Va­le­rian Ho finds out how it all be­gan for the leg­endary Penin­sula Hong Kong

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS -

Like many grand ho­tels, the Penin­sula is a fam­ily busi­ness. It all started with two broth­ers of Jewish-Iraqi de­scent – El­lis Kadoorie set­tled in Shang­hai in 1880, while his el­der brother, Elly, set him­self up in busi­ness in Hong Kong. They gained a ma­jor share­hold­ing in Hong Kong Ho­tels Lim­ited, which in 1922 ac­quired an 85 per cent in­ter­est in the Shang­hai Ho­tel Com­pany. The two com­pa­nies merged to form the Hongkong and Shang­hai Ho­tels – par­ent com­pany of the Penin­sula Ho­tels.

Ar­chi­tects were com­mis­sioned to draw up plans for “the finest ho­tel east of the Suez” in the early 1920s, at the tip of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Penin­sula. How­ever, soon af­ter com­ple­tion the build­ing was req­ui­si­tioned by Bri­tish forces and used for mil­i­tary ac­com­mo­da­tion. Af­ter ren­o­va­tion, the Penin­sula opened for busi­ness in De­cem­ber 1928.

The 168-room prop­erty was the first to cater to over­land trade in the days when a first-class train trip from Lon­don took ten days, run­ning via Calais, Paris, Moscow, Bei­jing and Shang­hai. It rapidly be­came one of Hong Kong’s most pop­u­lar venues for par­ties and balls, and af­ter­noon tea dances were a pop­u­lar fix­ture at week­ends, with cream cakes, tea and danc­ing to a band – all for only US$0.50.

In 1994 a new 30-storey tower added 130 rooms, a he­li­port, a rooftop restau­rant and spa. The group now has prop­er­ties in ten cities world­wide.


Left: The Penin­sula in 1928 the ho­tel lobby in the 1950s

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