Check Out Foerni, Hong Kong’s First Monthly Furniture Subscription Service

Posted in Interior Design

Whether you’re a short-term expat in Hong Kong, adamantly against ‘fast furniture’ culture or hate committing to a single style in your home, Hong Kong’s newly launched online furniture subscription service Føerni marks a first for people to rent high-quality, modern furniture at a monthly rate.

In the world of sharing economies where a business’s core product is never owned — think Uber and its cars or Airbnb and its homes — the next big thing is furniture, according to Føerni. Officially launched on 15 July, Føerni is a new Hong Kong startup that aims to make stylish furniture affordable with flexible lease options ranging from three to 18 months. 

It is the brainchild of Pauline Wetzer, a German entrepreneur who co-founded Hong Kong co-living concept ‘We R Urban’ in 2017. It was acquired a year later by property rental platform Hmlet, which offers fully furnished properties for short term rental across the Asia-Pacific.

At launch, Føerni offers 90 different pieces from Hong Kong and international brands, with the website touting highly regarded Danish designers BoConcept, Hay, Louis Poulsen and Normann Copenhagen, among other European brands. There are also items from local partners such as Decor8 and SofaSale, as well as designer appliances and electronics on offer, such as a Dyson air purifier or a Smeg toaster.

An ideal service for landlords looking to stage their units or provide their renters with short term furniture, Føerni offers the opportunity to avoid costly upfront payment with its monthly subscription plan, which is always priced lower than full retail rate. For landlords looking to stage apartments, furniture rentals can even be as short as for one month.

Customers can benefit from trying pieces before they commit — swapping out pieces at any time with free delivery and assembling — with the option to purchase the item at the end of the rental period. The brand even states that they can also repurchase items that were previously bought from them. Items take seven to 14 days to deliver after ordering.

Working to maximise the life cycle of each piece it rents out, Føerni also aims to be a more eco-friendly alternative to combat wasteful ‘fast furniture’ culture. This refers to the inexpensive and lower quality items in the market that constantly need to be replaced, as well as simply the consumers who like to redecorate frequently and aren’t able to repurpose or recycle old furniture. 

There are new and gently used items in Føerni’s inventory, and while there appear to be no notes on the condition of each piece online, the company strongly claims that each item is vetted with stringent quality control, and professionally cleaned and restored between renters by the same service used by five-star hotels. 

Perhaps this practise is why there are interestingly no restrictions on who can rent pieces from Føerni: Smokers, pet-owners or families with young children alike can benefit from its services and others can also be assured that items will arrive in pristine condition no matter who rented before them.

In the event of more serious damage, customers will have to pay for repairs, or in worst case scenarios, pay to replace the piece. Founder Pauline Wetzer elaborates: “wear and tear is expected, but deep stains, chipped wood, ripped upholstery or any other noticeable damage (breaks, cracks, spills, etcetera) need to be repaired or the item itself may need to be replaced. Repair fees are determined on a case-by-case basis; replacement fees are equivalent to retail prices minus what subscribers have already paid in monthly installments.”

In a world where the demand for flexibility is higher than ever, rental options seem to be the way forward. Particularly in the recent shift towards a global work-from-home culture due to CoViD-19, services like Føerni can be an attractive option for those hoping to fit out a temporary office solution at home, with an array of stylish office furniture and pantry appliances available — from printers to office chairs, and even a full office phone booth and an active sitting office chair, for those looking to offset the detrimental health effects of sitting long hours at a desk.  

“Furniture should adapt to people’s lives, not the other way around,” says Wetzer. “With Føerni, subscribers rent furniture, but own flexibility.”

Learn more at Foerni.com

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Q&A: Heidar Sadeki on Contemporary Luxury Living at The Morgan Sky Duplex

Posted in Posh Penthouses

Hong Kong is synonymous with incredible properties; yes, for their notorious sky-high prices, but equally also for the level of ingenuity and design knowhow required to make the most of the spaces nestled within our compact concrete jungle. The Morgan is of no exception: teetering high above Mid-Levels with the heart of the city below, the prestigious 31 Conduit Road address is home to some of the most spectacular apartments one can imagine.

The Robert A. M. Stern Architects-designed tower has won scores of awards since the building’s completion in 2016. It’s a residential high-rise made to exemplify contemporary luxury living: the 30th floor penthouse, for instance, was designed by Robert Cheng, founder of Brewin Design Office (BDO).

The tower features 34 duplexes — the largest of which is the 28th floor Morgan Sky Duplex, a 2,343 sq.ft. three-bedroom unit designed by Heidar Sadeki, co-founder and creative director of Richardson Sadeki. The renowned architect has designed luxury condos all around the world, including Hong Kong’s Tai Koo Place Serviced Apartments (now East Residences), Mount Parker Residences and 3 Julia Avenue in Ho Man Tin. He’s also no stranger to the hospitality and spa industry, with notable designs including the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the Bathhouse Spa at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay complex and more.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - terrace
The outdoor terrace is perfect for entertaining guests, and features a roll-out awning for rain or shine.

The Morgan Sky Duplex is the only one featuring an expansive terrace, measuring up to 460 sq. ft., with an 800 sq.ft. foyer and living room. It was recently purchased for HK$188.8 million — setting the record for price per square foot for duplexes in the development, and standing as a testament to Heidar Sadeki’s design tastes warranting some of the highest prices in the city.

We had a chance to sit down with the architect to chat about his favourite features of the apartment and his overall approach to design.

Heidar Sadeki

The Sky Duplex opens up into this incredible foyer and dining/living area that looks out onto the terrace, how did you approach the design of this large space?

We wanted to create this phenomenological transparency between the indoor and the outdoor, in mirroring the outside. That couch outside is made the exact same way as this sectional inside, but with waterproof material. On a nice spring day, you can have a nice gathering here, and do both indoor and outdoor cooking.

Within the existing design, you can have up to seven areas of sitting: one that’s more individual, for you to listen to music or read a book; and another area for twos or threes. For the size of the apartment, the socialising possibilities are expansive.

There’s also a contrast between the two spaces: if this darker dining room wasn’t looking at the living room, it might feel a little congested and heavy. When I’m sitting in the living room, I do enjoy seeing the darker, richer space in contrast. I think it is looking at the opposite space that brings the balance around.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - dining area
While the design team were unable to fit a traditional round Chinese dining table (“which would have been my preference,” says Sadeki), they instead custom-built a rounded rectangular table with an in-laid marble turntable.

You did some extensive renovations upstairs, removing one bedroom and one bathroom. The corridor has also been expanded from the usual one-metre width. Can you elaborate on how you changed the layout?

We got rid of a second bedroom and ensuite, originally between the guest bedroom and the master bedroom — I actually took half of that guest bedroom and made it a walk-in closet for the master bedroom. That takes a lot of convincing. Now at about 2,400 sq. ft., it feels much larger than that.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - kitchen
This spacious kitchen is a rare sight in Hong Kong, and features a beautiful mini herb garden and breakfast nook, looking out with an urban view over Central.

Once you reach upstairs you’ll find the bar, and we have another entrance here. If your partner or spouse is entertaining downstairs, and you can’t stand people — you can just enter through the 29th floor. If you do, it’s a kind of family room — where you catch your teenage daughter stealing your scotch, perhaps!

This corridor, now an art gallery after opening up, functions as a kind of gasket that separates the master bedroom from the other areas. I wanted it to have its own character, rather than just be a corridor that just takes you someplace else. It no longer comes across as that, and with the reflection of the black mirrored doors there’s an expansive sense of space.

What’s your absolute favourite feature of the duplex?

