Wednesday 17 August 2016

Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #010 -- Mr. Richard Hatter

Mr. Richard Hatter
Image from Hotel ICON

Locky Law (LL): We are very pleased to have invited a true pioneer of EV adaptation in Hong Kong for interview today. He is Mr. Richard Hatter, General Manager of Hotel ICON Hong Kong (hereafter, ICON) and Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Hotel & Tourism Management of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Welcome Richard.

Richard Hatter (RH): Thank you, Locky.

LL: Richard, we know that you have recently done a customer story for Tesla, which is great because you have told a lot about yourself in that story, but today I want to go a little deeper than that. I know that you have really pushed hard in EV adaptation in the hotel industry. Your vision and approach leading ICON towards eco-friendliness, as we can see today, has proven you right. Could you please tell us when this has begun and your motivation?

RH: ICON is an exceptional hotel with a special purpose: not only do we embody all the creative energy and spirit of Hong Kong, we are also a learning environment and a vision of hospitality for the future, through our partnership with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the esteemed School and Hotel of Tourism Management (SHTM). Sustainability and innovation underpins everything we do here and EV adoption is the perfect demonstration of this philosophy in action.

LL: As a student of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, I am trying to find opportunities that can bring Charged Hong Kong and the University together. I had a chance to have a lunch meeting with the PolyU president Prof. Timothy W. Tong yesterday, during which we talked about the many collaborations between Charged Hong Kong and ICON (such as Charged Hong Kong Rally 2015 and the latest Belilios Public School EV Summer Program), possible future collaborations with the University in promoting a green environment, ICON's and your contribution to the environment, the industry and the EV community. Because of your vision, ICON has earned many "Number 1s" or come "first" in Hong Kong, could you please tell us what those are?

RH: We have plenty of firsts to share: We were the first hotel in Hong Kong to introduce Paperless Check-in reception, saving four tons of paper every year. We introduced the Handy Phone, we offer completely free superfast Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, a TIMELESS lounge for jetlagged passengers or those arriving early, a free Shuttle BOAT during conferences in HK, a free minibar and much more. Much of this is to extend the spirit of generosity and hospitality to our customers and also to reinforce that there is a place in the market for a very unique new luxury hotel that has one foot firmly placed in the future. We also recognize that by creating value-added aesthetics in terms of room or interior design, comfort and in-room technology, that guests would welcome the ‘live laboratory’ aspect of our operation and that it shouldn’t be hidden as it’s in our DNA.

Hotel ICON's very own EV fleet
Image from Hotel ICON
LL: Awesome! And needless to say, you are a strong believer of electric vehicles. So how many EVs does ICON have at the moment?

RH: We currently have two EV shuttle buses, one BMW i3 and 2 Tesla Model S.

LL: Brilliant! I'm particularly interested in the reasons you have decided that ICON should purchase a Tesla Model S after a BMW i3. Because the i3 is really a pretty good EV.

RH: The BMW i3 is used as a run around town shuttle for guests whereas the Model S will be used as a Limo to add value to the Club Floor customer stay. All markets need continual innovation otherwise things stand still and customers get bored! We are constantly looking for ways to improve our service, add value and experiment with innovative approaches to marketing the rooms side of the business and operation generally.

LL: And I know that owners of EV can also benefit when they visit ICON. If I'm not wrong, there is a very unique offer for EV owners dining at ICON, since 2014?

RH: Yes, we have implemented 2 Tesla 3 phase High Power Wall Connectors in the car park, while Tesla owners are entitled to 45 minutes free charging service at Hotel ICON and can also benefit from 15% off when dining at any of Hotel ICON’s restaurants by showing their car keys. It is a valet parking-plus-free charging-plus-discount offer.

LL: Which leads us to one of the most dying questions: in what ways have EVs actually benefited ICON in terms of business?

RH: For a mini bus that runs 150km daily, it saves 40L of fuel every day. While an electric bus uses $1 per kWh. The cost saved is approx. HK$415 per day.

Richard and Hotel ICON's EV fleet
Image from Hotel ICON

LL: But I know your effort in pushing for EV adaptation is much more than just the cost effective factor, am I right?

RH: Absolutely. Electric cars themselves produce zero emissions and the environmental costs are lower than conventional automobiles. Therefore, it helps contribute towards a healthy and stable environment for our next generation.

LL: Just tapping into your vision of the future a bit more, what do you see as the trend in the role of EV in the hotel industry in the future?

RH: We foresee that more and more hotels will follow our lead and use EV as limousines. Also the Government has been promoting the use of EVs through different measures such as waiving the first registration tax for EVs, expanding the EV charging infrastructure in Hong Kong and more.

LL: Last but not least, what advice would you offer to our future EV owners, including hotels that want to follow your path of EV adaptation?

RH: My advice would be to consider the options carefully and do in-depth research before purchasing. But fundamentally adopting EVs represents a hugely-important and worthwhile step, both for your business and brand.

LL: Thank you very much Richard for sharing your valuable experience and insights with all of us today, it has been my great pleasure to have talked to you.

RH: Thank you and see you at Hotel ICON!

