Monday, June 24, 2013

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong: a warm welcome that makes you feel just like coming home


There's really something special about the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong.

Each time I get out in Hong Kong after a long-haul flight from Europe, I usually end up at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for an overnight stay if there's nothing pressing to attend to back home.

It breaks the trip up nicely and it's a chance to see friends and eat good food.




I've been staying at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong ever since I can remember, so it's been the venue of so many milestones in my life, long before I even had a Travelife.

These days I don't stay here every single time. But if there's one hotel I've stayed in the most in Hong Kong over 20 years, it's definitely the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.

A BIT OF A CHANGE

And when the Mandarin closed down temporarily for a makeover, I actually schlepped over a few hundred meters to that other luxe hotel adjacent to the IFC Tower.

The rooms were great and the restaurants were fantastic. I was one of the first guests when it opened, and I remember being wowed over by their French restaurant, way before it got its three Michelin stars.

The food was so good, in fact, that I stayed to have a proper dessert and apres-dessert instead of heading for the airport to catch a flight. Yes, I had the car waiting in the driveway and the driver was very nervous, but I decided to risk missing a flight to eat a very good chocolate dessert.

IT'S THE WELCOME THAT DOES IT



But old habits die hard, and nothing really beats a Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (MOHK) welcome, so I was back there again after it opened.

I have a pretty regular routine at MOHK by now.

The MOHK has a meet-and-greet service which is very handy.

I always thought it was a courtesy they offered only to very loyal guests who book the hotel car from the airport. But I guess anyone staying at the hotel can book and arrange it in advance as well, although I still have to check about that.

SOMEONE'S WAITING AT THE END OF THE ROAD



Anyway, here's what happens with the meet-and-greet at the airport:

A very nice lady always stands by literally at the end of the airplane chute with a sign and a buggy and driver ready.

This is really convenient when you're in a rush after a long flight. I really appreciated it big-time last Wednesday, as my plane from Istanbul was parked very far from immigrations and baggage.



It was about a fifteen-minute walk at least, to immigrations. But from plane door to immigration took me about two minutes in the buggy, so I was very lucky.

After clearing customs, the private driveway for hotel cars is just to the right.



ONE OF THE PRETTIEST AIRPORT DRIVES IN THE WORLD

Once you're in the car, it's a pleasant 40-minute drive to Central district past lovely bays and inlets.

This is one of the prettiest airport drives in the world, as far as I'm concerned, so I always take the car instead of the train.

And the best part comes at the last. The minute you get out of the car at the hotel, everyone at MOHK is waiting to greet you with a smiling "welcome back."



SO NICE TO SEE YOU, DANNY LAI

And last Wednesday, Danny Lai, MOHK's guest relations icon, who has been with the hotel for over 25 years and who literally knows everyone, even walked into the lobby to say hello just as I was entering the hotel.

He then escorted me straight to the waiting elevator where I did all the check-in procedures in my room.

Talk about a warm welcome here.

HEAVEN WAS WAITING



And waiting for me in the room were a bunch of cards from friends, a bottle of champagne, and way too many goodies to eat.

I was still full from two meals on the plane and I had dinner plans that night, but I just couldn't resist tasting the parma ham crisp which they paired with a parmigiano crisp for an absolutely heavenly experience.



I was planning to have only one, but I ended up finishing everything in two minutes.

There goes the diet, I thought, in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.





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