Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hong Kong - Harbor Plaza Resort City

A few weeks before my December vacation, I was scanning several hotels in Hong Kong on net. Unfortunately, most of the recommended budget hotels in both Hong Kong and Kowloon were fully booked on Christmas day. I panicked because my family was supposed to celebrate Christmas with me in Hong Kong and 4 RT tickets have been purchased for this purpose.

My wife suggested that we can try Harbor Plaza Resort City at Tsin Shui Wai, Hong Kong. Considering that Christmas was peak season, I found the 95 USD per night plus 35 USD for extra bed reasonable, hence I booked for 2 inter-connected rooms for 4 nights immediately. I have read that the hotel was actually located at New Territories but its address was simply Hong Kong.

Having stayed in Panda Hotel at Tsuen Wan with my son before, I knew that once you're near any MTR station, you can easily go to any touristy place. You just need to allocate more time in transportation. So I told myself, we can survive at New Territories.

Thus, after check out from Wang Fat Hostel at Causeway Bay, I traveled to Harbor Plaza Resort Hotel. It was difficult to locate the hotel since it was nowhere near Tsin Shui Wai MTR station. Applying my golden rule, I asked several persons regarding its location; nobody knew. I doubted the hotel's address. Finally, I saw a group of 4 policemen and 1 policewoman strolling, I asked them for direction. It was difficult since they have limited command of English but I understood them eventually. They accompanied me to another local LRT train station 100 meters away from Tsin Shui Wai MTR station and instructed me to take train 706 which was circling around Tsin Shui Wai town. Everybody was looking at me; I got 5 Hong Kong cops as escort while going to the local LRT station. Fortunately, I met a guy at the LRT station who knew the hotel and told me to use my Octopus card before boarding train 706 and alight at Ginza station which was 3 stations away from Tsin Shui Wai MTR station. I realized that the local LRT station was also connected to Tsin Shui Wai MTR station. 

Ginza LRT station, view from our room

Upon alighting at Ginza LRT station, Harbor Plaza Resort Hotel towers 1 and 2 were just a stone's throw away; I have found the hotel.



Tower 2
Tower 1

I arrived at the hotel at 12 noon and was asked to come back at 2:00 pm. I left my two bags to the friendly front-desk staff and was given a claim stub. All front desk staffs I have talked with can communicate in English and very approachable. I spent my time loitering inside a 2-storey shopping mall connected to tower 2.

A similar sized mall is also connected to tower 1. Between these two towers is Ginza Park. The park is beautiful and well manicured, with a big fountain at the middle and plenty of benches, shades and greeneries around.

A small sized movie theater and the public library of this town are also located inside the mall.





my boys


Every morning, many seniors were practicing Qigong at the park. I was mesmerized at the serenity and beauty of this park especially during night time. Maybe it was because of the cool and chilly weather and being in suburban area you won't find busy crowds; everybody including tourists were strolling in a relax pace. Even my family found the park nice and lovely. Because of this, the hotel has laid-back atmosphere unlike the hustle and bustle mood in downtown hotels.

Check in time came; I was a bit uneasy due to difficulty in finding the hotel and the time of traveling to downtown Hong Kong. I feared that my family might not enjoy their stay here. But when I saw our two huge inter-connected rooms, I said to myself, my family will surely love this hotel. Both rooms were overlooking the sleepy town of Ginza. The view was great during daytime and stunning when night comes.

 


my pic-poise addict daughter

Card key for added security and energy saving.

airport shuttle bus schedule (back side is TST schedule) and room card key

The hotel has two shuttle buses. One for airport and another for Tsim Tsa Tsui; both of them operate in an hourly basis. One-way trip fare is 90 HKD for airport shuttle while it cost 22 HKD for TST shuttle. 

Travel tips, if you are at least three in a group, take taxi instead in going and coming back from the airport. It will cost you almost 300 HKD inclusive of toll fee. We were 5 so we took taxi in going back to airport, it was cheaper and faster. 

Tough the fare in traveling by MTR to TST is almost the same if you take the hotel shuttle bus, it is better take the shuttle bus for it will give you an opportunity to see places while on your way to TST. It is also more convenient since you don't need to change trains. 

Just to add, aside from nearby local MTR station there is a taxi stand in the middle of hotel's two towers as well.

Both rooms have mini-kitchen with big fridge, we never use them anyway. 


The couch is so comfy that whenever we arrive from a day's trip, my wife and I will just sit and relax on it for some time. In our kids' room, since the couch was creatively designed as pull-out bed it served as our eldest's bed so they weren't able to enjoy it. The main drawback in our room was the twin beds. We can have a double bed but our kids' room won't be connected to our room. Not a big deal, I simply push the other bed to make them double.


The T&B plus amenities including disposable slippers are beyond compare with other downtown hotels having the same daily rate. Housekeeping is professionally done and used towels are being replaced daily.

I only use hotel's bathtub whenever my eyes tell me that it is safe and clean to do so. thus, on our last night, I spent some time under warm water to relieve the pain on my left ankle due to freezing temperature. The age is catching up, LOL.

Be aware also that in both T&B, we need to push the flush lever several times. It seems this is a common problem for the hotel.

Electronic safe is also provided in each room. There is an old school TV with cable channels but mostly in Chinese; even Hollywood movies are dubbed in Chinese as well. Hair dryer is provided in both rooms. Since we were booked for 4 nights, I have learned to appreciate the spacious wardrobe with hangers.

 

Most of the hotel's guests came from mainland China due to its proximity to the border. There are 6 elevators but due to numbers of floors, ours was at 21st floor, we always have to wait for a couple of minutes before an elevator becomes available. Room sound-proofing is okay since we have never been disturbed by external noise during our stay.

The hotel offers buffet meal but we prefer to take our meal outside to save cost. In addition, you can buy Disneyland ticket from the hotel at 399 HKD. I bought our Disney land tickets from CTS at the airport with 3-in-1 combo meal, much cheaper; another travel tip.

Much as I have loved this hotel I found two disadvantages, location and WIFI. If you don't like to spend 45 minutes for one-way travel and you need to be in the center of the action then this hotel is not for you. Regarding WIFI connection, you need to pay 120 HKD for 1 day connection. Unlike other hotels which accumulate the time you are connected this hotel will definitely cut your connection on the following day whether you have been on-line for 5 minutes only. My family and I agreed to pay for 1 day connection and everyone got his/her fair share. Even my wife was able to harvest on her Cityville. We didn't bother to avail the free WIFI at the lobby.