Area Guide – Wan Chai/Admiralty

View 62 / The Executive Centre at Three Pacific Place –

View 62As one of Hong Kong’s first urban areas, Wan Chai is a busy commercial hub that is home to many small and medium-sized firms, as well as consular offices and shipping companies.

Located midway between the west and east sides of Hong Kong Island, Wan Chai boasts an efficient, convenient and highly accessible transport infrastructure. The district also has numerous office towers, parks, hotels and an international conference and exhibition centre.

All of these make Wan Chai an attractive locale for doing business, with establishments such as the recently opened View 62 and The Executive Centre at Three Pacific Place set up to capitalise on the area’s corporate population.

Occupying what was formerly the R66 restaurant atop the Hopewell Centre, View 62 boasts a stunning panorama and interior design. As the city’s only revolving restaurant, it is ideal for a working lunch, after-work drinks or meeting and greeting clients.

The restaurant was conceptualised by two-star Michelin chef Paco Roncero, who is known for his avant-garde cuisine in Madrid. Thus, amid View 62’s
contemporary interior design, one can savour contemporary dishes such as the creamy omelette in a martini glass or the Chilean sea bass with “Iberico Air” (foam from 60-month-aged Iberico ham).

After lunch, business road warriors hoping to catch up on some work can head to The Executive Centre at Three Pacific Place and choose from 43  offices with customisable sizes. It also has conference and training facilities, including a video-conference room. Tenants at the Grade-A office tower include The Bank of New York, Microsoft Hong Kong and Philips Electronics.

Full virtual-office packages – which come with a business address, phone-answering service, mail and message management, plus 60 hours of workspace use and three hours of meeting room use – start at HK$3,200.

Originally published in South China Morning Post, December 2012

Steak Out – Carnevino

The talented people from Dining Concepts have done it again, with Carnevino being another successful partnership between the budding restaurant group and the New York-based chef Mario Balti.

With the dust has barely settled on the opening of Mario Batali’s Lupa in LHT Tower on Queen’s Road Central, the busy chef-lebrity has just opened his second restaurant in Hong Kong, Carnevino, in the same building one floor above. Although both restaurants are targeted at a similar set of clients, Carnevino is slightly more upscale and formal than Lupa, with the new restaurant actually being part of an award-winning chain from Las Vegas. Continue reading Steak Out – Carnevino

Home gym as a handy option to stay healthy

FINAL X1 Track_mrAs time is money in hectic Hong Kong, many cannot go to the gym to lose those extra kilograms gained during executive lunches.

If one can’t go to the gym, the gym can come to those who want some exercise – in the comfort of home.

A home gym does not occupy as much space as one might think, and it doesn’t have to contain complex equipment. They are easy to customise, based on individual tastes and a reflection of one’s own needs.

When setting up a home gym, one should think about space, ventilation, comfortable flooring, music systems, mirrors and washrooms.

Some of the most common equipment used in home gyms includes treadmills, a multipurpose bench, squat track, Swiss balls, jump ropes, yoga mats, plus weightlifting equipment such as dumbbells or free weights.

Or in the case of Shelly Chan, who is the director of retail operations at a major international hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, a treadmill will do nicely.

Despite her busy work and social life, Chan wants a balanced life, spreading her time between work, family and leisure. Unfortunately, this means other things in life, such as exercise, are often discarded.

Chan is determined not to let this state of affairs continue. With no time to go to a gym and even less time to go out and exercise, she has set up her own home workout routine which, thanks to a treadmill and advice from a Life Fitness coach, allows her to keep everything in check.

“A home gym has many advantages,” Chan says. “I have two girls in local schools and they have quite a lot of homework. After I come home in the evenings, I need to take care of them and check their homework, so time is quite tight.

“Making use of a home gym helps with this, as it not only allows me to have a workout in the evenings, after helping the girls, it also enables me to talk to them at the same time – or even talk on the phone and do other stuff.”

Chan’s first foray into the fitness world was in the United States several years ago, when she joined a local gym that was a few minutes’ drive from her home. In Hong Kong, gyms are quite different as she found out after joining one for a short while when she moved back here.

“If you average it out, a home gym is cheaper than joining a gym and there are other benefits, too,” she says. “Gyms in Hong Kong are too pushy, especially for women. Staff tend to push hard not only for gym memberships, but also for facials, massage and skincare products as well.

“A home gym is also very handy because I can take a shower whenever I want without having to wait, and there are fewer distractions at home. At a gym, you might run into somebody you know, but at home I have the option to focus on something else while I am working out, or give it my full concentration,” Chan says.

“I just don’t have the time to go to a gym and work out. Visiting a gym at lunch is too rushed as I have to get some food at the same time and, after work, I don’t have the time as I finish quite late and have to come home to the girls and my mind is not relaxed either. Not to mention, traffic in Hong Kong is crazy.”

