Skip to main content
hong kong

The St. Regis touts itself as the easternmost luxury property on Hong Kong Island, situated in Wan Chai, an area known for its bars and restaurants.michael weber

Ordinarily, three high-end hotels opening within months of each other in the same city might be a problem for everyone involved. The expectation is that flooding the accommodation market with a glut of new options would lead to lower room rates and occupancy across the board.

But Hong Kong is no ordinary city, which is why no one is batting an eye at the respective arrivals of The Murray, Rosewood Hong Kong and St. Regis Hong Kong, the said trio of luxury hotels.

“I don’t think it’s abnormal,” says Rosanna Tang, Colliers International’s head of research for Hong Kong and Southern China. “The occupancy and absorption doesn’t look like it’ll be challenging.”

The hotels are merely a reaction to skyrocketing demand, she adds, the result of several massive infrastructure projects and new attractions.

The exterior of the St. Regis Hong Kong, which opened in April.

Tourists and business travellers from China in particular are pouring in thanks the opening last year of a high-speed railway from nearby mainland cities Guangzhou and Shenzhen. A US$18-billion, 55-kilometre bridge – the longest in the world – that connects Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai on the mainland, which also opened last year, is another major contributor.

As a result, the number of Chinese tourists jumped 26 per cent in November compared to a year earlier, according to the Nielsen Annual Mainland Tourist Study. Hong Kong on the whole expects a record 66.4 million visitors this year, up from 65.1 million in 2018. That’s a staggering increase from just 28 million in 2008.

For the individual hotels, it helps that they’re in disparate parts of Hong Kong and that they are so dramatically different from each other.

The St. Regis is the newest of the bunch, albeit just barely, opening in April, a few weeks after the Rosewood. The St. Regis touts itself as the easternmost luxury property on Hong Kong Island, situated in Wan Chai, an area known for its bars and restaurants.

The St. Regis boasts an Art Deco look in its grand lobby, with 7.5-metre ceilings, marble floors and luminous chandeliers.Peter Nowak/The Globe and Mail

Modelled after the chain’s first location in New York, the hotel boasts an Art Deco look in its grand lobby, with 7.5-metre ceilings, marble floors and luminous chandeliers.

Appointed by esteemed Hong Kong designer André Fu, the guest rooms are meant to mesh St. Regis’s New York origins with a local sensibility. Interior doors are reminiscent of the traditional wooden panels that shop owners used to close up for the night, while light fixtures are designed to look like the gas lamps that once proliferated in Wan Chai.

Colliers, the real estate service, expects the St. Regis will benefit from a number of public works in the area, including the current construction of the new Exhibition Station subway hub that will introduce a new connection between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon across the harbour. A number of government buildings in the area are also being converted into office and convention space.

Derek Flint, the hotel’s general manager, agrees with that forecast. “There is a need for more luxury hotels,” he says. “There’s great demand for Hong Kong as a city, both business-wise and leisure-wise.”

The Murray, which opened last year, also stands to benefit from its location. The hotel, situated in a converted government building, is in the middle of the Central business district. It’s also next door to the Peak Tram, the funicular that ferries tourists to the top of Victoria Peak, Hong Kong’s top tourist attraction.

The Murray Hotel, situated in a converted government building, is in the middle of the Central business district.Peter Nowak

The tram is currently closed for a major US$87-million revamp that will double capacity – another side effect of skyrocketing tourism – and is expected to fully reopen in 2021.

The hotel itself is positioning toward an artsy crowd by hosting fashion and creative events. Rooms are funky, designed on angles to fit with the office-like building’s square windows, a requirement by the local government when it put the property up for auction in 2014.

If there’s any pressure on the hotel industry, it will likely be on lower-tier properties, according to The Murray’s managing director Duncan Palmer.

“These three hotels are a good start and as they establish themselves, some of the older hotels will likely reinvent themselves,” he says. “That’s a very positive thing.”

The Rosewood, on the Kowloon side of the harbour, also stands to benefit from the continuing US$2.6 billion Victoria Dockside redevelopment, the crown jewel of which is the massive K11 Musea shopping mall and arts complex, set to open this year.

The Rosewood stands to benefit from the continuing US$2.6 billion Victoria Dockside redevelopment, which is set to open this year.Peter Nowak

There’s no foreseeable ceiling on the luxury hotel market, according to managing director Marc Brugger. Even China’s trade war with the United States doesn’t seem to be having much effect on the number of people flooding into Hong Kong, both from the mainland and elsewhere in the world.

“Luxury is a product of demand,” he says. “It’s not build it and they will come; it’s they will come, so make sure you have it.”

The writer was a guest of The Murray, Rosewood and St. Regis. None of them reviewed or approved this story.