Introduction:

I decided last minute to take a trip to Hong Kong over Easter weekend after finding some award availability on The Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 in business class from Vancouver. As an added bonus, I found a return ticket on Air Canada in business class on their Boeing 777, which is an airline I’ve yet to fly in a premium cabin on a long-haul route. While finding flights was easy, hotels turned out to be the hard part. Hong Kong has an interesting hotel market, to say the least. There is no shortage of ultra-luxury properties, such as The Mandarin Oriental, Upper House, The Peninsula, and of course, The Four Seasons. Unfortunately, all of these properties regularly charge in the range of $700-$1000 per night, which is way out of my comfort zone. Alternatively, there is a good variety of Marriott and Starwood properties available on points, but I find most of these properties are well beyond their prime, or not in the best location. There was one property, however, which had been on my radar since I started researching the hotel market in Hong Kong a couple of years ago…

Currently the tallest hotel in the world, The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong occupies the top 16 floors of the International Commerce Centre in West Kowloon from floors 103-118, with the arrival lobby located on the 8th floor directly above the shopping mall and train station (which makes the hotel very conveniently located from the airport and great for a short stay). Being part of the Marriott family, I had the option to redeem 70,000 Marriott points, or 23,334 SPG points, for a one night stay in a Deluxe room.

Marriott Reward Redemption

Marriott Rewards Redemption

The paid rate for my stay was roughly $800 per night, so I considered this fairly good value, though definitely a lot of points for one night. Hotel prices fluctuate a lot in Hong Kong, so I would also suggest people look into booking through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts where rates are routinely in the $500 range including all the additional benefits.

American Express Fine Hotels And Resorts Rate

American Express Fine Hotels And Resorts Rate

Arrival:

My Flight from Vancouver was delayed about 30 minutes, and immigration took a little longer than usual.  I arrived at the hotel just before 4pm after taking the airport express to Kowloon station, which is a super convenient transport option and very cost effective ($18). The train station is located about 10 floors below the hotel, so it’s a relatively short walk through a series of shopping levels with good signage. There is also a check-in counter directly in the train station where passengers can drop their heavy luggage prior to boarding the airport train.

Kowloon Station Airport Check-In

Kowloon Station Airport Check-In

The walk from the train to the hotel took about 15 minutes, but I was taking my time admiring all of the high-end shopping. It always blows my mind the size of Asian shopping malls with nothing but ultra-luxury retailers.

Fancy A $20,000 Timepiece?

Fancy A $20,000 Timepiece?

One Of The 'Lower End' Options

One Of The ‘Lower End’ Options

After climbing what felt like 1000 levels (probably more like 8), I arrived at the entrance to the Ritz Carlton. The exterior was actually quite discrete and could be easy to miss without the signage.

Ritz Carlton Hong Kong Mall Entrance

Ritz Carlton Hong Kong Mall Entrance

I've Arrived

A Welcome Sight After 16 hours Of Transit

Up yet one more escalator brought me to the arrivals lobby, which was stunning to say the least. This is ground level for those arriving or departing by taxi, with a bunch of friendly bellman and concierge staff eager to assist.

8th Floor Arrival Lobby

8th Floor Arrival Lobby

Arrival Reception Desk

Arrival Reception Desk

I was welcomed by a friendly staff member who took my luggage and offered me a bottle of water. Before long, we were up to the 103rd floor for a more formal check in. The elevator ride took about 50 seconds, and my ears definitely popped on the way up. Check-in was done in a matter of a few minutes, and I opted to pay a supplement charge of $600HKD ($100CAD) to upgrade to a club floor room, which would also give me a view of the Victoria Harbour.

The common spaces in the hotel were…..fancy. Everything was stylish, extravagant, spotlessly clean, and a bit over the top. Not to say it was gaudy, but I feel my preference is for more discrete opulence (if that’s a thing). The hallways were arranged in a large square and my room was a couple of turns away from the elevator.

