Tag Archives: Hong Kong

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

Area Guide – Central

LUPA / Compass Offices (Aon China Building) –

As home to some of the city’s leading companies, Central remains unsurprisingly one of the best areas in town for corporate dining, be it for a casual business lunch or gala dinner.

Many of the neighbourhood’s bars, restaurants and cafes have accordingly molded their services, furnishings and cuisine to cater to the needs of the area’s many busy-bodies.

Hearty New York Italian eatery LUPA is one such establishment. The newly opened restaurant has squarely positioned itself in the all-important sweet-spot between casual lunch establishment and formal dining hall. At 5,500 square feet in size, the sprawling interior is equally fitting for large events, particularly when combined with the 2,500 square-foot outdoor terrace, which in and of itself is perfect for a small cocktail affair.

Also new to the district is the latest serviced office complex from Compass Offices. The exquisitely furnished establishment takes up the 16th and 17th floors of the Aon China Building which, situated in the heart of the district, an ideal place to base yourself if you’re in town for a business trip.

The building itself has recently undergone renovation, and now boasts three ultra-posh elevators that are sure to impress even the most pernickety of business clients.

The spaces on offer are each beautifully furnished and offer equally beautiful city views, together with all the connectivity one would expect from a modern office. The shared office facilities include a large private lobby and three well-equipped meeting rooms with comfortable seating for four, six and 14 people.

Compass Offices also houses a banking-grade data centre on site for those with more demanding information technology needs.

Virtual offices are also available and start at HK$598 per month. Meeting rooms on their own go for about HK$50 per 15-minute session. Custom office fittings are also available for long-term clients.

Originally published in South China Morning Post, June 2012

Area Guide – Singapore

Compass Offices (Singapore Land Tower) / Studio M Hotel –

Being a globally connected, multi-cultural city, Singapore is widely regarded as one of the world’s most dynamic places for work, living and business.

It’s little wonder then that the Lion City is the regional hub of choice for many leading multinationals, a fact that has helped spur many opportunities for local business-support companies.

Serviced office provider Compass Offices is one such entity. Its recently opened central-Singapore branch – it’s fourth in the city – raises the bar in the short-term commercial space arena.

Housed on the 30th floor of the centrally located Singapore Land Tower, it also offers easy access to transportation, with the Raffles Place MRT Station a stone’s throw away.

The 14,000 square-foot facility is fitted with the latest gadgetry. Office clients can use a dedicated reception desk, secretarial and concierge services, communal spaces and well-equipped meeting rooms. The offices can be rented on a monthly, daily or hourly basis.

Another trendy business destination is Studio M, a new hotel from the folks at Millennium and Copthorne Hotels. Designed for the new generation of savvy business and leisure travellers, the venue offers refined accommodation and a high degree of connectivity, technology and top-notch hospitality.

The centrepiece of the designer hotel is an open-air tropical deck with private spaces for informal meetings and corporate gatherings. Most of the 365 loft guestrooms have a view of the deck below, with each of the four types of modish rooms boasting flat screen LCD televisions, free wireless internet and plug-and-play connectivity.

Other offerings include a 25-metre lap pool, an open-air gym and three food and beverage outlets ideal for gatherings such as corporate events. Hotel guests can even have information about dining and nightlife options sent to their mobile devices.

Located in the heart of the Robertson Quay entertainment precinct, the hotel is near the Central Business District, with Orchard Road, Chinatown, Clarke Quay and Boat Quay all within spitting distance.

Originally published in South China Morning Post, January 2012

Interior Design Supplement – Interior Design’s Tighter Space

Though the Hong Kong interior design industry is flourishing, the city currently faces a dearth of well-trained interior designers – and this looks set to continue as work from emerging markets in the region is on the rise. The pinch is being felt across the industry, with even the larger interior design firms finding it difficult to recruit designers.

Offering an explanation for the shortage, Logan MacWatt, managing director of Aedas Interiors, points out that the majority of skilled designers are essentially all fully employed.

Continue reading Interior Design Supplement – Interior Design’s Tighter Space

Interior Finesse – The Hampton

This apartment features some of the finest materials, ornaments and furnishings from some of the best interior suppliers in the industry, which blend perfectly with the cream and dark black colour tones that run throughout.

Located in the leafy residential setting of Happy Valley, The Hampton is an exceptional portfolio of apartments boasting distinct designs for each of the eleven individual 2,500 square-foot plus units. Equal dashes of naturalism and Haute Couture, the pinnacle of high fashion, served as the inspiration for this particular one, which was designed by Steve Leung, the local home-grown and now internationally-renowned architect and interior designer.