Win-win situation

Lunch meeting with PolyU President

Charged Rally 2015 at Hotel ICON

Belilios Public School EV Summer Program (Official Video)

Monday 15 August 2016

Travelling & Living: Hotel ICON’s Staycation at Club 36 Harbour on 5/21/2016

From my Room 2616 +Hotel ICON
Image from Locky's English Playground

Valet-Parking (arrival time 12pm)

Tesla High Power Wall Connector for patrons
Image from Locky's English Playground
Valet staff were quick to open car door for passengers at the back, ask which luggage should be delivered to the hotel room, offer Tesla stamp on parking card and initiate free charging for my car. Probably the first hotel to offer both valet EV-charging and valet-parking in Asia. The staff also asked me technical questions about my Tesla Model S and I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with him.


Front desk check-in

Check-in counter
Image from Locky's English Playground

The queue was long but staff were quick to clear the line. When I was at the front desk, the staff told me that I have booked an executive room so I should go to 28/F for an executive check-in. The front desk lady then took our luggage to the counter, placed labels on it, and then escorted us into the lift to 28/F. On the way up to 28/F, the staff introduced us the name of the restaurants and where breakfast will be served, pool deck, gym and spa, and wished us a happy stay. She had maximized the time inside the lift to provide the most information for us.

28/F check-in

Checking-in on 28/F
Image from Locky's English Playground

The staff at the counter welcomed us with warm lovely smiles and asked us if we would like orange juice or water, which we kindly declined. She kept baby Muse engaged and happy throughout the process and that is the best service parents can ask for: if the children are happy, the parents will be. After signing a couple of forms of which the details were read out to us, she told us that the room would be ready by 2pm and that we could have our lunch first. She asked me if I would like a call from the hotel if the room was ready before 2pm. I left my phone number and took the family down to G/F.

Room 2616

free-to-use speaker system + 3G phone with portable charger
Image from Locky's English Playground
The room is full of surprises. Love a 100% smoke residual-free room. Love the paper label saying “I have been sanitized”, it gives patrons confidence that sanitation has been performed with care. 

Alcatel Handy phone inside a stand with descriptions on the side is lovely. Great survey at the beginning to gather patron’s data. The software has been very well-designed and provides very useful information for tourists. 3G and IDD calls are perfect. 

A complete set of stationary
Image from Locky's English Playground
Love the stationary and laptop cables which can be really useful for some, Mediajack station too, but the USB could not charge the GP PowerBank. The laminated instruction + price list provides extremely useful. GP PowerBank is fully charged which I did use and it was good enough for one charge. Wireless speaker looks great but we did not try.

free-to-use printer
Image from Locky's English Playground
The presence of a printer really gives patrons staying for business or conference much relief. Having a DVD player in the room is a plus too.

“you are not seeing double mini bar is free"
Image from Locky's English Playground
“You are not seeing double mini bar is free” is a lovely piece of visual wordplay glass that says a lot about the creative character of ICON, although I still had to call the service to confirm the definition of “mini-bar”, and discovered that “mini-bar” includes the items in the fridge was a huge surprise.  
Image from Locky's English Playground
Still free!
Image from Locky's English Playground
All free!
Image from Locky's English Playground
My name on TV screen, personalised for every guest
Image from Locky's English Playground

The personalized first page on the TV screen with patron’s surname gives a lot of prestige. The interface is also simple to use. Unfortunately, local TV channels are very limited, if staycation is the direction ICON intends to explore, local TV channels should be at the top of the To-do list in order to make the TV-binging Hong Kongers want to stay in their room.

Mouth-rinse included
Image from Locky's English Playground

Bathroom amenities such as Colgate mouth-rinse and bath salt gave us good surprises, as they are usually not provided in hotel rooms. Very caring.

Circular mirror lighting uses LED light strips, which matches the overall eco-friendly theme of the hotel and resonates with the ceiling light inside the lift.

Image from Locky's English Playground

Tips: the location of the hair dryer is hiding inside the drawer inside the wardrobe.

9/F Changing Room, Pool & Lounge

Terrific service at the pool! Thanks Ray!
Image from Locky's English Playground

Service at the pool was terrific. Staff offered lots of help, tonnes of smiles. There is a pump available and we got assistance for pumping up the float. We received complimentary Japanese mineral water in bottles and thick towels. Another boy received a pair of goggles handed to him by another staff. My little girl had great fun that day!

Tips: Health Club the gym and Timeless the lounge are on the same floor as the pool. So's the Playstation. 

Swimsuit water extractor
Image from Locky's English Playground

I saw a swimsuit water extractor for the first time. It is easy and safe to operate. Clear instructions are given on the use of sauna and showers.

Sauna, anyone?
Image from Locky's English Playground

Dining: Dinner at The Market

Dinner at The Market with Adrian and Yvonne
Image from Locky's English Playground

Having successfully persuaded a Tesla Singapore group friend Adrian Peh and his wife Yvonne to stay at ICON, I recommended that they try the best buffet in Hong Kong as awarded by Openrice, 5 times!

There is no doubt about the variety and presentation of food and speed of replenishment. Quality and taste-wise, the food is top-notch. Adrian and his wife loved the durian desserts very very much and they will probably return to ICON just for the durian desserts (and probably for the Tesla limousine too).

Hotel ICON, no wonder they rank 4th in Tripadvisor's Top 25 Hotels in China! They truly deserve it, and more!

Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Image from Locky's English Playground
Congratulations! The Market has been voted as the Best ‪#‎Buffet‬ of Hong Kong diners for the fifth time at OpenRice Best Restaurant Awards

Top 25 Hotels in China - TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards