Tips for Hong Kong Buyers Looking to Invest in the UK Property Market

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent, Before You Buy

Unless you’ve been taking self-isolation to the extreme, you’ll be aware of the recent political developments in Hong Kong — more specifically, the enactment of the national security law — and how it’s been a cause of international concern.

As a result, leaders of countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have suggested reassessments to their visa systems, offering Hong Kong residents new routes towards citizenship, should they feel the need to relocate. Yesterday, on 22 July 2020, the United Kingdom became the first to confirm its renewed visa policy, specifically directing to the three million British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong.

According to the statement, Hong Kong’s BNO holders can apply for a special visa starting in January 2021, which will allow them the right to work and study in the UK for up to five years. They will then be able to apply for settlement, and seek citizenship after a further year.

Many are expecting an influx of affluent Hong Kong citizens moving to the UK following such an announcement, especially over the next 12 months. In response to these developments, London-based Montague Real Estate is establishing a new division — of Cantonese translators, legal experts and lifestyle advisors — to help meet this anticipated demand for premium properties for High Net Worth Hong Kong citizens. We’ve gotten in touch with founder and CEO Thomas Balashev, who shared with us some of his knowledge of the UK’s prime residential property market, as well as tips and advice to those seeking to relocate to the country.

Can you tell us a bit about the prime residential property market in the UK?

TB: The UK property market has always been a prime investment opportunity for international buyers, including those in Asia. London isn’t just a desirable place to live and do business, it is a stable and reliable point for investment. With world-class educational institutions, a stable economy and a central hub for business internationally, the UK property market makes for an attractive investment. This, coupled with the current nine-month stamp duty holiday the UK government has introduced [from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021], has created an injection into the market meaning it is a prime time to buy in the UK with some buyers saving on additional costs. 

As the current economy has seen the majority of the UK working from home, and with many organisations looking to continue this for the foreseeable future, consumers have become more aware of their space at home, both inside and out — which has become a priority for buyers. Buyers are now not only looking for a definitive line between working and living, but private outside space which has meant that houses have become more popular than flats. 

Five bedroom terrace house for sale in Knightsbridge, London

How would the surge in demand for premium residential properties from Hong Kong affect the current market?  

TB: Whilst it is, of course, natural that demand will increase following the announcement from the UK government and current political position in Hong Kong, London has, and always will be a favoured destination to buy and invest for overseas clients. With over 200,000 properties in London being owned by Asian clients, we have seen an increase in activity from Hong Kong buyers over the last two to three years. Some may question inventory levels as a result of the surge, but the majority of our previous transactions for our HNW and UHNW clients have happened off-market so inventory is never an issue. 

So far which areas are of particular interest to Hong Kong buyers? Are there different areas suited for young professionals, families, and older demographics?

TB: Neighbourhoods in London, like anywhere, have different offerings which naturally appeal to different clients. Our previous buyers have taken interest in Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Islington. However, we often see younger clients such as students and young professionals opt for regenerated spaces in East London which reflect the high-rise living they are accustomed to in Hong Kong. These developments usually come with serviced living options and progressive smart home interiors making them as modern and sophisticated as possible.  

With that being said, a number of clients invest in areas surrounding open spaces such as Hyde Park and Richmond Park. These locations offer an escape and the more natural side of London — something that isn’t overly accessible in Hong Kong. Our clients with families, however, have taken an interest in our super-prime listings in the home counties such as Surrey and Kent, with accessible links to central London and key airports for global travel. 

11 bedroom detached house for sale in Surrey

Are there any legal restrictions for overseas buyers with a BNO passport? 

TB: The details of the BNO visa are yet to be fully revealed. However, having a five year stay assured would allow buyers to feel confident in investing in an area like London, knowing they can build a life and a future here.

Any advice for those who might not wish to relocate yet, but looking to invest in a property to hold on to or rent out for now as a safety plan?

TB: Foreign investors buying properties in London with a view to rent them out has always proved popular. There is a strong rental market in London suiting all budgets, with a quarter of all those aged under 40 in the UK looking to rent. The devaluation of the Pound Sterling over the last few years also makes now an excellent time to buy.

Depending on a foreign investor’s circumstances, they may or may not need to pay income tax on their rental income. However, in the long term, investing in a property will be a steady source of income whilst providing an option to relocate permanently.

What should Hong Kong buyers be aware of before deciding on a purchase in the UK?

TB: Buyers looking to invest into the UK property market should be aware that there are different requirements for different types of property acquisitions. These requirements will also differ between buy-to-let and buying for residential purposes.

The recent [reduced rates for stamp duty land tax] mean that until 31 March 2021 buyers will only have to pay stamp duty on properties over £500,000 (previously it was set at £125,000, or £300,000 for first-time buyers), but note that the government does implement a ‘holding charge’ on residential properties valued at over £2 million owned by non-UK domiciled persons. As for those from abroad who don’t live in the UK, don’t have UK citizenship, and don’t want to pay in cash, it is of course still possible to secure a buy-to-let mortgage in the UK to cover the property purchase price.

Thomas Balashev is the founder and CEO of Montague Real Estate, a London-based boutique real estate firm and private office specialising in complex global property investments and acquisitions. Balashev’s involvement in the property space stretches a decade, partnering with key developers in Cyprus, Dubai and Mainland Europe to provide luxury real estate to his clients across the globe.

Cindie Chan

This Geometric Workstation Cabin is the Home Office We All Need

Posted in Interior Design, What to Buy

With what seems like a never-ending global health crisis, many have been forced to resort to working from our own homes.

However, even if you have a big enough space for a home office setup, it can feel rather impossible to concentrate with all the distractions around — whether it’s other family members (especially young children), the bed (which suddenly looks more comfortable than ever), Netflix, or, for most of us, the fridge.

Find yourselves ticking all of the boxes above? Perhaps it’s time you check out the Workstation Cabin — a multi-purpose separation pod designed by Budapest-based design studio Hello Wood.

Complete with insulation, built-in A/C, soundproof capabilities and more, this unique 86-square-foot, 15-sided wooden house is constructed using natural Scots pine wood panels, complemented with large windows that take in plenty of natural light.

