Bringing home a legend

There have been countless hotel openings this year, but the launch of Regent Hong Kong on November 8 is particularly prominent. It marks the revival of a brand and property that once defined luxury hospitality in Asia, and the ignition of the Regent brand among the new generation of well-heeled travellers. Managing director Michel Chertouh details the return of the legend

The Regent Hong Kong is considered quite the landmark in the destination, in entertainment, events and tourism circles. Is that why the brand and property’s return has attracted so much fanfare?
When the Regent Hong Kong first opened in 1980, it set a new benchmark for luxury hospitality in Asia, from its groundbreaking design to its highly personalised level of service.

The hotel’s legacy in Hong Kong is indelible in the collective memories of Hong Kong people who have celebrated life’s milestones here – from their wedding photos on the iconic white marble staircase leading to the Regent Ballroom to special family occasions at our restaurants or fireworks celebrations with the hotel’s front-row views of Victoria Harbour.

Over the decades, the Regent Hong Kong was the hotel of choice for many of the most prestigious events, hosting international dignitaries, celebrities and CEOs. It was renowned as one of the world’s top hotels. It is acclaimed for its exceptional restaurants and personalised service.

When it comes to location, it is world renowned for having the best and most spectacular views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.

For those familiar with the former Regent Hong Kong, what would be surprising for them now?
The hotel has undergone a total transformation from top to bottom – encompassing all guestrooms, public areas and even the façade. Our visionary designer Chi Wing Lo had reimagined the hotel as a serene and majestic haven on the harbour, removed from the hustle and bustle of the city.

For guests who remember the original Regent Hong Kong, they will still feel a sense of familiarity – the feng shui fountain at the entrance, the original white Carrara marble staircase leading to the Regent Ballroom, their favourite restaurants – including Harbourside, The Steak House, Lai Ching Heen and The Lobby Lounge – are still here.

What will be most surprising for them will be the reimagining of the guestrooms by Chi Wing Lo – with each room envisioned as a personal haven of tranquillity. The serene room design is filled with thoughtful details and touches such as the mirrored sliding doors, with a subtle woven pattern that reflects the view. A daybed becomes a personal haven overlooking a unique framed view of the harbour, with a handcrafted bronze bonsai creating a bespoke foreground. The chair swivels, allowing you to enjoy the view from every angle; and the furniture seems to float – making the room seem more spacious. In the Oasis Bathroom, the deep-soaking tub has views of the harbour (only in selected harbourview rooms). Even the toilet is calming, with a backlit wall with greenery.

And for those new to the hotel, especially the young generation of travellers, how would it impress?
The hotel has a contemporary feel that will appeal to the new generation of luxury travellers. It is a haven for discreet luxury with a timeless design.

We boast a Dining Destination that offers immersive culinary experiences that appeal to all ages. Building on decades of culinary and service excellence, each venue – The Steak House, Harbourside, The Lobby Lounge and our two-Michelin star Lai Ching Heen – has been reimagined with a stunning new decor and elevated dining experiences.

Nobu Hong Kong has reopened at our hotel with its internationally acclaimed Japanese cuisine.

In December, we will launch Qura, a stunning destination bar with incredible framed views of the harbour, bespoke drink selections, and a humidor room for cigar enthusiasts. This is positioned as a sophisticated playground to celebrate life’s great pleasures. It will definitely appeal to the young generation of well-heeled local and international guests.

Our service philosophy also appeals to the younger generation. It’s about doing things on your terms. We make our guests feel comfortable in the environment. We enable uplifting experiences through our service philosophy.

There is a harmonious flow where things happen naturally. There is thoughtful kindness delivered through small touches. There is a bit of decadence, especially through little touches in the food and beverage offerings in our restaurants and our amenities. Each experience is a journey.

With our Regent Experience Agents, each guest has a single point of contact.

The guest can also communicate 24/7 with our Experience team via our Regent Chat app which the young generation of travellers will appreciate.

How did early bookings as well as interest from travel agent partners look in the months leading up to your November 8 opening? And how well will your hotel do in its initial months of opening, which coincide with the year-end and new year peak?
In alignment with the travel trends in Hong Kong, business from China and Asia has been picking up rapidly over the past several months. Luxury leisure travel has been on the rise, while corporate travel, especially from long-haul markets, is also rebounding.

We anticipate a busy year-end and new year holiday season with guests who are excited to experience the reimagined Regent Hong Kong and the personalised and immersive experience at our haven on the harbour as well as our Dining Destination with all of our restaurants and bars fully open.

How will your distribution strategy look, and where does the travel agent community fit in?
In the history of our hotel, we have always worked very closely with the travel advisor community.

We participate in several luxury travel industry alliances including Virtuoso and Signature Travel Network. In fact, we are currently taking part in Virtuoso road trips to reconnect with the travel advisor community.

I will be attending ILTM in Cannes in early December along with our director of luxury. We are actively reintroducing Regent Hong Kong to the luxury travel industry community and are excited to share the reimagined Regent Hong Kong and welcome travel advisors and their clients to experience the new Regent Hong Kong.

Friends in the travel and tourism industry often tell me that Hong Kong will shine again soon enough post-lockdown. There is great optimism that Hong Kong can attain 30 million arrivals by the end of 2023 – more than the 26 million forecasted. What is your outlook for the destination, and what opportunities are there to catalyse Hong Kong’s travel and tourism rebound?
Hong Kong is a vibrant and dynamic city. It has so much to offer to both the leisure and business traveller. Exciting developments in Kowloon, especially on the art and cultural front, including M+ and the Hong Kong Palace Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District, are world-class attractions, just a short taxi ride from our hotel.

Meanwhile, the TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) neighbourhood where we are located has been totally redeveloped and revitalised, with Victoria Dockside, K11 Musea, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and the Avenue of Stars. Regent Hong Kong is uniquely positioned at the harbour’s edge as the epicentre in a dynamic neighbourhood that is a destination in itself.

With the recent launch of several major infrastructure projects like the high-speed train at the West Kowloon Station and the road/rail bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and beyond, Hong Kong now has easy connectivity to so many cities within the GBA (Greater Bay Area) and Pearl River Delta. Ease of travel in the area has greatly been improved.

I look forward to seeing Regent Hong Kong contribute to the success of this incredible city as a global travel destination.

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