Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts June 1999 Current Issue
June 1999
Short Cuts:
CULTURE CLUBCulture Club Yum: A lesson in dim sum

When The Peninsula Hong Kong introduced The Peninsula Academy in spring 1998, the hotel had upscale vacationers in mind. The goal: to provide insight into the world's oldest civilization, well beyond what visitors might glean through independent sightseeing.

The three-day, four-night Chinese Cultural Experience, for instance, includes interactive courses in feng shui, tai chi, Cantonese cooking, tea preparation and even "destiny analysis," an assessment of where one's life is heading.

Not surprisingly, planners are borrowing from the program to round out their agendas for small meetings. Several groups, including an Australia-based telecommunications firm, will bring about 10 to 20 people to the property this year and will build a handful of cultural courses into their meeting agendas.

Others, meanwhile, are looking to the academy for ready-made guest programs. Among U.S.-based companies scheduled to take part this year is a major bank that booked about 50 guest rooms for a meeting in September. While employees are in meetings, 20 to 30 spouses will be immersed in Hong Kong culture.

"The beauty of the academy is that it is incredibly flexible," says Maria Sung, director of marketing for The Peninsula Hong Kong. "We can vary the number of participants in brush painting, say, or the length of time spent, or the complexity of what they learn." For lectures, groups can be as large as 50; for some other offerings, such as tai chi, larger groups can be accommodated with multiple instructors.

The program is not restricted to the hotel's grounds. For typical agendas, a Peninsula chef leads participants through a food market where the poultry and fish are not just fresh, they're alive. Then, after dim sum at a historical teahouse, a practitioner of traditional Chinese herbal medicine discusses its philosophies. The day's tour ends with a visit to a Chinese pharmacy.

Program details are online at


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