Its compact size means it can settle right within your back garden, serving as a workstation or a meeting room during the week, while in the after-hours or over the weekends, it can be converted into a playroom for the kids, a guest room, or even just your own little sanctuary whenever you feel the need to step out for some quiet time to read or relax.

Function aside, this pebble-shaped geometric construction is a vision in its own, and will aesthetically enhance your outdoor space like a work of art. The entire blueprint is computer-generated, so it can be sent to a CNC machine for quick and easy production. It can then be assembled off-site, before being delivered and installed in your preferred location, all in a matter of days.

Interested to get one of your own? Contact Hello Wood for details.

Cindie Chan

6 Ultra-luxe Homes to Buy in Asia this July

Posted in What to Buy

Whether you’re looking for a holiday home or an investment opportunity, we’ve scouted out all the best ultra-luxe homes to buy in Asia this month.

Banyan Tree Residences Riverside Bangkok, Thailand

Enjoy sweeping views of the Chao Phraya River with this three-bedroom freehold apartment at the Banyan Tree Residences Riverside Bangkok. The 2,669 sq.ft. unit features a large open-plan kitchen, a living area with double-aspect floor-to-ceiling windows and three-metre high ceilings, which brings a light and airy feel throughout the entire apartment.

Other facilities include a full-length swimming pool, river-view jacuzzi, large children’s play room, barbecue area, a professional gymnasium and a spa room. On top of that, occupants will also be able to benefit from the five-star Banyan Tree Hotel, including housekeeping and private chef service, spa treatments and more.

This property is currently listed for THB 88.5 million (approx. HK$22 million).

Four Seasons Residence, Kyoto, Japan

Situated in Kyoto’s scenic district of ancient temples, Four Seasons Hotel Residences Kyoto is a sanctuary of tranquillity. It offers a unique collection of 57 artfully designed residences, bringing together a fascinating combination of old-world charm and contemporary design. Residents can enjoy access to the hotel’s outstanding amenities from the brasserie to the Michelin-starred Suchi Wakon, as well as the lounge, indoor swimming pool, full-service spa, fitness centre, its concierge services, along with 24-hour in-room dining service. Price upon request.

Kenne Mansion, Midlevels, Central, Hong Kong

Situated on Kennedy Road in Mid-levels, Central, Kenne Mansion is a three-bedroom home spanning 2,560 sq.ft., boasting a magnificent view over Hong Kong Park and the dynamic Central skyline. The property features a modern interior with an Art Deco-inspired flair. At the price of HK$68 million, the house also includes an accompanying parking space for your vehicle.

The affluent residential area is popular amongst middle class and expat professionals for its walking distance to the CBD, Hong Kong Park and Botanical Gardens.

Thai Style Estate, Thailand

Inspired by the Amanpuri Resort in Phuket and landscaped by world-famous architect Bill Bensley, this unique Thai-style residential project features two large elevated Thai villas, a multipurpose clubhouse and a lovely Thai sala. The 24 by 7-metre swimming pool and the rock-granite barbecue terrace are beautifully surrounded by tropical gardens with mature coconut trees, brass statues, chedis and shallow ponds, along with gently flowing fountains and water features. The entire plot spans close to 69,000 sq.ft., and is illuminated by breathtaking lighting in the evenings to offer residents with a true oasis of peace, calm and privacy, all simply 25 minutes’ drive from bustling downtown Bangkok.

House of Reflection, Taiwan

One of the five completed Jim Olson houses located in an exclusive gated community in Great Taipei New Town, the House of Reflection is conveniently located at just 30 minutes from the centre of Taipei City, and 40 minutes from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. 

Just like the rest of Olson’s creations, the 7,486-sq.ft. property brilliantly masters the use of space and light, featuring a stately, 2.9-metre-high entrance, large floor-to-ceiling windows framing the magnificent mountain views, a 7.5-metre-high living room adorned with a hanging art installation. The luxury space is completed with an outdoor pool, minimalistic wooden furniture, all contributing to a sense of understated luxury aimed at home owners with discerning tastes. The house is now available on the market at the asking price of HK$61.81 million.

Grandview Mansions, Midlevels East, Hong Kong

Located in a quiet location on Wang Fung Terrace off Tai Hang Road, this stylish colonial low-rise apartment is rare on the market for its unique outlook, open view and efficient usable area. The typical unit of 1,364 sq.ft. feels much larger, comprising of two bedrooms including one ensuite and two balconies, a separate room for the domestic helper, as well as a parking space for your vehicle.

This article is written with aid from Christie’s Real Estate. As of the publishing date of this article, any aforementioned properties were available for sale. We cannot guarantee that these properties will be available for sale indefinitely, so please check the respective listings for the most up-to-date information.

Cindie Chan

Kowloon Tong Neighbourhood Guide: Hong Kong’s Premium School and Residential District

Posted in Where to Live

A prime neighbourhood in Kowloon spanning both the Kowloon City and Sham Shui Po districts, Kowloon Tong was developed as a leafy, low-density residential area in the 1920s, as a salve for the cramped high rise living on Hong Kong Island. It’s steadily become one of the wealthiest residential districts in Hong Kong. You’ll find plenty of luxurious free-standing houses and townhouses all around the area, and amongst them, a full range of prestigious schools from kindergartens all the way to universities, some of which have a rich history dating back to WWII.

Kowloon Tong MTR station takes you to Kowloon’s bustling shopping districts (such as Tsim Sha Tsui) to the south; and to the New Territories in the north, all within 20 minutes. Located along the East Rail Line, Kowloon Tong is also a useful interchange station that leads all the way towards the border of mainland China, making it a good choice for those who wish to remain close to the city, but are also frequent travellers to Shenzhen or Guangzhou.

Education

Kowloon Tong has long been the dream residential location specifically for families with young children, as it remains to be Hong Kong’s finest school district. Due to the allocation systems of first-year primary school admissions, children living within the same area of the school get an overall higher chance of acceptance, which drives many to reside in the area with the sole purpose of being within the particular school net.

Some of the most elite institutions within the area include Maryknoll Convent School for girls and La Salle College for boys (both with primary and secondary school divisions). There are also kindergartens including Kentville Kindergarten and Cannan Kindergarten, universities such as Hong Kong Baptist University, along with American, Australian and a range of other international schools.

