Low-tech touch the key to Banyan Tree resorts' appeal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am

Ho Kwon-ping's 'high touch, low-tech' approach has attracted many travellers who go to relax at his Banyan Tree resorts.

In the open-air spa pavilions, surrounded by tropical greenery, visitors can unwind with a ginger-scented body scrub and massage.

Mr Ho, winner of the hospitality award, said: 'The use of technology to try to impress guests isn't where we want to go.'

While Banyan Tree uses plenty of hi-tech to provide professional hospitality services, Mr Ho believes the hotel business is all about taking care of guests in a genuinely warm manner. He tries to give a sense of place and authenticity to his resorts.

'In Bali and Thailand, traditional masseuses have always been barefooted. What's wrong with that? Essentially what Banyan Tree is about is not just high touch, low tech, it's about creating a sense of place, trying to bring some authenticity to our travellers' experience of the world.'

The name Banyan Tree was inspired by Lamma Island's Yung Shue Wan (Cantonese for Banyan Tree Bay), where Mr Ho lived for three years with his wife when he was still working as a journalist. But Mr Ho said he had his own Banyan Tree way of living, which involved trying to live in an authentic way.

The winners in the nightlife and entertainment category, club owners Benedict Ku, Jaime Ku, Ina Yip and Ray Ng, based their unique brand on non-commercial music. Their club Volar brought European electro-rock to clubbers in the city.

Benedict Ku said: 'I don't think it's a risk. We thought that we needed to bring something different to Hong Kong - give people excitement to come out.'

Mr Ng added: 'It was more like setting a trend.'

Mr Ku, 34, and Mr Ng, 37, said they started going to clubs in their teens and still loved clubbing and chilling out with friends. Mr Ng said that when he was still working as a lawyer, he could not afford the time to party, which caused him much distress. 'Now I just spend four days [clubbing]. I used to go out six days [a week],' Mr Ng said.

Both agreed that Hong Kong was the perfect place for nightlife because it was easy to hop between different clubs and bump into a variety of people on the same night.