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Hotel Corner

Joseph W. Y. Chong, Area Vice President and Managing Director at The Peninsula Hong Kong and The Peninsula Shanghai

Joseph W. Y. Chong, Area Vice President and Managing Director at The Peninsula Hong Kong and The Peninsula Shanghai, shares his interesting career in the hotel industry.


My involvement with the hospitality industry was totally accidental. I grew up in Ipoh, Malaysia. After Form 5, I went to a military college intending to be a pilot. I passed every test in the rigorous assessment but found out I was colour blind, which knocked me out of consideration. Dejected, my father sent me to the Regent in Kuala

Lumpur to check it out. I liked the set-up: neatly trimmed uniforms, English-speaking and so cosmopolitan. I went to a hotel management college and got my diploma and eventually got a job with the Regent, starting out as an airport representative, before moving up. The Regent was acquired by the Four Seasons. So, I spent the latter part of my career there opening several Four Seasons hotels in Bali, Singapore, Jakarta, and KL.

Then I was recruited to the Peninsula Beijing and stayed there for seven years, helping to oversee its redevelopment before moving to Peninsula Shanghai and then coming to Hong Kong where I now managed one of the world’s iconic hotels.

The Peninsula has been a part of Hong Kong for 90 years, as home from home to esteemed guests from all over the world. For us, hospitality means remaining true and original, delivering exceptional service at the right time, in the right tone, and of course, most discreetly. Given our history and heritage though, I humbly think that the Peninsula is beyond just luxury. Our combination of service, tradition and mystique should serve us well even as more ultra-luxury hotels enter the market here in Hong Kong.

Not surprisingly, Chinese visitors are some of the most aspiring luxury travellers; they are real students of luxury brands. That means they want to enjoy the traditional service standards of the Peninsula. In that sense, we don’t need to change our service standards. Of course, we make them feel at home by providing comfort they are used to such as Chinese tea and Chinese breakfast, with bilingual staff who treat everybody from anywhere equally and consistently.

I am very proud to say that we are the only group in the world with all its (ten) hotels accorded five stars by Forbes Travel Guide, becoming its first-ever all five-star hotel brand. It’s a reflection of our commitment to deliver the highest service across all our hotels. The fact that we own all our hotels helps drive that consistent delivery.

My favourite part of the job is walking by the Pastry Shop every morning and enjoying the wonderful aroma. Seriously, I love talking to our staff, even our daily greeting. It’s supremely important to have a genuine connection to everyone on the team, recognising that each role is so important.

My top three recommendations for visitors are:

Explore the south side of Hong Kong Island with its lovely beaches and easy access.

Visit Yuen Long in the New Territories and its old villages; so very different from the city itself.

Walk along Hollywood Road and its neighbourhood and check out the galleries, antique shops and trendy restaurants.


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