Residences to know

As an upscale, low-density residential area, there is no shortage of luxury homes in Kowloon Tong, which range from large detached houses to gated communities, protected heritage villas and a mix of both modern and Colonial era low-rise buildings. These are spread across enclaves of low-rise luxury apartments along La Salle Road (bordering Ho Man Tin district); Yau Yat Tsuen to the east, and Beacon Hill and Broadcast Drive to the north and northeast.

Prices for Kowloon Tong homes can range from HK$7.75 million for a 287 sq.ft. starter flat to an opulent 5,767 sq.ft. villa priced at HK$230 million.

To get a better picture of the more well known residences in the area, a recent listing of a 2,004 sq.ft. duplex four-bedroom apartment unit at One Beacon Hill, featuring a private outdoor space, was priced at HK$78 million, whereas another 2,190sq. ft. four-bedroom unit in the same development, with a balcony and roof top, has also just been listed with an asking price of HK$118 million. Meanwhile, a 1,674sq.ft. five-bedroom unit with a walk-in closet in the master suite will cost you HK$65 million.

One very important thing to factor into your decision of where to live is that while both One Beacon Hill and Mount Beacon are both located in Kowloon Tong, only the former counts as within the Kowloon City school network (no. 41), which is where all previously mentioned top-tier schools are listed.

What to See & Do

Festival Walk

Apart from its school offerings, Kowloon Tong also boasts a great set of supporting facilities from private hospitals to shopping malls. The large-scale Festival Walk shopping mall was developed in the 1990s, and offers 200 retail and restaurant outlets in the upper-mass sector — such as Longchamp, Max & Co., Simplylife, Greyhound, Coffee Academics, Cova — complete with one of the city’s largest ice rinks and a cinema.

Kowloon Tong Club

The members-only Kowloon Tong Club is located on Waterloo Road, and was established in 1935 to provide residents with a place to socialise over leisure and recreational activities from badminton to billiards, tennis, lawn bowling and more. The club continues to thrives today with over 2,299 members. Like most elite members club, those who wishes to be part of its community will have to apply through an existing member that holds special voting rights.

Kowloon Tsai Park

A more economical alternative is the Kowloon Tsai Park, which is situated at Inverness Road, Kowloon City, for public use since 1964. The government-owned park spans an area of 11.66 hectares, and features multiple outdoor facilities including swimming pool, basketball court, soccer pitch, dog park, sports ground, jogging track and more. Visitors are encourage to check out the Bauhinia Garden, where you’ll find over 120 Bauhinia trees all blossoming in a sea of beautiful magenta shades during its flowering period, which is typically from September to June — a popular time for outdoor weddings at the venue.

Cindie Chan

Inside Sylvester Stallone’s Golf Club Mansion, Now For Sale

Posted in How the One Percent Live, What to Buy

Sylvester Stallone — or, of course, Rocky or Rambo — might be a movie star famed for tough action roles, but unbeknownst to many, he’s also got a softer, artistic side too as a prolific painter, and enjoys transforming his houses into stunning homes filled with elegant decor.

While the actor continues to retain his bi-coastal residences in Los Angeles and Coconut Grove in Miami, he’s recently decided to release his golf club home in La Quinta, California on the market. The property was custom-built in the city’s golfing community of Madison Club in 2008.

With four bedrooms, five bathrooms and an interior donning a mixture of Old World Mediterranean style and Caribbean Island-influenced touches, Stallone’s 4,889-sq.ft. home embodies his Italian ancestry. Highlighted features run from the rustic wooden double front doors to the walled patio entry, the impressive vaulted foyer, an arched entrance that opens into a double-height living room complete with fireplace and more.

It’s also a home clearly meant for entertaining. Dinner parties can be hosted in multiple places from the formal dining room connected to the rear terrace, the large eat-in island kitchen to the outdoor dining spaces adjacent to the courtyard. There is also a wine room and an outdoor kitchen with private terraces for an intimate sip-and-bite.

Upstairs, the master suite with its own fireplace makes for the perfect place to cosy up in, as you catch up on Netflix via the television that rises up at the foot of the bed. The suite is also completed with a large master bath, dressing room and another private terrace, this time, with seemingly never-ending views to the mountains.

Step outside the house, past the fire pit and across the grass is where you’ll find a pool and spa for your enjoyment, accompanied by lush plantings, water features as well as a rock-strewn flowing stream that runs across the property.

Located in suburban Los Angeles, La Quinta is famed for its abundance of golf courses, and has been the host city for a number of prestigious golf tournaments over the years. It’s also a celebrity hot spot with star residents including Kanye and Kim Kardashian-West, Tom Brady and Kylie Jenner.

Want to live like Sylvester Stallone? The actor’s La Quinta mansion is currently listed with an asking price of US$3.35 million (HK$25.9 million). Interested parties can contact listing agent Josh Reef of Douglas Elliman, Beverly Hills.

(Images courtesy TopTenRealEstate.com)

As of the publishing date of this article, the aforementioned property is available for sale. We cannot guarantee that the property will be available for sale indefinitely, so please check with the listing agent for the most up-to-date information.

Cindie Chan

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Indoor Plants for Your Home

Posted in Interior Design

There are many benefits to incorporating indoor plants in your home. Not only are they an essential part of your interior design, they can also brighten up the space (and your mood) — and even provide health benefits, such as by helping to purify the air.

If you’re a novice gardener, you may have been intimidated by past experiences, but we’re here to set that straight: Indoor plants can actually be relatively easy to tend, if you get to know exactly what your plant needs to lead a long and healthy life. Read on to see our guide to buying houseplants for first-timers.

1. Decide where you wish to place the plant

Most people make the mistake of heading straight to the store, choose a pretty plant they see and decide where to place that afterwards. This is exactly what you should avoid doing, because different types of indoor plants thrive in different places based on the amount of light, space and moisture available. There are specific plants that thrive in wet environments like showers and bathrooms, whilst others that prefer drier, sunnier locations such as on your windowsill.