Definitely the master bathroom. Both the bathroom and the bedroom can be seen like its own wing, but if I had to choose between the two, I would sleep in the bathroom! It is a massive bathroom — one you’ll spend time in. You know how some bedrooms kind of result in divorces? I don’t think this one will.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bathroom
The master bathroom is the most striking feature of the duplex, with wraparound views of Victoria Peak.

You’ve had ample experience creating luxury spa environments, did that influence you in the design of this amazing bathroom?

This tepid room, so to speak, is designed around the Turkish notion of hammam. It warms up, it’s not as hot as a steam room, and it’s used for you to soap up. The most extensive version of that design I did in the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi — there are very large heated chairs in large black rooms. When I was a child, my mother and my sisters would go to this very elaborate hammam, they would go in the morning, take their food there, and come back in the afternoon. You go for all sorts of massages, there’s a room where you can nap… In the Middle East, it’s not considered something fancy that you do only if you’re rich, it’s part of the culture.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bathroom
To the right is the tepid room, inspired by Turkish hammam experiences for a personal home spa — with two rain shower heads to boot.

What kind of person did you picture buying and living in this residence?

I think a buyer would consider this as a place for living rather than for working. That’s why we thought we could easily get rid of one bedroom and a bathroom, because if you actually want to maximise functionality with the number of bedrooms, this is not the apartment for you.

I have a specific character in my mind: This person has a very specific interest in books, and that’s how I go and choose my books. That’s how we choose the music. What we create is actually more than the design of an apartment, it’s a branded lifestyle.

Most architects have an idea of who they are designing for, but most end up in the trap of just thinking about the functions. Thinking of these characters keeps my design approach consistent. You look at it as a whole, so it doesn’t end up becoming the body of Frankenstein.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bedroom
“You know how there are some bedrooms that end in divorces? I don’t think this one will.”

We imagined the owners of this apartment to be a couple in their mid-40s to 60s, who have a grown-up daughter, maybe, who doesn’t live with them. The design of the guest bedroom is such that it doesn’t feel like your son’s room and someone has to sleep in it; hence I wanted it to have more of a hotel feeling, very clean, the tonality of colours used being greys, a slight amount of pinks and purples.

What’s the main quality you focus on when designing a residential project?

My background is in cinema, and I design my spaces based on a cinematic narrative. The details are less important to me than the narrative of the space. The primary approach to my design is: “What is the first thing you see when you walk in? What is the second thing? The third thing?” And then what’s the juxtaposition of these experiences… that’s what creates the narrative, that becomes essentially your memory of seeing the space. Or, what I call the aura.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - walk-in closet
The moody, stylish walk-in closet belongs to the second bedroom, potentially imagined for a grown-up son or daughter of the homeowners.

That consistency also comes across with the materials used throughout the duplex. Can you tell us a bit more about the significance of the chosen materials?

One of the design languages I wanted to bring was the choice of Turkish travertine as materiality for the wall. This was an influence from the stones used outside, and also the language that Robert A. Stern used for the tower itself. It’s that neoclassical language of heavy stones that create stability and exclusiveness, to a certain degree.

By doing that, an almost exterior language comes into the interior, tying the tower to the interior of the apartment, connecting the public space to the private space.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - living room
Sadeki explains that he enjoys lower coffee tables, as when you place bowls of fruit or flowers on top, they won’t dominate the vertical space as much.

You’ll be surprised, but in terms of the types of wood and stone that I’ve used in my projects in the past is fewer than the fingers on one hand. I’m very frugal — I keep a very tight palette. For me to choose a new material to work with takes years.

Johann Sebastian Bach came up with the 12-note system: It’s all variations of the same 12 notes. The challenge is what I do with the same materials. If you look at the Bathhouse Spa project, I used one material only — Brazilian black slate — but I have treated the texture in five different ways.

Have your projects inspired you to add similar touches to your own home?

Oh absolutely — I would love to go back home to that chair [below, left]: ever since I designed that chair I’ve been thinking it should be named “Fat Joe” — it’s like a playful, chubby child.

the morgan - living room
Space is a luxury: “At about 2,400 sq. ft., it feels much larger than that.”

All image credits: Lit Ma Common Studio Ltd.

This article was originally published on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong in 2018.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Top 5 Cities to Invest Overseas Now

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent

Amidst increasingly heated political tensions and a battered post-pandemic economy, it’s only natural that many of Hong Kong’s existing property owners and prospective buyers are now looking to invest overseas, with the many windows of opportunity offered across the globe.

The urge to exit Hong Kong — or at least, to gain a foothold in an aspirational destination — has recently spiked since Beijing unveiled a controversial national security law on 21 May, sparking fears that it will bypass local Hong Kong legislature.

According to the South China Morning Post, buyers have been “accelerating their decision to buy property overseas, while others are cutting their asking price for local properties” in a bid to cash in and emigrate as soon as possible.

Amidst an uncertain landscape, overseas investment can offer attractive opportunities for alternative income whether for capital gains, rental yield or, simply, an answer to the desire to relocate. We ask five real estate agents and analysts on the top cities in the world to invest in now.

Lisbon, Portugal

“Asian and international investors are not new to the Lisbon market,” says Oliver Banks, Senior Negotiator, International Residential Developments at Knight Frank. “Since the start of the Golden Visa Programme in 2012, 8466 applicants have taken advantage of the opportunity to invest in property in order apply for the scheme, which has amounted to €5.1 billion (approx. HK$43.9 billion) of investment into Portuguese real estate.” 

The potential language barrier aside, Portugal’s capital offers an “enviably luxurious lifestyle at low cost,” says Banks, “as well as solid economic fundamentals, affordable property prices (€1 million buys you 125 sq.m., or 1,345 sq.ft.), strong rental yields (4-6 percent) and improving transport connections. This combination has resulted in an international hotspot for investors, developers and tourists alike.”

In a post-CoViD-19 landscape, Lisbon offers plenty of beneficial reasons to invest in comparison to its neighbours. Banks adds, “whilst prices are momentarily muted, this could provide a small window of opportunity to investors. Portugal’s successful handling of the pandemic in comparison to their European neighbours has meant they are among the first to ease restrictions; combining this with strengthening demand and limited prime supply will underpin Lisbon’s price growth, which is forecast to rebound by 5 percent in 2021.”

Property to watch: A’Tower

A’Tower is a contemporary building that exemplifies Lisbon’s most attractive aforementioned qualities. With only 34 residences in total ranging from one- to five-bedroom layouts, A’Tower offers the privacy sought by higher net worth residents while also located in the Amoreiras quarter, a preferential location to explore the best the city has to offer.

Auckland, New Zealand

top 5 cities overseas property - Auckland
Auckland’s Jervois & Lawrence.

New Zealand has been impressing the rest of the globe with its swift action combatting the CoViD-19 crisis, its proximity to urban centres as well as breathtaking landscapes, and is renowned for exceptional quality of life and a thriving, stable business environment. 

“With no Capital Gains tax or stamp duties, New Zealand has an enticing offering for investors, so whether you’re looking to invest for capital gains, rental yield or because you want to own property in a special part of the country, New Zealand is a great place to look at homes for sale,” says Suzie Wigglesworth, General Manager of the Projects division of New Zealand’s largest full-service real estate firm Bayleys.

Property to watch: Jervois & Lawrence

One of the most desirable properties in Auckland’s idyllic Herne Bay, Jervois & Lawrence boasts a coveted northern slopes location, incredible views and a collection of 28 highly-refined, luxury residences in the heart of an upscale neighbourhood.

