Castle Peak Hotel [1949-????] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Castle Peak Hotel [1949-????]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
1949-07-01

Location is a guess, based on address of "17 Milestone", in the Hong Kong $ Directory for 1968.

If anyone knows which building on on the site now, please leave a comment and I'll adjust the marker.

Regards, David

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Photos that show this place

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This happened to be the Hotel We spent our honeymoon in 1966.But unfortunately we have never returned.

I've set the opening date to July 1949 based on Moddsey's note:

An Advert in the China Mail dated 16 July 1949 gives the hotel as being 'now opened' and located at the 17 mile marker. 

The Castle Peak Hotel was much more colorful and crowded with customers, cars and tour buses when I joined as a part-time waiter from 1969-1973.  My initial daily wage in 1969 was HK$5 for 12-hour work. It was already good for a teenager like me living in the New Territories to have a part-time job to support myself.

In 1970, I worked in the Hotel throughout the summer holidays. I needed to wear a black bow tie and my monthly salary was HK$150 and I had two days off.  On one pay day, Manager YIP, who appreciated my diligence, gave me HK$20 out of his own pocket.  From 1971-1972, Supervisor Uncle Kei exceptionally allowed me to work after school on week days from 4.30pm to 11.00pm. My daily wage was HK$10. I did my homework and slept at the Tea House every night.

The Chinese kitchen chef was investigative of food ordered by staff at concessionary prices. One of his trainee assistants was a session drummer of a popular Mandarin songs album, and we chatted after work. Another of the chef's professional assistants would complain about my accepting orders around 10.30pm as he needed to do all the cooking. The look of the Western kitchen chef resembled Chairman Mao and he did not resent staff calling his nickname. He  was investigative of customers' satisfaction of  the food coming out from his kitchen. They were all cooked by his only assistant based on his knowhow. The Bar Captain was anxious to get special orders, but no customers I served had ever ordered the "Rainbow Cocktail".

The scenic Castle Peak Hotel with a key-shaped promenade was the filming location of many Hong Kong movies. The Sunday tea dance session was the Hotel's another highlight. Among others, the live band sang "Guantanmera"  every time. Naturally, I served many customers including celebrities. I also practised some conversational English and picked up some Japanese.  I had hoped that I could someday return to the Hotel as a customer. But the seaside premises was bought by a visionary entreprenuer for real estate development. I ran a farewell dancing party for part-timers at the Hotel's private beach. Captain Ng was a gentlemen and wrote me a good unsolicited reference that I never used. I worked until the last day of the Hotel's operation in 1973.

The Castle Peak Hotel was long gone.  But I think it must be in the collective memory of many people from near and far. I knew the Hotel used to have many customers or staff.  I hope bits and pieces of fond memories shared will enable the old Hong Kong to live on.

Hi Peter,

Thanks for sharing your memories, they help bring the old photos to life.

I've guessed where the location was on the map. Does it look about right to you?

Regards, David

Hi David

Thank you for administrating this collective memory platform.

Your guess of the location is correct. The Castle Peak Villas rise from the demolished Castle Peak Hotel.

It is soul refreshing for me that the Castle Peak Hotel does not only exist in my mind, but also has a spot in the virtual world through your effort!

Cheers

Peter

Hi Peter, is it true that the hotel was originally owned by the notorious "Big Eared" Du Yuesheng?

Regards

Phil

Hi Phil 

Thank you for raising my curiosity about the original ownership of Castle Peak Hotel.

I checked from the report of the newspaper Hong Kong Commercial Daily that it was a 1949 project of a Lee Choy-fat who was little known when compared to Du Yuesheng. Lee offered Du managing directorship but Du only accepted directorship.

When I was working there in the 1960s, the Castle Peak Hotel was in Official Receivership and a Mr Tam, a civil servant, appeared on Saturdays and Sundays with his family members and they got all the respect from Manager Yip (a retired police officer) to front-line operatives like me!

Cheers

Peter

Thanks for responding Peter. It's an intriguing connection nonetheless given his infamy. Regards Phil

Hi Phil

About the intriguing connection in the context, Lee Choi-fat was labelled as the “Hong Kong Du Yuesheng.“

That Castle Peak Hotel was in official receivership was because it was an asset of the liquidated Ming Tak Bank (which triggered the 1965 bank run), probably as a secured creditor against a debtor in default.

The cost structure of the Castle Peak Hotel project in 1949 was not lean. It was rumoured that just the decoration costed several hundred thousand dollars then. Part of the capital outlay could be mortgage money from the bank.

When I was working in the Hotel, Supervisor Gei often talked about the Ritz Nightclub at North Point. I researched and found out that it was Lee’s urban project. And with Du’s visible support of Ritz, a follower-competitor was driven out of business.

