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Mice Net : August 2008
asia update hong kong with virgin atlantic Words and photos by Graeme Kemlo GrAeme Kemlo wAs mAssAGed to within an inch of his life onboard Virgin Atlantic’s A340-600 ensuring he would be ready to tackle everything Hong Kong had to offer. A t 35,000 feet and mach 0.82, we’re heading north somewhere over an outback sunset when my therapist gets her thumbs stuck into my shoulders – “Ayurvedic, aah… accupressure, oooh….toxin release, goood; …so this is how the Upper Class live”. Elsewhere, others in the group on VS201, Virgin Atlantic’s A340-600 to Hong Kong, are at the bar sipping Manhattans or maybe Bellinis, at their suites having dinner for one or two, watching videos, reading, or tapping out that last minute report on the laptop. Some have already wined, dined, flicked the switch and flipped the leather seat, slipped on the black Branson PJs, tucked in the duvet, and are horizontal for the evening. “Ayurvedic therapy leaves chamomile tea for dead…” and I drift off to be gently woken by soft blue lighting. Touchdown into Hong Kong is 10pm and HKIA is busy, not frantic as it might be by day, but quickly grasping the scale of this hub you realise you’re only one of 1900 flights a week from almost every compass point; already air passenger numbers are 10 per cent up on last year. Virgin’s Lisa Dosanjh, who has given up her upper class seat for one of the PCOs, hands us over in very good shape to Jane Scribner, business tourism manager for Hong Kong Tourism Board, Sydney, and we’re met on arrival by HKTB guide Maria Chow (PC Tours) to smooth our way through this megacity. In one of the world's most vertical cities, our downtown Hong Kong island base is a virtual low-rise at 25 storeys - the legendary Mandarin Oriental overlooking the harbour. It was closed for a massive refurbishment for over nine months and Peter Hession, ANZ regional sales manager for Mandarin is keen to show it off. But after typical Mandarin Oriental efficiency we’re soon in high-tech harbour view rooms: integrated audio/video player with surround sound links into LCD HD TV, hotel-wide wireless broadband and a connectivity kit for laptop, video camera and mp3 players. mice.net 111