One of many things to consider when choosing the right spot for your plant is also making sure there’s a good amount of distance — at least 6 inches — between the pots and other furnitures, keeping them away from air conditioners/heating units and picking somewhere with good air flow. Places like hallways, in front of windows, and on top of tables are a good place to start.

Never make the mistake of squeezing a plant into a corner or behind furnitures; not only will it hinder its growth, it will also seriously block the air circulation, making it really hard for the plant to breathe. A good amount of space and flow of air will encourage stronger stems and also allow the plant to achieve better temperature control, CO2 replenishment and also reduce humidity, thus lowering the chance of catching plant diseases, which are often a result of extreme moisture.

2. Do your research and choose the right plant for your home

Choose plants that are suited to your home’s conditions, which includes the type of space and also the amount of light. Typically, you’ll want taller plants for the floor, and shorter ones for those that sit on windowsills, shelfs and tables. Be reminded that plants do grow, so you’ll want to choose ones that are slightly shorter than what you wish for.

As for light, be mindful about the light level at the specific spot you plan to place your plant at, and remember it differs even for those on different windowsills based on the direction they face. Last but not least: Pay special attention if you have pets at home, as some indoor plants — such as sago palm, azaleas and lilies — are toxic to animals, and can pose serious health hazards to your furry friends.

Another thing to think about is your habits and schedules. Plants need routine watering, so if you have a busy schedule, travel all the time or are generally more ‘forgetful’, you’d want to go for species that require relatively less attention. Even so, it is important to note that not only a lack of water kills plants, too much water will do so too, as soggy, waterlogged compost causes disease and can be rather fatal. Avoid that by keeping your plants in pots with drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to drain out.

3. Where to buy your houseplants

Purchase your indoor plants from reputable stores where you’re confident their plants have been given the proper care they require before arriving in their new home. If you’re ordering online, make sure you choose ones that offer money-back guarantees and return the plants immediately if they arrive damaged, dry, or even worse, diseased.

4. Examine carefully for healthy growth

Found something that ticks all the boxes? Examine carefully before making any further decisions. For foliage plants, make sure they are lush and full, and the colours are fresh. Double check that the leaves and stems are firm, and nothing is wilted or distorted. Next, search for new leaves as evidence of growth; they should be naturally looking, and without any polished or waxed surfaces. As for flowering plants, avoid those with full blooms and, instead, go for ones with multiple buds, which generally last much longer (with some exceptions).

You’d also want to pay special attention to the nodes, or the areas where the stems branch out, which can indicate the presence of disease and insects. The chance to discover pests are also higher if the plant was initially grown outdoors. If during your shopping trip you find any mealybugs, red spider mites or scales, turn away immediately — it won’t take long for them to infect the entire plant.

Lastly, feel the soil with your fingers. You want it to be neither too loose or compacted. Some growers cut costs by using ordinary garden soil for potting, which tends to turn hard as a brick when dry — an unfavourable condition that causes stunted growth. You’ll have to repot the plants with better soil if you run into this issue.

Cindie Chan

Holiday Hideout: 5 Outstanding Holiday Homes for a Secluded Retreat

Posted in Holiday Homes

Whether you’re looking for a holiday home where you can visit anytime to unplug, wind down and reconnect with nature, or you just want a place to host your family and friends for your seasonal getaways, here are five holiday homes that promise privacy, tranquility and unmistakable luxury.

Idyllic four-home compound in Ibiza, Spain

Can there be a more popular holiday destination than Ibiza? While the epicentre of the Balearic Islands is known for its nightlife, for those on the search for absolute privacy and a one-of-a-kind countryside living experience on the paradise island will want to look to this exceptional property.

Located between Ibiza and Santa Eulalia, and less than 15 minutes’ drive from the airport, the town centre and a golf course, this secluded holiday home comprises a main house and three guest houses — totalling to nine bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms, all with an exquisite interior design that’s been featured in magazines. There are also three swimming pools with a large outdoor kitchen next to the main pool, a tennis court, a plunge pool, and a beautiful garden filled with varying styles with fruit trees, instantly transporting you to a world of peace and tranquility with a unique dose of Ibizan charm.

Enchanted forest estate in Mississauga, Canada

Surrounded by over ten acres of land featuring a golf course and the Credit River where you can fish, canoe, kayak and, in the winter months, ski, this enchanting gated estate in Canada’s Mississauga area is perfect for families who enjoy being in the great outdoors.

With an asking price of HK$163,459,671, the house spans an impressive 18,000 sq.ft. that includes three stories and a walk-up basement. All floors come with concrete heated floors, and to provide sound reduction between different levels.

While there are seven bedrooms (and eight bathrooms), the master suite is a major treat. Not only does it have its own fireplace, it also has his and hers walk-in closets, a six-piece bath plus a separate powder room, and, not to mention, a walkout to the terrace overlooking the pool, ravine, golf course and river.

The second floor features a gym with an expansive space and ceiling high enough for golf swing practices, while the third floor provides additional bedroom space for guests. There’s also a recreation area and a walkout to the massive terrace and outdoor fireplace, where you can enjoy the unparalleled view.

Don’t worry if every family member has a car or two, as the estate comes with a heated two-car garage and other garages, offering five additional spaces for your car collection. You can also scoot down the private path in your golf cart, and enjoy the serenity that nature brings as you make your way to the private golf club.

A historic dream ski ranch, Aspen, Colorado

Aspen is, of course, a dream destination for any keen skiers, so having your own retreat in one of these mountains would be a real treat not only for you, but your family and friends too. The largest, most private lot currently listed on Aspen’s Red Mountain, Erickson Ranch has been with the family for 70 years and is now on the market for HK$139,119,436. Built in 2002, the 6,800 sq.ft. home is nestled within 12 acres of land at the base of the mountain, facing South and Southwest boasting unrivalled vistas from Independence Pass to Mount Sopris.

The residence has seven bedrooms, five full baths and a partial bath, with contemporary design and an elongated construction designed to blend nature and living into one.

Your own fairytale castle in Normandy, France

This charming 19th century castle is nestled within 40 hectares of lush greenery including the remarkable landscaped park designed by Belgian landscape architect René Pechère. With such enchanting surrounds, it’s no wonder the Château de Bouelles has been a popular destination for weddings, and it can be yours at the right price.