There was another Ritz at Repulse Bay. During the summer holidays of 1973, I worked as a bar tender there as recommended by Supervisor Gei. My bar mentor said that he would look for me when I began teaching at Kam Tin in September. And around October-November, I got a message  from my teaching colleague that he (looked like a rascal) did drop by while I was in class. And days later, I read in the newspaper that he was killed during a fight in the area!

So these were some of the stories I got in my teens. Perhaps, I should write a screenplay based on them and make a movie about the old Hong Kong!

Cheers 

Peter

Dear Peter,

I just came across your story today, thanks for your information.

I want to share my part of stories heard from my late father. My father' first job right after he arrived in Hong Kong from Shenzhen in 1968 was Castle Peak Hotel. He was working as waiter taking care the "Mahjong tables", from 1968 to the early 1970s.

 He said Dr. Stanley Ho and families were usual guests of the hotel. He remembered that Dr. Ho don't gamble and even not touching Mahjong, instead he enjoyed hiking in the nearby woods with bodyguards. My father also said the late hotel owner - "Mr. Poon" was a very nice gentleman. He later sold the hotel to developer LI Ka Shing due to financial difficulties and later the site became residential properties - Castle Peak Villa and Fontana Villa. Ten years ago I went to Castle Peak Villa and checked out the little playgrounds was still there.

Happy Easter!

Best Regards,

Louis

 

Hello Peter,

I remembered Supervisor Gei of Castle Peak Hotel, my father called him "Gei-Suk". I met him few times in  when I was in kindergarten age.

My father said Gei-suk passed away suffered from heart attack during shopping.

I hope you will enjoy reading my fragmented stories.

Best regards,

Louis 

 

  

Hi Louis

I am most grateful for your letting me know what had happened to Uncle Gei in the end.

“Gei-suk”(what a warm common call sign now!) has always been on my mind, although I suspect he has not been around for a long time. I am now older than him when he first paid me my HK$5 wage for a full Sunday work in Castle Peak Hotel in the summer of 1969.

I appreciate his employing only me to work after school on week days from 1971-1972, enabling me to save just enough pocket money for my matriculation exams in 1973. To reciprocate, I pooled additional temporary manpower to meet the Hotel’s occasional high demand for service. 

Furthermore, when Gei-suk observed that I began courting a fellow waitress in the summer of 1971, he warned me that she and I did not match - that fell to my deaf ears then, but I recognized that was indeed the case and took the initiative to part in the summer of 1974.

As I spent long hours and days in the very pleasant working environment of the Castle Peak Hotel until it closed, I would not miss any collective memories of those days then. Recently, I have gone to the Hong Kong Film Archive to mine any possible information incidentally documented in film scenes!

Thank you very much again! Your kind response has excited, delighted and inspired me a lot!

Cheers

Peter

 

Dear Peter,

Thank you very much for your reply! Let me share more information about my late father during his time in Castle Peak Hotel. It was his first job in Hong Kong after he arrived from his home town in today's Longguan district of Shenzhen, in around 1968-69 during the beginning of "Cultural Revolution" (1966-1976). Like many young migrants from nearby provinces, my father made his way for escape by swam across the Mirs Bay in the northeastern region of the New Territories. He met his relative in a remote island (Kut O?) near Sha Tau Kok and registered for a Hong Kong Identity Card (which was permitted by regulations before the implementation of "Touch Base Policy" before 1974). Fortunately, he was introduced by relative to work at the Castle Peak Hotel soon after registration, and Gei Suk was his supervisor.

My father told me that the very first lecture Gei Suk gave him was a proper dress code to become a waiter in Hong Kong. Gei Suk was no just a supervisor, furthermore he also acted as mentor, from how to accustome new life in Hong Kong, saving wages and financial planning and organized tour for staffs during dayoff.

After the closure for good of the hotel, my dad maintained contact with Gei Suk and few colleagues. I remembered one of them established a florist in nearby Tai Lam village. 

Those are the stories that I could remember, thanks for your reply. Wish you all have a happy and peaceful Easter! 

Best regards,

Louis

Hi Louis

I am thrilled to hear the additional information that you could remember and share about the Hotel, the personnel and the relationships from 1968-1970s when you were very young.

I was saddened to hear about your late father who I must have worked with as fellow Hotel waiters from the summer of 1969 until the closure of the Hotel in 1973 to deliver vacant possession for the sale of the property, although I was never responsible for the Mahjong tables. If you don’t mind, tell me more about your late father.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, 基叔 or 肥佬基 (Age around 55-65) was a bald-headed fat guy who wore a bow tie. His writing and management style also reflected his character. The Hotel paid just the bare minimum to full-timers and part-timers. I believe it was the management’s policy to ensure the Hotel could operate as a going concern. Despite the low pay, the exposure and the aspiration to become, not necessarily the rich and famous but just to be reasonably successful like the customers, was invaluable. Do you know the approximate time when 基叔 died, in the 1970s or 1980s?