London, United Kingdom

London’s appeal as a city barely requires introduction. Whether it’s the rich history and culture, exceptional architecture and green spaces, the charm of the city is undeniable. It’s also currently poised at a preferential rate for overseas investors looking to tap into its prime developments. 

“Historically, London has always held the status of ‘safe haven’ with international buyers, and the time to invest here has never been more compelling, thanks to the effective currency discount currently available in prime central London,” says Rupert des Forges, Head of Prime Central London Developments at Knight Frank.

Property to watch: Chelsea Barracks

“For overseas purchasers looking to make an investment in London, there are a number of exceptional prime developments to choose from,” says des Forges. “However, one best in class example is Chelsea Barracks, developed by Qatari Diar, where a high specification design and luxury craftsmanship make it a very compelling investment for purchasers looking to acquire a prime asset in one of the city’s most desirable postcodes.”

Sydney, Australia

Australia is already synonymous with an exceptional quality of life with its abundance and proximity to some of the world’s most pristine beaches and national parks, a great education system and healthcare infrastructure. 

“Sydney’s fundamentals as a city remain unchanged and the prime market is poised for resilience in uncertain times, says Erin van Tuil, Partner of Crown Residences at One Barangaroo. 

“Sydney has emerged on the global stage for luxury home offerings and has seen increased demand from ultra-high-net-worth individuals [UHWNIs — defined as those who have a net worth of at least US$30 million] who continue to flock here.” 

The numbers also indicate healthy growth in the past few quarters. “The prime property market in Sydney has recorded strong and sustained price growth historically. Recently, Knight Frank research revealed Sydney’s prime property market recorded 4.7 percent growth 12 months up to March 2020,” says van Tuil.

Property to watch: Crown Residences at One Barangaroo

Following the global trend of the vouched-for quality and return when investing in a branded residence, you’ll want to look to properties such as Crown Residences at One Bangaroo — the first fully-integrated hotel branded residence in the country. “I can’t see there is a greater investment opportunity at the moment or that there will be for some time.” says Van Tuil.

New York, United States

Despite the political turmoil across the US as well as soaring pandemic cases — both perhaps creating a reasonable cause to hesitate when it comes to investing Stateside, the US appears to remain as the top destination for buyers from the Asia Pacific.

According to Knight Frank’s 2020 Wealth Report, “Asian investors planning to purchase property in 2020 indicated a clear preference for prime residential markets, with the US leading as the destination of choice,” says Georgina Atkinson, manager of the residential division at Knight Frank Asia Pacific. In an uncertain global market, finding stability is key.

Moreover, Manhattan in particular will always uphold its position as “the worldwide centre of finance and culture,” Atkinson adds. “Alongside its globally renowned higher education and medical facilities, the city’s real estate has for decades proven to be a coveted and stable asset. In times of uncertainty, buyers gravitate towards markets that are resilient, offer stability and long-term price appreciation which is what we are seeing at present in respect of New York City.”

Property to watch: The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria

For a high-end residence symbolic of New York’s enduring cultural status, you’ll want to look to The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria. Interest levels have been peaking lately, with “the level of enquiries received in recent weeks from buyers across multiple markets in Asia, looking to purchase a trophy asset investment opportunity in arguably the world’s safest real estate market,” says Atkinson.

“The full block property, which will include 375 condominium residences and the 375-key Waldorf Astoria New York hotel, will welcome residents and guests in 2022.”

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Q&A: Steve Leung on the Rise of Branded Residences and What’s Next in Design

Posted in Designers to Know, Interior Design

Steve Leung, the founder of interior design and architecture firm Steve Leung Design Group and one of Hong Kong’s most eminent creatives, has had his name attached to a number of prestigious projects over the years.

He most recently partnered with Kuala Lumpur’s latest skyline-transforming tower, 8 Conlay, now considered to be the world’s tallest twisted twin residential skyscraper powered by a branded residence. It’s home to Yoo8 serviced by Kempinski, featuring interiors designed by Leung and his South-African-born British contemporary, Kelly Hoppen.

8 Conlay in Kuala Lumpur.

In Hong Kong, Leung has also been dipping his feet in several exciting projects. An avid boat-lover, Leung partnered with Italian yacht builders Sanlorenzo last year to create custom interiors for the SX88 and SL106 models. In recent years, he was also behind Hong Kong’s first Yoo Residence, located in Causeway Bay, which sparked his ongoing collaboration with the brand.

As a pioneer of the worldwide branded residence model, Yoo Residences has plucked from some of the most powerful names in design as its creative directors, with collaborators including Philippe Starck, Jade Jagger, Marcel Wanders, Sussanne Khan, and of course, Steve Leung.

We recently caught up with Leung in Hong Kong to chat about the growing prominence of branded residences across the globe, and how residential design is expected to change in 2020.

Why is there a growing popularity of branded residences around the globe, and what sets this apart from traditional homes?

You’re correct, there are more and more branded residences in the world. At the moment Dubai has the largest number of branded residences, overtaking New York. People who are buying these residences or living in them are not just hoping to find a place to stay, it’s [become] part of their lifestyle.

The [location], surroundings and materials are not the only factors to consider when people buy or rent an apartment, they want something stylish. A branded residence can be connected to a hospitality group, like a hotel chain such as the Four Seasons, St. Regis or Marriott. To some people, it equates to luxury, but it’s also equated to service — they can ensure that the service provided is held to a certain international standard.

Branded residences are always part of a compound, so residents can enjoy the amenities of a hotel, such as the gym, health club, room service or housekeeping, or valet parking.

Steve Leung - 8 Conlay
Yoo co-founder John Hitchcox with Steve Leung.

[Another reason is] unrelated to hospitality: For example, as Yoo Residences is a design brand, it does not provide that same hospitality service, but why is it still so sought after? Because Yoo represents lifestyle — there are different creative directors [in the team]: we have people like Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders, Jade Jagger, and myself from Asia.

Buyers can claim, “my apartment was designed by Steve Leung or by Philippe Starck.” It offers something that’s different to the rest of the market. And when it comes to resale value, a branded residence offers a new benchmark, it’s something that traditional residences cannot offer. When the global community has higher expectations and standards, this [has become] the new global trend.

Are traditional, no-frills, no-clubhouse apartments outdated, then?

I don’t agree with that. You can’t exactly say that these apartments are outdated. Imagine I’m from Hong Kong, and I want to buy an apartment in San Francisco. If I look at the Four Seasons residences, I immediately know that the Four Seasons is an international brand of this standard, and I have the confidence in buying such a brand. Similarly, when foreigners come to Hong Kong, they don’t know local developers — they won’t know Sun Hung Kai Properties, for example, although maybe [the developer] can produce very high-end, high quality homes.

When people are trying to invest overseas, they have no clue which would be the best developer that can produce the best apartment. But when it’s a branded residence, they [can vouch for its quality]. They’ve heard of St. Regis; the Four Seasons, and so on. This is also one of the reasons why developers are doing more and more collaborations on branded residences.

For international investors going overseas to buy property, these branded residences can be attractive. On the other hand, locals who want to buy in Hong Kong may know Henderson, but they can also compare, for instance, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Four Seasons. As a local I would know better — I would have more choice.

Is the increasing interest in overseas investment affecting interior design? If so, how?

Design is not so simple. Design can be different for different people, for different projects at different times. Every project is unique — when I am asked to design something I need to understand the background so I can provide the best solution to answer all these problems. It depends on the agenda, the budget, the target customer and so on. 

This also explains why at Yoo8 we have different creative directors. For example, Philippe Starck has always designed very ‘wow’ interiors. But this ‘wow’ factor doesn’t work in, let’s say, some parts of China, especially as the elderly rich in China may not like that kind of expression by Philippe Starck. But on the other hand, they may like something from Steve Leung or something with an Asian perspective. That’s why at Yoo8, at 8 Conlay, they chose to complete two towers, one by me and one by Kelly Hoppen. The client chose us because they believed Steve Leung and Kelly Hoppen can deliver a product that both bear the DNA of Yoo, but at the same time it’s welcomed by the customers in KL, especially the target group.

How does Feng Shui factor into your more Asian-inspired design philosophy?

I was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Hong Kong. A lot of people, like my clients, are concerned about Feng Shui. I’m not an expert, but I understand the basic principles. Feng Shui is actually dealing with the feeling that people get when they enter into the space, and I agree with most of these principles. When I do design, I try to avoid the ‘don’ts’: like opening onto a corner, or [having a door] face a toilet or face the kitchen or the stove. When I design, I subconsciously have all these things in mind. I’ve actually designed some private residences for my clients, who went to a Feng Shui master and gave me a set of principles to follow.

What are people looking for when it comes to new luxury residences in 2020?

If you’re talking about the luxury residence market, the number one thing I can say especially in China or Asia is that people are not so keen on Classical design anymore compared to 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

In the past, particularly in Mainland China or even in Hong Kong, people always labeled luxury with Western Classical design. But now, they are saying that it’s not the best, or not the only solution. People are more open-minded to accept more contemporary designs.

Number two is that you have to consider individual comfort. The home is regarded as a place for the family, not a place to show off. A family normally means you’re not living alone — you have your spouse, your kids, your parents. In your own home, you have to make everybody happy, not just yourself.

Number three, people are getting better off now, they don’t go for material luxury, they go for psychological luxury, meaning they want fresh air, sunshine; they want clean water. Ecological principles, sustainability, wellbeing — these things have moved to the top of the list.

Especially now we have the coronavirus, people are very concerned about health. Your money means nothing to you if you don’t have good health, right? 

What are some practical ways you’ve noticed that people are using to update design in the home, as a result of the pandemic?

There are a lot of small things that people are hoping to improve in the home. They want to clean their shoes before going into their apartment, so they’ll want a place [for that], somewhere to store their dirty shoes and then change into clean house slippers. Another example is that people would be very concerned about whether their flooring material is easy to clean or not — carpet would be more difficult to clean compared to a tiled or marbled floor, for example. 

In terms of design and living, I would say people are more concerned about overall wellness. They need to have ventilation. I have some friends — they never open the windows in the house, they use air conditioning 365 days a year. Of course, it’s very comfortable in terms of temperature and humidity control. But it’s not healthy: You need fresh air. Now people are realising that this is something they should not disregard. Ventilation, natural hygiene, cleaning practicalities, this has all changed the perception on what makes a perfect home.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

9 Ultra-luxe Homes to Buy in Asia this May

Posted in What to Buy

Incredible investment and home buying opportunities abound in Asia this month: You have the luxury of choice to settle in a rare Portuguese-style manor, a super-luxe sky villa at the tip of Bangkok’s new skyline, a private seafront detached home in Hong Kong’s Clearwater Bay, and more.

Whether you’re in the market for a new holiday home or an investment opportunity, here are nine ultra-luxe homes to buy in Asia this month.

1. Estrada de Penha, Macau

Not only are you buying a home at one of Macau’s most prestigious addresses (and no, it’s nowhere near the Cotai strip), you’re also getting ownership of one of our sister SAR’s finest properties of yore. On top of Penha Hill — Macau’s answer to Victoria Peak — you’re treated to the most exclusive vistas looking over the bay and up-and-coming Hengqin Island, with the Macau Tower squarely in view. Built in 1991, Estrada da Penha is a magnificent European-style manor replete with colonial-era architecture, located right at the top of Penha Hill. Spanning 12,812 sq.ft. of interior space, the large family home features six bedrooms and six full baths, three partial bathrooms, two basements, private patios as well as a sheltered car park bay fitting four vehicles. It’s on the market with the asking price of HK$490 million.

2. Penthouse at The Sukhothai Residences, Bangkok

This sexy Sathorn penthouse is located at the very top of The Sukhothai Residences, a development completed in 2012 by Hong Kong’s HKR International Group — at the time, it was the the first luxury residential project in Thailand to surpass the THB300,000 per sq.m. bracket (approx. HK$6,710 per sq.ft.), with some of the top floor units priced at about HK$8,200 per sq.ft. Now, this spectacular duplex is on the market, and our guesstimate for the price would be upwards of HK$104 million. Occupying the 36–37th floors, the fully furnished designer penthouse features four large bedrooms and separate maid’s quarters, a private sky pool, garden terrace and dedicated entertainment rooms, just to name a few of its lavish features. Spanning 12,730 sq.ft., the penthouse also comes with fixed parking spaces. 

3. Sky Villa at Tela Thonglor, Bangkok

One of the newest ultra-luxe developments by Bangkok giant Gaysorn Property, Tela Thonglor is considered one of the most desirable residences in the city, just steps away from trendy hotspots such as The Commons. With a square footage of 3,756 sq.ft., the Sky Villa penthouse features designer furniture by Roberto Cavalli, with bespoke interiors across its four-bedroom layout. Its wraparound balcony features stunning views of the Bangkok skyline. Priced at THB255 million (approx. HK$61,482,981), the residence is operated like a serviced unit, complete with fitness centre, pool, security and cleaning staff, as well as private elevator access for every home.

4. Jade Residence, Taipei

Priced at US$6.5 million (approx. HK$50,381,175), the Jade Residence is a surprising enclave of tranquility, reportedly located just 15 minutes’ walking distance away from the city’s icon, Taipei 101. For a slice of breathtaking nature right in the heart of the city, this looks to be exactly where you’ll want to be: the exclusive edgeless pool is the highlight of this residence, with immersive views of Elephant Mountain as the backdrop. Every square foot of the home is artfully appointed, and fit for the stylish buyer in mind: whether it’s a display wall for your favourite decorative vases and ceramics, to ample dining and entertaining space for socialising, and even a home entertainment room.

5. Twin Waterfront Home, Clearwater Bay, Hong Kong

(Image credit: Savills)

Spanning a total area of 10,078 sq.ft., this luxurious Clearwater Bay compound is the home you want if you’re looking for that holiday feeling year-round. The grounds consist of two twin buildings: a two-storied main house and a detached guest house, as well as a garden and infinity pool. This seafront residence is fully kitted out with a top-of-the-line kitchen and pantry. The main house features four bedrooms while the guesthouse features two, and both buildings have their own fireplaces. The airy residence is ideal for weekend getaways with friends or equally as a comfortable home for those who love to entertain.

6. Yugawara Hot Spring Estate, Kanagawa, Japan

Built in 2006, the Yugawara Hot Spring Estate is located in Ashigarashimo-Gun, in Japan’s western Kanagawa Prefecture — around two hours’ drive from Tokyo centre. The stately residence is characterised by its elegant design reminiscent of a European chateau and a dramatic foyer that greets you with a sweeping spiral staircase. It’s ideal as a holiday home for onsen lovers, as it’s located in a historic hot spring district that was documented since the time of Japan’s oldest book of poetry, the Manyoshu. The two-storey estate spans some-8,000 sq.ft., with two master bedrooms, two guest rooms, one tatami great room, a generous seven baths including indoors and outdoors, a home theatre, private elevator and private driveway. For the families who love to pamper guests and extended family to a holiday retreat, this is just the ticket.

7. Duplex at Four Seasons Private Residences, Bangkok

Standing high above the Chao Phraya River, the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok — Asia’s first waterfront Four Seasons Private Residences — offers a status symbol in the address in itself. The top-floor corner duplex is priced at THB161,190,990 (approx. HK$38,861,068), with amenities and design aimed at the luxury collector in mind. There’s glamour at every turn and the exclusivity, hospitality and service that comes with the Four Seasons name. The sale offered is for a 75 years’ leasehold on the 3,830 sq.ft. estate, featuring four bedrooms and four full bathrooms.

8. Summer Village Home in Sai Kung, Hong Kong  

Hong Kong’s wealthy flock to the outskirts of Sai Kung, Tai Tam and the Southside for their abundance of spacious detached homes far from the city centre, and this sun-drenched home in Sai Kung makes for a charming retreat from the frenetic pace of the day. The drastically converted village home now features five stylishly appointed bedrooms (featuring a fabulous marbled master bath), while the white-washed walls and rustic accents instantly transport you to Bali or Mykonos. The ground floor also opens up seamlessly onto the pool deck, perfect for weekend entertaining.

9. Pollock’s Path Mansion, The Peak, Hong Kong

It goes without saying that a home on The Peak in Hong Kong comes with that million-dollar view of the harbour — but for this HK$880 million home, you’ll find that every room makes the most of this asset. Its most enviable feature is the expansive pool deck, which places you almost at arm’s reach with the Bank of China building in the distance. The living room features high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that face north, directly onto the harbour, while the four bedrooms upstairs also make the most of the location. Initially built in 1978 and well renovated and maintained throughout the years, the 3,649 sq.ft. home has plenty of potential for you to jazz up the interiors.

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.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Kennedy Town Neighbourhood Guide: Hong Kong’s Seaside Suburb

Posted in Where to Live

For a long time, Kennedy Town’s seaside locale and its distance from the city’s major commercial hubs without convenient transportation links have given it the character of a sleepy fisherman’s suburb. Kennedy Town is at the end of the tramline running along Hong Kong Island, and previously only reachable via car or bus.

But since the MTR was introduced in 2014, the area has been fast gentrifying, with old vehicle repair shops and local greasy spoons making way for luxury high-rises and upmarket bars and restaurants. Still, the area retains its charm and affordability with a mix of old walk-up properties and street-level shopping. At the same time, it has also been attracting scores of young couples, families and foreigners who love the stylish new pads and remodeled loft-style abodes.

With its proximity to various prestigious schools in and around the Central and Western District — particularly bilingual or international schools such as Island Waldorf School, Harbour School, Kennedy School, not to mention the University of Hong Kong, this western district on Hong Kong Island has been particularly popular for growing families and older students alike.

Residences to Know

With many apartment buildings practically at arm’s reach to the waterfront, Kennedy Town’s residences often boast of sea views and are typically equipped with harbour-facing balconies. 

The Merton (Image credit: Wiki Commons)

Located in the six-block radius of the town centre and just minutes’ away from the MTR, one of the most well-known residences in Kennedy Town is none other than The Merton, a three-phase luxury high-rise complex built by New World Development in 2005, with units ranging from 276-802 sq.ft. Just two minutes’ walk away is Cadogan, one of the area’s newest and most stylishly appointed apartments completed in 2014, featuring small to mid-sized homes from 346-911 sq.ft. Close by is Manhattan Heights, completed in 2000 with also small to mid-sized homes spanning 434-714 sq.ft. Part of the property is operated as serviced apartments.

Cadogan (Image credit: Wiki Commons)

Larger families will want to head outwards from the town centre in favour of more space. The Belcher’s is a popular choice: Shun Tak Property Management’s longstanding six-building complex was completed between 2000 and 2001, and comprises 2,213 units ranging from over 800 to more than 3,300 sq.ft. For added convenience, it’s attached to Westwood Mall, which provides various eateries and shops for day to day necessities. Harbour One is also popular with tenants looking to stretch their legs, with apartments ranging 662–2,624 sq.ft. and equipped with well-appointed amenities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

With modest apartment sizes ranging 285-323 sq.ft., millennials and young couples may prefer to flock to the stylish surroundings and conveniences of Eight South Lane. It’s one of the newest residences in the area, completed in 2015, and is just steps away from the HKU MTR station.

Over at the western cusp of Kennedy Town you’ll find The Sail at Victoria, a single-building luxury property by Hongkong Land, one of Hong Kong’s most highly regarded property developers, built in 2009. 

With a mix of residences new and old and of various sizes — from studio apartments to four-bedroom family abodes, older structures to lavish developments built in the last five years, Kennedy Town properties can fetch selling prices between HK$4–20 million, while rents can range from HK$6.2k to just over the HK$100k mark a month.

Where to Eat & Drink

% Arabica

Arabica’s Kyoto flagship was founded by coffee enthusiast Kenneth Shoji, world latte art champion Junichi Yamaguchi and architect Masaki Kato. Rapidly expanding throughout the region, it’s considered one of the most stylish coffee shop chains in Hong Kong. This two-storey Kennedy Town location boasts sea views and ample space to lounge to go with winning brews.

% Arabica (Kennedy Town), Shop 4, G/F, Grand Fortune Mansion, 1 Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2326 4578

Alvy’s

Alvy’s is a neighbourhood taproom by local brewery Young Master. Craft beer aficionados who want to pair their local tipple with a New York-style slice will want to make a beeline for this charming tavern. The pies here are made in-house with brewer’s yeast, perfectly paired with one of the refreshing seasonal brews.

Alvy’s, 8 Holland Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2312 2996

Bistro Du Vin

Living in the heart of Kennedy Town can be encapsulated with experiences like this — charming neighbourhood eateries that offer that certain je ne sais quoi and can satisfy cravings easily on any day of the week without breaking the bank. Bistro Du Vin is a friendly bistro serving up familiar provincial French dishes — think coq au vin or escargots on bone marrow — that are perfect for sharing with loved ones.

Bistro Du Vin, Shop 1D, Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2824 3010

Little Creatures

Kennedy Town locals love a waterfront stroll at the New Praya, and one of the quintessential pit stops would be Little Creatures. Hailing from Fremont, Australia, this craft brewery set up shop in a former sugar and flour factory space, boasting high loft ceilings and an airy, convivial atmosphere to taste test some excellent new brews — all made in-house.

Little Creatures, 5A New Praya, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2833 5611

What to See & Do

Instagram Pier

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Day and Night #西环码头

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Originally a cargo dock, this strip of industrial land by the sea is a motherlode of Instagrammable backdrops featuring Victoria Harbour — hence its playful moniker. On the weekend, you’ll catch young couples and friends, dog owners and keen anglers spread out about the quay, selfie sticks (or fishing rods) in hand. Head here if you’re looking to snap your next handsome new profile photo. It’s also a fantastic spot to catch the sunset. 

Western District Public Cargo Working Area, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Wheat and Wood

If you’ve got a few hours to while away on an afternoon or evening, head over to Wheat and Wood, Kennedy Town’s thriving board games bar for a strategic game or three. Test your wits with games such as Articulate!, fool your friends and foes with Avalon, or settle down for a round of Monopoly — or pick from dozens more on their ever-growing shelf.

Wheat and Wood, Shop 6, G/F, Brilliant Court, 28 Praya, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong +852 2399 0433

Lo Pan Temple

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#temple #KennedyTown

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A Chinese temple dedicated to the patron saint of carpenters, builders and contractors, Lo Pan. First built in 1884, Lo Pan temple is listed as a Grade I historic building in Hong Kong and is also part of the Central and Western Heritage Trail. The building sees significant celebrations during the 13th day of the sixth lunar month each year — also known as Lo Pan’s birthday. Those belonging to the construction industry flock here to pay their respects and pray for success and safe work in the coming year.

