By Michael Karlo Lim
SHANGRI-LA, as detailed in contemporary literature and referenced in ancient scriptures, is best described as paradise on Earth. Cebu’s very own Shangri-la’s Mactan Island Spa and Resort very well lives up to its legendary name. From all that tropicalia, one would think all their resorts would be ensconced in lush foliage, but their Kowloon property was quite at home in the concrete jungle of Hong Kong.
Walking into Kowloon Shangri-La, the first Shangri-La property in Hong Kong, was like stepping into a scene from its 80’s heydays of old-time opulence with its high-ceilinged lobby, profuse use of marble, extra plush carpeting, and Viennese chandeliers. Its graceful age is not without the wizening from time, and it has adapted many modern features the traveler of today cannot live without — like complimentary, hi-speed Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel, for starters. With every step into modernity, the hotel still keeps a foot anchored onto its time-honored practices and traditions. To date, they change their elevator rugs to day-specific designs, daily.
We were welcomed into our Deluxe Harbour View Room with some Jasmine Tea. What better way to enjoy the spectacular views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline from the floor-to-ceiling windows than with a hot, fragrant cup. Each of six hundred eighty-eight of the city’s most enormous and most well-furnished guestrooms and suites is also equipped with a pair of binoculars for the guests’ viewing pleasure. Later at night, the panorama was a lit-up delight.
Marble, again, and a lot of it, comes into play in the ultra-luxurious bathroom. The luxury extends to the branded bathroom amenities. The closets are built to accommodate the stylish traveler’s presumably large luggage pieces, and there are complete provisions available to iron out the contents’ wrinkles. The chore, among many other possible requests, can be passed on to service, of course. Ample storage and other creature comforts all throughout allowed one to really settle in and make it a home away from home. Quite tempting, it was wise not to test the downy king-sized and its silky sheets before bedtime.
Hard as it was to peel ourselves from the pull of our room, the hotel also offered enticements in various in-house restaurant concepts. We were definitely in Hong Kong with an excellent array of dim sum items at the Café Kool breakfast buffet. The restaurant also offers other Chinese, Indian and international breakfast staples including a breads and pastries station with a massive selection of freshly-baked items. There’s Nadaman for your Japanese cravings and Angelini if saucy Italian is more your thing. Their brightest star and the highlight of our stay is the Michelin two-star Shang Palace with its elevated interpretations of Cantonese classics. Read more about it on Michaelim Starred on weekend.sunstar.com.ph.
Hong Kong’s convenient subway train network is accessible through an entrance that’s just a skip and a hop away from the hotel entrance. Kowloon Shangri-La is conveniently situated in the Tsim Sha Tsui East shopping and entertainment district. One need not really go too far with many shopping and dining availabilities in the immediate vicinity and short walking distances from it. There’s even the T Galleria by DFS on Mody Road or Harbour City on Canton Road which offers shopping privileges to in-house guests.
One convenient hotel feature was their “handy” smartphone. Used in-room or taken out and about, guests can fully enjoy complimentary local and some international phone calls, high-speed mobile Internet, data sharing, a curated travel guide, access to social media platforms and so much more during their stay. We used ours to take us off the beaten path and the tired tourist traps to discover more of what makes Hong Kong what it indeed is.
Back at the hotel, the very familiar faces and generous smiles of the many Kabayans in their service bolster the feeling of home for the wandering Pinoy soul. From a personal standpoint, some of the Kowloon Shangri-La’s legendary warmth springs from that. All in all, the top-notch rooms and features plus superb services made our stay a seamless and utterly enjoyable experience. The Kowloon Shangri-La truly is Shangri-La.
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