The one who operated in the Siu Lam area could be 荃叔 -  the Bar Captain. He was smart and entrepreneurial, and once dug a pond near the Hotel with another colleague called 畢玉田, dreaming to develop their fishery business!

I am glad that your father had nurtured you, and you have developed, in such a good way that we would get connected via this platform despite the generation gap. Thank you for your best Easter wishes, and I should like to reciprocate the same to you and to the administration of gwulo.com!

Cheers

Peter  

 

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your reply today.

Theose stories about Castle Peak Hotel were told by my father ( "Ah Kong" in Chinese characters "阿剛" ) when I was little. I was born after the hotel closed in 1973 so I have never seen the hotel, but I do remember the little park under the concrete steps was there in around 2005, when I visited Castle Peak Villas. 

I might have some photos from my father' collection keeping by my mom. I will upload them to this webpage for sharing once I find them. 

Uncle Kei passed away in late 1970's but I don't have information about the exact date. I do remember my father told me the cause of Uncle Kei' death - one day Uncle Kei was shopping for "Hoi Mei" (assorted dried marine products) in Sai Ying Pun areas, perhaps he was busy in thinking and being distorted, he walked out of the store without settled payment. The shopkeeper went out and shouted behind Uncle Kei something liked "eh! you haven't paid yet!" and that's how it triggered Uncle Kei's hidden heart disease...  

I don't remember the florist' name but I do recall that he would bid for and set up a stall in Victoria Park during Lunar new year fair until early 1980's, my father would stopped by his stall and they talked happily about business and those good old times.

I will try to find out my father' collection of Castle Peak Hotel photos when I return to Hong Kong after Easter. 

Have a good week and happy Easter!

Louis 

Hi Louis 

Many thanks for your prompt reply, narrating the final day of Uncle Kei so vividly! I could imagine the scene, the characters, the actions and the mood that day. Anyway, Uncle Gei (吳應基)enjoyed his life! 

The clue that your father Ah Kong was responsible for mahjong tables at 中菜廳,coupled with your story as to how he came to Hong Kong, have jogged my memories. I well remember your father who might also have told me his story briefly.

I remember your father as having a good-looking square face shape with a relatively big forehead. He was relatively strong built. His voice pitch could be a bit high but hoarse at times. He was about seven years older than me.

We did not interact that much in the years though, as 中菜廳 was a privileged area although the sea-view open-air Cafe I manned was just 50 meters away from it. Only few could work there due to possible perks which were not allowed by the Hotel as a whole. Your father was the only waiter there supported by a few part-timers on Sundays. On this score, your father, as a full-time waiter, was well taken care of by Uncle Gei.

Furthermore, when business was slack during week days, the management or their family members would spend time playing mahjong there with some partners who should be on duty. So I, as a part-timer, did not set foot to your father’s working area. We only chatted during meal times or when we bumped into each other in delivering orders. One commonality between us was that we took a no-nonsense approach to work.

So sorry to know that Ah Kong is no longer around now. On the positive note, I did not expect my memories of life in Castle Peak Hotel could be extended but for your continued stories. Do upload any photos to give some life to the Old Hong Kong if you manage to find them when you are back in Hong Kong.  

Cheers

Peter

Dear Peter,

I have found only one photo left in my mom's photo album and uploaded it to website today.

The photo date is unknown, probably taken in late 1960s to early 1970s. 

Please look at the "Green Spot" orange soda trade mark were printed on those concrete bench. Perhaps you may guess where the location was.

Best regards,

Louis

IMG_20190427_205040.jpg
IMG_20190427_205040.jpg, by Louis Wong

Hi Louis

Many thanks for posting your Dad's faded colour photograph. I took a couple of audible deep breaths upon seeing it. Immediately, I had audio-visual flashbacks of my interaction with your Dad in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

The shot was taken at the tip of a key-shaped paved walk by the sea. Apart from 3-4 benches with the "Green Spot" logo cemented on them, there was a giant "Green Spot" Orange Soda sculpture at the center point. The icon attracted customers to get closer to the uncovered area. The scene was about one Km from the Chinese restaurant & Mahjong parlour where your Dad was in charge. I believe he could see it from the 1/F of the premises.

It was trendy to take colour photographs in the early 1970s as the price of colour films and their processing became reasonable, but they all faded like that. I guess your Dad's photograph was taken on a sunny and windy day in Autumn, in the early 1970s, as your Dad was wearing a long-sleeve shirt.

Around the closure of the Castle Peak Hotel, I organized a night-time farewell dancing party for part-time waiters and waitresses there. But the natural elements (strong winds and splashes) made it not feasible; and we subsequently retreated to the beach side. Ah Kong was not there as he was not of the dancing kind.   

Your Dad was a very good man and he was well respected by his fellow workmates including me. I am very glad to learn that he had you as his very good son - reliving your Dad's experience in you and sharing it with me. Thank you again! 

Wishing you and your family all the very best!

Cheers

Peter