Home Estate Planning Channelling Succession in Hong Kong and The White Lotus in Vietnam

Channelling Succession in Hong Kong and The White Lotus in Vietnam

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Christopher Beanland went on a White Lotus and Succession pilgrimage to Hong Kong and Vietnam

Something blurs past my right eye. It’s over in a flash. The brightly coloured parrot fish darts between the spiky coral canyons in search of shelter or food. In its place smaller fish amble around ready to be eaten by eels or bigger predators. They seem like they know they’re lunch and don’t care.

The reef here off Phu Quoc is beautiful and in need of all the protection we can muster. Jumping off our new £2 million rented catamaran to dive in these coral reefs is a real moment of Succession-style luxury. It feels important to be grounded in the environment, to see its fragility and how our jetset lifestyles put it at threat. This is the new luxury; decadence but with awareness.

As I take the helm and steer the boat north along Phu Quoc’s dramatic coastline, I feel like Logan Roy, the swearing patriarch in charge of Succession’s media empire, although I suppose he would make someone else drive. My trip began with another boat ride – one of the world’s most famous and scenic, across Hong Kong Harbour. The Star Ferry will take you from Kowloon to Central for a couple of quid, but my journey was aboard a typical Cantonese junk that used to ferry goods along the coast back when British gunboats were protecting the Opium trade, causing all sorts of capitalist chaos that we don’t get taught about in school.

The skyscrapers of HK rise like a glass forest and behind them the green Peak presides over the scene. It’s my first sight of Asia since the pandemic and my first of Hong Kong since Beijing’s crackdowns; what better place to enjoy it than from the tip of Kowloon? The Peninsula saw this view’s power a hundred years ago when they opened their hotel. Just a 100 yards away, in 1980, the Regent joined it, becoming HK’s benchmark for luxury. Back then the brand was as prestigious as the Six Senses, Four Seasons, Amans and Langhams of today. Its power waned and it became an Intercontinental for a while but IHG Hotels is set on restoring Regent to its place among the world’s finest hotels.

On our final night we indulge in the ‘TasteStudio’ experience, where fine dining meets interactive and immersive theatre

This grand dame on the waterfront has been re-imagined, a process that has taken years and the result is in an exceptional waterside property. I catch up with designer Chi Wing Lo in the bedroom of the Presidential Suite, where he talks about his time in quarantine during the pandemic and how that inspired him to make the rooms all the more comfortable. Their soft furnishings, textures – featuring stone and natural hues – evoke an autumnal forest. Perfect for relaxing after a sweaty, noisy HK day. I was there for the opening party so the restaurants and bars were full, but the pool was bizarrely empty, creating a Ballardian image of the lone English writer doing laps while a dozen staff offer towels, cocktails and slippers. Outside clouds streak across the sky and wind whips off the harbour.

Part two of the trip sees a relocation to another of the Regent’s renovated properties. Vietnam’s Phu Quoc is a Bali-esque island, which has pretty beaches and low hills that are becoming home to more and more luxury hotels. The Regent, the classic among the newcomers, is where to stay. Its relaxed vibe is more akin to the dark travel satire White Lotus than Succession.

In the lounge I devour spicy, sour Pho topped with fresh herbs and spring onions and wonder when the jazz piano will start. Blink Studios’ austere ‘embassy lobby’ designs for the public spaces are dramatic and dogmatic and make you feel like you’re on your way to a UN summit. The hotel is so sprawling you’re taken by golf buggy to your room, while bikes are a fun way of getting back to the Rice Market restaurant and hidden speakeasy bar.

Slide open the patio doors and there’s a private pool. You have a kitchen, a dining room, a bathroom filled with scents and candles and mirrors and exotic sculptures. It’s a sensual environment that will get the blood pumping in any waning marriage. The lightness and space of the villas are striking; you can imagine owning one and spending every January here. The resort has everything you need: numerous pools, a private beach, gym, and that boat you can take out with a crew to enjoy lunch on. It’s a place to spoil yourself.

On our final night we indulge in Regent’s signature ‘TasteStudio’ experience, where fine dining meets interactive and immersive theatre. It’s the sort of elaborate travel experience I can imagine Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya paying over the odds for on The White Lotus.

It exists in the intersection between El Bulli and Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man and will wow travellers who crave unique travel thrills. Don’t lose yourself entirely in the fantasy though, instead take your hired bike for a blast along the coast at sunset as electrical storms explode in the ash-grey sky, streaking past paddy fields, beach clubs, abandoned building projects.

It’s another Ballardian journey through the filth and the fury – to local towns with night markets, across sand and sea and small mountains. There’s nothing quite like it.

Visit yourself

Qatar Airways flies from London to Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City daily via Doha. To book visit qatarairways.com. Rooms at the Regent Hong Kong start from £607 per night; at the Regent Phu Quoc from £356 per night. Visit IHG.com/regent for more information; Blacklane provided transport in Hong Kong. You can watch The White Lotus and Succession on Now TV and Sky

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