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  Where to Stay >> The Peninsula Academy Awards


Children can learn much more in a five star hotel than just which fork to use. Here are some innovative offerings that might spark their interest.

WORDS Hilary Doling

I’ll always remember the image of my then five-year-old son staring up at the doorman at the entrance to The Peninsula Hong Kong. The liveried attendant was all in white; his gold braid glistening, his pillbox hat at a jaunty angle. It was the quintessential image of a small child’s introduction to a luxury hotel.

It’s wonderful when children are at ease in their five star surroundings, but the joy of a really good hotel is that it introduces your little ones to the local culture too. The Peninsula Hong Kong’s innovative Peninsula Academy does just that with experiences ranging from dim sum making to scroll painting and tai chi. They also throw in some perennial children’s favourites such as learning the fine art of cupcake creation from the hotel’s pastry chef.

The hotel has recently added some new Academy experiences to its repertoire which might suit older children. ‘Hong Kong’s Traditions Well Served’ takes families beyond the city’s skyscrapers to meet the artisans trying to keep China’s disappearing crafts alive. On a half- or full-day tour guests will get a chance to meet the creators of the bamboo- and-flower displays that adorn outdoor Chinese Opera theatres, paper-tearing artists, shadow-puppet masters and lion dancers. There is also the opportunity to try some of the crafts out for yourself.

Hong Kong is fast becoming known as an international art hub so creative kids might also like the ‘Art Dialogue with Hong Kong’. Travelling in a chauffeured Mini Clubman, they can meet artists in residence at various Hong Kong art studios and learn about the themes that the artists are exploring. After you’ve fed their minds, you can feed their bodies with lunch at a Cantonese private kitchen in a heritage building in Wan Chai.

"Kids can try experiences ranging from dim sum making
to scroll painting and tai chi."

The Peninsula Hong Kong’s sister hotels have also come up with some creative choices. At The Peninsula Tokyo, families can learn the delicate skill of origami or make Japanese wind chimes. At the Peninsula Beijing there are kite making classes where children will learn the ancient craft from an esteemed kite master and create with their own kite frame and decoration, then be chauffeured to the nearby Temple of Heaven Park to watch their colourful creation soar in the Beijing sky. Young Peninsula guests in Shanghai can also learn kite making. At The Peninsulas in both Chicago and New York kids can learn to be young firefighters at the local station; less educational but certainly good fun in Chicago is the chance to ride in a Cinderella coach, while The Peninsula Beverly Hills can organise a Hollywood photo shoot for the whole family, proving that at some hotels at least, families really do have the starring role.



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