HONG KONG - The large glass door guarding the entrance to the Mandarin Oriental’s posh Landmark Hong Kong Hotel swings open and out pops a man wearing an emoji happy face smile and holding a frosty bottle of water.
“Welcome to the Landmark and please take a sip of water — it’s very hot today and you must keep hydrated,” says John Suen, the long-time doorman at the legendary MO Landmark.
Above: John Suen is the veteran doorman at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong.
Suen, whose official title is “Driveway Supervisor,” leads us into the air-conditioned lobby and introduces us to Mike Yuen, the hotel’s Assistant Manager, Conierge. The charming Yuen officially welcomes us to the swank property and, because of our early morning arrival, suggests we might like to enjoy breakfast in the MO Bar — by day MO Bar is a posh eatery but when darkness falls it transforms into one of the city’s trendiest night spots, complete with DJ music.
“Good morning,” says Joiz Wong, the bubbly Senior Hostess at MO Bar, who leads us to our table and engages us in a lively discussion about all things Hong Kong.
Above: Joiz Wong's greeting at the MO Bar starts your morning off on the right foot.
The Landmark staff’s attentiveness is overwhelming — they’re like a shot of adrenaline to our jet lag-weary bodies.
All 5-star hotels like The Landmark achieve that lofty status because they meet certain criteria, much like Michelin Star restaurants. But what really makes a stay at these properties memorable is how staff treats their guests. And few hotel brands do it better than Hong Kong-based Mandarin Oriental.
“Before you go out, I’ll make sure you have plenty of water,” Suen, who became The Landmark’s “Driveway Supervisor” seven years ago, warns us again.
“A friend called me up and said The Landmark was looking for a doorman so I applied and I’ve been here ever since,” said the man who has become the “face” of the hotel for arriving guests.
The enchanting Wong is another of The Landmark’s best known ambassadors and one of the main reasons why MO Bar has such a high return guest rate.
“I love meeting people from all over the world and sharing with them all the things I know and love about my city,” says Wong, a proud Hong Kong native who tells us, “I love Lan Fong Yuen (a famous Hong Kong milk tea outlet) hidden behind the carts on Gage Street.” Their signature dishes include classic tea and delicious kaya — coconut French toast.”
Hours later when we step out to have lunch at one of Hong Kong’s famous dim sum shops, doorman Suen advises us to wait “until the noontime rush is over because you’ll never get a table right now.”
Yuen chimes in and suggests we might like to visit Chan Yee Jai on Queen’s Road Central. It has been making traditional (Hong Kong) snacks since 1927.
Yuen’s all-time favourite snacks include Chinese chess cookies, hawthorn berry cookies, sesame seed candies and shrimp roe peanuts. “Chan Yee Jai is a precious part of Hong Kong culture,” says Yuen.
Yuen also tells me guests often ask where they can buy Chinese lanterns, scents and cultural decorations such as fortune knots and fans?
“I tell them to go to Peel Street, where the wet markets sell those items,” says Yuan, who also advices me to have a coffee at NOC Café. “It’s an artisan coffee roaster that’s also a great spot for people-watching.”
For the best nightlife, chatty Wong suggests I visit SoHo. “It’s sandwiched between the glass and steel towers on Li Yuen Street.”
There’s much to like about the Mandarin Oriental’s Landmark — it’s rooms are the largest in the city, its Michelin-star Amber restaurant is one of the best in Asia, it’s spa is an oasis of calm in hectic Hong Kong and its location makes it the envy of most other hotels in the city. But what really makes people come back are The Landmark staff — all professionals who make your stay a memory of a lifetime.