Located two hours from Paris and easily reachable through the A28 highway, the castle has nine bedrooms and five bathrooms, and is accompanied by numerous outbuildings from a hunting lodge to a guest house and a caretaker’s house. There is also a tennis court, a swimming pool with pool house and a gym, ensuring occupants get to enjoy a high quality of living.

An exclusive address on Denarau Island, Fiji

An ocean lover’s paradise just 30 minutes to the world-class surf breaks of Tavarua and Cloudbreak, this 41,742 sq.ft. oceanfront compound is located within a private gated community on Denarau peninsula — adjacent to a championship golf course.

Surrounded by the turquoise waters of the South Pacific, the pavilion-style private retreat has a central open plan featuring a living pavilion with chef’s island kitchen, and six bedrooms — each with their own private decks — including two master suites, as well as a separate media room and study. Everything is beautifully finished with natural materials, along with a heated pool, fire pit and skate ramp for occupants to enjoy.

Cindie Chan

7 Ultra-luxe Homes to Buy in Asia this April

Posted in What to Buy

Whether you’re looking for a holiday home or an investment opportunity, we’ve scouted out all the best ultra-luxe homes to buy in Asia this month.

1. Cloud Thonglor-Phetchaburi by Risland, Bangkok

Rising above all other developments on Phetchaburi Road, Cloud Thonglor-Phetchaburi by Risland is regarded as the tallest luxury residential development project in Bangkok’s newest emerging business and lifestyle district. Inspired by the revelation of a clear sky after rainfall, the skyscraper impressively boasts a semi-outdoor U-shape Sky Swimming Pool atop the roof, complete with sun deck, jacuzzi and kid’s pool, as well as a seating area and a rooftop garden. Other facilities include a fully-equipped fitness and golf simulator, yoga studio, theatre, sauna, library with meeting room and more. The 581 sq.ft. Cloud Double Exclusive unit with two ensuite bedrooms is currently priced at HK$2,171,442.

2. Concourse Skyline Penthouse, Beach Road, Singapore

Priced at HK$263,346,945, the Concourse Skyline Penthouse — with its stunning, almost 360-degree panoramic view of the Singapore skyline, internationally-acclaimed design and bespoke furnishings — is one that will set the bar high for modern-day luxury living.

A partnership between public-listed developer Hong Fok Corporation Limited, luxury magazine Robb Report Singapore and acclaimed interior design firm The I.D. Dept., this 11,130 sq.ft. Super Penthouse (a rare category of penthouses exceeding 10,000 sq.ft. in floor area) occupies the top two floors (levels 39 to 41, including the private roof garden) of the Concourse Skyline residential tower, and features a sophisticated, one-of-a-kind living space that is specifically designed for the ultra-high-net-worth individuals.

The first floor and the roof garden have been transformed into the perfect spaces for entertaining, and the second-floor comprised of private living spaces including an outdoor pool for relaxation and pampering. The entire place — with five bedrooms including a master ensuite large enough for two king-sized beds — is furnished with some of the world’s finest furnishing, décor and home products. Examples include an exclusive made-to-order chandelier personally installed by the Paris-based glass artist Nathalie Ziegler, an elegant rocking chair by acclaimed British-Israeli designer Ron Arad — one of only 12 pieces worldwide — and a free-standing Meisterstuck Soundwave bathtub in matte black by luxury German brand Kaldewei, which pulsates with the beat of the music once connected to a Bluetooth device.

An added bonus? The new buyer who purchases the penthouse before end of August will get to keep a rare 1.01-carat icy-blue diamond, valued at S$3.02 (approx. HK$16,520,466), that is currently sitting inside a secret wall safe within the property.

3. Marinella, Aberdeen, Hong Kong

Boasting floor-to-ceiling windows for an incredible view overlooking the Aberdeen Marina Club and out towards the South China sea, this 1,355 sq.ft., two-bedroom apartment is located in one of Hong Kong’s most esteemed addresses. The double-storied unit hosts two glass balconies extending out from the living and dining room. Both bedrooms come with its own bathrooms for maximum privacy, and there’s a fully equipped open kitchen for those who enjoy entertaining friends and family with a home-cooked meal. Occupants will be able to enjoy the development’s luxurious facilities from the grand lobby to the club house, as well as the high standard of property management and services. This unit, with the asking price of HK$55,000,000, comes with covered car-parking space.

4. Reignwood Hamilton Scotts, Scotts Road, Singapore

The perfect home for supercar lovers, this three-bedroom apartment on Singapore’s Scotts Road houses the highest ensuite sky car porch in the world, so you can keep your toys close and proudly on display 24/7. At 2,756 sq.ft. and an asking price of HK$76,703,242, everything is state-of-the-art, and that includes a spectacular unblocked view over Goodwood Hills’ lush, tropical rainforest — rather apt for the occasion, we think. Buyers will enjoy the grand lobby equipped with 24-hour advanced security system including audio-video intercom, ERP car-park barrier system and biometric (fingerprint) access, plus private lift lobby at every floor. Other creature comforts include marble-floored living and dining areas, ensuite bathrooms, and brand-name amenities such as a Poliform built-in wardrobe from Italy, Poggenpohl kitchen system, Miele kitchen appliances and more.

5. The Esse Sukhumvit 36, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 

Located at the prime area of Central Bangkok with the Thong Lor BTS just 20m away, Esse Sukhumvit 36 is a joint development project by Singha Estate and Hongkong Land, comprising 338 apartment units sitting atop a podium deck of luxury facilities. Everything is designed by internationally renowned consultants, where residents can enjoy sophisticated interiors with high quality finishes, along with expansive amenities, including a 25 metre-lap pool, jacuzzi, onsen, yoga room, golf simulator room, rooftop amenity garden and sky bar. Completing in 2020, unit options at Esse Sukhumvit 36 span from one to four bedrooms, with prices ranging from TH฿12,600,000 to 93,000,000 (Approx. HK$2,993,320 to HK$22,093,554).

