By Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY

Three months ago, Hotel Check-In friend Melanie Nayer toured the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong as it neared completion as the world’s tallest hotel.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

It’s housed in the International Commerce Centre, a nearly 1,600-foot-tall skyscraper, and the hotel occupies floors 102-118.

This week, she’s in Hong Kong again for the countdown to the hotel’s official opening on March 29. Given the unusual nature of this sky-high hotel and your incredible interest in it, Nayer’s going to take Hotel Check-In readers with her on a behind-the-scenes tour of the opening. In her first report, she tells us what we can expect in terms of coming coverage:

HONG KONG – As a hotels reporter, I live for the untold stories that happen inside the four walls of a hotel. I’m giddy over what really takes place in the “heart of the house” – the underbelly of the hotel where laundry rooms lull with the sounds of washing machines and dryers, where gigantic walk-in closets are filled with mini-shampoos and vanity kits, and where floor-to-ceiling cork-boards are stuck with award announcements, house parties and hotel news.

This is a shot of the Elements Mall at the bottom of the ICC building. It is designed from the five basic elements of Chinese belief - earth, water, fire, wood and metal.
This is a shot of the Elements Mall at the bottom of the ICC building. It is designed from the five basic elements of Chinese belief - earth, water, fire, wood and metal.

I’ve always wondered how employees get their uniforms fitting just so and looking perfectly aligned with the design and ambiance of the hotel. I find corporate policy and creeds intriguing, and am curious how individual employees personally manifest the philosophy of a hotel. So when the Ritz-Carlton approached me a few months ago and asked if I was interested in how the luxury hotel group opens a hotel, I enthusiastically said “yes!”

But this was to be no ordinary hotel or hotel opening.

When the Ritz-Carlton closed the doors to its original Hong Kong hotel in 2008, it wasn’t long before the hotel group would make one of its biggest announcements in hotel history: the next Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong would be open just three years later and would be the highest hotel in the world, surpassing the Armani Hotel at the Burj Khalifa, which opened in March 2010.

Located on floors 102 to 118 of the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong hotel will not only be an easy access point for business travelers and a top tourist destination, but will add a little competition and a lot of intrigue to the hospitality industry in Hong Kong.

I’ve followed the progression of this hotel for over a year, interviewing everyone from hotel management and engineers, to Ritz-Carlton President and COO Herve Humler. In December, I brought Hotel Check-In readers the first images from the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong hotel, which was then still a construction site but nonetheless a remarkable feat of architecture and design.

Starting today, I’ll go inside the hotel as it begins its “countdown” – the eight days prior to the hotel opening when the doors are shut, the training sessions begin, and the pep rallies to opening the highest hotel take place. From now until March 29, when the hotel officially opens, Hotel Check-In readers will get an inside look into how the Ritz-Carlton opens a hotel – from food and fashion, to safety and the measures of employee success. And don’t worry, there will be tons of photos from the top of the highest hotel in the world!

Readers: If you’re lucky enough to be in Hong Kong with a big enough budget to even consider staying in this hotel, here’s what you can expect in terms of rates: For Friday, April 22 (I’d give the hotel at least a few weeks to work out the kinks), I found on Ritz-Carlton’s website the cheapest rate starting at $640 per night, and a limited-time, introductory package rate starting at $497.


Posted Mar 20 2011 7:01AM