The onus in a home gym should be on ensuring quality equipment, not quantity.

“The great thing about a home gym is that it is very easy to add to the equipment as you see fit,” Chan says. “I just need to focus on a few areas, so I just have a piece of equipment for my back and a treadmill from Life Fitness.”

She says home gyms are becoming a more popular exercise option among her colleagues and friends.

Chan adds that staying healthy is becoming more important the older she gets. “I’ve seen a lot of colleagues who have become sick and I’d like to keep an eye on my health as much as possible,” she says.

Ash Wayburne, director of T8 Fitness in Hong Kong, says home gyms are flexible. “There are many options when it comes to working out at home. In Hong Kong, flexibility is key, as everybody has busy schedules.

“Being able to do a full body workout at home is a massive benefit. It also means that exercise is always available, and can easily become part of your daily routine.

“We know everybody is busy. We have products that can be used at home, on the road, or even at the office – there are no excuses. We try our best to combine quality and affordability, while taking into account the fact that most people do not have much space in Hong Kong.”

Wayburne has seen the fitness equipment sector in Hong Kong go from strength to strength. “People are looking for alternative options to conventional workouts – whether it be something like Pilates, boot-camp style workouts, or working out at home. Space is still a barrier in Hong Kong, but people are becoming much more aware of their health and, more importantly, are prepared to do something about it.”

Originally published in LuxeHomes South China Morning Post, November 2012 

Sightseeing with a Conscience – Ecotourism, Kota Kinabalu

Envisage – if you will – the tourism of the future, and no I don’t mean some Richard Branson utopian form of space tourism, I mean the kind of Star Trek tourism where you could beam yourself into another life for a day, Total Recall style. Imagine if science fiction came true and you could be just like Arnie – you could buy yourself a piece of memory revealing the idyllic escapade of a lifetime. There would be no environmental problems, no harmful detriments on society, not a centimeter of construction or pollution involved, and no greedy conglomerates to steal profit or culture from the locals. Welcome to the future, welcome to ecotourism.

Actually, in all honesty you can just go straight on imagining, because my allegorical metaphor isn’t specifically exact, but ecotourism does mange to alleviate some of these problems. I am sure most people have heard of ecotourism by now and it really is a love or hate concept. You either take the hedonistic ‘live life, screw the environment’ standpoint or stand on the opposing ‘bored of classical tourism, let’s have an authentic experience and save the environment at the same time’ side. I may refer to the latter stance sarcastically, but really whomever ecotourism attracts; the eventuality does more good than harm.

Continue reading Sightseeing with a Conscience – Ecotourism, Kota Kinabalu

Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong hotel

Shanghai ifc, 8 Century Avenue, Lujiazui, Pudong 200120 China   

Although the impressively groundbreaking Ritz Carlton Hong Kong just opened barely a few months ago another equally impressive milestone from the group has been making a steady stream of waves over in Shanghai city for the past few months as well. Officially opened back at the end of last year, the Ritz Carlton Pudong is a marvel to behold and, like the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, the fresh new Shanghai property also boasts a large number of breathtaking feats, including Shanghai’s highest al fresco dining and wining venue, awe-inspiring design traces, plus unrivalled hotel-wide views over Shanghai. Developed by Hong Kong locals, Sun Hung Kai Properties, the hotel is a real stunner and it is unmistakably evident that no expenses were spared in the creation of this masterpiece. Set amidst the upper floors of the Cesar Pelli-designed Shanghai ifc, the hotel reaches for design and architectural heights, which it achieves with class. The cloud-touching property is an integral feature of Shanghai ifc and it enters in as the second Ritz Carlton in the city, and seventh in China. The interiors are just as perfect as the exterior, with designs from Singapore-based Richard Farnell and restaurants by Japan’s legendary Super Potato.

The 285 modern Art Deco rooms feature a lush array of textures, materials, furnishings and technology, with Blu-ray players appearing alongside coffee pod machines, beautifully-designed free-standing bathtubs, and more marble than you can shake a stick at. Richard Farnell’s touches also prettify the property throughout, with patches of real Stingray skin decorating some of the public areas, and meeting rooms which feature an Alice-in-Wonderland chic. For business and conferences one could not get much better, with the hotel’s 1,135 metre square ballroom supposedly being the second largest hotel ballroom in Shanghai. There is also over 2,250sqm of conference and meeting space, with plenty of natural light and outdoor spaces as well. The climax of the hotel is the 58th floor lounge and restaurant called Flair, which has a split-level outdoor terrace with views directly across to the big ball of the Pearl Tower – quite possibly the best rooftop bar in the world.

