recent flights too.
Of course the Ambien whiled away the time too.
When I got to Hong Kong, I was whisked to the tallest hotel in the world—the new Ritz-Carlton. Wow what a happening place. I head to the Lounge for some soup (the best hot and sour soup I’ve ever eaten) and possibly the best view—I’m starting down 103 floors right into the bright lights of Hong Kong Harbor!
I finish the soup and some crab wontons and go to sleep…only to be up at 4 a.m. writing this!
Soon I head to the Ritz Club—I love these clubs around the world which offer food and drink from 6:30 am until 11:30 at night—complementary of course—free WiFi and the help of concierges.
At a big busy hotel like this, it is a calming respite and I’ve found from Orlando to here, I have the most interesting conversations with travelers. Maybe it is that the lounge is so relaxing. And the free food and drinks don’t hurt either. The lounge and the knock out fitness center (imagine exercising with views of Hong Kong spread out beneath you and being able to Facebook and Tweet as you go) are open 24 hours.
It is easy to see why this hotel—118 stories, 1607 feet, the tallest in the world- has become a go-to destination for locals as well as leisure and business travelers.
Families come because of the huge pool with the view of the city (not to mention the LED display on the ceiling) the restaurants that offer 360 degree views of Hong Kong (teens as well as their parents especially will love the outdoor terrace at the bar Ozone with the picture-postcard view of Hong Kong—the spa and of course all the shopping nearby.
Executive Chef Peter Find, himself the parent of two young children, suggests that here, like in the USA, children are more sophisticated eaters. “It is easier when you eat Chinese style,” he says “Because families share everything anyway.” That’s another plus to taking children to fine restaurants. “They behave better,” he believes. “They feel more special!”
Kids and teens will love this glitzy hotel–all the shimmering chandeliers, the colorful art and the views of the city. The hotel is 90 per cent full on weekends in part because of local families, says hotel spokesman Bonnie Kwok.
Hong Kong, I think is a good introduction to Asia, whether you are going to Thailand or China (by 2013, the high speed rail will be operational, linking Kowloon and Hong Kong with Mainland China) everyone here speaks English as well as Chinese.
You can bargain in the markets, hike and try every variety of food. Teens especially will love the Mong Kok area and Granville Roadd where they can get every variety of knock off clothing and gadgets, locals say.
And while you are here, make sure to eat local too. For the bountiful buffet in the Ritz Club, I opt for Chinese options—miso soup, dumplings and fried noodles. Yum!