Mixing work and play – the ultimate “bleisure” trip to Hong Kong
...the new buzzword of mixing business and leisure travel, is growing in popularity as business travellers take advantage of a work trip to spend a weekend or more exploring new cities – like Hong Kong.
On a recent trip to Hong Kong, I had the fortunate opportunity to experience many of the different burrows across the city and want to share my ultimate “bleisure” travel advice to get the most out of your stay in Hong Kong.
...outside of the central financial hub. While most of your business is going to be focused around the Central district, why not stay in Mong Kok, a bustling maze of narrow streets and only 4 station stops on the MTR, or 20 mins, to Central station.
Mong Kok is one of the most interesting and densely populated areas in Kowloon, once known for being the home of the Triad gangs, illegal gambling dens and sleaze, is the city’s largest shopping district and a favourite place for locals to hang out. From the ladies market to sneaker street and gold fish street, Mong Kok is the cultural experience of Hong Kong you see depicted in the movies – a must visit.
Staying at Cordis Hong Kong at Langham Place is the perfect location for work and play and it put me right in the heart of exploring (and working) Hong Kong. After a long day of business, happy hour(s) from 6pm-8pm in the Club Lounge is celebrated with complimentary French champagne, cocktails, wine and beer with spectacular sweeping views across the city. It’s a great spot for debriefing the events of the day, and more importantly planning your night out.
During the day -
The best tip I received during my stay in Hong Kong was from the Cordis Hotel staffer, Amy. I was discussing my plans with her about heading over to see the Bronze Buddha on Lantau Island and Amy advised I should visit Tai O. Tai O is a traditional fishing village famous for both its stilt houses and its pink dolphins. If you find yourself with a spare day away from the office this is a must and I am so glad I changed my plans to fit it in.
To explore the village you just meander around the village, converse with the locals and cross the historic bridges to take in the views of the stilt house Tai O is so famous for. You just simply watch village life slowly motor on around the tourists.
The highlight of the day was the boat excursion in search of the Chinese pink dolphin. Our guide informed us that catching a glimpse is very rare, in fact only 1 in 5 trips out will see the spectacular sight. We cruised on the boat through the heart of the village which showcased the houses perched high out of the water on what looked to be flimsy stilts before we headed out beyond the island to look for the famous creature. We were so incredibly lucky to spot the pink dolphin playing around in the water, jumping in and out of the waves, performing for the onlookers – a bucket list memory!
For after-hours fun, Hong Kong has oodles of areas to eat and drink the night away. Old stayers of Wan Chai, Lan Kwai Fong and Soho all still boasts fantastic night spots, but the new urban cool hotspot to uncover is Sai Ying Pun.
With a history of being a residential area for decades and now with a new influx of young professionals and expats, a slew of new bars and restaurants, this western district is the place to be seen.
Hit up Potato Head for fun and interesting cocktails in a relaxed and beautiful styled bar or The Winery, which is filled with young professionals kicking up their heals – tip: snack on tacos, the perfect pre dinner taster. Ping Pong Ginotería is definitely a sneaky find. Hidden behind a small pink door with little signage and down into a large basement, it serves the Spanish “gin and tonic” experience in the heart of Hong Kong. Let the mixologist guide you through your gin selection and choice of tonic to match.
Still in the Sai Ying Pun district, I stumbled across a restaurant cooking food over wood fire and charcoal - Rhoda. The hearth of the restaurant is the open kitchen, pushing out honest refined British home-style food. If you are craving a roast chicken, their Brinks Farm roasted chicken with spring onions and ginger is the perfect comfort food. The skin just scorched enough to give a slight charry flavour.
If you are after a traditional Cantonese meal, splash out and experience the two Michelin Star restaurant, Ming Court, at Cordis Hotel. From the moment I stepped inside this regal restaurant I knew I was going to be treated to something pretty special. The truly authentic modern Cantonese cuisine is presented dish after dish with delicate perfection, each carefully curated to match wines from across the globe.
Tiger prawns with honeyed Yunnan province Ham paired with a buttery South African Chenin Blanc and the Australian Wagyu Beef flawlessly coupled with a Petite Syrah from the Napa Valley.
The pièce de resistance was the theatrical dessert presentation, a sweet wonderland of black sesame bean curd pudding, chrysanthemum jelly and taro pudding enveloped in a wanderlust of fluffy cloud.
So make sure your next business trip isn’t all just meetings and no fun, turn it into a bleisure travel experience – it might just be the perfect compliment to landing a big deal.
Alana Lowes was a guest of Hong Kong Tourism and Virgin Australia and stayed at Cordis Hotel in Mongkok
More about Alana
Alana Lowes is a celebrity cook of MasterChef pedigree, and has travelled the world as The Flying Foodie for Virgin Australia. Read more of her articles on The Flying Foodie homepage.
She also launched the Alana’s Pantry range of products and is the Editor for lifestyle magazine, Life Begins At.