Grand cars for a grand hotel.
Hong Kong – January 14 – The Peninsula Hong Kong has taken delivery of the largest ever single order of new Rolls-
Royce Phantoms with 14 extended wheelbase cars, all finished in signature Peninsula Green.
Except for a brief interlude, The Peninsula has used Rolls-Royce motor cars exclusively for its guests since 1970, and the new fleet – the hotel’s eighth record-breaking order – forms part of a long-term partnership between the two companies.
The brand new fleet was shown for the first time at the hotel on 14th December 2006, and was unveiled by The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai
Hotels, Limited and Mr. Ian Robertson, Chairman and Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, when keys to all 14 cars were presented to Sir Michael by Mr Robertson in a bespoke burr walnut veneered box made by Rolls-Royce.
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,
normally fitted on the back of the front console, 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 rest of the car is also 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 new fleet of Phantoms marks a significant improvement in terms of economy and emissions compared to the previous fleet of Silver Spurs. The Phantom features a lightweight aluminium space frame and utilises the most modern of engine technologies, such as direct fuel injection and variable valve control. As a result, 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 Chinese 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 commencing as an apprentice and working up to General Manager, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, London. He has now 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) enquired 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 14 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 one 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.”
Mr. Ian Robertson added, “Today is a proud moment for everyone at Rolls-Royce, particularly the Bespoke team that have 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 impressive 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 fascinating relationship since the 1970s and we are keen for this to continue for many years to come.”