Published on June 7th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard0
Helicopter in Hong Kong
Some years ago I was in Hong Kong and visited The Peninsula Hotel, the iconic hotel so synonymous with Hong Kong.
I remember stepping into the grand lobby and being awed by the columns, the ceiling, the grandeur of it all.
“Tom Cruise has just left the building by helicopter from the roof pad,” I was told. And indeed, Tom Cruise, in Hong Kong to promote one of his Mission Impossible movies, had been staying at the hotel and had just left – by helicopter as big movie stars are wont to do.
I remember trying to imagine what a life might be like if you were privileged to leave a hotel via its rooftop be helicoptered away.
Well, recently, I had to imagine no more. For it was not Tom Cruise, but Ann Rickard who left The Peninsula Hotel by rooftop helicopter. Me. My friends. Me.
Actually I was not leaving the hotel, I was very much staying on, but a 15 minute helicopter flight from the hotel is something anyone can do when staying at The Peninsula.
So it was that I found myself up in The China Clipper, a sort of VIP lounge, like the First Class Lounge at an airport only more intimate and with spectacular views over Hong Kong. It was all thick carpet and floor to ceiling windows like those in a helicopter. We had an elegant breakfast in The China Clipper lounge at a long polished table with The Peninsula’s slick waiters ferrying us tea in silver pots and glass bowls of muesli and colourful fruit on lovely china and truffled eggs in little pots. Oh, the loveliness of it all. I had to pinch myself to ensure it was me and not Tom Cruise who had taken over my body. (Couldn’t have been him, he’s a lot shorter than me.)
So, our helicopter pilot came to get us, an English man who’d lived in Hong Kong since childhood and who had obviously gone to a very posh school because he had the dreamiest British accent imaginable,better than Prince William’s. I think we all fell in love with him at the moment.
Now, this next bit isn’t pleasant but you have to go through it if you should ever find yourself up in The China Clipper lounge with the gorgeous helicopter pilot waiting to board for a flight of a lifetime. We had to reveal our weight. OMG. But necessary, my friends, really necessary to work out the distribution of weight in the helicopter. Everyone in the group I was with was as mortified as me, but we understood, and reluctantly gave up our numbers, promising not to reveal them to anyone outside The China Clipper.
Then up to the roof, some safety instruction, and within moments we were strapped into the helicopter and it was off. Can you imagine, lifting off the roof of The Peninsula Hotel with all Hong Kong spread out below you? Thrilling. Exhilarating. Awe-inspiring.
“This is the first time I’ve seen a bunch of Aussies go quiet,” the beautiful pilot said as he manoeuvred the helicopter up and over Hong Kong Harbour. He was the pilot who flew the film crew filming Batman jumping off the International Finance Centre building in The Dark Night movie.
Well, we didn’t have to jump off a building, but we felt as though we were soaring through the Hong Kong sky, looking down on the famous city sky-line, the myriad high rise buildings, the famous harbour.
Hong Kong has a surprising amount of green space. Down on the ground it is all about buildings and crowds and a lack of space, but Hong Kong has parks aplenty and pretty beaches and bays. Of course, one has to take to the air in a helicopter to appreciate this.
But one can if one stays at The Peninsula Hong Kong. These 15 minute helicopter flights are part of The Peninsula’s 85th birthday celebrations and available to everyone.
Go on, go. You are worth it.
The China Clipper lounge can be used as a meeting venue. Its aviation memorabilia complements the harbour views and the furnishings are of a standard for the world’s most discriminating executives.
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