Lo Pan Temple, 15 Ching Lin Terrace, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

5 Home Decor Tips to Take from Drake’s 50,000 sq.ft. Toronto Mansion

Posted in Interior Design

Canadian rapper Drake (also known as Aubrey Drake Graham) wowed everybody with a walkthrough of his extravagant Toronto home last week as featured on Architectural Digest

His 50,000 sq.ft. mansion — built on a plot reportedly bought in 2015 in Toronto’s exclusive Park Lane Circle for US$6.7 million — was showcased in a cover editorial detailing the designs by fellow countryman Ferris Rafauli. 

Styled with swathes of “limestone, bronze, exotic woods, and other noble materials,” The Tootsie Slide artist’s new home exudes incredible handcrafted glory from wall to wall. The new high-ceilinged home features one-of-a-kind design touches and pieces such as a bespoke Bösendorfer grand piano created together with artist Takashi Murakami, or a NBA regulation-size indoor basketball court that featured motifs of Graham’s own brand, October’s Very Own.

Like pharaohs and emperors of yore who built physical landmarks to mark their everlasting influence on earth, Drake, now aged 33, also sought to build a physical reflection of his skyrocketing success in a home that would last lifetimes — an empire that began in his hometown, no less. 

“It’s overwhelming high luxury,” Drake told Architectural Digest. “That message is delivered through the size of the rooms and the materials and details of the floors and the ceilings. I wanted to make sure people can see the work I’ve put in over the years reflected from every vantage point.” 

He added, “I wanted the structure to stand firm for 100 years. I wanted it to have a monumental scale and feel. It will be one of the things I leave behind, so it had to be timeless and strong,” 

Yet, with such a public following, the superstar’s home was also quickly the subject of jest among spirited commentators on Twitter, with some laughing off his decorating choices as ‘50-year-old mobster wife’, ‘perfume department at a shopping mall’ or ‘every new boutique hotel’. 

Whether you can agree on his taste or not, there are no doubt some solid (and enviable) takeaways that we can all draw from the next time we’re inspired to redecorate. As some may say, the secret to success is to ‘live as if.’ For a slice of the Toronto superstar’s ‘pleasure dome’ in your own home, here are five style cues you can take and easily replicate without forking out for a custom build.

Earth-toned Hippie Vibes

It’s all about the warm, hippie palette in Drake’s retro-inspired studio lounge — steal the look for all your future nights in with a cushy modular sofa in brown or burnt amber velvet, like BoConcept’s Carmo or Hampton sofas. One of the key features in this space is of course the backlit panel of brown agate stones, which lends the whole room a mystical vibe — it kind of reminds us of a painting by Gustav Klimt. Make like Aubrey with a Katherine Pooley decorative agate slice, or mimic those ethereal vibes with a lustrous Tom Dixon Melt pendant or a BoConcept Stockholm table lamp. Connect up your favourite sound system and all you need is to light a Patchouli candle or two to complete the vibe.

The Starburst Chandelier

(Image credit: Architectural Digest)

One of the most staggering features from the start of his home tour were none other than the starburst chandeliers dotted throughout the house, from the foyer to the great room. Lighting up a long dimmed hallway, they almost look like perpetual fireworks in bloom.

While the original was a custom job by Ferris Rafauli, this chandelier from Etsy is almost an accessible replica. Indeed, most of the fixtures in Drake’s Toronto home are custom built, but a classy mirror, like this one from Indigo Living, is another easy way to amplify these intricate golden spheres throughout the house. Don’t want to fiddle around with new ceiling lights? This decorative starburst piece from Katharine Pooley gently brings the unique shape into any space.

Art Deco Geometry

There’s fine veined marble everywhere in Drake Manor, from the floors in the impossibly high-ceilinged great room to his truly enviable walk-in closet (all the better to catch the light from those technicolour Birkins he has lying around). But what offsets the expensive look is the glint of gold geometric touches. Too much though and they may bring to mind a replica from the set of The Great Gatsby, so use at caution. Match the motif with this desk or side table and end table from Katharine Pooley; the Ottaway modular seating from BoConcept in striking mustard; and brass lighting fixtures, such as this one from Indigo Living. Small drops of geometric patterns such as with throw cushions also helps to easily add interest to a living or wardrobe area. This desert rose quartz votive from Katharine Pooley also echoes the ceiling design used in the star’s main lounge.

Solid Marble Kitchen

While not all of us (especially in space-strapped Hong Kong) can have the luxury of a fabulous solid marble kitchen island in our homes, those who can will perhaps want to opt for a lighter, contemporary version instead of the heavy, Beaux Arts aesthetic. We look to Italian specialists Boffi for their Xila Kitchen units, which are prized for their use of complete swathes of marble — cut to showcase fine and delicate craftsmanship — and all customised to your specific needs. The completely handle-less design offers a particularly modern look. Pair it with minimalistic geometric ceiling lights, such as these Scandi-cool ones from Manks, or if you’re looking to replicate the whole shebang, we found these simple diamond-shaped fixtures from Decor8 for inspiration.

A Restorative Bedroom

The rapper’s 3,200 sq.ft. mammoth of a bedroom suite is his self-proclaimed favourite place in his whole home — no surprise there, with its ultra-luxe fixtures such as a custom bed and bed base which “cost more than many people’s entire homes,” according to Architectural Digest, as well as a whisky and champagne bar embedded into the reverse of the headboard. That said, when it comes down to it, everybody sleeps at the end of the day, and the cliche of soft neutrals in the bedroom still manages to work its charm. Here, Ferris Rafauli tempers the heavy black marble and gold of the other rooms into a relaxing and restorative space.

To replicate that exclusive Alexander McQueen hummingbird linen, search for botanical motifs on throw cushions and quilts to add interest to an otherwise beige room — such as with this one and this one from Indigo Living. With pieces such as this Katherine Pooley lamp or armchair, a balance of light hues with natural materials and textures helps to make the space more relaxing, yet also fits the overall theme of the home. Two simple brass pendant lamps, placed symmetrically, ties everything together.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

5 Ways to Change up your Home Decor for Spring

Posted in Interior Design


With all this downtime on your hands, you might be gazing to the four corners of your home with an itch to redecorate. Turn to these recent spring collections and catalogues for inspiration on how to transform your home decor for the season.

Zen Neutrals

spring decor - boconcept

Danish design brand BoConcept has launched a set of minimalist accessories for Spring/Summer 2020, and we are all for it. Balance out intricate lines of other pieces in your home with these short and podgy abstract vessels from the new Pillars series, which offer an intriguing understatement of whatever you place in them — be it blooming plants, letters, keys or seasonal fruit.

Available from BoConcept

Pastel Masterpiece

With a number of classic Italian design house Cassina’s signature pieces now available at Lane Crawford and at the firm’s flagship showroom in Central opened last year, it’s more accessible than ever if you’ve ever been hunting a mid-century modern masterpiece for your home. We’re particularly obsessed with the timeless appeal of certain pieces, such as how the sweet robin’s egg hue of these Mexique low-level tables — first created between 1938 and 1939 — stand out in a room of warm neutrals. It’s also available in coral, tan and black, as well as matte or gloss finish. A stylish trick to borrow, for sure. 

