Style and substance
Updated: 2012-09-07 06:51
By Andrea Deng (HK Edition)
Langham as a brand stands out literally and figuratively with its design and attention to immaculate service. Andrea Deng reports.
Walking into The Langham, Hong Kong, leave your hefty luggage with the porter, relax after finally arriving from hours of flight and be immediately surrounded by the posh and poised European elegance of the edifice.
When you're washed by the coolth in the hotel after the sweltering subtropical heat outside, the experience is reminiscent of the song, The Girl from Ipanema. The air conditioning is not overwhelming. The smell of ginger lily permeates. Chandeliers and marble floor in the lobby present a classic European style, while well-positioned art pieces such as statues and drawings add subtle taste to the atmosphere. Guests can savor dainty cakes, while chilling and chatting in the Palm Court, an outlet for the classic English afternoon tea, with light jazz playing in the background.
The hotel is like a haven situated in the hustle and bustle of a tourist area, where the number of leisure travelers, already high, is increasing every year.
"(Hong Kong) is a big playing field, but I think the customers always have their choices," says Mr Duncan Palmer, Managing Director of The Langham, Hong Kong.
Apart from The Langham, there are two other hotel brands under the Langham Hospitality Group in Hong Kong, the Langham Place and Eaton Hotels. Both The Langham and the Langham Place belong to the luxury hotel line, but they're slightly different.
Langham Place, located next to a 12-floor shopping mall that attracts thousands of young locals daily, has an edgier style of design. It is "slightly more engaging, more risk-taking with a high energy type of atmosphere," as Mr Palmer puts it.
The Langham, Hong Kong has an atmosphere of calm and class. That exudes from the language, the eye contact and the mannerism adopted by the concierge, or from nice English tea in the Palm Court, which takes after the original Palm Court at Langham's flagship hotel in London dating back to 1865.
The service is sophisticated. Try to talk to the "service stylists" in the lobby, whose uniform are signified by a touch of pink, you may end up learning from a well-informed, knowledgeable Hongkonger, who gives suggestions on where you could find the antique shop that has blue and white china, and that you could have a nice cup of coffee on the way up the hillside street.
At five past seven every evening, a 'pink lady' cocktail is served in each outlet of the hotel to signify "a change of the day", which is emblematic of the hotel's tradition since 1865.
Female guests are received with a fresh and lovely pink rose upon arrival at the hotel. The color, which reminds one of Audrey Hepburn, is one of the signatures of The Langham, Hong Kong stylised from the wallpaper of the original Langham in London in 1865.
T'ang Court, a Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for Cantonese fine dining, is another high point of the hotel that attracts the city's upper class and has received accolades. The food and service in the restaurant is of a superior kind. Customers come here to enjoy a special occasion with their loved ones, or to entertain important business partners.
The Langham Club is a stylish, well-appointed club facility that lets customers have breakfast in the morning away from the main crowd of the hotel. Besides breakfast, it is an exclusive area of the hotel where guests can relax to enjoy the afternoon tea and the early evening cocktail.
Such luxury and enchanting service will soon reach some other important cities around Asia, according to Mr Palmer. The head office for the Langham Hospitality Group is based in Hong Kong, the strategic center of gravity in the region.
"(The Langham Hospitality Group) see Asia as a predominant area for hospitality. Asia very often is read about and perceived worldwide as offering some of the best service hospitality," says Mr Palmer.
A total of 15 hotels under the Langham group will open in mainland China in the coming years. New destinations include Shanghai, which already has The Langham in Xintiandi, and The Langham Shenzhen, a 360-room property, to open shortly. A Langham Place will also be built in Dalian, Liaoning province, in the northern China.
Two hotels have been built in New Zealand and Australia respectively and four hotels are coming up in India, and three others in Thailand.
"Langham within the luxury market in the world platform, has arrived," says Mr Palmer, adding that it has been an advantage for the hospitality group to own and not just manage the hotel properties.
But then quality service eventually comes down to the people. While the company sticks to its service culture of the "Five Ms" - Myself, My Colleagues, My guests, My Langham and My Brand - which are the mantra for every old and new members of the hotel, there is something more.
"We don't try to put people into straitjackets. We'd like to think there are lots of personalities. We want them to exude with their personalities in some way, and go out of their way to make impactful interactions with the customers. Because those memories will make the guests come back," says Mr Palmer.
(HK Edition 09/07/2012 page8)