Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong closes out 2010 with ‘quirky’ stats from spa, restaurants

There’s more to hotels than guest rooms and bars. The people behind the scenes – from the food and beverage staff to the spa therapists and general management – work to make your stay special. But did you ever stop to wonder just what they do when they’re planning their daily guest check-ins?

I checked in with my friends at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, to see how their year shaped up and was surprised to find some pretty interesting statistics. It just goes to show you… a hotel stay is more than room service and a helpful concierge (although they certainly add to the ambiance). It’s the little things that happen around you that really make a difference.

Did you know that since January, the Pastry Kitchen at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, has consumed around 212,000 pounds of flour and around 43,000 pounds of butter to make their pastry creations? Did you know that the restaurant has sold over 14,000 portions of its signature dish, Hainan Chicken Rice and produced more than 55,000 pieces of Dim Sum items?

mandarin oriental

Here’s a look at some of the quirky things have happened behind the scenes at one of Hong Kong’s favorite hotels:

  • Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong has produced over 60,000 freshly baked scones for their legendary afternoon teas.
  • Since January, The Mandarin Cake Shop has produced over 10,000 jars of their Rose Petal Jam.
  • Since January, The Mandarin Cake Shop has produced over 7,500 signature American Cheesecakes for all cake-lovers.
  • Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s Pastry team has baked over 9,000 Almond Croissants in 2010.
  • The Mandarin Barber has conducted 14,076 haircuts this year.
  • The Mandarin Spa has performed over 12,000 massages during 2010 and used over 84 cups of massage oil this year.
  • The Mandarin Spa and Salon has manicured over 4,500 pairs of hands since January 2010
  • Guests in the hotel’s Clipper Lounge have consumed around 455,000 pieces of Oyster in 2010.

Next time you walk into a hotel think about the amount of work that goes into each guest throughout the year. You never know… you might the first one to experience a new spa service or a signature dish, or you might be the guest that helps create a hotel’s new dessert menu item!

Travel to Macau: See, sleep and eat your way through Macau’s top tourist spots

This piece was written by Red Room contributor Jenny Block.

Macau, it’s not your modern-day Las Vegas. Yes, Macau does have a number of casinos from the classic Lisboa to the enormous and glamorous Venetian. And, yes, it has gobs of neon, killer entertainment, great shopping, and over-the-top hotels. But that’s just a glimpse of what really comprises Macau. There are also serene temples, busy shopping alleys, and street food from basic to extreme.

Although once a Portuguese Colony, Macau is now a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. The delight of Macau, however, is that from moment to moment you can’t tell if you’re in Europe or China – from the food to the architecture to the street signs, there’s a confliction of countries in every direction. It’s a strangely surreal and singular experience to eat Portuguese food in front of a Buddhist Temple, with smells of incense and ocean air wafting on the breeze and strains of English, Portuguese, and Chinese filling your ears.

To be in Macau is to be in many cultures all at once. Although you can spend your time in Macua gambling, you can also spend days on end exploring the sites, tasting the delicacies, enjoying the beaches, and pursuing adventures without ever setting foot in a casino at all.

The choices are endless, so here are a few hot spots and tricks of travel for your next visit.

[Photo credit: Flickr, Yong Shimin]To sleep

Mandarin Oriental Macau: The latest hotel to open this year. It’s the first property of its kind in Macau without a casino. If you go, be sure to book a Spices of Portugal Journey treatment in their spa.
Address: Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen, NAPE
Telephone: 853 8805 8888
Five Star hotel with 25 meter heated, outdoor pool and fitness center
Rates: Starting at $243.00

Pousada de Sao Tiago: A former Portuguese Fortress that is now a 5-Star Boutique Hotel. Regardless of if you stay here, stop by and visit their restaurant bar at sunset for a spectacular view.
Address: Avenida da República, Fortaleza de São Tiago da Barra
Telephone: 853 2837 8111
Five Stay hotel with outdoor swimming pool and terrace
Rates: Starting at $230 a night

Grand Hyatt at City of Dreams in the COTAI Area: High-end digs for those looking to experience the “new” Macau. Because the Grand Hyatt is part of the City of Dreams urban resort, entertainment, dining and shopping options are on the property.
Address: Estrada do Istmo, Cotai
Telephone: 853 8868 1234
Five star hotel with 40m lap swimming pool and fitness center
Rates: Starting at $143.00 a night

To survey

A-Ma Temple: From which Macau gets its name. Here you can truly get a taste of old Macau and be witness to what the first Portuguese sailors saw when they arrived in Macau almost 500 years ago.
Rua de S. Tiago da Barra, Macau
Admission: Free

St. Paul’s Church: Key to understanding Macau’s Portuguese legacy, St Paul’s is the first Jesuit Church in China and houses a rich collection of relics from Asia’s first missionaries.
Rua de Sao Paulo, Macau
Admission: Free

Senado Square: The feel of a European city…in Asia! For centuries, locals and visitors alike have flocked to the square to celebrate Macau’s major holidays. You can feel the past in your feet as you wander the square.

