The Park Lane Hong Kong
joined AccorHotels in 2014, and since then, the Causeway Bay stalwart has gradually been transformed into a Pullman Hotel, with the guestrooms, and the F&B offering moving firmly into the 21st century. The most recent space to debut at the hotel was SKYE Roofbar and Dining
– and here, the bar definitely comes first.
“People build restaurants and add a bar onto them, but we thought the strongest element of this space was the view. The park view, the harbour view – they’re uninterrupted,” says Luc Bollen, General Manager of The Park Lane Hong Kong, a Pullman Hotel. “What we saw with the last two years of revamp was that there was more and more interest in being on the deck, and enjoying the views became more important. The dining became complementary to it, but it wasn’t the deciding factor.”
What did determine the nature of the space was the millennial generation, although Bollen is keen to stress that they weren’t the only audience taken into account. “While Millennials are not our only focus, we see them as the trendsetter. They are the ones who support the sharing economy, and they are the most savvy on social media. My generation? We are active on social media as well, and we like the trends Millennials are setting,” he says.
Green views from SKYE's dining area
To create a trendsetting space, the hotel worked with DWP (design worldwide partnership), the global architecture firm known for creating famous rooftop restaurants and bars such as Sirocco and Breeze in Bangkok. “What I liked about Scott [Whittaker]’s presentation was the moment when he said, ‘All the rooftop bars I have designed are still in business.’ I visited Bangkok and Scott took me to these bars. The rooftop bars were packed on a Monday night, 12 years after opening, without renovation, and the only way I could get in was because I knew Scott,” says Bollen.
Having decided on DWP, the hotel tasked the design firm with creating a destination bar and restaurant. “It had to be complementary to everything else we were doing in the hotel, and to have that young, contemporary feel,” says Bollen. “It had to be minimalistic, a place where art, music, design, good food and great drinks come together. We were looking for a total experience.”
Adds Whittaker, “SKYE is about experience rather than brand, which is key to Millennial values. It's the type of venue where guests will feel comfortable in a tuxedo or jeans and T-shirt. We aimed to create something different; design in Hong Kong tends to follow trends, with the latest bars all looking similar. We wanted to create something that's a new experience.”
The private dining room, featuring walls by KEF!
To deliver this new experience, Whittaker and his team created an open space that draws the eye out to the terrace and the views, and up towards the ceiling. “Space is always a challenge in Hong Kong, as typically, buildings have lots of structure and low ceilings, together with stringent local authority requirements around building modification,” says Whittaker. “By using level changes and sculpting the ceilings, we were able to design a space that feels open and that expands towards the harbour.”
In the dining area, “the organic ceiling appears to float off the ground, and together with lighting, it takes on the feeling of clouds in the Skye,” says Whittaker. “We engaged an artist [German graffiti artist KEF!] to design motifs that hint at street art and body art, but at a very sophisticated level.”
To give diners privacy while allowing them to feel connected to the bar, DWP designed high-backed sofas and armchairs. “They offer that natural boundary without having a wall or separation,” says Bollen. “And the sound systems are set so that outside the same music is pumping, but in the dining room it’s muted.”
Curved chairs and high-backed sofas (as glimpsed in the left-hand corner) create a sense of privacy in the dining area
On the deck – which was expanded by 60 percent to create more outdoor space – the organic curves continue with a vast, curving bar that lights up at night. “We focused on lighting to lead our technology, using the latest LED to create mood and colour,” says the designer. Sheer balustrades, meanwhile, allow for unobstructed harbour and city views.
Simple, contemporary forms and muted, neutral tones inside and out keep the focus on those views, while giving the space a fresh feel.
Technology is also a focus, as it is throughout the whole hotel. “People bring their technology, and it’s our job to make sure their technology works,” says Bollen. “It’s about enabling them to stay connected, with the best bandwidth, no matter how many people are on their mobiles. And also to provide them with access to plenty of electrical sockets so they can charge their devices.”
Sheer balustrades provide guests with unobstructed views of Victoria Park and beyond. The curving bar lights up at night, as do the outdoor tables
This enables guests to share their experiences in real time. “Connectivity and sharing their experience is very important to Millennials,” explains Bollen. “Obviously, we’ll be monitoring what they’re saying. We’re also going to have to listen to our customers, and to adapt and evolve.”
Adds Whittaker, “While future proofing is virtually impossible, we see the future of technology in the design and hospitality industry as interconnectivity, connecting people, places and experiences with internet and smart networks.”
The Park Lane Hong Kong, a Pullman Hotel