“Work has commenced upon the three million dollar Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon, which it is hoped to open in the winter of 1924,” ran the April 30, 1923 report in the South China Morning Post following the Hongkong Hotel Company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Owner of the Peninsula, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels has this year been celebrating its 150th anniversary – The Hongkong Hotel Company having been incorporated in 1866. It was also in 1923 that the operator merged with the Shanghai Hotel Company and took its current name.
It would be December 1928 before the Peninsula finally celebrated its opening after what the Post later – on the hotel’s 60th anniversary – described as “years of delay caused by serious disturbances in Hongkong, strikes and the after-shocks of civil war in China, and the necessity to halt work on the hotel to accommodate a large contingent of British troops”.
On December 7, 1928, an advert in the newspaper ran: “Peninsula Hotel. Opening Day – Tuesday, 11th December, 1928. A Carnival Dinner Dance (Fancy or Evening Dress) will be held in The Roof Garden Ball Room at 8.30 p.m. Dinner $4.00 per head.”
On December 12, the Post reported the Officer Administering the Government, W. T. Southorn’s address to those attending the event: “Ladies and gentlemen, this hotel stands as a landmark in the history of this great city of the future; nay, more, it proves that the courage of our forefathers is still with us; the broad visions of the sixties still inspire the people of Hong Kong. Strikes and boycotts and civil war in China are rightly regarded as but temporary checks to the prosperity which her geographical position must bring to Hongkong.”
Sixty years on, the Post recalled: “The official opening was a grand affair, indeed, launching the whole period of ‘high society’ life in Hongkong […] The Peninsula became the centre of Hongkong’s social life […] In the carefree early and mid-’30s a prodigious number of functions was held there.”