The Peninsula Hong Kong welcomes 14 new Rolls-Royce Phantoms
Ian Robertson, Chairman and Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce, presented the keys for all 14 cars to The Honourable Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited at a ceremony today.
The Peninsula has used Rolls-Royce cars exclusively for its guests, since 1970 – except for one short interlude – and this latest purchase is the eighth record-breaking order for the marque.
Each car has been hand-made at the Rolls-Royce factory in Goodwood on the south coast of England, built under Rolls-Royce’s “Bespoke” programme to ensure they meet the exacting needs of the hotel. This programme allows customers to specify cars to suit their precise requirements, allowing them to modify even the smallest details as well as introducing unique features. Rolls-Royce engineers and designers worked closely with Sir Michael and Martin Oxley, the Peninsula’s Fleet Vehicle Manager, to develop a number of dedicated features to meet the hotel’s specific needs. These included the provision of a cool box for chilled hand towels, customised tread plates and a new, larger luggage compartment.
With attention to detail being a hallmark of both The Peninsula and Rolls-Royce, modifications to the car went a little further than usual. Rear air-conditioning controls were moved to the rear arm rests for easier access. The subtle boulevard lighting system was modified to give maximum illumination for passengers when entering and alighting from the cars, and even the smallest details were subject to scrutiny – new counter-sunk screws were developed for the luggage compartment to remove even the slightest chance of catching or damaging leather luggage.
The cars are all finished to exacting standards. Some 18 leather hides for each Phantom were used to trim the seats, doors and roof-lining, and in a process unique to Rolls-Royce, each hide is tumble-dyed, resulting in a natural finish that is sumptuously soft and requires no protective top coat. The burr walnut veneers were selected by the Goodwood team for their natural beauty and quality, while the colour of the wood was specifically chosen by Sir Michael. Each Phantom is finished with veneer taken from a single tree to ensure that the colour and grain match perfectly across the interior.
In-car entertainment is supplied via a Lexicon sound system employing 15 speakers and nine channel amplification delivering 420 watts. The use of studio-grade components is unique to the Phantom and ensures the delivery of a sound quality unrivalled in the marketplace. DVDs can be watched on twin 12-inch screens housed in the rear fold-down picnic-tables.
In all, it has taken more than 350 hours to build each individual Phantom with 25 Rolls-Royce designers and engineers attentively involved in the project.
The Phantom is the most successful super-luxury car in the world, built using cutting edge technology and lightweight materials. It features an aluminium space frame chassis and body which weighs much less than steel, but is enormously strong to give both added safety and outstanding driving refinement, free of vibration. The engine is of the most modern design and features direct fuel injection and variable valve control, delivering excellent fuel economy for a car of its size and power, marking a significant improvement in terms of emissions compared to the previous fleet of Silver Spurs. The new Phantom offers significantly more space for passengers, delivers higher amounts of torque and power and yet consumes significantly less fuel than the previous-generation Silver Spur.
Due to the size and complexity of the new cars, Martin Oxley and the hotel’s team of chauffeurs travelled to the UK for a week of training at the Sir Henry Royce Training School, Rolls-Royce’s dedicated technical institute. Additionally, copies of the owners’ operating handbooks were translated and printed in Cantonese to provide an accurate reference for the hotel’s team of drivers.
Martin Oxley’s career spans 33 years of attending to Rolls-Royce cars, including 22 years with Rolls-Royce beginning as an apprentice and working up to General Manager at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in London. He has been overseeing the care of The Peninsula’s vehicles for 11 years.
The Peninsula and Rolls-Royce have been associated in excellence for almost 40 years, in a record-breaking partnership that began with the hotel’s first order for seven Silver Shadows in 1970.
The relationship commenced with the simple question “Have you enquired?”. When told that a fleet of Rolls-Royces would probably be too expensive for the hotel, Lord Lawrence Kadoorie (father of Sir Michael) asked if anyone had actually contacted Rolls-Royce to ascertain the cost.
That purchase made history for being the largest ever single order for Rolls-Royce motor cars, and set a trend that continues to this day with the arrival of the hotel’s eighth and latest fleet of extended wheelbase Phantoms.
Over the years, The Peninsula has set new records with each successive order for Rolls-Royces: in 1976 when it purchased eight Silver Shadows; in 1980 with an order for nine Silver Shadow IIs; in 1987 when it took delivery of eight Silver Spirits; 1994 when the hotel welcomed nine Silver Spur IIIs and one vintage 1934 Phantom II; in 1995 with another nine Silver Spurs; another four in 1998, and yet another in 2004.
The grandest member of the fleet is a magnificent and immaculately restored 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II. The Phantom II is just six years younger than the hotel itself, having made its debut on the stand of Messrs Barker & Co (Coachbuilders by Appointment to HM The King and HRH The Prince of Wales) at the London Motor Show in October 1934.
Speaking at the unveiling of the new fleet of Phantoms, The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie said, “For more than 35 years The Peninsula Hong Kong has used Rolls-Royce cars, and this new fleet of Phantoms is the most impressive of their cars built to date. Rarely are my expectations exceeded, but on this occasion they have been - the cars, like the hotel, must exemplify quality, and the service requirements have also mirrored these high standards.”
Ian Robertson added, “Today is a proud moment for everyone at Rolls-Royce, particularly the Bespoke team that has worked tirelessly to produce these cars. We first met with Sir Michael and his team to discuss this project in April 2006, and the cars went into production in August. It is the flexibility and dedication of the team at Goodwood that has helped fulfil this very special order. Rolls-Royce and The Peninsula have enjoyed an outstanding and fruitful relationship since the 1970s and we are keen for this to continue for many years to come.”