By Tova Syrowicz
Although only nine Peninsula properties grace the globe (a tenth is under construction), Asia’s oldest hotel company has built a brand that really resonates with elite travelers the world over, a group of hotels for which 2013 marks many milestones, and about as many renovations and transformations to look forward to.
On December 11, the group’s flagship property in Hong Kong celebrates 85 years with the completion of a hotel-wide renovation that embraces a chic, clean-lined and neutral-toned design in the guest rooms, while taking in-room technology and personalization to an all-new level. Each room will be equipped with an iPad in the language of your choice, loaded with software that makes it beyond easy to control the room’s everything, from lights, curtains and temperature to TV channels, the “do not disturb” functionality and room service/valet requests.
Also in Hong Kong, the Verandah restaurant is being completely transformed, and the addition of a new bar and conference center are in the works.
The Peninsula New York, commemorating 25 years on Fifth Avenue this year, will see a new restaurant unveiled this fall. Contemporary American fare, served in relaxed Yabu Pushelberg surrounds, promises to please locals and visitors alike. The restaurant follows on the heels of the multimillion-dollar renovation of the hotel’s 3,300-square-foot top suite, which spans the bulk of the 19th floor with six rooms, fine furnishings and textiles, and the latest in entertainment technology.
Back in Asia, on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, Bangkok’s Peninsula celebrates its crystal anniversary with a guest room refresh and a lobby facelift, complete with Thai teak, new carpets and furniture, and a spectacular crystal chandelier honoring 15 years of dazzling hospitality.
As for openings, Paris is under construction, due to open in 2014, bringing with it the finest Chinese restaurant the city has ever seen, while further down the pipeline, Peninsula will debut a hotel in Yangon, Myanmar in the building that was once the headquarters of the Burma Railway Company.
Peninsula fans traveling for leisure, or seeking to sneak away from business for an afternoon, will enjoy the relaunch of The Peninsula Academy this summer, a collection of specially curated programs, from riding elephants through Thai vineyards to exploring the retro side of Shanghai to a behind-the-scenes Broadway experience, that offer unique cultural immersion, conceived and delivered with the service, care and exclusivity you’ve come to expect from the hotel group.
For a boutique brand, Peninsula has about as much going on as some groups with dozens of properties in their care. Measured growth, not unlike that espoused by Dorchester Collection CEO Christopher Cowdray, seems to be a winning, long-term strategy for Peninsula, whose presence and cachet extends well beyond that of its real estate footprint.