No Expense Spared For The Elevator Lobby

No Expense Spared For The Elevator Lobby

111th Floor Hallway

111th Floor Hallway

I was assigned room 11120, a Club Deluxe Victoria Harbour King View Room. It should be noted there are about 20 room categories at this hotel, which I found a bit much.

First Time I've Had A 5-Digit Room Number

First Time I’ve Had A 5-Digit Room Number

The Room:

Thankfully the room was a little toned down in terms of opulence, though still very luxurious. The main entrance featured some artwork to the right, a mirrored wall to the left and opened up into the main space.

Room Entrance

Room Entrance

Tasteful Art And Soft Lighting

Tasteful Art And Soft Lighting

Entrance Facing The Room

Entrance Facing The Room

As you can see the floor is a large square of rooms, with my location facing the Victoria Harbour.

111th Floor Layout

111th Floor Layout

The foyer opened up into a very large main room with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. The bed was centred in the middle with a pair of side tables opposite a large television and built in storage.

Large King Bed

Large King Bed

Television And Entertainment

Television And Entertainment

The bed was incredibly comfortable and a bit on the firm side, which is the norm in Asia. The linens and pillows were high quality and it took all of my will to not crawl in and fall asleep after the long journey from Vancouver.

Very Hard To Resist After The Journey From Canada

Very Hard To Resist After The Journey From Canada

Top Quality Linens And Pillows

Top Quality Linens And Pillows

Beside the bed was a small seating area overlooking the Victoria Harbour. I decided to have a seat and take in the view while having a cup of coffee.

Sitting Area Overlooking The Harbour

Sitting Area Overlooking The Harbour

Coffee Time - Unfortunately It Was Foggy On Arrival

Coffee Time – Unfortunately It Was Foggy On Arrival

Although the view was obstructed by clouds on arrival, it cleared up a short while later. The views were incredible from 111 floors up, and almost didn’t seem real.

Victoria Harbour View

Victoria Harbour View

The Sun Just Starting To Set

The Sun Just Starting To Set

Admittedly, this may not be a good hotel choice for those afraid of heights or anyone who suffers from vertigo.

Don't Look Down...

Don’t Look Down…

Beside the bed was an elegant night table with alarm clock, lamp, room controls (curtains/lights) and an iPod docking station.

Bedside Table

Bedside Table

Ipod Docking Station

Ipod Docking Station

Lighting And Curtain Controls

Lighting And Curtain Controls

In the corner of the room was a large office desk with comfortable leather chair.

Large Office Space

Large Office Space

There was a welcome letter explaining all of the club floor benefits (more on that later), along with meal service times and other notes such a dress code policy (though that was definitely not enforced). There was also a decorative paperweight, lamp, and a welcome card from the General Manager.

Club Floor Welcome And Benefit Descriptions

Club Floor Welcome And Benefit Descriptions

Welcome Card

Welcome Card

Beside the desk was a phone and notepad above a cabinet with power source and a drawer containing all of the guest services guides.

Desk Phone And Notepad

Desk Phone And Notepad

Desk Power Source

Desk Power Source

Guest Services Guide

Guest Services Guide

On the other side of the bed was a large bar area between the entrance hallway and bathroom. It was stocked with complimentary bottled water, a coffee maker, and a minibar complete with snacks, beverages, and alcohol.

In-Room Bar

In-Room Bar

Snacks And Wine

Snacks And Wine

Minibar Fridge

Minibar Fridge

Coffee Maker And Complimentary Water

Coffee Maker And Complimentary Water

Beside the bar heading into the bathroom was a large closet with plenty of space for hung items, along with the in-room safe, laundry supplies (which would be put out during turndown), and drawers.

Large Closet Space

Large Closet Space

In-Room Safe

In-Room Safe

My favourite area of the room (after the view) was the bathroom. Wow wow wow The Ritz Carlton knows how to do bathrooms! Featuring marble from floor to ceiling, the bathroom was just the right balance of luxury and function, with a large double vanity, huge soaking tub with built in television, separate water closet and large walk-in shower. The towels and bathrobes were as soft as they come, and amenities were by Asprey.