Around the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
Admission: Free

To savor

Antonio’s: Nestled in Taipa Island, Antonio’s is home to local celebrity chef, Antonio, whose big personality is in complete contrast to the tiny restaurant. Order steak cooked on hot stones or desserts that are flambéed, both of which are cooked right in front of your eyes. If you ask nicely and order a bottle of champagne, Antonio himself will saber it for you. Now, that is a sight not to be missed.
Address: António, Rua dos Negociantes No. 3, Old Taipa Village, Taipa
Telephone: 853 2899 9998
Entrees: From $13.00 – $23.00

O Porto Interior: Located in Macau’s old harbour area, Porto Interior can give you a taste of the city’s juiciest African chicken (a local delicacy) and of Macau’s abundant history. You’ll find a variety of Portugeuse specialties here as well as stuffed crab Macau, which is well worth the visit.
Address: 259B Rua do Almirante Sergio, Macau Peninsula
Telephone: 853 2896 7770
Entrees: From $9.75 – $23.00

Fat Siu Lau: Over 100 years old, Fat Siu Lau is Macau’s oldest restaurant and serves classic Macanese cuisine. Their signature dish, roasted pigeon, is not to be missed. Although, you can hardly go wrong in a restaurant whose dishes and atmosphere have lasted a century.
Address: Rua da Felicidade No.64
Telephone: 853 2857 3580
Entrees: From $11:00 – $23.00

To see

House of the Dancing Water: The latest show from Frank Dragone, House of the Dancing Water cost a billion dollars to produce and opened to rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. Think: an alternate Cirque du Soleil with water. Through the insanely ingenious use of fountains and elevators, they are able to convert the stage from a stage pool 3.7 million gallons of water (a record breaker in this category), equivalent to 5 Olympic-sized swimming pools to a solid stage surface. Be sure to book your seats early, House is one hot ticket.
Address: City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai
Telephone: 853 8868 6688
Tickets: From $44.00 – $114.00

Zaia: Macau’s resident Cirque du Soleil show. Located in the Venetian, Zaia is as magical and inspiring as the Cirque shows that preceded it. Highlights include a polar bar gliding through space, a massive globe floating above and around the audience, and a miniature city built right on the stage.
Address: The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel,
Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança, Taipa
Telephone: 853 2882 8888
Tickets: From $25.00 – $162.00

MGM’s Lion’s Bar: Locals and tourists flood the place on weekends and weekdays alike. The bar is known for its exceptional cover band fronted by the handsome and charismatic singer Baby Boy.
Address: Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen, NAPE
Telephone: 853 8802 8888

Words to the Wise

Rome wasn’t built in one day, and you can’t see Macau in one either. While some visitors think they can pop over to Macau and see it all in a few hours it’s important to remember that Macau also has two islands, Taipa and Coloane, which you don’t want to miss.

Going to Macau without having a Portuguese Egg Tart at Lord Stow for breakfast or afternoon tea is like visiting Paris without catching a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. If you want to get a real taste of Macau, start with a tart.
Address: 1 Rua da Tassara, Coloane Island
Phone: 853 2888 2534

Free samples aren’t just for Sunday at Costco. Take a scenic stroll from historic St. Paul’s Church to Senado Square and enjoy a variety of free goodies from beef jerky to almond cookies.

If you’re looking to feel the thrill of Macau, try jumping off the Macau Tower. You can also walk along the outside of Tower’s top or, for the less fearless, walk along the tower’s glass floor and see the view below without setting your heart racing.

Did you know Macau has a Grand Prix? The third week of November is Macau’s Grand Prix races, much to the delight of car racing fans all around the world.

If you have a USA passport, no VISA is necessary to visit Macau. But, if you happen to have a VISA for China, you may want to take a stroll across the border into Zhuhai, China for a bit more shopping and dining.

Hong Kong is just a ferry ride away from Macau. Take advantage of the proximity and spend time before or after Macau visiting Hong Kong’s busy streets. Travelers tip: It can be very cost effective to fly in and out of Hong Kong and use the ferry to take you to and from Macau.

Macau is not like anywhere else in the world and is not to be missed. It’s not like Vegas, mainland China, or Portugal. Instead, it is a travel treasure that only 6,000 years and such a dramatic mix of cultures could create.

A former college English instructor, Jenny Block is a freelance writer for numerous print and online publications and the author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage. Read her blog on Red Room.

