IF TYCOON Li Ka-shing visited the Hilton Hotel yesterday, he might have had second thoughts about tearing it down. Crowds eager for a final view of the 32-year-old Hong Kong landmark thronged the hotel from lunchtime. Today, the last guest leaves and the staff hold a farewell party before departing for other jobs. The Hilton's future was settled last year when Mr Li bought the management contract from Hilton International and announced he was going to tear it down and build an office complex on the Garden Road site. The hotel was packed yesterday as visitors took tea in the lounge, lingered over a long lunch at the Hilton Grill or savoured a cold beer in the Dragon Boat Bar. In the ballroom, 320 people sat down for a buffet lunch, and public relations head Philippa Yule said all hotel restaurants were booked solid last night, as they have been for days. The management has been at pains to keep the closure low-key and planned no formal events to mark the shutdown, other than for staff. But long-standing customers and the simply curious were determined to make the most of their last glimpse of the Hilton. The main attraction was the Kugel ball - the revolving three-tonne marble ball which formed the centrepiece of the lobby following a lavish $117 million refurbishment, which was completed, ironically, shortly before Mr Li's buyout. The atmosphere resembled the last day of term, with staff still working but knowing that in less than a day they will be on the move. A few of the shops in the arcade had closed down early and the jewellery outlets were doing brisk business, offering discounts of up to 70 per cent. Elsewhere, staff of Elegant Arts packed unsold stock in boxes and a line of customers waited patiently for their last appointments at the Talianna hairdressing salon. Bathroom attendants were still ensuring their small kingdoms were spick and span, although there were tell-tale marks on some walls where paintings and prints had been removed. Many fixtures are earmarked for the hotel Mr Li is building on the waterfront in Hunghom, although mystery surrounds the destination of the Kugel ball - but Ms Yule said it will remain in Hong Kong.