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Events

Hong Kong - I'm Back, Is It?

So, I’m back from Hong Kong, and I’m pleased to report that, following my five year absence, it did not disappoint. The city I loved so much still has tremendous appeal, is a real jewel in the Asian incentive market, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. It really is the perfect combination of East and West, old and new.

Bring it back onto your radar

Hong Kong seemed to disappear off the radar in the last few years, mainly because of other new and exciting destinations that seemed more appealing at the time. After revisiting, I’m not sure why this should have been the case, maybe it had a while of ‘resting on laurels’ as China and the region emerged? I will definitely be bringing it back onto our radar from now on, my visit has confirmed to me that it as perfect an incentive travel destination in the region as any.

East meets West

There are two sides to Hong Kong, both of which set it apart from its competitors for very different reasons. On the one hand, Hong Kong has such strong heritage and roots, and while you’re there you feel completely immersed into the culture - something you would be hard pushed to find elsewhere. However, on the other hand it is a modern, cosmopolitan destination, with great night life and really trendy bars and restaurants. Armani has even opened a restaurant there! This is probably the biggest change I noticed from my previous visit. The city is a lot more vibrant and diverse, with a highly efficient and organised transport system that incorporates the old and new. You have the modern underground that runs like clockwork, but also have the choice to ride the traditional star ferry.  This is a great example of how the two sides of Hong Kong’s culture sit side-by-side and complement each other so well.

Macau - An incentive gamble?

As part of my trip, I also got the chance to visit Macau. Aside from bike racing and casinos I wasn’t too familiar with it, and was glad of the opportunity to see it first hand. Macau is probably not quite ready as an incentive destination at this point in time. Although they have the absolutely stunning Mandarin Oriental and the city is being developed constantly, it has nowhere near enough to offer an incentive group – unlike Hong Kong where you are spoilt for choice.  Macau could potentially work for a congress or pharmaceutical group from the overseas market, but at the moment I would hesitate to send a UK or European group there. I can’t see this changing any time soon either, mainly due to the fact it is primarily a gambling city and development is concentrated in the hotel market, rather than attractions for an incentive group.

In summary

Here’s a one liner on the parts of Hong Kong I experienced:

  • The Mandarin Oriental: Exceptional hotel, with exceptional service, fabulous location on Hong Kong Island.
  • The Peak Tram and Sky Terrace: Unique experience, albeit the weather was bad when I visited, we were in total cloud! I have done this before and the views are stunning, overlooking the HK skyline and the Harbour – ‘a must do’ when in HK
  • Stanley Market: A relaxed out of town suburb with a great local market, but you have to barter! It’s on the tourist trail so expect to see higher prices in this market!
  • Temple Street Night Markets: Great for bartering, a great place to pick up those fake Mulberry’s – if you can’t afford the designer stores on the Island! A great atmosphere!
  • Aqua Restaurant: Great venue, chic, contemporary & cool. Exceptional cuisine with incredible views over the Harbour – Great for seeing the Light Show - a symphony of lights that happens every evening at 8pm!
  • Macau by TurboJet ferry: A tour and visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site – Macau – an interesting visit for a conference organiser – it's known as the Playground for Asia, with gambling as its main focus. Large scale hotels - not recommended as an incentive destination as HK has so much more to offer, but large scale conference with global audience would work very well. The Turbo ferry crossing works very well, but would only recommend top deck first class!
  • The Excelsior: Good standard 4 star – more conference oriented, again not for the incentive group unless budget was very tight. Good location though.
  • The China Club. Exceptional dining – heritage and history, very sumptious and colonial!

Be sure to check out my pictures from a fabulous, educational and eye-opening trip. It definitely reconfirmed Hong Kong as a fantastic destination, and one which I'm happy to say is right back at the top of my all time favourite destinations for the region, and a perfect incentive travel destination. It always was unique, now it is even more so.

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