Continue reading Interior Finesse – The Hampton

HK employees struggle to maintain work-life balance

The lines between work and personal lives in the city are blurring, according to staffing and human resources consulting provider Randstad.

With detailed feedback from 405 local employees, the new survey – part of their debut Workmonitor Report for Hong Kong – captures sentiments towards local work practices.

Of those polled, 36 per cent said their employers expect them to be available at all times, while 61 per cent reported receiving work-related phone calls or e-mails during their time off.

Commenting on the results, Brien Keegan, director of Randstad Hong Kong, says that they have done similar surveys in other countries, but a notably larger proportion of local respondents claimed to work outside office-hours, a fact he attributes largely to the city’s role as a financial hub.

“We are literally in the centre of the world here in terms of our access to global markets. And to maintain good business relationships, one often has to keep in sync with other time zones,” he says. “This practice puts a severe strain on effective work-life balance and can also have a negative impact on productivity in the workplace.”

The survey also showed that 69 per cent of the respondents said they tended to deal with private matters during work hours, while 68 per cent indicated they handled work-related matters in their private time.

Keegan believes that to counteract this “blurring”, staff and employers should set guidelines defining priorities.

“The balance between working and living is really an individual preference, so employees and employers should set boundaries and expectations and find what is personally and professionally important,” he says.

Keegan notes that striking a balance between work and life commitments can be a good thing for both workers and their managers. Flexible working arrangements, he adds, can increase productivity, aid employee retention and enhance staff engagement.

Nevertheless, Keegan concedes that flexible arrangements are not for everyone.

“While some part-time workers might give 40 hours of work on a 20- hour timesheet, other employees need the routine, support, guidance and social structure of a traditional workplace,” he says, adding that this may explain why 65 per cent of respondents also indicated a preference for face-to-face contact.

Keegan expects work-life balance to become an increasingly crucial issue. “One of the things we need to think more about is how to create a more efficient workforce, especially since the war for talent is about to pick up again,” he says. “Providing flexible work options [for some] is going to be really important.”

Originally published in South China Morning Post, March 2011 

Gentrifying Dining – 208 Duecento Otto

Although it’s been happening for a while, 208 Duecento Otto officially secures Sheung Wan’s position as the trendy gentrified dining extension to Lang Kwai Fong and Soho, and when one experiences the idiosyncratic interior one can see why the official transformation of a district can rest on a single restaurant.

208 Duecento Otto is the kind of restaurant that makes us design addicts happy at Today’s Living. Although the design is stunning, this time we are impressed with more than just the aesthetics as the story behind the restaurant is just as appealing, and the people who put the hard work into the restaurant are just as deserving as the designers. Originally a two-storey frozen meat storage warehouse at the end of Hollywood Road, the Singaporean founder of JIA Boutique Hotels – Yenn Wong – decided to build on the success of her eccentric Philippe Starck designed hotel and, combining an attention-grabbing design scheme with a New York-style Italian-American bill of fare, this captivating restaurant was born.

208 duecento ottoThe main district-changing factor of 208 Duecento Otto is the eye-popping design of the place, with an attention to style and detail running inside and even out. As the first overseas project by a Turkish design firm called Autoban, the interior is a spectacular bohemian work of art, and it is clear to see this design firm won’t be strangers abroad after this. The exterior is marked by a striking intentionally-oxidized rustic-looking iron frame, which somewhat resembles an oversized Louis Vuitton suitcase. This is appropriate; given that Chef Vinny Lauria’s cooking style has been defined as “a New York interpretation of rustic Italian cuisine.” Inside the rusticness continues in the spacious bar area on the ground floor where sophisticated walnut wood squared panels decorate the ceiling and flooring, and somehow complement the blue and white ceramic wall tiling, which also bring in an extra touch of orientalism. Some dramatic overhanging lights stand out as well, appearing alongside gorgeous textured wooden tables, a slick marble bar counter, refined leather bar stools and old-looking holed stairs, which have a slightly nautical feel about them. Upstairs, there is more of a sophisticated ambience, with the walnut wood ceiling and flooring continuing alongside more ceramic tiles, but here they are complemented by some leather sofas, an authentic wood-fired Napoletana pizza oven (specially imported from Naples), and a spot of natural light coming in from the large window out the front.

