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Home >  DESTINATIONSHong Kong’s changing venue landscape
Hong Kong’s changing venue landscape
Fresh ideas are coming to the fore, from open air events to ‘ballroom rugby’. Martin Donovan reports

24 Apr 2017

Space is at a premium in the business districts of Hong Kong, so planners are constantly on the lookout for suitable venues, whether their group numbers in the hundreds, or they seek an edgy setting for a cocktail gathering.

One challenge that planners run foul of is regulations on the specific use of even a vacant plot of land. Organisers of an edgy, but chic, launch for a cosmetics brand recently chose a backstreet open-air car park. The pop-up, guerilla-style event, delighted the clients and owner-operators of the parking space, but the city authorities less so. 

Lions Club roars into Hong Kong

Harbour gems
Fortunate then that Central Harbourfront has been given the official blessing for corporate events with planners having a wide scope on what they can organise on the 36,000 sqm of open space. Events on the space operated by Central Venue Management range from craft-ale and food festivals, to luxury car launches and sports brand showcases.

For organisers craving that mega-ballroom Hong Kong has been waiting for, Shangri-la’s Kerry brand has come to the rescue. The opening of the Kerry Hotel Hong Kong (main picture), overlooking the Hung Hom portion of Victoria Harbour, will see the city’s largest ballroom, and a pillarless 1,756 sqm too. 

So confident is Kerry with the flexibility of its Grand Ballroom that a chart detailing a capacity of 2,100 for reception or 1,030 at banquet was not enough. A fun video has also been produced featuring barefooted members of a local rugby club playing a game in the carpeted ballroom. 

Along with outdoor space that is expected to host occasions ranging from auto launches to cocktails with views of Victoria Harbour, there is also the junior Hung Hom ballroom on the first level. 

The 546-guest room hotel’s opening will mark an historic move as the third Kerry Hotel brand following the launch of the five-star brand in Beijing and Shanghai in 2011.

Hong Kong goes local as tour chiefs seek change

A bus terminus alongside the new Kerry is set to be transferred under the hotel while the vacant land will be turned into a “green space” managed by the hotel. Office and leisure development is planned for the locality nine to 12 months after the hotel opens.

“We will be able to utilise it for hotel events, but it will be open to the public for their recreation,” a hotel spokesperson says of the park. 

“Next door we have the two new Wheelock office towers, and the terrace in front of our International Market Place will be open to the public… we want to be part of the Hung Hom community.”

As Kerry Hotel prepares to officially open its doors, Marco Polo is priming a former government office tower in Central where its Niccolo brand will serve upscale corporate and incentive groups in the city’s Central district. 

Changes in building regulations have also seen former industrial buildings developed to house hotels. This has given rise to more boutique properties – a trend that has been driven partly by a demand for hotel space, but also pressure on developers to preserve more of the city’s unique architecture.

The most high-profile example of this is being seen with the 27-storey former government offices that are being given a new lease of life by the owners of Hong Kong-based Marco Polo Hotels. The 336-guest room The Murray by Niccolo (right) is expected to open in late 2017, operating under Marco Polo’s Niccolo brand. It will feature The Niccolo Room on the 25th level as its prime event space along with function rooms on the second level. The distinctive arches at the entrance of the Murray Road building are also set to feature in indoor and outdoor event space.

The ‘secret’ is out – Niccolo gives Murray new lease of life

Across the harbour, on Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, the Rosewood is nearing completion. The high-end brand of New World Development’s hospitality arm is scheduled for a 2018 opening and is set to feature The Pavilion, Rosewood’s residential-style meetings and events product.

The 398-guest room Rosewood will occupy 27 floors of the multi-use tower and share the new building with the brand’s long-term residences and another 287-guest room hotel.

Out-of-town options
Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy in Sai Kung is one of the rare options available for out-of-town corporate retreats and teambuilding. The 72,000 sqm facility by New World Development offers elite coaching, including a partnership with Spain’s Brugeura Tennis Academy. These can be adapted for team-bonding or post-meeting activities.

Conference rooms in the academy’s main building and accommodation in a selection of villas are also available.

Corporate buyouts at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort are proving popular during autumn. The resort is also due to see the opening of its third hotel – the adventure-themed Explorers Lodge. 

Mickey sparks magic for 6,000

At Ocean Park, a 495-guest room hotel to be operated by Marriott is earmarked to open in 2017, followed by a Fullerton in 2020 under Sino Hotels. 

Sino’s experience in resort properties has seen teambuilding and out-of-town corporate meetings become popular at its Gold Coast Hotel, near the New Territories town of Tuen Mun. 

“For us it’s a very unique space – we’ve used it regularly ever since we started as a company in 2002,” says David Simpson (right), co-founder and director of Team Building Asia, which held three major events at Gold Coast Hotel in 2016.

David Simpson: pirates on the high seas of teambuilding

“It’s got something special – a fantastic, open grass space, which is hard to come by in Hong Kong. We held an event for 200 people there with various parts of the hotel being used. Staff members are very supportive because they know it’s a unique facility, and they look after you.”

Tags :
event venue   Hong Kong  

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