Why Aren't All Bathrooms This Nice?!

Why Aren’t All Bathrooms This Nice?!

Large Double Vanity With Plenty Of Plush Towels

Large Double Vanity With Plenty Of Plush Towels

Plush Hand Towels And Makeup Mirror

Plush Hand Towels And Makeup Mirror

Every Amenity You Could Think Of

Every Amenity You Could Think Of

The bath was the highlight of the room for me, and I wasted no time trying it out after a very long day of travel.

Soaking Bathtub - Just What I Needed

Soaking Bathtub – Just What I Needed

Asprey Amenities

Asprey Purple Water Amenities

Built In Television

Built In Television

Separate Water Closet

Separate Water Closet

While I’m normally a bath guy in luxury hotels, the shower was hard to resist with oversized rainforest head, Asprey Purple Water amenities, and space to stretch out.

Large Walk-In Marble Shower

Large Walk-In Marble Shower

Asprey Purple Water Amenities - A New Favourite

Asprey Purple Water Amenities – A New Favourite

The Club Lounge:

Although my rewards booking didn’t come with lounge access, I decided to pay the supplemental fee (roughly $100 for just myself) to have access. I had read fantastic reviews and knew I would be spending a lot of time at the hotel for this short working trip and figured I could get enough value to justify the charge. The club has dedicated staff available for check-in/check-out, concierge services, and just about anything else you could think of. I found the service to be a bit overbearing at times, though very professional. As an example, when leaving the lounge, whoever was closest would stop what they were doing and personally escort you out to the elevator (and even press the call button…).

Lounge benefits are as follows:

Five (5!!!) culinary presentations per day:

  • Breakfast from 6:30-10:30am
  • Light Lunch from 11:30-2:00pm
  • Afternoon Tea from 3:00-5:00pm
  • Hors d’oeuvres from 5:00-8:00pm
  • Desserts and Cordials from 8:30-10:30pm

Beverages and cocktails, including beer, wine, champagne and spirits were available all day, free of charge.  In addition to all the food and beverages, club floor guests were entitled to:

  • Complimentary pressing of two garments per day
  • Complimentary in-room coffee/tea with wake-up call
  • Complimentary coffee/tea services in-room 24 hours per day
  • Business centre and private meeting room use, subject to availability
  • Private check-in/out services
  • Complimentary in-town limousine drop-off services (Tesla – restricted to Kowloon side)

For me, this was certainly worth the additional fee, especially since I was paying nothing for the room itself. Club Floor rooms regularly sell in the $1000+ range per night, so I was happy to experience it for a fraction of the cost. If visiting Hong Kong for leisure, I would likely skip the club floor in lieu of the amazing dining options all over the city (though I would likely be staying at a different hotel for non-work related trips anyway). One small criticism I had was that staff never enforced the dress code. While I can appreciate that not everyone wants to wear a suite and tie to have a beer, the Ritz only asks for a very easy to accommodate ‘smart casual’ dress code, which in my opinion includes nice jeans, casual shoes, etc. There was one man in the lounge every time I was there wearing cargo shorts and flip flops. Yuck.

The lounge was busy for most of my stay, but never overcrowded. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a lot of photos as I generally like to respect personal privacy in public spaces.

Champagne On Arrival With A View

Champagne On Arrival With A View

Club Lounge Breakfast

Club Lounge Breakfast

Lounge Seating Area

Lounge Seating Area

Huge Wine Selection

Huge Wine Selection

Light Lunch - Halibut And Roasted Vegetable With Rice

Light Lunch – Halibut And Roasted Vegetable With Rice

Dinner - Asian Noodle Dish With Salad And Champagne

Dinner – Asian Noodle Dish With Salad And Champagne

Dessert Fondue

Dessert Fondue

Macaroon Tree

Macaroon Tree

Enjoying The City View

Enjoying The City View

The Pool:

One of the big draws for me to this property was the hotel pool located on the 118th (top) floor overlooking the harbour. Featuring an outdoor patio with loungers and hot tub, two cold plunge pools, world-class fitness centre and huge infinity pool overlooking the city skyline and harbour, it’s easy to say this is one of the best indoor pools in the world.

