HK hotel brews storm in a teacup with promotion for men

Agence France-Presse

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The 5-star hotel denies its marketing campaign for the afternoon tea for men was sexist

HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental hotel stirred up ridicule on Friday with an afternoon-tea promotion for men based on pork pies and beef rather than dainty snacks “normally preserved for women”.

The five-star hotel denied that its marketing campaign for the “Gentlemen’s Power Snack” and “Gentlemen’s Power Afternoon Tea” was sexist, but a women’s rights group heaped scorn on the language used in a press release.

“The afternoon-tea ritual with delicate sandwiches and warm scones is one that is normally preserved for women,” the Mandarin’s release said.

From March, however, “distinguished men will be able to meet and relax, or secure business deals over two different afternoon teas…which have been created especially for them”, it said.

“It is quite silly, as a marketing strategy, to single out certain food and beverage outlets and meals as more suitable to one sex than the other,” Annie Chan, chairwoman of the Association for the Advancement of Feminism, told Agence France-Presse.

She called the connection drawn between scones and women as “laugh-out-loud funny”.

“To market bars, roast beef and pork pies as more suited to men is just as ridiculous.”

The afternoon tea for gentlemen includes pies, Yorkshire puddings and cigar-shaped chocolates, accompanied by beer or whisky and served in “masculine” settings featuring “leather booths and dark-wood furniture”, the hotel statement said.

“There’s absolutely no way that we’re trying to alienate any group to any area within the hotel,” Mandarin Oriental director of communications Nina Colls told Agence France-Presse.

“It was created with men in mind (but) both male and female can most certainly enjoy the afternoon tea,” she said.

The Mandarin Oriental, built in 1963 when Hong Kong was a British colony, is located in the heart of the city’s financial district, near the Victoria Harbour.

Its amenities include a traditional men’s barber and the Captain’s Bar, a well-known haunt of power-lunching businessmen. –

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