The American Country Club is a hidden gem. Located in the southern shore of Hong Kong Island, the private club is considerably far from where I live.
The journey takes almost an hour on the MTR – one of the most efficient public transportations in the world – and a short bus ride. While this sounds like a typical journey in the UK, it is considered time-consuming in a city ruled by speed.
Tai Tam is most famous for its reservoirs. Little did I know it is also home to a beautiful and intimate wedding venue – the American Country Club.
As the name suggests, it is a very Western environment catered for its members. We instantly fell in love with its simple and sophisticated design, and its sense of exclusivity – this is not a place for anyone to just barge in and look around.
Making our way down its elegant and carpeted staircase to the Vista Ballroom and Terrace, we knew in our hearts this would be the perfect place for our dream wedding.
The Vista Ballroom boasts a very high ceiling, embellished by ambient wall lights and a beautiful chandelier. Through its glass doors is an open terrace with a picturesque view of the South China Sea and outlying islands. Even without Hong Kong’s signature skyscrapers, it is truly breathtaking by day and magical by night.
Sadly, it was time to put our romantic feelings aside and get practical. Although a good number of our guests lived on Hong Kong Island, the location was still rather remote. Without shuttle bus services, the journey might be an inconvenience for the elderly guests.
While the price for the menu was fairly reasonable, it was a different story for drinks. Each table came with one corkage only. An open bar package cost up to $430 (£36) per person. Anything cheaper would easily limit your options to a not very pleasing non-alcoholic package.
Neither a mock cake nor complimentary cream cake was offered (these are commonly available with hotels and restaurants in Hong Kong). This meant only one thing – more money to be spent on a real cake which approximately cost $5,000-8,000 (£420-670) for 15 pounds!
On that note, our bubble finally burst. American Country Club has become ‘the one that got away’.
Location – quiet, recluse, surrounded by nature
Scenery – South China Sea
Venue – high ceiling, elegant staircase, high standard of service
Price – $8,788-13,188 (£740-1,106) per table of 10-12 persons, minimum spend $220,000 (£18,460)
Parking – 5 spaces
Decoration – centrepiece included, good-sized stage
Travel – far from MTR stations, no shuttle bus provided
Mahjong – only 6 tables can be set up near the staircase which is an awkward midway between the bridal room and ballroom
Drinks – not included, up to $430 (£36) per person for open bar, free corkage 1 per table
Cake – mock cake or complimentary cream cake not provided
Bridal room – small, no private bathroom facility
Misc – smoking or mobile phones not allowed
The concept of private clubs is somewhat a remnant of Hong Kong’s colonial days under the British rule. One of my favourite writers, Jason Y. Ng, has put together an insightful and entertaining post on this topic.
Holding a wedding celebration in a British private club is actually not very different to having one in Hong Kong. The intimate and classy setting is to die for. Not so much the price, though.
Sitting right by the River Thames, the Hurlingham Club is full of grandeur while maintaining its British-ness. Its comprehensive wedding packages start from £100 (£1,190) per person, not including VAT.
The choices of venue at the English Club are all equally impressive. Pristine and ivory décor, access to garden and terrace, view of the world famous River Thames…need I say more?
Maybe it’s just my passion (and greed) for food, or maybe the Club’s wedding menu is simply divine.
With dishes like ‘marmalade glazed roast leg of duck’ and ‘roasted Mediterranean terrine with soft herb spiced quenelle of ragstone goat’s cheese’, the style and combination say it all! Who cares what a quenelle is?
There is no doubt this is way out of our price range. But what’s the harm in a little daydreaming to this ever so romantic Santana tune?