The elevator lobby opened up to a space that I found a bit confusing. There was signage for the pool but the hallway didn’t seem to go anywhere.

118th Floor Elevator Lobby

118th Floor Elevator Lobby

Signage To The Pool

Signage To The Pool

I Think I Made A Wrong Turn

I Think I Made A Wrong Turn

I was definitely lost, and eventually found a door I though might lead to the pool area. I was wrong, and instead I ended up in the service area of the rooftop bar, OZONE. A friendly staff didn’t blink twice when she found me aimlessly walking around where I shouldn’t be, and dropped what she was doing to personally walk me to the pool.

I spent a good part of my day just lounging, and at no time was there more than a dozen people using the facilities, which was fantastic.

118th Floor Infinity Pool

118th Floor Infinity Pool

Great Place To Spend An Afternoon

Great Place To Spend An Afternoon

There was plenty of poolside seating, along with some loungers slightly submerged in a shallow part of the pool itself.

Poolside Seating

Poolside Seating

Slightly Submerged Loungers

Slightly Submerged Loungers

There was an outdoor patio with plenty of seating and a large jacuzzi tub. Just inside the patio were two ice cold plunge pools, which felt great after being in the sun for awhile.

Outdoor Patio Loungers

Outdoor Patio Seating

Patio Jacuzzi Tub

Patio Jacuzzi Tub

Ice Cold Plunge Pools

Ice Cold Plunge Pools

The fitness centre was adjacent to the pool area with most machines sharing the same view of the Hong Kong mountains. The room was filled with state of the art equipment, though I wasn’t able to get many pictures since some of the machines were in use.

Treadmills Overlooking The Pool

Treadmills Overlooking The Patio

State Of The Art Equipment

State Of The Art Equipment

There were individual lockers for small items (phone, room key etc) along with room temperature bottled water, and a fridge with cold water and refreshing towels. Nice touch!

Room Temperature And Cold Water, Along With Refreshing Towels

Room Temperature And Cold Water, Along With Refreshing Towels

Lockers For Small Personal Items

Lockers For Small Personal Items

There were also locker rooms for men and women featuring full size lockers, amenities, showers, and steam room, though I was also unable to get pictures as most of the room was being used while I was there.

Locker Room Bathroom

Locker Room Bathroom

Large Full-Size Lockers In Change Room

Large Full-Size Lockers In Change Room

Bottom Line:

The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong is an amazing property from start to finish. The rooms are luxuriously appointed with a comfortable bed and top quality linens, spa-like marble bathroom and incredible views of the city skyline and Victoria Harbour. Amenities at the hotel were impressive with a full service spa, dedicated club floor, and one-of-a-kind infinity pool and fitness centre on the 118th floor overlooking the entire city. For some, the location won’t be ideal as it is a subway ride to Hong Kong island where most of the action is, but for a business traveler, or someone wanting a property conveniently located a short train ride from the airport, the location can’t be beat.

More than anything, however, was the service. True to the Ritz Carlton brand, service felt personalized and genuine, with most staff remembering my name even on a short one-night stay. Though sometimes overbearing, the staff were wonderful at anticipating needs and went above and beyond to any small requests.

Paying an additional supplement charge for club floor access was well worth the price for five unique culinary offerings, complimentary cocktails and champagne, and dedicated lounge staff and was easily justified since I was redeeming Marriott Rewards points for the room. Although 70,000 points is a lot for a one-night stay, keep in mind paid rates were in the $800 range and all taxes and fees were included. Currently American Express is offering 25,000 SPG points as a welcome bonus on their Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card. Taking advantage of either of these offers would net enough points for a complimentary night at this hotel, or most other Ritz Carlton properties.

I would certainly stay at this property again when in Hong Kong for the service, quality, and value in redeeming Marriott Reward points and can’t wait to return!