Mexique table available from Cassina, 2-3/F, 38 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong

Not your Nonna’s Florals

“Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.” Miranda Priestley a la Meryl Streep famously quipped in 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. But this stunning new motif by storied wallpaper house De Gournay is nothing cliché — and possibly just the thing to revitalise a staid wall or room (provided your furnishings aren’t already too busy, that is). This new design has been two years in the works as a collaborative effort between De Gournay and UK Fashion designer Erdem Moralioğlu, who has made a series of dresses with the same print. The hand painted wall motif features spring in full bloom with florals and birds in dynamic composition. It’s available on four design colourways on four dyed silk grounds: ‘Imperial Yellow’, ‘Golden Yellow’, ‘Adam Grey’, and the new ‘Kelly Green’.

Available at Altfield Interiors, Unit 1101, 9 Queen’s Road Central, +852 2524 4867

A Natural Touch

spring decor - tree

They don’t call it ‘spring cleaning’ for nothing. In your effort to Marie Kondo your apartment and keep only the clutter that brings you joy, we propose a back-to-nature approach to really clean up your living space. These storage solutions from Tree belong to the Kayu collection, featuring a gorgeous untreated grain from solid reclaimed teak. The luscious texture of the shelves make for an attractive backdrop to showcase your indoor plant collection, your curated knick knacks, and all the sweet, newfound space.

Available from Tree

The Greater Gatsby

Velvet upholstery, while popularised in the autumn/winter seasons of late in lush jewel tones, is fresh again for the spring season when you play around with geometric-cut patterns and exuberant tones. This mesmerising collection of textiles by Jim Thompson pays homage to the Jazz Age (hence its name), and is perfect for everything in the room that you want to make pop: from headboards to throw cushions. It is the 20s, after all.

Available from Altfield Interiors

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

10 Ultra-Luxe Homes to Buy in Asia this March

Posted in What to Buy

Looking to invest in the accelerating growth of real estate in the region? Whether it’s a new eco-centred township in Malaysia or the most prestigious address in Singapore, these aspirational homes are on the market right now.

1. Grandezza, Eco Sanctuary, Klang Valley

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - Grandezza

First launched in 2015, Eco Sanctuary is a 308-acre township located to the south of Kota Kemuning spanning some 4,000 properties. There are multiple collections of homes in various styles, all surrounded by lush landscaping, commercial hubs, hotels and wellness centres — making it a truly self-sufficient and self-contained, eco-minded gated community. Completed at the end of 2019, Grandezza features a spate of 260 high end bungalows and semi-detached homes that make up Eco Sanctuary’s lowest density and final landed area. A semi-detached, five bedroom home at 3,079 sq. ft. is priced from HK$3,559,510, while a seven-bed bungalow at 6,075 sq. ft. is priced from HK$11,998,995.

2. Serenity Sky Villas, Ho Chi Minh City

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - Serenity Sky Villas

With a starting price of HK$2,875,140, SonKim Land’s luxury condo tower Serenity Sky Villas is a bona fide vertical resort. Located at a prestigious address in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 3 CBD, Serenity Sky Villas boasts 45 units ranging from one to four bedroom homes, as well as garden villas and penthouses. Alongside double-height ceilings and private pools, there’s also a fine-dining restaurant and a top-floor residents’ infinity pool to enjoy.

3. Hanacreek, Niseko

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - Hanacreek

Led by Hong Kong-based boutique property developers Apex Property, Hanacreek is the latest in a rush of luxury properties opening at one of the most favoured ski meccas on the planet. Located in the heart of the popular Hanazono ski resort and the town of Kutchan, Hanacreek is the first land subdivision concept in Niseko, where owners can build their own mixed-use developments. Each of the plots of land will have their own onsen connection, making it an ideal blank slate to build your dream home or holiday chalet. Four plots out of 17 in phase one have been designated specifically for single-dwelling ski-in chalets, which can be easily entered into a rental pool to generate income while you are away.

4. Wallich Residence, Singapore

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - Wallich

Considered one of the superlative luxury properties in Singapore at the moment, Wallich Residence stands high above Tanjong Pagar in Singapore’s CBD, located from the 39th to 64th floors of Guoco Tower — Singapore’s tallest building. As the crown jewel of developers GuocoLand, Wallich features a collection of 181 luxury residences of exceptional design, headed up by award-winning studio Wilson Associates. The tower in itself is a self-sustained vertical city of sorts with commercial, retail, residential and urban park amenities, while the five-bedroom ‘super penthouse’ offers homeowner Sir James Dyson (yes, of the vacuum cleaner brand) the best view of the sprawling city directly from up top.

5. The River Thu Thiem, Ho Chi Minh City

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - The River Thu Thiem

This joint venture between Hongkong Land and CII is situated right on the bend of the Saigon River, in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2. With proximity to international schools and the central business district, it’s the perfect location for expatriates looking to invest in HCMC. You’re getting the best of both worlds with convenience and connectivity while also getting to enjoy the lush greenery and panoramic river views of the area, which is also having its moment in the real estate spotlight. Units range from one to four bedroom apartments and sky villas, all the way up to a pool villa category starting at 2,637 sq. ft.

6. Meyer Mansion, Singapore

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - Meyer Mansion

Slated to complete in 2023, Meyer Mansion is situated along one of Singapore’s stretches of shore that historically was the seaside weekend retreat for the city-state’s wealthy, dotted with bungalows that overlook the lush green East Coast. Today, the GuocoLand development is a 25-storey estate featuring 200 units ranging from one to four bedroom apartments. The property offers that storied, million-dollar vista of Singapore’s East Coast and Marina Bay, while other perks include proximity to downtown (just a 7-minute drive away); smart home-enabled amenities, as well as being just steps away from the beach. A 1,765-sq.-ft. four bedroom unit is priced starting at HK$26,507,326.

7. The Ritz-Carlton Residences Bangkok

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - Ritz Carlton BKK

If living at Bangkok’s most prestigious address is a no brainer for you, you’ll want to consider the Ritz-Carlton Residences Bangkok, where you’ll be calling the eye catching MahaNakhon tower home. Located in the heart of town, the residences are located in the upper sections of the tower, with prime views overlooking Lumpini Park, the Chao Phraya River and the Gulf of Thailand. With the Ritz-Carlton name you will naturally be pampered as much as any guest at their hotels with their signature attention to detail. Choose from residences ranging from two to five-bedroom apartments in both simplex and duplex layouts. Prices for a two bedroom duplex start at HK$19,431,929.

8. The Lofts Asoke

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - The Lofts Asoke

Developed by Raimon Land, The Lofts Asoke is the latest in the Thai developer’s streak of The Lofts residential complexes, and it’s now ready for move-in. Located in the highly desirable area of Asok, the recently-completed luxury property does what it says on the tin: a conveniently located, high end condo featuring industrial loft stylings that will satisfy the whims of any hip investor. With one to three-bedroom units available, a three-bedroom duplex is priced at HK$8,085,935.

9. The Kita by Kengo Kuma

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - The Kita

Slated to complete this year, this elegant 12-unit complex in Tokyo’s Kitasando is headed up by Canadian luxury developer Westbank, and features the design of award-winning architect Kengo Kuma. Offered as an antidote to Tokyo’s frenetic pace, the complex features a decidedly warm, tranquil and texture-rich quality championing natural materials. Conceived in 2018, the building is set to unveil at the same time as Kuma’s other headline project of late — the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium. With a hand in both the structure and the interiors, Kuma’s approach features plenty of expansive al fresco spaces, as well as a rooftop infinity pool and terrace offering views over the Shinjuku skyline.