Pastiera Napoletana Of course with such a spectacular design scheme it would be a crime if the food failed to make an impression as well, and luckily the Italian-American fare it does not even come close to disappointment. Overseen by Chef Vinny Lauria, formerly a cook at Mario Batali’s famous Babbo inNew York City, there is a home-made vibe to the food, with every dish prepared on-the-spot using the freshest ingredients available. Apart from the pizzas and antipasti, these are not your generic dishes, with many of the items featuring top-quality ingredients and a signature touch of creative flair, much like the rest of the restaurant.

Originally published in Today’s Living magazine, August 2010

Ozone, Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Unless you’ve been reading censored news, you’ve probably heard about Ritz Carlton’s return to Hong Kong, and the crowning glory of the hotel is Ozone, the highest (and quite possibly one of the most stylish) bars in the world.

Ritz Carlton Hong KongThe Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has been pretty busy of late. After the 2008 closure of their elegant property in Central the group went silent for a while both here in the city and the region, but now they have returned with a palpable bang, as The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong and their latest properties have shown. Recently the brand has changed their positioning in the market slightly and a slight shift in their design philosophy and service evolution has emerged across their stunning portfolio (particularly in the newer properties). Up on the top floor of The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, Ozone is a testament to this fact, with the bar and light eatery boasting top-notch service and a conspicuously eye-goggling design scheme.

While the ICC is sadly not the highest building in the world, Ozone is, vertically speaking, the highest bar in the world – period. This alone is reason enough to visit the 118th floor venue, but thankfully this is not the only incentive, with the stunning views complemented by top-quality drinks and food, fine service, plus a stunning interior. The interior design was overseen by Masamichi Katayama and his self-owned company Wonderwall Inc., a design company with a difference that has an incredible catalog of exclusive interiors which includes impressive store spaces designed for Bape, Uniqlo and I.T, plus a Tokyo restaurant interior for Harrods, a Parisian restaurant called Collette and more. Although Wonderwall Inc. is anything but typical, their typical atypical design style can be seen all over Ozone, with playful contemporary plastic features appearing alongside first-rate materials and creative atmosphere-building gilding. There is a distinct Alice-in-Wonderland vibe about the whole interior, which was created around the theme of an ‘Edenic Experiment’ – “a man-made environment of nature in an imaginary world,” as the designer overview states. In other words, blown-up inspirations of nature can be seen everywhere, from the dim neon color-changing forest-like entrance through to the beehive-resembling ceilings and marble-shaped bamboo.

Ozone-Ritz-Carlton-Hong-KongAfter being zoomed up to Ozone in an elevator which reaches ear-popping speeds of nine meters per second, one is greeted by an atmospheric entrance area, where layered mirror ceilings, curtain-shaped walls and rock-resembling floor patterns tease and tantalize one’s expectations before entry. Once inside one is greeted by an eccentric white pillar which resembles oversized stacked marshmallows and acts as a visual centerpiece. Further in the interchanging neon colors continue to shine out along the ceiling, where they are complemented by beehive-like ceilings, geometric shapes and flower petal patterns on the walls below. The beehive shapes run behind the bar as well where they take on a web-like appearance. Along from the main bar is a sushi bar, and things get taken down a notch here, where a whitewashed marble counter is matched by marble bamboo-shaped pillars behind. In the main dining area the hive ceiling continues, but globular bubble light fittings add a different touch here. Outside, in the semi-al fresco area where 12-foot walls of glass offer panoramas of the city, there is another bar, and this one takes on an iceberg appearance. Various bar tables correspond with the white ice theme while a few rattan seats and bar stools provide a nice place to admire the view from.

Of course all this perfection would not be complete without a good selection of food and drink, and luckily, Ozone does not disappoint in this area either. Covered with custom-made holograms, the menus contain wonders such as wines that hover around the $100’000 mark, custom-made cocktails and signature drinks, plus a fine selection of sushi, sashimi, tapas, tempura and caviar.

Originally published in Today’s Living magazine, July 2010

Opening the Window – French Window, IFC

Making much better use of the space than the eatery that previously occupied the site is French Window, coming in as a grand addition to the Hong Kong fine dining scene up on the third floor of ifc Two in Central.

Like most things French, The French Window has an undeniable flair about it, with the interior bordering on art and the food quality coming close to perfection. However, while there is a touch of Frenchness about the interior and there is a French-inspired menu executed by Michelin-trained chef Mickael le Calvez, these are the Frenchiest elements of the restaurant, with the restaurant managed instead by the un-French Miramar Group; the concept helmed by Singapore’s Justin Quek; and the interior having been actually overseen by local design prodigies from AB Concept. Nevertheless, the French theme is still apparent throughout, with the interior loosely (and beautifully) modelled around a classical French château, and a erudite selection of predominantly old-world wines available to complement the food.

