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FIRST LOOK: Ritz Carlton To Open Worlds Tallest Hotel In Hong Kong

Huffington Post   Melanie Nayer   First Posted: 07/20/2010 6:48 am   Updated: 05/25/2011 5:05 pm

If you build it, they will come. If you build it bigger and higher, they will pay to come.

Maybe the Ritz-Carlton saw the Armani Hotel Dubai in the Burj Khalifa--the current tallest building in the world--as a challenge. Or, maybe the hotel group just wanted to create some local competition with the Park Hyatt Shanghai (to date the highest rooftop observation deck in Asia). Or, maybe still, the pending opening of the tallest hotel in the world was just another way for the legendary hotel group to make an unforgettable impression. Whatever the case, the Ritz-Carlton's re-entry into Hong Kong is prepped to be one of the biggest and grandest events in hotel history, and we got a sneak peak at what's to come.

Standing 118 stories high, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will become the flagship property for the Ritz-Carlton in Asia and occupy levels 102 to 118 in the International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong's tallest building and home to financial giants including Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank. While the sounds might be seem serene at 1,600 feet above the chaotic Hong Kong city streets, the view is anything but calm: the building sits directly across Victoria Harbour and offers magnificent views of the harbor, Hong Kong Island and The New Territories.

Set to open in December, the 312 guest room hotel will feature an indoor infinity pool, spa, gym, rooftop restaurant and restaurants on lower floors. The hotel's guest rooms will occupy floors 106-117. The other floors will house the spa (116); the gym, pool and rooftop restaurant (118); additional restaurants (102); and the hotel lobby will be on floor 103. The International Commerce Centre below floor 102 features office and residential space, an Observation Deck on the 100th floor, a shopping mall and is a transport hub to both Mainland China and Hong Kong Island.

The interior design of the hotel, as shown in artist's renderings, depicts a modern and trendy vibe in the restaurants and lobby areas, with a soft and somewhat romantic twist in other sections of the hotel. Located on the 102nd floor is an Italian Restaurant with an open kitchen design, the Lobby Lounge serving signature afternoon tea and a Chinese Restaurant with 7 private rooms. On the 103rd floor, a tea lounge for guests and on the 118th floor, a rooftop restaurant and bar, undoubtedly providing the world's most magnificent views, and also testing the vertigo of its guests.

As the world economy fluctuated over the past few years, Asia pulled through as the darling of financial strength for worldwide businesses, thanks in large part to China's economic vitality. Now the tides have turned to tourism. The opening of the statuesque Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is another notch in the bedpost that hopes to put Asia--and Hong Kong--back in the spotlight for international leisure travel.

On the whole Asia has bounced back very strongly and is now the world's fastest growing region, and that growth is driven to a great extent by China. As a result of this growth we have seen great demand for our hotels in the region from both business and leisure travelers and we are now seeing occupancy levels in the range that we had before the economic slowdown," said Dan Ford, Regional Director of Ritz-Carlton Public Relations, Asia. (SEE SLIDESHOW OF EXCLUSIVE PICTURES BELOW)

Signaling the burgeoning strength of China's economy, the Ritz-Carlton opened its second Shanghai hotel in June, Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, which very clearly demonstrated to its consumers and competitors the company's positive outlook in the Asia market.

So, what comes after opening the world's tallest hotel? Now that the Ritz-Carlton has soared to the sky, the next step will be a bit closer to land, and sea.

"We are developing our first hotel in Bangalore and would like to able to add another four or five hotels in India over the next five years or so," said Ford. "Now that we operate seven hotels in Mainland China, we're confident in the country's opportunities for continued Ritz-Carlton success, and look forward to introducing consumers to secondary cities that offer increasing potential for the luxury market."

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong opens in December 2010 and will be priced at the top end of the luxury hotel market in Hong Kong.--Melanie Nayer

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The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong pool will be located on the top floor: 118
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