[Photo credits:
St. Paul’s Church, Macau; Flickr Les.Butcher
Macau-Hong Kong ferry; Flickr Michael McDonough]

Get 178 Mandarin Oriental Tokyo rooms, keep the neighbors away

There’s nothing worse than being in a hotel room that’s filled with the sounds of your neighbors. It has to get pretty bad outside your door for some out-of-control moron to be loud on your side of it, but let’s face the reality: some hotel neighbors are awful. You can solve this problem easily, as long as you have close to three quarters of a million dollars on hand per single night of bliss.

The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo has a great deal for guests who just want to sleep well at night. Pony up a whopping $679,500, and the only other people in the hotel will be the staff – and the few lucky people you invite to join you. Spa rooms, all nine restaurants … you can turn the hotel into your personal playground

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

The luxury hotel in central Tokyo began selling the plan a week ago as “something splashy” to commemorate its opening five years ago, said hotel spokeswoman Chie Hayakawa. It intends to apply for recognition from Guinness World Records once a reservation is finalised.

“When the hotel opened we had an exclusive party like this — black tie, cocktail dresses. There was music and drinks and food from the restaurants, and it was all quite grand,” said Hayakawa, who took part.

The rather hefty price tag doesn’t even get you a full 24 hours; it only runs from 3 PM until noon the next day. But, you can host a cocktail reception for up to 500 people.

There has been some interest in the package, mostly from businesses. Of course, eccentric individuals are also open to book a stay of this caliber. There is a catch:

“The only thing is, you have to pick a date where there are no reservations already,” she added. “It’s not as if you could just request it for later this week.”

[photo by TheTruthAbout via Flickr]

Mandarin Oriental signs celebrities for hotel ads

Would you stay at a hotel because Harry Connick Jr. told you to? Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group thinks you might, and is launching a series of new global print ads featuring Connick, as well as Hélène Grimaud and Sa Ding Ding, two internationally known musicians.

The ads will star the three celebs as part of the ongoing campaign dubbed “He’s a Fan/She’s a Fan.” The premise? Each celebrity dishes on their favorite Mandarin property.

Connick, for example, is a fan of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, where he performed in 2009 in one of his most intimate affairs. The concert took place in the hotel’s MO Bar. French pianist Grimaud enjoys staying at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, as she often performs in the city’s famous music venues. Rising star Ding Ding, a product of modern China, was also photographed at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, for the ad.

The new ad campaign is said to combine Mandarin Oriental’s recognized symbol with fans and celebrities who stay at the hotel. Previous celebrity endorsers include Jane Seymour, Jerry Hall, Vivienne Tam, Liam Neeson, and Helen Mirren, among many others. In appreciation of the celebrities’ support, the Mandarin Oriental makes donation to each individual’s charity of choice.

We want to know what you think about this campaign. Are you more likely to consider a hotel because of its celebrity endorsement?

Boston hotels waive bottled water charges while city remains in a water emergency

Two million people in the Boston area remain without water today following a catastrophic pipe rupture this weekend. While state officials work to repair the pipes and restore normal water usage through Boston and its surrounding 29 counties, Boston hotels are handing out freebies on what is usually a hot hotel room commodity: bottled water.

What would normally cost visitors upwards of $3 from the hotel mini bar or presentation tray is now free to guests staying at hotels.

State officials have issued a mandatory “boil water order” to affected counties that include: boiling water for at least one minute before use; no hand-washing or dish-washing in tap water; and most importantly, no drinking water from a tap or faucet, even if it’s filtered. I checked in with a few hotels in the city to learn what they’re doing to help guests cope with the water outage.

The Colonnade Hotel
informed me that all bottled water and all mini-bar water is complimentary for hotel guests. The Mandarin Oriental Boston is handing out free bottled water to all guests and the hotel colleagues, and all the dish-washing units in the hotel rooms have sanitizing cycles with sanitizing tablets. The Four Seasons Boston is putting extra bottled water in all the rooms at turndown and using bottled water to brew all coffee.

At the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common, general manager Erwin Schinnerl told me the hotel is taking every precaution to ensure guest and staff safety.

“The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common has operated uninterrupted for the past couple of days,” said Schinnerl. “All guest rooms are provided with ample bottled water, fresh ice is being provided, cooking, coffee/tea brewing and dishwashing processes have been modified to include previously boiled water and sanitation procedures for dishwashing, to assure no health and safety procedures are compromised.”

Thankfully, the water crisis is close to over. State officials were able to take a water sample early this morning from the busted pipe and results are expected back this afternoon, according to Ria Convery, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. The MWA hopes that full water restoration will be back to normal within 24 to 48 hours, but until the all-clear comes from authorities, everyone in Boston is required to use and drink only bottled or boiled water.

Were you traveling through Boston during the water crisis? How did your hotel help you? Let us know.