As a a rising star and modern prodigy of French cuisine, chef Mickael le Calvez does his best to create a nouveau Gallic menu, but the real star of this eatery is the designer Ed Ng, the founder and director of AB Concepts. 
Created with his award-winning design team from AB Concept, the modishly nostalgic interior perfectly complements chef Mickael’s modern takes on French traditional cuisine – which sees thin tender cuts of lamb placed within a crispy tunnel of fried potato in one dish, and features a tantalizing combination of foie gras and beef carpaccio in another. In much the same way, the designers have also used a similar tapestry of styles and techniques in the design of the restaurant interior, with modern textures and colours effortlessly merging alongside purposely aged mirrors and gorgeous oversized hand-beaten wrought-iron light fixtures, inspired by Parisian street lamps. Alongside the antiquated mirrors there are also textured stone tiles and patterned glass screens, which resemble French windows (which are, by dictionary definition, tall glazed casement window panels). It is this kind of meticulous attention to detail that got the restaurant shortlisted for the UK-based Restaurant and Bar Design Awards in the International Restaurant category.

While these words will not be able to do the interior justice, an attempt must be made here, but do keep in mind that The French Window really is the kind of place that has to be seen to be properly experienced. Walking in from the blinding retail haven of the ifc mall outside is like going down Alice’s rabbit hole and entering another dimension, with the long entrance passageway bearing a resemblance to a French promenade (only indoors). Lush vertical garden panels and atmospheric lighting fixtures lead one down into the space of the restaurant, which emerges as some kind of château or salon, with a subtle homelike ambience permeating the space. This homey vibe comes across through the use of cosy fittings such as the soft carpeting, the mosaic floor tiles and the warm dashes of wood. Nevertheless, this homeyness is counterbalanced with a smattering of modish elements, which crop up in the form of the tantalizingly large wine cellar, the uplifting views of Victoria Harbour seen through the massive windows and the refined palette of cool grey, cream, and taupe tones. When paired with chef Mickael’s ambrosially delectable menu, this interior makes perfect sense and the aesthetic beauty of the environment is further enhanced by the food. Together, it is elements like these that give The French Window its class and finesse – this is an eatery to make Hong Kong proud.

Originally published in Today’s Living magazine, May 2010

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Game-changing – Mamoz, Causeway Bay

Situated atop the newly opened Cubus building on 1 Hoi Ping Road in Causeway Bay is Mamoz, the latest dining hotspot that is bringing class to the shopping district.

While mainly known as a shopping area, Causeway Bay has always had a lack of up-scale decent bars and lounges. Sure, it always had karaoke bars and cafés but, apart from a couple of outlets that are few and far between, the district has been deficient in classy lounge venues. However that has been slowly changing over the last few years and Mamoz is a testament to that fact.

Designed to impress from the moment of entry, Mamoz takes class and chicness to a whole new level, with the two-floor 5,000 square-foot space featuring an impeccable design scheme from end-to-end. These design features include plush black marble floors, an eight-meter-long bar counter carved from a single piece of lacquered Indonesian timber, beautiful patterned damask leather walls and ceilings, unisex bathrooms lined with burgundy and gold mosaic tiles, plus a vertiginous section of glass floor on the landing of the connecting staircase.

The interior decoration was overseen by the team from Gettys Hong Kong (a firm that is most known for their luxurious work with hotels, resorts and casinos who worked on the Hard Rock Hotel in Macau and the Peninsula Hotel in New York), and they really pulled out all the stops, with classiness and luxe into overdrive throughout. As soon as one exits the elevator on the 27 floor, sculpted wall panels and metal partitions greet one in foyer, where subdued lighting enhances the atmosphere further. One past the foyer, the attention-getting space of the bar immediately grabs the eyes, with more subdued lights working alongside Tetris block-shaped metallic bar stools and subtly retro table lamps and paintings. One is also immediately drawn to the large floor-to-ceiling windows which not only bring natural light into the interior, but also provide dramatic views over Hong Kong. Other highlights on this floor include the slightly oriental chandeliers on the corner tables, the pirate wheel-like chandelier in the private area, plus leather-covered seating and glistening cushions. After scaling the frosted stairs to the second floor, the second floor is just as dramatic with more light oriental decorative motifs, more atmospheric lighting and of course, the main feature glass flooring as well.

While the design certainly makes a visit to this place worthwhile, there is also a top quality selection of drinks on offer with some decent food offerings as well. These include liquid concoctions thought up by expert mixologists and a wine list conjured up by local sommeliers.

Originally published in Today’s Living magazine, June 2011

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