[photopress:TheoldPeninsula.png,full,alignright]Peninsula Shanghai, a joint venture project involving Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotel and Australia-based SPG Hotel, will begin construction work in the forth quarter this year.
The $359 million project will have several uses. First there will be a luxury Peninsula hotel with about 250 rooms. There will also be high-end retail space and serviced apartments on a 56,000-square-meter site in the Bund area.
The hotel should open in 2009. HSH currently operates seven Peninsula hotels around the world, including one in Beijing. A new one will open in Tokyo next year.
Which, in a sense, brings us round in full circle.
The original Peninsula group was the brain child of two brothers, Lawrence and Horace Kadoorie. Their father, Sir Elly Kadoorie, and his uncle, Sir Ellis came from a family of Iraqi Jews from Baghdad who later migrated to Bombay (Mumbai), India in the mid-eigtheenth century.
The two brothers worked in Shanghai for Victor Sassoon (as well as in Hong Kong for themselves) during the 1920s and 1930s.
Sir Victor Sassoon was an amazing chap and owned the Cathay Hotel — now the Peace Hotel — where he held extravagant parties. He was a Sephardic Jew who once memorably said, ‘There are only two great races, the Derby and the Jews.’ This did not later stop him converting to Buddhism.
The Kadoories opened the Peninsula in Hong Kong in 1928 where it was known as the ‘finest hotel east of Suez.’ Passengers arriving in Hong Kong by ocean liner disembarked onto the quays of Kowloon. It was also the last stop on the trans-Siberian rail link that brought travelers from Europe. As such, the Peninsula hotel was ideally situated to take advantage of the increasing number of wealthy visitors to the area.
Lawrence, before he died in 1993, was made Baron Kadoorie of Kowloon and the City of Westminster. Apart from his rank and wealth (his work with charities was quite remarkable) he was also a very pleasant cove. His son, Sir Michael Kadoorie, is still very involved in the running of the Peninsula hotels which famously boasts the largest fleet of Rolls Royce cars in the world. They are all painted a distinctive shade of green which is known as Peninsula Green.