6. Vallon de Merville, Country Height Damansara, Kuala Lumpur

Conveniently located just 10 minutes away from the city centre and three minutes to One Utama Megamall, this luxurious bungalow, with the asking price of HK$35,977,000, occupies a land area of 12,019 sq.ft. and a built-up area of 11,884 sq.ft. It comes with a brand new interiors across all 4 bedrooms and its living spaces, including a private pool, home cinema and personal gym room, surrounded by greenery — ideal for those preferring a peaceful, quality lifestyle.

7. Harbour View House, Ocean Drive, Singapore

Situated at the northern area of Sentosa Cove, the Harbour View House is a two-storey seaside bungalow spanning 12,500 sq.ft, with a sea view facing the soon-to-be Greater Southern Waterfront.

This modern, minimalistic 6-bedroom architecture is the work of the renowned SCDA Architects, and comprised of a courtyard with a gorgeous outdoor pool, with two wings — East and West — on opposite sides that are connected via an entry pavilion at its south. The two-storey East Wing houses the main living areas, while the single-storey West Wing is dedicated to a home office and entertainment areas. Priced at HK$427,938,786, it’s only expected that the Harbour View House has everything that goes beyond the definition of luxury.

As of the publishing date of this article, any aforementioned properties were available for sale. We cannot guarantee that these properties will be available for sale indefinitely, so please check the respective listings for the most up-to-date information.

Cindie Chan

How to Transform Your Patio into a Chic and Relaxing Retreat

Posted in Interior Design

Whether you have a small balcony, an intimate courtyard or an expansive garden, read on for our simple tips on how to transform your patio area into a stylish and relaxing outdoor sanctuary.

White wash

An all-white patio not only helps to keep the temperature down in the warmer seasons, it also sets a perfect backdrop that highlights the delightful hues of your plants and flowers and the different textures and details in your outdoor furniture.

Eye-catching tiles

A classic wooden deck is great but, alternatively, you could also choose to add patterned tiles — whether it’s in a clean, geometric design or exotic, Moroccan-inspired style — to really elevate the space, adding a sense of personality and even a whimsical vibe.

Potted plants

Add potted plants so everything looks more put-together. Make sure your chosen vessels and style of foliage match for a cohesive setting.

Intimate nooks

If you have limited space, build a nook by adding a built-in bench and a small table with stools for a stylish and cozy outdoor sanctuary.

Artsy chairs

Your chairs do not have to all match. In fact, adding artsy, design-forward chairs will make an instant style statement.

Cushions, throws and rugs

Make your patio feel more welcoming and homey by adding decorative cushions, throws and rugs. Other than setting the look and feel of your space, you’ll also be able to switch up a new look whenever you’re feeling inspired.

Elevated seating

Swings are relaxing and fun, and not to mention, a lot more visually intriguing than your average seating. Introduce one in natural materials and colours that blends along with the colour scheme of your patio design.

Firepit

Gathering around a fire bowl in the patio on chilly evenings and nights will offer a great bonding opportunity for families and friends.

Cindie Chan

Furniture Rental Companies in Hong Kong for Different Tastes and Needs

Posted in Interior Design

Whether you’re about to relocate to a new country, hoping to get settled in Hong Kong before your shipment arrives, or setting up your property for new tenants, there are times when you’ll need more temporary solutions for your furniture arrangements. Take a look at our list of furniture rentals in Hong Kong for different needs, tastes and budgets.

Indigo Living

Indigo Living, award-winning home furnishing retailer and interior design service provider, offers flexible rental leases that caters to short term or long term needs from one month to two years. Everything is included from furniture to kitchenware, bed linen and electronics, and you can choose to rent either individual pieces or furnish the entire room or house. Design consultations and maintenance services are also available depending on the package that you choose.

Multiple locations across Hong Kong, +852 2805 5955

Tree

Known for its sustainable style and naturally beautiful eco-wood furniture, Tree offers tailor-made solutions based on your particular style and needs. Other than a comprehensive selection of products, the store also offers discounted rates for bed linen and small decors for rental clients, as well as styling and staging services to realise your vision just the way it is.

Multiple locations across Hong Kong, +852 2870 1582

Decor8

For those looking for more quick and affordable options for a very short period of time, Decor8 is for you. While its rentals mostly cater to photoshoots, show flats and movie productions, they do have a limited supply of furnitures for residential use that can be rented out at a small fraction of the product price (which are all wholesale and outlet prices) for as little as one day to two months.

Unit B, 9/F, Fuk Chiu Factory Building, 20 Bute Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, +852 2254 8878

Cindie Chan

4 Beachside Resorts Ideal For Timeshare Travels

Posted in Holiday Homes

Gone are the days of timeshare vacations where you are bound with the commitment of staying at the same location every year. The new point-based arrangement offers owners more flexibility to choose from an extended list of holiday options the club owns around the world and more, so you never have to stay at the same location twice — unless you want to, that is.

Sun-drenched, beachside vacations are, of course, a universal favourite, so we’ve looked around and sorted out four options for those who are looking to invest in a timeshare vacation. Scroll down to see what they are.

Marriott’s Phuket Beach Club

Those who travel in big family groups spanning across different ages might want to stay close to the region, and Marriott’s Phuket Beach Club has just about everything you need.

Located next to the renowned Mai Khao Beach, this vacation ownership resort is like a sanctuary of tropical luxury with well-nurtured natural landscapes from lily-laden ponds to palm trees and wetlands, while the spacious apartment rentals are packed with your everyday needs from complimentary Wi-Fi to master suites with soaking tubs, full kitchens, washer/dryers and furnished balcony.

Children and teenagers can enjoy themselves at the designated playrooms for entertainment, while you spend your day at the spectacular swimming pools or take advantage of your privileged access to amenities at the JW Marriott® Phuket Resort & Spa.

230 Moo 3, Mai Khao Beach , 83110 Phuket, Thailand, +66-76-338000


About Marriott Vacation Club: One of the strongest players in the timeshare market, Marriott Vacation Club’s Asia-Pacific edition offers its members access to eight Marriott Vacation Club, Asia-Pacific Club Resort Properties in Phuket, Bangkok, Bali, Hawaii and Las Vegas. If you wish to travel further, you can also make use of the Marriott Vacation Club Destinations™ Exchange Program, which will grant you access to 55 Marriott Vacation Club resorts, along with thousands of other holiday options and affiliated resorts, such as The Ritz Carlton, worldwide.


