Case Studies of the Dysfunction in Pick Up

Case Studies   These are observations of PUAs I have known through the years and how their time in the industry shaped their lives.  I am not using names.  This is not about gossip.  This is about information.  I am changing details only relevant to their identity to keep them anonymous.  It is my opinion combined with a honest account of what I saw happen.   Use it to live better rather than judge. These are all guys who put Social Value, Technique and Masculine Image before their expression.  This isRead More

Checking In: Mira Moon

One of the most stylish hotel newcomers in Hong Kong, Mira Moon brings cutting-edge design to the shopping and dining mecca at Causeway Bay. Opened in August 2013, it’s a sister property to The Mira Hong Kong and a designated member of the Design Hotels group, making it one of only three properties in the city with this distinction. Conceived under the creative direction of famed Dutch designer Marcel Wanders and the all-star design firm YOO, Mira Moon draws its inspiration from the Chinese Moon Festival and the legend of the Moon Goddess of Immortality, but its look is slick 21st century.

Located within an unassuming building not far from the harbor front, Mira Moon is something of a hidden gem. Visitors to Hong Kong tend to gravitate towards Central hotels or Kowloon properties boasting views of Hong Kong Island’s iconic skyline, but for those willing to venture ever so slightly away from these areas, Mira Moon has much to offer with its high-tech, beautifully designed guestrooms. The immediate surrounding area may not be much to look at, and it’s a bit far from an MTR station, but a short walk or taxi ride easily gets you to the shops and restaurants of Causeway Bay, the nightlife of Wan Chai, the hustle-and-bustle of Central, and the must-ride Star Ferry.

Rates: There are five room types and one large penthouse suite, with rates starting at $186/night.

Rooms: Mira Moon’s 90 rooms come in three configurations: New Moon Studio, Half Moon, and Full Moon (on higher floors, the latter two types are designated as “Premier”). Ranging from 220 to 410 square feet, the rooms are compact (not unusual for Hong Kong), but the striking decor helps to distract from that fact. (Though, on the top level, the penthouse Moonshine Suite measures a spacious 1,250 square feet.) Some rooms offer partial views of Victoria Harbour and the towering International Commerce Centre, while others grant vistas of the surrounding city and Victoria Peak. Neither view is bad, but you’ll want to request a higher floor for a good vantage point. All rooms come equipped with large HDTVs, Apple AirPlay connectivity and docking stations, Nespresso coffee machines, complimentary Wi-Fi, iPad Minis with customized apps, Handy smartphones, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a free minibar (nonalcoholic beverages only).

Featuring intricately carved wood, lacquered white ceramic, tile floors, colorful pops of cherry-red, and traditional Chinese patterns, the guestrooms here are visually striking, to say the least. The bathrooms, in particular, stand out with their digitally composed peony mosaics produced by Bisazza. All bathrooms feature a walk-in rain shower, and many also include a freestanding tub.

Drinks & Dining: On the third floor, Supergiant Tapas & Cocktail Bar offers Spanish small plates and cocktails inspired by Chinese mythology. The restaurant is open daily from breakfast through dinner; the breakfast buffet, with a selection of made-to-order egg dishes, is outstanding. Connected to the restaurant is the Secret Garden, a verdant, open-air terrace that comes alive at night with flickering lanterns. Adjacent to the lobby on the fifth floor, the Crystal Lounge is a small yet popular space for evening drinks; the view looks out onto the harbor, making it a perfect spot to see the nightly “A Symphony of Lights” outdoor light show. In the future, another planned outdoor space, Sky Garden, will open to guests and the public, though the timing is still undetermined.

Health & Fitness: Guests have access to a small but well-appointed fitness center that’s open 24 hours. The hotel has no pool or spa facilities.

Etc.: Though Mira Moon isn’t the only property to offer guests use of a Handy smartphone, this is truly a standout perk. The phone allows free local and international calls, as well as unlimited 3G data during the duration of your stay, no matter where you are in the city.

Pros: Excellent design; boutique experience; hip atmosphere; high-tech offerings; reasonable rates.

Cons: Somewhat far from public transportation; no pool or spa.