Originally published in South China Morning Post, July 2011 

 

 

 

Workers stay bullish on economy and job hopes

The new Michael Page Employee Intentions Report reveals that most workers have faith in the strength of the Hong Kong economy. Completed in June, the online survey polled entry-level to senior-management professionals on salary expectations, confidence in the job market and general employment outlook.

Of the 700 respondents, 42 per cent rated the current job market as strong. Some 40 per cent also indicated they are likely to change jobs within the next six to 12 months, with over a third of those who wished to move citing career progression as their primary reason. Half of those surveyed also said they would ask their current employer for a pay rise.

In light of these results, employers will likely need to look at ways to hold on to staff over the next year, says Anthony Thompson, senior managing director for Hong Kong and Southern China at Michael Page.

“Employers need to focus on retention and will be expected to enter into salary negotiations to keep top talent – that is, individuals with the experience and knowledge to drive the business forward,” he says, adding that jobseekers are paying special attention to career development plans, something hirers should be wary of.

Employers should also be mindful of the fact that average salary rises look set to grow. Over a third of respondents are aiming for a rise of 6-9 per cent, far outpacing expectations from the same time last year.

However, Thompson adds that while remuneration is important, there are a number of other ways employers can encourage top talent to stay with them.

“We increasingly find that candidates are focused on their career path and not just what is in it for them now,” he says, pointing to the impact of career progression on willingness to stay put.

Part of what’s fuelling the higher expectations, he suggests, may be the current wealth of job opportunities. Much of this, Thompson says, is attributable to the strength of the mainland economy, which is prompting many firms based there to expand their operations in Hong Kong.

“There is no doubt that China’s economic strength and continued growth are a real positive for the employment market in Hong Kong. Asia overall is performing well compared with most other markets,” Thompson says.

The only exception may be the financial services sector, which continues to be hit by uncertainty, especially in Europe.

Originally published in South China Morning Post, September 2012 

Luxury on High – St. Regis Shenzhen

Experience a new level of hospitality at The St. Regis Shenzhen.

Continuing their foray into China and expanding their palatial presence further in Asia Pacific, the newest St. Regis property in Shenzhen is the latest and greatest from the luxury-centric group and it is a milestone in every sense. The resplendent hotel is housed in the upper fractions of the city’s highest building, the 441.8 meter-tall Kingkey 100 building, which also happens to be the ninth tallest building in the world and the tallest building ever designed by a British architect, who in this case was the highly-acclaimed Sir Terry Farrell. Continue reading Luxury on High – St. Regis Shenzhen

Indian Chic – Lodha Fiorenza, at Goregaon in Mumbai

The ultra-hip global design firm, yoo, just recently launched their latest and one of their most audacious projects yet, Lodha Fiorenza, at Goregaon in Mumbai.

With India going from strength to strength every day and with many Indian luxury properties redefining luxury for the world, it was only a matter of time before yoo appeared in India. Founded by the world’s most celebrated designer, Philippe Starck, and one of the most influential property developers in Europe, international property entrepreneur John Hitchcox, the celebrity-aligned design company has names such as Kelly Hoppen, Marcel Wanders and Jade Jagger working for them.

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With experience spanning 33 different projects and 27 countries, yoo exists to help developer clients compete successfully in the property marketplace, by providing the very best in design, branding and marketing. Their latest foray in India is, fittingly, in Mumbai and it is also fittingly designed by Jade Jagger, the 39-year-old daughter of Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger.

Jagger has already designed homes in Morocco, properties in Turkey and apartments in New York, and her work is always respectful of the culture within which the project is located. This is undoubtedly the case with Lodha Fiorenza, which blends India’s rich and varied tradition with unique cultural elements from across the world and Jagger’s trademark style of relaxed luxury.

“I am absolutely delighted to be partnering with Lodha to design Lodha Fiorenza. I have always been inspired by the vivid colours and exotic textures of India; it’s been a wonderful experience to incorporate them in the design of Lodha Fiorenza – a perfect balance between luxury and comfort,” commented Jagger at the launch.

When completed in 2014 the primely-located position project will boast 452 apartments, across four buildings. Milano, the tallest of the four structures, is a 52-storey tower which will rise to a breathtaking height of 600 feet. The building will feature luxurious four bedroom residences and lavish duplex sky villas of just one per floor. Residents will get to enjoy such lavish facilities as a rooftop lounge, an observatory with stunning views of the Aarey colony and the Arabian Sea plus an infinity edge cantilevered swimming pool. The other three towers, Venizia, Sienna and Roma, offer stylish two, three, and four bedroom residences in the Jade Jagger for yoo style. All the homes will be fitted with the highest specifications and include lighting and sounds controls by iPad, German Poggenpohl kitchens, and Italian marble flooring.

Welcome to the web portfolio of the Hong Kong writer, photographer, editor and dreamer-creator, Billy Clarke.