11 Dec 2017

Race Around Hong Kong

Lydia and I were lucky enough to win a Race Around Hong Kong trip hosted by Qantas and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

There were 40 travel agents and we were split into 4 teams of 10. Team names were Team Noodle, Steam Rice, Chilli Prawn and Spring Roll, my team was Team Noodle, Lydia’s was Steam Rice.

A number of challenges were advised each morning, plus a few bonus challenges from time to time. Our challenges ranged from Flash Mob Dancing and team photos with Pandas, to a video on a cable car and a Lip Synching challenge! Team Noodle just wasn’t good enough unfortunately…but Steamed Rice worked hard and threw caution to the wind and WON!!

Before taking my flight (I was on flight QF 27 first flight out of Sydney to Hong Kong for the day) I was lucky enough to be able to relax in the Qantas Club. A great selection of meals and drinks to enjoy… also offered at our table pancakes, cheese toasties and drinks-didn’t even have to move if you didn’t want to. A nice way to start the day before getting on our flight to Hong Kong. Originally, I was supposed to be on an Airbus A330 however there was a late aircraft change and I ended up being on a Boeing 747, on the return I travelled on the A330, it was great to experience both aircrafts as they were quite different. The 747 is an older craft, configuration was a 3-4-3. There was not a lot of space between the seat in front and the entertainment system was quite clunky, however the service was quite good and the food not bad at all. The A330 in comparison has a much faster entertainment system, more room and the seats are better, Configuration is 2-4-2. It is a great, modern aircraft, with lots of entertainment choices, good service and we even managed to sleep!

The first night we inspected the Murray Hotel a brand new 5-star property that is due to open mid-January. It’s part of the Niccolo hotel brand which also has hotels in China and soon to be opening other properties in Asia. The hotel is in a great location near the peak tram station on Hong Kong Island. The property has a mixture of rooms and suites. Rooms/Suites are very modern and spacious with high class fixtures (marble included) and designer furnishing. The beds are super king size! Each room includes complimentary Wi-Fi, smart TV and aromatherapy products.

The hotel is energy-efficient designed, the floor to ceilings windows of each room/suites are recessed in a way that blocks the heat and glare. There are 5 restaurants including a rooftop bar/restaurant, swimming pool & vitality pool, a spa and gym.

Next stop was the Harbour Grand Hong Kong on Hong Kong Island where I stayed for 2 nights. A 5-star property located at North point, closest MTR station-Fortress station. Quite a large property with 828 rooms. This is a lovely hotel and we were lucky enough to stay in a Club Grand Deluxe Harbour twin view room with a welcome gift of a fruit plate. Bedding was 2 single beds; the room and bathroom were quite big with lovely bathroom products. There are seven levels of club floor rooms and we were on level 40. All rooms are spacious and have great views of Victoria harbour.

There are 4 restaurants including lobby lounge. For breakfast we dined at the LE 188° restaurant and lounge, as we were staying in a club room. There was also the choice of dining at the Harbour Grand Café located on the 3rd floor. This was more casual dining and offers an extensive buffet selection.

We visited Le 188° a number of times. Le 188° is on the 41st floor and has stunning views of Hong Kong sland and Kowloon, I could sit for hours just admiring the view! Breakfast is amazing you could have a la carte or buffet dining or both! The a la carte included options such as eggs benedict, scrambled eggs with lobster/crab meat or smoked salmon and waffles with fresh fruit. I also experienced Le 188° in the evening and watched the laser show and enjoyed live music which is on every night from 7pm-11pm. The hotel has a large gym and a nice outdoor pool which has views of the city.

The other hotel I stayed in for two nights was the Kerry Hotel located in Hung Hom Bay Kowloon, a 5-star property owned by the Shangri-La. This hotel/resort is quite new only seven months old, very modern and when you first walk in the door you know you have entered a special hotel with its gorgeous spacious foyer and lobby lounge. More than 60 percent of the rooms overlook the harbour and the rest look over the city. I stayed in a deluxe seaview twin room which had two double beds with a beautiful view of the harbour. The main restaurant Big Bay Café which is where breakfast is offered is a large restaurant that has both indoor and outdoor dining. Breakfast is also great here! There are food stations from one end to the other and you are spoilt for choice. Fresh juice bar, fruit and yoghurt bar, sushi bar, yum cha station, sweets station, cheese and meats station (full of pastries, cakes, waffles, chocolate fountain) the list goes on!  There are also a number of restaurants, the roof top is amazing and worth enjoying a cocktail.  It also has an unbelievable gym “Kerry Health Club” which has views of the harbour and even its own spin room! My only criticism is the location, it is a bit further away from a lot of the attractions and shopping but what it does have is outstanding facilities and great views of the harbour. Closest MTR station is Whampoa.

The Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees was a little disappointing as it wasn’t central to anything. The complimentary shuttle bus does transfers to Nathan Road, but if you don’t time it right, it can be a bit of a wait. We stayed in a suite, which just meant a slightly larger room with a sitting area. The rooms are very basic with 2 single beds.

Next, team Steamed Rice stayed at the Royal Plaza Hotel – it was lovely! Big swimming pool, gym and jacuzzi. Excellent rooms – with 2 Queen beds and room for your suitcases too. The hotel has a number of restaurants, function rooms and bars plus it is joined to a shopping centre. Great location, just a 10-minute walk to Nathan Rd and the Mongkok MTR.

Highlights of the sightseeing were Disneyland Hong Kong, a smaller scale theme park compared to the one in LA but has rides, all the Disney characters and parades that you would see at any Disneyland Park. A rail link directly to the park makes for easy access.

We both had a hiking challenge; team Noodle’s challenge was on Tai Tam located in the southern area of Hong Kong Island and is approximately a 15-minute drive from Causeway Bay. The hike can be quite rocky at some points, so bring good footwear and hiking gear but the views of Hong Kong Island and Kwoloon are beautiful and is well worth the effort! My favourite stops of the hike were Jardine Lookout and Tai Tam Dam.

Team Steam Rice’s hiking challenge was on Lamma Island. This was a 45min ferry ride from Hong Kong Island. Yung Shue Wan is the major town, unfortunately we didn’t have time to see this part of the island as we had to catch a later ferry which dropped us at a different port.

We were dropped at Sok Kwu Wan port where all the seafood restaurants line the shore.

What a beautiful island! Lots of fishing villages, beautiful beaches and great seafood restaurants – highly recommended!

We also highly recommend catching the Star Ferry over from Hong Kong Island-Kowloon vice versa.

Hong Kong is a great destination and we would definitely recommend a stay of 5-7 nights as there is so much to do!