Checking In: The Landmark Mandarin Oriental

If the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan elder statesman oozing colonial-era charm, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental is a young, hip fashionista radiating sophistication. Opened in 2005 in a glitzy shopping center of the same name (the Landmark), this property is nothing short of spectacular, proposing an elegant home-away-from-home right in the center of the bustling Central district. For travelers who might find the old-school service of The Peninsula or MOHK a bit too fussy, The Landmark is an ideal upscale lodging alternative while visiting Hong Kong.

From top to bottom, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental feels like a well-designed luxury apartment building. Located up a small flight of stairs, the perfumed lobby is relatively small and discreet, not a destination in and of itself, as is the case at most of Hong Kong’s marquee hotels. With only 113 rooms and suites, the hotel never feels crowded, and the steady stream of in-the-know locals who come here for the award-winning spa and restaurants also add to the non-touristy ambience. The only thing missing here is a view of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline (which many other top-tier properties in the city offer), but even that fact lends itself to the feeling that this isn’t just a hotel.

Rates: There are five room types, with rates from $630/night; two suite options start at $1,030/night.

Rooms: The Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s guestrooms are among the largest in Hong Kong, averaging 540 square feet. In fact, at 450 square feet, the standard rooms are already the largest in the city. Adding to the ample square footage is the space-maximizing room design, with the flow of the bathroom, bedroom, and living space feeling connected, yet separate. Views are of an atrium or nearby city buildings, which may not thrill guests looking for a jaw-dropping vista, but that seems like a small concern in a destination where you can take in the skyline from so many other vantage points.

All rooms feature a contemporary color palette and excellent appointments: goose-down bedding by Ploh, Frette bathrobes, multiple HD LCD televisions, Nespresso coffee machines, and high-quality audio systems that are compatible with personal devices. The elegant bathrooms come with rounded bathtubs, rain showers, dual vanities and sinks, and high-end, chemical-free grooming products by Sodashi (higher-tier rooms and suites feature products by Jo Malone).

Drinks & Dining: Located on the ground floor, the two-story MO Bar offers all-day dining and beverage service (including a popular high tea). Occasionally, the space hosts live concerts; past performers have included Alicia Keys, Harry Connick, Jr., and John Legend. For fine dining, two-Michelin-starred Amber serves up modern French cuisine in an airy space; it’s been counted among the world’s 50 best restaurants (on San Pellegrino’s list) several years in a row.

Health & Fitness: Offering a wide range of Eastern- and Western-inspired treatments, The Oriental Spa ranks among the city’s best spas and stands out, in particular, for importing world-class aestheticians and treatments from other countries. The Landmark also offers guests access to an indoor pool, yoga and Pilates facilities, and a high-tech fitness center with a full range of cardio and weight-training equipment.

Etc.: The Landmark Mandarin Oriental is just a short distance from the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, but you can skip the busy streets of Central and travel between the two properties using pedestrian footbridges and shortcuts through the Landmark shopping center.

Pros: Understated, supremely elegant service and accommodations; award-winning facilities and restaurants; a dream location in the middle of Central.

Cons: No views of the harbor or skyline.

Checking In: The Peninsula Hong Kong

It’s no exaggeration to say The Peninsula Hong Kong counts amongst the world’s most legendary hotels. Opened in 1928, near the southern tip of the Kowloon Peninsula (hence the property’s name), the “Grand Dame of the Far East” (also the flagship property of the Peninsula Hotels group) has been offering guests white-glove service and luxury accommodations for more than eight decades. The oldest hotel in Hong Kong, The Peninsula is a temple of old-world glamour and is the city’s only historical five-star property, managing to stand out despite sharing the vicinity with so many other world-class hotels.

The Peninsula comes with a storied past—the Japanese used the building as their World War II headquarters, for instance—but it doesn’t feel like a dusty relic. Not content to rest on its laurels, the property underwent a two-phase, $58-million renovation (completed in April 2013 to coincide with the hotel’s 85th anniversary) that put cutting-edge technology front and center in the guestrooms, along with a fresh new decor that created a high-end residential feel. As a result, The Peninsula has managed to maintain its unique character without falling out of step with the times.

Whether or not a stay here is part of your plans, a visit to the iconic lobby, with its high ceilings and ornate columns, is in order. Afternoon brings classic high tea service, which locals and tourists queue up for on a daily basis. The hotel’s arcade, home to luxury designer and jewelry shops, also invites lingering. Like many other top-tier properties around the world, the public spaces here are just as important to the hotel’s success as the guestrooms.

