VOLVO Ocean Race organisers chose a new waterfront hotel with a strong sporting involvement to provide accommodation and host on-shore events for one of the Hong Kong legs of the round-the-world race earlier this year.
The race, often described as the toughest professional sporting event in the world, started in Alicante, Spain, in October last year and is due to finish in the Netherlands in June.
By the time it is over, seven teams comprising more than 80 sailors from 18 nationalities will have sailed a total of 45,000 nautical miles over 11 legs across four oceans touching six continents. The 13th edition of the contest, which started as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973, passed by 12 landmark host cities, including Hong Kong.
Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong provided accommodation and facilities for the Melbourne to Hong Kong leg of the race, which took 18 days over 5,800 nautical miles, starting on January 2 and arriving in Hong Kong on January 20. Two other legs from Hong Kong – to Guangzhou and Auckland – took place in February.
Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong – located in Hung Hom Bay, Kowloon – hosted more than 100 international members of the media for a major race press event and entertained around 800 guests for a gala dinner on January 27.
Alice Miller, senior communications manager with Kerry Hotel Hong Kong, said key race committee members chose the waterfront property after several visits and based their selection on “space, location and overall offering”.
Additional deciding factors were that the hotel was the newest in Hong Kong when race officials were looking for a partner, together with the fact that its waterfront location meant it overlooked the Volvo Ocean Race Village at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.
Being a lifestyle brand, Miller says sport and outdoor pursuits “are part of the DNA at Kerry Hotel”, a fact that was highlighted to race officials during site visits.
“We offered a variety of creative ideas to host different events, including the awards presentation ceremony, crew party, and on-site village outside catering,” she says. “With 17 events spaces, including the city’s biggest pillar-less ballroom and outdoor landscaped terraces, the scope was huge.”
The hotel provided food presentation and tasting sessions to organisers to demonstrate the culinary team’s abilities and innovative ideas, and a tailor-made presentation was designed to meet Volvo Ocean Race needs, including relationship with sponsors, venue connectivity, sport and recreation facilities and brand alliance.
The biggest challenge the hotel encountered was outside catering at the Volvo Ocean Race Village at the former Kai Tak airport due to access difficulties because of construction at the site, together with the fact that it was the first major outdoor event the hotel had organised since its opening.
The gala dinner, held in the hotel’s grand ballroom, catered for 800 guests, with Hong Kong SAR government ministers in attendance, including chief executive Carrie Lam. Miller says the event was “a great showcase for the hotel”.
The successful events, including the international press conference and gala dinner, were described “a huge honour”, “especially given the fact that Kerry Hotel is so new to Hong Kong”.
A Volvo Ocean Race spokesman said that after tackling the Southern Ocean from Cape Town to Melbourne and racing 5,800 nautical miles from Melbourne, the sailors were “looking for some well-deserved rest in Hong Kong”.
“A city of stunning skylines, outstanding food and ancient traditions, and home to one of Asia’s most prestigious yacht clubs, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Hong Kong has sailing at its heart.”
EVENT: Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong leg
ORGANISERS: Volvo Ocean Race
MAIN HOTEL: Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong in Hung Hom Bay, Kowloon,
ATTENDEES: More than 100 media and 800 guests
BIG MOMENTS: Gala dinner attended by Hong Kong government officials, including chief executive Carrie Lam
DATE: January 20-31, 2018, with the gala dinner on January 27
Volvo Ocean Race photos by Ainhoa Sanchez and Pedro Martinez