Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sarah hits the Streets of Honkers

Born to Shop Editorial Director Sarah Lahey got to Hong Kong several days ahead of me, having not injured her L4-5 vertabrae in the process. She tested new hotels, went to some outlets and had a wild time in the name of a serious research trip, leaving me this note on the pillow when I arrived, three days later:

Welcome Home to Honkers, Suze

What a trip so far! As you know, one of my travel tricks when flying home from Bangkok (always on that 6am United flight through Tokyo) is to book my final night at the BKK Novotel Hotel. It's five minutes from the terminal and has a frequent shuttle right to United's check-in counter. It's also a fab 4star hotel, with secret ties to the Peninsula Group.

Since you weren't meeting me for a couple days, I decided to give the Novotel Citygate hotel in HKG a try, this one five minutes from the international arrivals gate at HKG. Not only was it covenient to Hong Kong's airport, but the Citygate outlet mall, (Hong Kong's only outlet center) begins just off the Novotel lobby. My flight arrived in the evening, so I hobbled off the plane, onto the hotel shuttle bus and was in my bed, dreaming of the next days' outlet adventures within an hour of touchdown.

After a great sleep and even better buffet breakfast, I headed straight to the shops. It was late Sunday morning and the mall was in full swing. Little did I know that this outlet center is a weekend destination for Hong Kong's young trendy fashionistas and families. It was mobbed! I began to weave through the shoppers, and decided that while there were bargains to be found, Sunday wasn't the day to do it.

Most of the clothing was small; US sizes 0, 2 and 4 were the norm, but I did find larger sizes in the two Max Mara outlets. The Aerosoles shoe store had current styles for about the same price as in the US.

The problem was that all the shops were crowded and jetlag was making me grouchy, so I had no patience for waiting around for a fitting room, or standing in a queue of 10 or so people to pay. Exhausted, I headed to the lower level to Taste, the big upmarket and of-the-moment-chic supermarket. This was where I bought my Sunday dinner - sliced roast duck, French cheese, fruit and a baguette - all for about US$13.

I went back to the hotel, packed up my bag and picnic and transfered to the Novotel Nathan Road in glorious downtown Mong Kok, on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. It's a boutique hotel, much smaller than the large stay-and-fly hotels, and the location is perfect for shopping Kowloon. It's a five minute walk to the Jade Market, five minutes to the Temple Street Market, and five minutes to the Jordan MTR.

Now that I was in the Heart of Hong, I had the brilliant idea to leave town. That's right, I decided to hop on the MTR to return to the Citygate outlets on Monday morning. I felt I hadn't given it a fair shot on my first visit, as the crowds and jetlag made me crazy. I'm so glad I did. Weekdays are the way to do this mall.

My second visit to the mall was fun, successful and easy;it was a 25 minute ride from the Jordan station on the MTR to Citygate station which is located right in the middle of the outlet center.

The Citygate complex –more than 90 shops in all-- is the first and only outlet mall in Hong Kong, where most shops offer discounts of 30 – 70%. The mix includes international big names such as Burberry, Escada, DVF, Kate Spade and Bally. There's Mango and Pedder Warehouse, a local firm that sells mostly catch me if you can shoes and bags. I found great prices on last years' bags at Lancel.

If you like American style malls, this one won't disappoint. Having just traveled to Europe to visit the stunning Chic Shopping Outlet villages in Barcelona, Brussels and Paris, it was difficult and unfair to compare the two styles of shopping.. I was disappointed that I didn't find more clothing in larger sizes (for big gals, like me)at Citygate, but afterall, this is an Asian market. All said, however, I'd go back to Citygate. Combined with a convenient first or last night at the airport Novotel, it's a good bet.

Head to the E-spa and meet me for tea in the lobby of The Pen,
love, Sarah

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