Marriott Vacation Club® at Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia

For those who enjoy hitting the waves or just prefer to be away from cold winter days, Marriott Vacation Club at Surfers Paradise is the perfect choice for you. This luxury resort offers guest rooms and suites, along with impeccable amenities such as white sandy beaches and saltwater lagoons where you can enjoy some unique aquatic experiences. You can also head to the nearby theme parks and wildlife sanctuaries for some quality family time, or explore the endless options for shopping and entertainment along the Gold Coast.

158 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise, Queensland 4217, Australia, +61-7-5592-9800

The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Who doesn’t want to vacay in Hawaii? Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and West Maui Mountains, The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas offers spacious studio, one and two-bedroom villa, equipped with private lanais, full-sized kitchenettes for cooking, washers and dryers and, of course, free wi-fi.

Here, you can participate in a wide range of exciting water activities from whale-watching, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing and scuba-diving, all at the convenience of a few footsteps, or take in the beautiful sunset as you enjoy a fabulous barbecue at one of the outdoor gas grills.

6 Kai Ala Drive, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, USA, +1 808-667-3200


About Westin Vacation Club: Westin Vacation Ownership is owned and run by Vistana Signature Experiences, who also own and operate the Sheraton Vacation Club. Owners may redeem the ‘options’ (concept equivalent to points) at the 23 resorts currently in the portfolio, with locations in Hawaii, Mexico, California, Colorado, South Carolina, Arizona, Florida and the Caribbean. There is flexibility in terms of who redeems the options, allowing members to send family and friends over for a stay without the owner. Like Marriott, you can rollover unused options or borrow from the next year.


Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Beach House

For those looking for somewhere away from it all, try Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Florida — a location that is known for its relaxed atmosphere. It is located just far enough from the downtown area so you can unwind and take in the lush landscapes set against the panoramic sunset views over the Gulf of Mexico, right from your oversized private balconies.

5051 Overseas Hwy, Key West, Florida 33040, USA, +1 305-294-0059


About Hyatt Residence Club: Hyatt Residence Club currently has over 16 resorts in its portfolio, all of them in the U.S. including Florida, Texas, Colorado, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Arizona. You can use your club points to redeem for a stay at the above resorts, or get access to 400 Hyatt hotels around the world. Thanks to a partnership with Interval International, members of the Hyatt Residence Club are also given the ability to select from nearly 3000 resorts in over 75 countries. Furthermore, members of the club are also immediately members of the frequent guest program, the Hyatt Gold Passport.


Cindie Chan

7 Easy Home Styling Tips to Supersize Your Space

Posted in Interior Design

While smaller homes have their own charm, it can sometimes feel rather claustrophobic. Sadly, for those living in crowded metropolises — especially Hong Kong where we have one of the most expensive housing markets — the struggle of getting a bigger living space is far too real. The good news is, there are actually simple ways to help make your space feel a lot bigger and more inviting, and it all boils down to fooling the eye with some easy home styling choices. Scroll down to see what they are.

Use light colours for walls and floors

While many believe that painting the walls all white brightens up the room and therefore makes the space feel bigger, it can actually do the opposite and make the room appear boxy and bland. Instead, you should use it an accent or trim colour, framing light colours such as a soft pewter grey for added depth.

Draw the eye upwards

Mount floor-to-ceiling curtains, add ceiling details, or line your artworks or photos higher up — anything that draws the eye upwards will give the illusion of a much taller space.

Go for bigger decor pieces

Smaller furniture tends to cluster up the space and make it look small, so choose bigger ones instead and in minimal quantity for a clean overall aesthetic. For wall art, in particular, go for one large-scale piece rather than multiple pieces. If you really wish to hang up a series of framed works, limit that to only one wall.

Style your shelves

For smaller items, make use of shelvings and arrange them in a coordinating colour palette to create a streamlined visual.

Make use of the stripes

Just like wearing clothes with stripes, a striped rug will create an optical illusion of a wider space. Line them up so that they take up the entire length of the space for best results.

Choose furniture with exposed legs

Whether it’s the sofa, coffee table, the stool or the cabinets and bookshelves, opt for furniture with exposed legs. Not only do they look less boxy and more airy, the extra verticals and negatives will also give the illusion of a larger room.

Add a mirror

Got a corner or a wall that doesn’t get much light? Add a mirror and watch it bounce the natural light around for the illusion of a much bigger space.

Cindie Chan

Beautiful tableware that will impress your most treasured guests

Posted in Interior Design

A good host will know that while the food you serve is important, the way you serve it should also be well thought out: Not only does a beautiful table setting contribute to enhancing the ambience and dining experience of the meal, it also tells your guests just how much you appreciate their company. So, if you’re the type of person that enjoys inviting friends over whether for casual nibbles or full-blown dinner parties, this one’s for you. Scroll down to take a look at our list of stylish tableware that is guaranteed to impress your most treasured guests.

Shanghai Tang

Embrace the serene and enigmatic essence of traditional Chinese culture with Shanghai Tang’s Forbidden Garden homeware collection, which features a refreshing take on traditional motifs and colours — from painterly scenes of butterflies dancing amongst lush foliage to a charming lattice pattern inspired by the cross section of bamboos — that will surely add a poetic and opulent accent to your table setting.

Hermès

If you’re a fan of the tropicals, Hermès has just released a 30-piece dinnerware collection covered in everything from fronds, ferns, florals to fruits, all hand-painted on Limoges porcelain that took over 2,000 hours to complete. You can purchase these exceptionally vibrant creations from the house’s Landmark Prince flagship from March, and other Hermès boutiques across Hong Kong from April/May.

Richard Ginori

A lover of Italian art? Richard Grinori brings a modern and artistic flair to his porcelain pieces inspired by the antiques, offering an elegant range of ceramic creations from elaborate sculptures to sophisticated tabletop essentials. The Oriente Italiano collection, for example, features signature 18th century-inspired silhouettes, updated with vibrant floral decorations oozing with Far Eastern charm, while the Catene collection, with its refined chain motif and polished metallic brim, boasts the label’s impeccable craftsmanship.

