Hopefully not a once in a blue moon Hong Kong encounter

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do
– Charles Aznavour

The moon slips down over the hills behind Discovery Bay like a giant silver sixpence. In fact it’s a blue moon, that the previous evening at precisely 8.03 p.m hung as if from a pendant, illuminated perfectly in the sky and bathing Hong Kong with its beauty.

The comparative rarity of a blue moon (seen about once every 2.7 years; the last one was on 18 May, 2019 and you’ll have to wait until 19 August 2024 for the next one) gave rise to the saying ‘once in a blue moon’, indicating something that happens very infrequently.

After a near three-month sojourn to England, Wales, Qatar and South Korea, tailed with a 14-day hotel quarantine spell in Kowloon, returning to my own home felt a bit like that initially. But one week out of confinement, I am settling back into my routine, enjoying the liberating feeling of being back at Moodie Davitt Asia HQ, delighting in the night (and day) sky and the beautiful view across the bay.

One of the big advantages to me of being in Hong Kong is that there is such a strong travel retail community here. Call it a freedom rush if you like but this week I’ve packed in a flurry of meetings, dinners and drinks with a host of people that has allowed me to catch up on happenings both in Hong Kong and travel retail.

On Wednesday, for example, I had the great pleasure of catching up with Fresh Senior Vice President of Global Travel Retail and Head of Hong Kong & Macau Michael Kim (below). Michael and the Fresh team have done an outstanding job in building the LVMH-controlled brand in travel retail both before and during the crisis.

Last month, Fresh teamed up with China Duty Free Group to host a pop-up at the Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex in Haitang Bay. This was the natural skincare brand’s first pop-up in Hainan and its biggest activation to date. Expect plenty more excitement in travel retail in the months ahead.

Like everyone in Hong Kong right now (imported cases aside), I remain COVID-free as my two post-quarantine tests this week have confirmed. My 14 COVID tests of the past three months have been quite enough thank you and I’ll give my nostrils a welcome period of furlough from relentless swabbing for a while before even contemplating my next trip.

Getting the all-clear for the 14th and final time of a three-month trip

While travel may be difficult for all of us – and particularly those based in places such as Hong Kong with stringent entry requirements – it offers the priceless value of human encounters with friends, family, colleagues and customers. And it was the desire to meet, to greet, to drink and dine together that prompted a brilliant get together last night organised by Canny Kwok (below), Managing Director of Asia Pacific Travel Retail at Bvlgari in Hong Kong.

Canny has been with the luxury house for over 20 years following a near-12 stint with The Estée Lauder Companies in travel retail here and she is one of the nicest, most professional and most widely respected individuals in our industry.

I was delighted to be joined by Canny and 13 other travel retail folk from across multiple sectors at the outstanding Jasper Food Club in Tsim Sha Tsui. Jasper is a reference to owner and Chef Jasper Wu (pictured below), who provides a private dining experience for small parties such as ours. It’s a brilliant experience, driven first and foremost by an eclectic menu composed with instinctive genius by Jasper that is coupled with a tasteful and intimate setting that feels like a home kitchen and dining room.

Eclectic? You bet. The nine-course culinary adventure was full of daring and diversity, ranging from abalone in pastry with Jerusalem artichoke to Sunomono (razor clam, cured cucumber, harusame) and a pork belly dish with apple, black garlic and cauliflower (second picture below) that might just rank among the most flavoursome dishes I have ever tasted.

And then, of course, there was the company. Canny and Mendy Cheng from Bvlgari were joined by me; Sue Lewis from Sisley; Barbara Ng from Ferragamo; Swarovski’s Karen Tse; Queenie Li of Giorgio Armani; Kit Lee from Bottega Veneta; Frederick Chehab, Moët Hennessy; Andre Mazloff, LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics; Ji Un Han of Fresh; Brenda Do from Loewe Perfumes; Jean-Philippe Collin, Hermès Parfums; Florence Wong of Fred Paris; and David Saksik from Pernod Ricard Asia Travel Retail.

Bringing back the good times in travel retail (left to right) Kit, Frederick, Ji Un, Florence, Barbara, Andre, Mandy, Karen, Canny, Chef Jasper, Queenie, Martin, Brenda, Sue, Jean-Philippe and David

Wow, what a line-up of great travel retail personalities. The Champagne and wine flowed (I can still hear a certain Angel whispering today Frederick), the conversation and laughter was non-stop. We joked that it was the biggest travel retail gathering of the year and remembered that this was like it used to be in travel retail (there were even goody bags last night; remember them?) before a certain nasty virus came along and blighted our industry and our lives.

And what it will be like again. It may be tough entering Hong Kong at the moment but equally COVID-19 is not finding it easy to get in either. For the latter fact we can be grateful and while that remains the case, more such joyous encounters as last night’s can take place. Hopefully not just once in a blue moon.

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