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Meet Benedict Chow, General Manager of Harbour Grand Hong Kong

Born-and-bred Hong Konger Benedict Chow spent 18 years of his career in China during its most transformative period – he now returns to his homeland to take the helm at the five-year-old Harbour Grand Hong Kong on North Point’s waterfront

       

 

My parents sent me to Canada when I was 16. I had no idea what I was doing. My parents’ friends were at the airport waiting with a photo of me– they were checking everyone to see if it was me (laughs).

My father managed the Hong Kong Cricket Club and I would come to help him when I was 19. On weekends I would be there taking orders, washing dishes, preparing food… it was fun doing that, meeting different people every day. So I chose to study hotel and restaurant management. I think I made the right choice.

I was in the mainland from 1984 to 2002. I started in Guangzhou with a few other expatriates – we were the pioneers. Back then you couldn’t even get your hands on pencils or toilet paper!

In the 1980s you had to be a jack of all trades in China. You couldn’t rely on your staff too much because they had no idea what they were doing – most of them were seeing a hotel for the first time in their lives! As their mentor I had to know everything from engineering to housekeeping to stewarding.

Many of the people I trained were so eager to learn. They truly appreciated everything you taught them, and worked extremely hard to do their best. Today several of them are now general managers or CEOs of companies, and it makes me so proud.

When parents get rich they want to provide the best for their children. On the other hand, they spoil them. They don’t want their kids to go through the same hardships they did. But I think parents should let their children learn the hard way. Nowadays they get things too easy… my children included (laughs).

I don’t know if my kids will follow in my footsteps, I’ll leave it to them to choose. I believe if they want to succeed in a career they must like what they do. So I am very open.

I’m not a buffet person because after working very hard I don’t want to get up three or four times to serve myself food. I feel like I deserve to just sit down, relax and enjoy. After Chinese food my favourites are Thai and Italian.

I hike and play tennis with my wife on weekends. My favourite trail is from Tung Chung (Lantau Island) to Tai O, where you have a view of the Pearl Delta Bridge. You end at this small fishing village where you get a very good local flavour.

 

 

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