Rates: There are five room types, with prices starting at $525/night. There are seven options for suites, with prices starting at $1,015/night.

Rooms: Accommodations are split between the original, low-rise building and a 30-story tower that was added in 1994. In total, there are 300 rooms and suites; depending on their location in the hotel, rooms include views of the front courtyard, the Kowloon cityscape, or, most desirably, Victoria Harbour and the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island. The smallest rooms measure 441 square feet, a respectable size in a cramped city like Hong Kong, while rooms in higher tiers offer even more space.

Following the renovations, guestrooms feel stylish and open, with a muted color palette of cream, walnut, and dark chocolate. The high ceilings, handsome furnishings, and elegant wall appliqués help to create the feeling of a chic urban apartment rather than a standard hotel room. The bathrooms, on the other hand, still feel decadent with white and green marble and Oscar de la Renta products.

The focus on technology has paid off with a wonderfully high-tech guest experience. Wi-Fi is fast and complimentary, and all calls (local or international) are free, thanks to the sophisticated in-room VoIP phone system. In addition to Samsung Galaxy tablets that allow guests to control assorted room features and place service requests, rooms boast in-wall touchscreen panels that can control lighting and temperature; in the bathroom, these panels also control entertainment options like TV and music. All electrical outlets are now “world” outlets, meaning you won’t need any adapters. Conveniently, a charging dock pops out of the desk, making it easy to juice up all of your devices in one place. In addition, all rooms come equipped with a touchscreen-controlled Nespresso machine, offering complimentary coffee and tea. Perhaps most impressively, every room now sports a 46-inch, 3-D flat-screen television (loaner 3-D glasses and movies can be ordered via the tablets); hi-fi surround-sound system; and Blu-ray.

Drinks & Dining: The Peninsula Hong Kong is home to no fewer than nine restaurants and bars. In addition to all-day dining in the lobby, there is French cuisine at Gaddi’s, modern European at Philippe Starck–designed Felix (pictured below), Swiss classics at Chesa (pictured above), the ever-popular buffet offered in The Verandah, Cantonese dishes and dim sum at Spring Moon, and Japanese food at Imasa. All options are popular, but due to its small size and overwhelming charm, seats at Chesa can be especially difficult to come by. In addition to the restaurants, there’s also a small chef’s table in the hotel’s main kitchen where guests can book small, fully customized dinners with the chef of Gaddi’s.

On the second floor, The Bar offers craft cocktails, rare single malt whiskies, and live piano music in a throwback setting. High on the 28th floor, Felix also offers several bars from which to take in the spectacular views of Victoria Harbour (the men’s room is also notable for its panoramas). Tucked away in the basement is Salon de Ning, a sophisticated lounge that evokes the East-meets-West glamour of 1930s Shanghai and features a nightly lineup of comic and musical performers. In-room dining is also available 24 hours a day.

Health & Fitness: Guests have access to a bright, modern fitness center that features state-of-the-art equipment and an open-air terrace overlooking the harbor. The locker rooms contain a hot whirlpool, cold plunge pool, steam room, and sauna. The Roman-inspired pool, with its intricate columns, friezes, statues, and cornices, is a spectacular place to swim with its floor-to-ceiling windows that look out toward the skyline. In warmer weather, guests can head to the adjacent outdoor sun terrace.

The Peninsula Spa is a popular retreat for both guests and Hong Kong residents, as it offers 12,000 square feet of relaxation space with wonderful views. The treatments offered blend Eastern and Western techniques, and are among the best spa services offered in Hong Kong, a city where wellness is taken seriously.

Etc.: No stay here is complete without a chauffeured ride in one of the hotel’s iconic Rolls Royces, which are painted a signature “Peninsula green.” The hotel’s cars will drive you to and from the airport, as well as other destinations upon request. If you prefer to travel by air, you can arrange a helicopter ride that departs from the rooftop helipad. And if you’re interested in adding unique experiences to your stay, check out the available cultural and lifestyle program offerings from The Peninsula Academy.

Pros: This one-of-a-kind, history-soaked hotel touts state-of-the-art guestrooms, exceptional service, top-notch dining and wellness facilities, incredible views from most rooms, and an ideal location near major attractions.

Cons: Luxury doesn’t come cheap in a city like Hong Kong; plus, in its public spaces at least, guests may feel like the hotel is more of a public attraction than a quiet escape from the city.