Do you often find yourself away from home on business trips and wonder what it would be like to take your family with you? My guest blogger Alice Churchill shares her recent experience of travelling to Hong Kong with her family on business…
I found myself with a trip to Hong Kong looming and the dawning realisation that I had spent hardly any time at home recently with my husband and kids.
For the first time ever, I bought them with me as I wanted to find out if it was possible to mix business with pleasure. By planning ahead and being savvy with my downtime, I found out it is worth spending a little bit more to maximise quality family time together. My husband and 2 children, aged 1 and 4, managed to make the most beautiful family memories in Hong Kong without me missing a single meeting!
Where to stay – Ritz Carlton – International Conference Centre (ICC)
A lot of my meetings and conferences were to be held at the ICC, the International Conference Centre in Kowloon. The Ritz-Carlton is located here and worked out to be the perfect base. We booked a room with lounge access which meant all meals could be eaten in the lounge, and we could pre-order for the baby.
Every morning at breakfast, our table would be prepared with the high chair in position and we helped ourselves to the buffet food. Our 4 year old loved trying so many new things and did not have the same breakfast once!
The dedicated team in the lounge quickly built a rapport with the children and knew just how we liked our coffee. It’s worth mentioning that when we checked in, the arrival of our children had been noted, we had mini slippers and bath robes for them, rubber ducks, a whale to play with in the bath and children’s toiletry packs. It’s possible to book the ‘night time safari’ too which is where they switched out my son’s bed for a tent complete with camping lantern, my son loved it! We also signed up to the free treasure hunt that children can do around the hotel, the children received lion backpacks filled with crayons, colouring books, and other goodies.
Turn a business lunch into family fun
Downtime available: Lunch break
We quickly learned that within the Elements Mall located underneath the Ritz Carlton was an ice rink (The Rink). A couple of times we booked our 4 year old son in for private ice skating lessons at lunchtime, I would time my lunch break so I could watch the last 15 minutes and then we’d return back to the hotel for a buffet lunch in the lounge. We pre-ordered our baby’s purees so that they would be served as soon as we arrived. This meant that lunch was very efficient, no hanging around and waiting for meals to be served. and our baby would have her nap on time.
Top tip: to enter the ice rink you need an ‘Octopus Card’, this works the same as London’s Oyster Card and available cash only from the MTR station. I would recommend sorting this out whilst your other half has the children as you will be a lot quicker!
Creating unforgettable family memories
Downtime available: All day
Knowing that I would get at least one full day off work, we decided we would go to Disney but were concerned it would turn out to be an expensive day out and we might not get too many rides in. Having done a bit of research beforehand I realised we could pre-book a private guide.
This does not come cheap, but having got over the initial shock of the price we decided that this was the only way to do it on limited time. It is possible to take a taxi but I highly recommend using the MTR. The Kowloon MTR is accessed via the mall below the hotel and was extremely simple to use. We took the line form Kowloon to Sunny Bay and then changed to the Disney Land resort line.
The Disney MTR station deposits you within the park close to the gates. We had bought our tickets on line and then met our guide Molly at the Town Hall. Molly greeted us all with a little gift, a brooch pin for everyone and then promptly lead us around the park, taking us to all the rides suitable for our 2 children, I didn’t realise there was so much that my baby could go on, she did not miss any of the fun.
There was absolutely no queuing as she lead us in to the exit of each ride and directly on to the ride. This service made Fasttrack look slow! I lost count of how may rides we went on, we also saw two 30 minute shows where we were given the best seats in the house. I can’t express enough how brilliant this experience was, seasoned Legoland goers, we would never achieve as many rides as we did that day at Disney, no queues meant no tears and the Disney magic remained firmly in place for us all. In my eyes, this private guide service was well worth every single penny.
Making the most of family time
Downtime available: 2 hours
I’ve been to Hong Kong a number of times now on business and many years ago was recommended a tailor called Clemo. I’ve used him many times and thought it would be really fun to get my son kitted out with his own ‘business suit’! Clemo is located on the 9th floor in room 905 in the Sands Building at 17 Hankow Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
After Clemo took all the necessary measurements, we took the short walk to i-Square, there is a soft play (E Cube Club) here on the fifth floor which although small, is brilliant for the age group of my two children. There were plenty of ride-on cars for our 12 month old, which she loves, as well as a light up floor which created beautiful colourful patterns as she crawled across. I was able to head off back to work and leave my husband and kids to carry on enjoying themselves.
Ngong Ping 360 with the family
Downtime available: Morning/3 hours
This was another opportunity to spend a little more money to maximise family time. We pre-booked the private crystal cabin at Ngong Ping 360. This meant VIP treatment, no queuing and our own private glass bottom cable car with glass floor. Our kids LOVED it! Our baby was bravely crawling on the floor completely amazed that she could see through it, our 4 year old was shrieking with excitement! We could see the huge buddha from the cable car and had already decided we would not risk the walk.
We felt that for our little ones, the cable car was the exciting thing, not the 25 minute walk to the giant buddha, which probably would have been a lot longer with the buggy. We got out at the top, had a walk round the tourist shops and then took our private glass floor cable car back down again. We pre-booked a taxi through the hotel to get there and back.
Viewing the Hong Kong skyline
Downtime available: 30 minutes to an hour if starting from IFC Mall
Use your Octopus card to hop on to the Star Ferry, accessed by the Hong Kong Island MTR station and then following signs through the IFC Mall (International Finance Centre). This is a great way to see the sky line and so much fun for the children, it’s a little cheaper to travel on the bottom deck, we decided to travel out on the bottom deck and return back on the top deck. There is not a nearby MTR station on the Kowloon side.
If we get to go again, I would love to try out the Hong Kong Park and Botanical Gardens as there is a free zoo inside with flamingos, monkeys, parrots and more. Along the Kowloon water front there is the avenue of stars which is a nice walk. Also by the waterfront, every night at 8pm, there is a free light show symphony of lights. We could take a tram in central, but buggies are not allowed so I will need the carrier for the baby. I hear that Stanley is lovely for a day trip, we can take a bus or taxi there and it’s a beautiful place to walk around. By the library there is a free tiny indoor soft play for babies.
Thank you Alice for sharing some great tips on how to maximise your family time whilst travelling for business! Next time you are called away for work why not take your children with you and if you have already let me know where and how it went in the comments below