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Inside The World's Tallest Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Posted: 12/13/10 08:28 AM ET

*EXCLUSIVE VIDEO AND PHOTOS BELOW*

It took exactly 52 seconds to get from the ground to the top of the tallest hotel in the world. I was unusually calm about the ride, especially for someone with a fear of elevators and slight fear of heights, but when I stepped out of the elevator and onto the 118th floor my fears subsided and were replaced with pure excitement. This hotel is shaping up to be something stunning, and I'm not just talking about the views.

It's still under construction, but the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is fast taking shape and readying itself for its grand opening in March 2011. I had the unique opportunity to tour the hotel last week with the hotel's General Manager and Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, for Ritz-Carlton, Mark DeCocinis for a sneak peak of what guests can expect when they check in next Spring. (Disclaimer: the video you're about to watch was taken during my tour of my hotel and while dizzying at times due to my amateur video capabilities, it also provides an exclusive look at how the hotel is coming together with commentary by DeCocinis.)

Earlier this year, we reported on the hotel's various restaurants, lounges and of course, the infinity pool on the top floor of the hotel. On this trip, however, I got to see first-hand how the hotel is piecing together from the ninth floor where guests will first enter the hotel (and also where the hotel's ballroom is located), to floor 118, where the stars will seem a little closer as you sip cocktails in the hotel's outdoor lounge.

The hotel occupies floors 102-118 with 312 guest rooms all providing spectacular city and harbor views, state-of-the-art technology including WiFi, iPod docking stations and flat screen TVs. Club room guests will enjoy the panoramic Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge with complimentary food and beverage presentations 24 hours a day. Guests won't go hungry with six dining venues starting on the 102nd floor. Chinese and Italian restaurants, a lobby lounge, a Chocolate Library and tapas and pastry cafes soothe all hunger pains. The ESPA located on the 116th floor will be the highest spa in the world when it's complete. Featuring nine deluxe treatment rooms and two couples' suites, every treatment room offers floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views. You can go for a run around Hong Kong, or work out with views of Hong Kong from the 118th floor fitness center. The pool, which features a 28m x 7m LED screen on the ceiling, will display images that range from landscapes to fashion shows.

And the views...

From the 118th floor of this hotel, the ICC tower will join the ranks of iconic landmarks around the world offering picturesque views of glamorous cities. Travelers flock to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Empire State Building in New York City, the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia and soon, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, to take in views you have to see to believe.

At the heart of it all are the employees. DeCocinis will manage a team of more than 500 - many of whom worked for the previous Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong and have returned to great guests in the new hotel. "It's still all about the experience," DeCocinis said. "Each one of these employees has a passion for this hotel and for what they do." He couldn't be more right.

I ended my tour of the hotel at the Ritz-Carlton's pre-opening offices in the ICC building and met a few of the employees who are helping the hotel come to life. From the spa manager to the engineer in charge of lighting and design, there's a true excitement in their eyes and pure appreciation for the final product to come. When guests are greeted on the ninth floor by a Ritz-Carlton representative and escorted to floor 103 for a welcome reception at check-in, it will be just the first of many unique experiences happening at this hotel.

My one piece of advice: Enjoy the view.

The International Commerce Centre (The ICC Tower)
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The ICC Tower, where The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will occupy floors 102-118
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Follow Melanie Nayer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/chic_travel