Living the high life 0
Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. (Isabelle Laflamme/QMI Agency)
Who hasn't dreamt of sleeping in the clouds? In Hong Kong -- one of the world's most dynamic cities -- you can get pretty close at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. It's a hotel in the clouds, between sea and sky -- the highest in the world.
Opened last spring, the Ritz-Carlton is located in the International Commerce Centre in west Kowloon. It is the tallest building in the city, and the hotel occupies the top 17 floors of the 118-story building, which stands nearly a half-kilometre high.
You enter the elevator with a bit of apprehension. But one deep breath later you find yourself on the 102nd floor -- so quickly that every worry vanishes. A friendly, animated staff member escorts us to one of the 312 rooms with a view of Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
Upon entering the room, my gaze is immediately stolen by the glass wall. The view is extraordinary and takes my breath away. Looking toward the South China Sea, the late-afternoon sun sinking in the sky creates a beautiful effect on the city skyline.
Huddled up in pillows along the massive window, I take in the immensity of the vista. From this vantage point, the sun creates a spectacular light show against the sea and the numerous boats that draw white lines through blue water. Mountains in the distance speak to the age of this great land.
The room is decorated in a modern Asian style. Comfortable and spacious, it is made up of warm greys, blacks, browns and deep red accents.
In the morning, at the restaurant, we are served fine Chinese cuisine as well as Western fare -- flaky croissants, chocolatines (pain au chocolat), baguettes and amazing coffee -- even baked beans and smoked salmon.
On a nearby table, delicate orchids are displayed in beautiful vases. Outside, the water is sparkling in the sun. All of the buildings surrounding the Ritz-Carlton are pastel coloured with their pink tones reflected beautifully by the morning sun. Grey-blue mountains sparkle in the distance.
A young woman who works at the hotel points to one of the nearby buildings: "Look, that's where I live with my family, and every time I work here I feel like I'm in a new city."
On the 118th floor, the pool and the baths are splendid. White canopies and comfortable cushions let you relax and take in the view.
Far from the crowds, the location really is out of this world. It is a beautiful refuge, where staff members seem to be genuinely happy to be working. Still, this is Hong Kong, and there is much to do steps from the hotel.
The Element Mall -- beneath the Ritz-Carlton -- is a huge 92,000-sq.-metre shopping complex with luxury boutiques, restaurants, fine grocers, a movie theatre and an exposition centre. During my trip, there was a floral exhibition unlike anything I had ever seen.
Hong Kong really knows how to do things up right.
PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ
The roof of the Internationals Commerce Centre is 484 metres above sea level. The elevators move at a rate of 30 km/h. Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton start at $575 per night. If that is beyond your budget, consider having a meal at one of the hotel's six restaurants. See ritzcarlton.com.
For travel information, contact the Hong Kong Tourism Board at 416-366-2389 or 1-800-563-4582 or see DiscoverHongKong.com/canada.