By: Kate Farr, AKA Accidental Tai-Tai
It can be tough to come up with new and exciting activities for the kids during the summer holidays (let’s be honest, there are only so many soccer games that a parent can take in six weeks)! So, upon rocking up to the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong on a gloriously sunny Sunday morning, our party of three were all extremely excited for the day ahead. Our four-year-old son was looking forward to a cooking class where sweets were firmly on the menu and my husband had been promised buffet lunch with a view at Café 103 as reward for supervising the aforementioned class. As for me, I was sneaking off for a much-needed massage at the world’s highest spa, perched up on the 116 floor of the ICC.
Before escaping, I accompanied the boys for a peek at The Chef’s Table, Ritz-Carlton’s private dining space and the location for the morning’s class. My boy and his three fellow junior pâtissiers were greeted by two of the hotel’s chefs, who proceeded to lead the kids in cookie baking, followed by decorating with teeny-tiny pastel macarons. The kids were decked out in full chef’s regalia, complete with white hats and smart blue aprons to take home, and then it was time to get started.
At this point I made my exit, and so the following details come via Daddy, who was chief cookie-taster for the session:
“The ingredients for peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies were set out in individual bowls and the kids guided through each step of the baking process. What stood out here was the individual attention – the chefs seemed to instinctively know when to step in with hands-on help versus when to step back and offer encouragement. My son had a ball getting his hands dirty and sneaking tastes!”
“Once the cookies went into the oven, the kids were given a template of a bear – that my boy swore was a pig and wouldn’t be convinced otherwise – to decorate with mini macarons dipped in molten chocolate to stick to the sheet. Of course, a macaron is a delicate thing and a four-year-old boy… well, not so much! After being told that he was allowed to eat any breakages, there were quite a few “accidents”! But by this time the cookies were baked and, after cooling, were ready for sampling and were declared “better than the chef’s”.”
“Although there were two activities to complete, there was no rushing, with the kids being encouraged to take their time. After a really fun 90 minutes, it was time to pack up the goodies, collect our certificate of attendance and a Ritz-Carlton lion toy (complete with chef’s outfit!) and head to lunch.”
Meanwhile, I was (not so) busy luxuriating at The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA, where a 50-minute customised massage was the order of the day. This smart add-on to the kids’ class has “Mummy’s day off” written all over it, and after arriving early enough to make the most of the steam room and gorgeous mint-scented cool mist shower, I was led to my palatial treatment room. It was hard to resist the urge to simply soak up the panoramic view and focus on the matter at hand. Or perhaps I should say at foot, as my treatment began with an aromatic foot soak and scrub. Feet gently dried, my therapist led me over to the bed, leaving me to get settled. Knowing that I wouldn’t manage to fight sleep for too long (as mum to a four-year-old and a four-month-old baby, I can doze off in virtually any situation, so I’m certainly no match for a plush couch), I asked my therapist to focus on my tight shoulders and back while I was still conscious enough to pay attention. She set to work with a perfect mid-pressure oil massage that gently, but firmly rolled the knots out of my poor aching spine and had me out for the count within minutes. In what felt like no time at all, it was time to turn over, where the treatment concluded with a blissful scalp massage using a nourishing hair mask. All products at the Ritz-Carlton’s spa are by UK brand ESPA and my therapist was especially careful to choose oils that were safe for nursing mums, which was a thoughtful touch that I really appreciated.
Feeling extremely Zen, I re-joined the boys at Café 103 where we enjoyed a leisurely buffet lunch and yes, that view again! While smaller than many hotel spreads, this all-you-can-eat focuses on quality, with plenty of seafood, Asian and Western dishes, plus a free-flow option. Standout dishes included sashimi, roast lamb carvery and mini wagu sliders, while our son thoroughly enjoyed the fresh spinach ravioli.
If you’re looking to treat the family to a memorable summer holiday event, this fun and educational day with a luxe twist has something to keep everyone happy… especially Mummy!
The kids’ culinary classes are available every weekend until 30 August 2015 and cost HK$1,550 per child, including lunch at either The Lounge and Bar or Café 103 for one child and an accompanying parent. The 50-minute ESPA massage is available as an add-on for HK$1080.
Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road, Kowloon.