Wedgewood

Wedgewood Renaisance Gold tableware collection

Indulge in a modern renaissance with Wedgwood‘s Renaissance Gold collection. The range combines elegant interior design motifs with bold Florentine accents, bringing a sophisticated, classic style that has been beautifully updated for modern tastes.

Tiffany & Co.

Fancy all the Tiffany Blue tableware you see at the jeweller’s Blue Box Cafe? Great news, you can totally get your own. From coffee mugs to pasta bowls, Tiffany & Co.‘s Color Block tableware collection comes with an array of artistic bone china and silver pieces, highlighted with the jeweller’s iconic palette of white and Tiffany Blue.

André Fu Living

André Fu Living, the interior decor brand founded by the acclaimed André Fu, has just launched a new Mid-Century Rhythm dinnerware collection that celebrates its first anniversary. The collection brings together cultural and design sensibilities, modern luxury, and craftsmanship, adding a sense of serenity and understated elegance to your table.

Cindie Chan

5 New Residential Developments in Southeast Asia to Watch For in 2020

Posted in Market Report

With the sky-high price tags of Hong Kong’s residential properties, coupled with the political unrest and on-going trade war between China and the US, Hong Kong’s property investors have been shifting their focus towards Southeast Asia’s growing markets — from Malaysia to Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia. Looking to expand your portfolio this year into Southeast Asia? We’re rounded up five notable residential developments that you should be keeping your eye on. Scroll down to find out what they are.

8 Conlay, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Situated between Kuala Lumpur City Centre and the bustling Golden Triangle neighbourhood, 8 Conlay is an ultra-luxury, mixed-use development by KSK Land designed to deliver an elevated lifestyle experience that redefines luxury living within the region.

The three-tower complex comprises two twisted residential towers linked by two sky bridges (slated to become the tallest in all of Southeast Asia upon completion), a lifestyle retail podium, and Malaysia’s first and only five-star Kempinski Hotel. Residents of the YOO8 serviced residences will not only enjoy world-class design from award-winning firm YOO, but also fabulous facilities such as the Water Lounge and the Green Refuge, as well as Kempinski Hotel’s signature hospitality services including concierge, butler, private chef, housekeeping, tailoring and even massage services.

Floor plan sizes range from 700 sq. ft. to 1,328 sq. ft., with prices that fall approximately between RM2.27 million (approx. HK$4.3 million) and RM4.65 million (approx. HK$8.8 million).

Hyde Heritage Thonglor, Bangkok, Thailand

Those who enjoy Art Deco design mixed with New York City flair will adore Bangkok’s Hyde Heritage Thonglor, which boasts a sophisticated architectural design inspired by the iconic skyline of the Big Apple. The condominium project — realised by Thai-Japanese developer group Grand Star Company Limited — is scheduled for completion in 2022, housing 311 units of 1, 2, 3 bedrooms, as well as duplex penthouses within its luxurious 45-storey structure.

Designed for modern living, each suite features a splendid interior with high ceilings and large floor-to-ceiling windows that give you a sweeping view of the city, day and night. A practical and refined aesthetic in its kitchens and bathroom areas offers a perfect balance of style and function for discerning residents.

Unit sizes start from 431 sq. ft. (1 bedroom) and are priced at approximately HK$3,028,759 onwards.

Oxley Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Situated along Jalan Ampang in close proximity to the the iconic Petronas Twin Tower and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Oxley Towers is set to be the next beaming addition to the iconic skyline of the Malaysian capital. The freehold, mixed-use development is a project of the Singapore-based Oxley Holdings, featuring two modern towers that include a 29-storey Grade A office block, a 78-storey So Sofitel luxury hotel and serviced residences/condo, as well as a 49-storey Jumeirah luxury hotel and serviced residences/condo.

The Jumeirah tower, in particular, will house 181 hotel rooms and 267 residential units; the So Sofitel tower, on the other hand, comes with 207 hotel rooms and 590 residential units. Residents and visitors will have easy access to world-class shopping, dining and lifestyle experiences at the two-storey retail galleria, The Boulevard, located right below, which brings some of the best names in the world of retail, services and hospitality.

Floor plan sizes start from 541 sq. ft., priced starting from HK$2,950,814.

The Albany, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Those seeking unparalleled luxury in Ho Chi Minh City can place their bet on The Albany, which is widely dubbed as the most exclusive, intimate and luxurious of all the residences on offer at Thao Dien — the private residential area considered to be one of the most sought-after addresses in the city. The entire neighbourhood is made to resemble European villages, populated by quaint little outdoor cafés, world-class restaurants, high-end designer boutiques and, of course, internationally-acclaimed schools and institutions.

Only 22 residences are available in the 8-storey building, which includes three- and four-bedroom bespoke residences (sizes range from 2,134 sq. ft. to 3,175 sq. ft.), as well as penthouses on the top floor that come with their own stunning private rooftop pool and tropical garden. There is also one 3-bedroom residence on the ground floor that comes with a private pool and garden. Thanks to its distinctive location, residents at The Albany will also get to enjoy stunning views of the Saigon River and lush green landscapes, along with facilities and services including the fitness centre, swimming pool, as well as housekeeping, gardening service and 24/7 security and reception to make sure each and every resident is taken care of at all times.

The Peak, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Located right in the heart of Phnom Penh along the Mekong River, The Peak is a joint venture of the Singapore-based Oxley Holdings, Cambodia-based Worldbridge Land, CapitaLand and Shangri-La featuring a three-tower mixed-use development — including two residential towers with one- to four-bedroom apartments and another that splits between Grade A offices (14/F – 28/F) and the five-star Shangri-La Hotel (29/F – 45/F) — set atop a five-storey luxury shopping mall filled with specialty shops, exciting restaurants and more.

Residents at The Peak will be able to enjoy a stunning, uninterrupted view of the entire Phnom Penh City, the Diamond Island and, of course, the Mekong River right from the comfort of your own balcony. There are also two sky decks on levels 14 and 55 (roof deck), filled with lush green landscapes and swimming pools, along with a game room, gymnasium, gourmet function rooms, kids play pool and more for a blissful escape from the city.

Cindie Chan