TROTTINGS = Trip Jottings

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox’s Friends.

June 19 2011

Trottings. Roomnight Report – Eaton Smart, Hong Kong.

 

 

I

 TRIED the Eaton Smart hotel on Nathan Road in Hong Kong’s Kowloon. I am not sure I like the name. I think I am smart, of course, but don’t feel the need to stay somewhere that shouts out ‘SMART’ to prove it. You must be really dumb to choose a hotel that says it is Smart rather than your cleverness working that out for yourself. But probably the word ‘Smart’ is really to describe the hotel’s style or appearance?

Introduction/Business 

[] Convenient. Even for business on Hong Kong island in Central, because the MTR station is only 5-minutes’ walk away. (But note, five minutes in HK’s heat or tropical rain, is tough.) Both Jade and Temple markets are within 10/15 minutes walking distance.

[] First impression is that, surprising as it may seem, I found it difficult to find the hotel lobby. Presumably no problem if you arrive by taxi, but I arrived on foot. From its address entrance, Nathan Road, there are giant letters on the 1st/2nd floor telling me this is the ‘Eaton Hotel’, but you first go down some steps (awkward with baggage) and into what seems to be a shopping and restaurant area – no signs for lobby, just for the Eaton’s banquet area. Eventually I found that it required an elevator trip to another floor, and even then I passed a restaurant and lounge before I spotted the check-in area. I saw no check-in signs, but decided that this was the place because there were a few people hanging around.

[] In 2007, started refurbishing rooms and lobby, redoing the theme and adding ‘Smart’ to the hotel’s name last October.

[] There are three other Eatons in HK, but these are under the apartment-type Eaton House sub-brand.

[] The hotel does well with local business. I don’t mean Hong Kong; I mean from people living in that part of Kowloon. This is a hotel with a local spirit. And in particular for weddings. In various levels of services, it handles 500 weddings/year – including couples deciding to renew their vows. Yes, that’s more than one a day.

[] To promote weddings/banquets, the hotel has a Bridal Booklet giveaway on what to do in days leading up to the wedding, and which includes a pen (for signing the marriage certificate) and a pad to hold the wedding ring. In fact, that the hotel handles 500 weddings/year shows that it is doing more than just providing the ‘hardware’. It even has an area with booths where sales people talk with prospective customers.

[] The hotel also has a wedding suite – that is offered free to customers who book a wedding reception. A wedding reception, usually with 12 places per table, costs about US$700 (at US1 to HK$7.88) per table.

[] The hotel has been open 20 years this year (10 staff have been there since the start). It has a ‘perfect day’ (ie, wedding day) promotion for weddings for hotel’s November anniversary; probably all booked now are the favourites – 1-11-11 and 11-11-11.

[] One-hour ‘tai-chi’ exercises take place just off the lobby every day at 0800, where hotel guests can also join in.

[] The maid wanted to clean my room on the day I was due to check-out – waste of labour.

Facilities 

[] 450 rooms, starting at around US$127. The hotel does not have a club floor, but 20-25% of rooms are club rooms – those with, for instance, a better view. It also has had a club lounge, see below.

[] Although the lobby is small, it is neat, and bustles with facilities and therefore energy. This includes an external ‘Green Wall’ (so named because it has plants) in what is now the ‘T’ Garden. I am not sure whether T is for Tea, or for the previous name – the Terrace (because as we all know, an initial is currently trendier than a word). The Wall includes running water which, I am assured, improves the air quality.

[] There are seven restaurant outlets. The ‘T’ garden also acts as an extension to the two outlets in the lobby – The  85-covers Metro coffee shop, and bar.

[] Tat Chee restaurant. Owned by the hotel’s owner. There is also an outlet in the Harbour View building in Wanchai (where the owning company is headquartered).

[] The hotel has a gym and swimming pool (with Roman-like pillars) on the top floor. There is no pool menu, but guests can order F&B.

[] There is lots of bamboo (even the check-in desks). This is an environmental move because bamboo is plentiful and grows quickly, but it does not last as long as hardwood.

[] The lobby area is well equipped for computers, with what it calls E-Point (I am still not sure what ‘E’ refers to, but no matter). There is one section with computers at three bar-stool points, with a printer, and an adjacent section with more comfortable 3 sit-down points. Seems more than adequate for guests.

[] There is no traditional check-in/out front desk, but three separate units. Because these are small, staff can get out to meet/greet the customer if need be.

[] Its ballroom can do 25 tables in dinner style. And its function space can handle 500 people for a cocktail reception.

[] It has a club lounge, which it calls the E-Lounge, with good and friendly service. Services include the usual breakfast, cocktail hour, running coffee/tea etc. The only downside was there are no external windows.

Room 

[] My room was neat with some trendy touches. But some shortcomings:

-I could not open the cupboard door and keep the cupboard light on (it needs to be opened far enough, but that then triggers the turn-off connector);

-No all-off power switch;

-No bedside switch (for the bedside light – you have to get out of bed to turn the light off!);

-The bathroom switch is not on the wall outside the bathroom, but round the corner on another wall;

-No full-length mirror.

[] But good facilities. Plus little pleasing extras – such as a dim-sum basket showing specials and freebees.

Conclusion

Comfortable business class hotel in convenient location. I would put it at 3-star (counting InterContinental at 5-star, the top level). Staff cheerful, helpful, and bright.

Just two shortcomings which should be corrected:

–The walk-in entrance from Nathan Road. Amazingly, there is not even signage; I can only presume no managerial staff has ever entered the hotel this way thinking of the arriving-guest experience – because otherwise it would have been changed before now.

-The club lounge. Having no windows is not what I could call a ‘disqualifying’ shortcoming. And I understand the cost in HK of giving window space to an outlet that is a cost outlet more than a revenue-earning outlet – in direct terms. But management should calculate whether the extra revenue from club-room guests ‘pays’ for a window-view lounge.

For this stay, I was the invited guest of the hotel management.

 

The Fox’s Friends