10. Dune Hills Samui

March - Ultra-luxe homes in Asia - Dune Villas

With the gulf of Thailand at your feet and located just minutes from the Koh Samui airport, Dune Hills Samui is a brand new development of 39 pool villas made for the discerning jetsetter looking for a second home, stylish retirees and second-home owners alike. The property is also fully managed by an on-site team; coupled with the decent rental return (at 6-7.8 percent over four years) and land price appreciation rates (20-24 percent over four years), plus a guaranteed complimentary annual stay, it’s an ideal home to invest in. A roomy, 4,284-sq.-ft. five bedroom pool villa is currently priced at about HK$4,696,335.

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.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

7 Tech Must-buys for the Ultimate Smart Home

Posted in Home Tech

Most of us are wired to our phones 24/7 as it is, but rather than using that connectivity for aimless scrolling, a much more productive application is being able to control and influence our home surroundings with just the tap of a button. Who doesn’t want a futuristic smart home setup? From the climate to lighting, music to kitchen appliances, these must-buy gadgets are just the thing to deck out your ultimate smart home.

Sonos Beam

smart home tech - Sonos

If you’re an audio- or cinephile, chances are you dream of the perfect audio setup at home. Build your own 3.1 home theatre system by mixing and matching from Sonos’ suite of smart audio gear. Whether its the all-in-one home entertainment system Sonos Beam or the Sonos One speakers, or the Playbar, adjusted by Oscar-winning audio engineers themselves, the speakers are all equipped with auto-sound tuning system and are also compatible with Google Assistant or Alexa.

More info here.

Samsung Cube Air Purifier

Unveiled recently at CES2020, the Samsung Cube Air Purifier is a stylish, modular-shaped air purifier that blends in with any chic and contemporary surroundings. The three-layer filtration system works to purify and deodorise air. It’s also Wi-Fi enabled, so you can deftly monitor your indoor air pollution levels from everywhere as well as control it from an app.

More info here.

LG Steam Styler

smart home tech - LG steam styler

Save your coins when it comes to dry cleaning and place your clothing in the handy new LG Steam Styler instead. Smart dressers have been setting a new bar for clothing care in the next generation smart home, working to efficiently refresh and revitalise clothes between washes, and remove dust and germs deep within the fabric — especially important for items that can’t be thrown into the washing machine. The gadget stores user data, including your preferences and usage patterns, and you can even download the latest software updates for new garment care cycles.

More info here.

Miele KM7897 FL Induction Hob

smart home tech - Miele

The eternal struggle to multi-task your cooktop will plague you no more when you invest in the ultimate Miele Induction Hob. This new innovative cooktop features a full-surface induction, so you can have maximum flexibility for up to six pots and pans at the same time. Need an extra sear? The Induction Hob also comes with Miele’s exclusive TwinBooster function, so you can combine the power of two cooking zones into one when needed. With the Con@ctivity function, the hob connects automatically to the cooker hood to apply the proper settings.

More info here.

Philips Hue Lighting

A futuristic home just doesn’t seem complete without snazzy high tech mood lighting. Get your hands on a set of Philips Hue Lighting and the Apple Homekit compatible Bridge, and control the lights and colours all from the convenience of your Apple devices. 

More info here.

Nanoleaf Canvas

smart home tech - Nanoleaf

Speaking of swish lighting systems, the Nanoleaf Canvas is made for those who want an ethereal, glowing artwork mounted on their walls. These delightful panels play on our senses of sight, sound and touch for a fun and interactive decoration at home. There’s real-time rhythm technology so it pulsates to your chosen tunes, across a spectrum of 16.4 million colours. 

More info here.

Ambi Climate Control 2 

smart home tech - Ambi Climate

The world’s first smart indoor climate control accessory — designed and headquartered in Hong Kong — can help you regulate the air conditioning in your home to prevent overcooling and overheating, saving up to 30 percent of energy at the same time. Using AI and machine learning, your preferences are taken into account to auto-adjust the temperature and humidity in every room in the house to your desired comfort level.

More info here.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Sai Kung Neighbourhood Guide: Living in the City’s Green Lung

Posted in Where to Live

Thinking of living and investing in Sai Kung? Here’s the lay of the land.

A Hongkonger’s favourite when it comes to weekend outings and an area best known for its prolific hiking trails, beaches and opportunities to get out on the water, Sai Kung is the place to live if you have a strong affinity for the city’s green lung, just 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre. Whether if you prefer sleepy village hamlets or the elegant new residences that are defining the area, Sai Kung gives off a relaxed small-town feel, balancing its bustling town centre and famous seafood street with plenty of green spaces and community businesses.

Residences to know 

133 Portofino

Slated for completion by mid-2020, Sino Land’s upcoming development 133 Portofino on 133 Hong Kin Road stands on one of Sai Kung’s most exclusive plots of land, overlooking Hebe Haven and Sai Kung Bay on both sides. Impeccable sea views are naturally the draw here looking out on the stunning aquamarine bay. The property comprises seven five-storey houses and 26 condo units ranging from 704 to 3,491 sq. ft. 

133 Portofino, 133 Hong Kin Road, Sai Kung

The Mediterranean

In the same vein as its aspirational moniker, Sino residential development The Mediterranean is all about the sunny seaside lifestyle of our Continental counterparts. The complex’s wow-worthy swimming pool may create a lofty impression, though the four-block, 297-unit apartment complex comprises mainly small to medium homes, ranging from about 500 to 1,100 sq. ft. At the same time, there are also 52 special units — 35 come with gardens and 13 with rooftops — and four ultra-luxe homes for those seeking a cut above the rest.

The Mediterranean, 8 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung

Mount Pavilia

Neighbourhood guide - Sai Kung

New World Development’s stunning residential project Mount Pavilia lies on the cusp of Clear Water Bay and Sai Kung, and like the group’s other properties, prizes art and culture in its thoughtfully considered surrounds. Billed as a residential sculpture park, the property features 680 units, ranging from flats in low-density apartment blocks up to a penthouse triplex, interspersed with pieces by Tatiana Trouvé, Gao Weigang and more. There’s also an art museum Chi Art Space regularly exhibiting world class pieces, and St Barts, a sunny cafe popular for brunch that’s open to visitors and residents alike.

Mount Pavilia, 63 Clearwater Bay Road, Clearwater Bay, Hong Kong

Where to Eat & Drink

Chuen Kee

(Image credit: HKTB)

Sai Kung’s waterfront promenade bombards you with seafood restaurants and touts for sampan and kaito rides at every turn, but you definitely can’t miss Chuen Kee, a monolithic seafood institution recognised in the Michelin Guide for 11 years in a row. Widely successful with two massive family-run branches, take your pick from one with alfresco seating or a quieter venue further south. But at either, you’ll want to pick your meal from the tank, with a wide and lively selection of seafood — from lobster and leviathan-scaled garoupa to bivalves and crustaceans. Don’t miss the mantis shrimp fried with peppered salt.

Chuen Kee, 53 Hoi Pong Street, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 2791 1195

Sing Kee

Being awarded the Michelin star for four consecutive years since 2015, Sing Kee is a popular choice for exceptional Cantonese seafood, a red cottage tucked into the side roads of Sai Kung town. But by no means has the eatery been resting on its laurels — particularly skilled at various abalone dishes and age-old recipes, Sing Kee is still as popular as ever whether by word of mouth or from its media limelight. For something other than seafood, don’t sleep on the spectacular crispy chicken.

Sing Kee (website in Cantonese), 39 Sai Kung Tai Street, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 2791 9887

Loaf On

Looking for classic Cantonese seafood with a twist? Head to Loaf On, currently the only restaurant in Sai Kung that holds an esteemed Michelin Star for 2020. Elegant, bright surrounds meet well executed recipes that play to the freshness of the seafood. Don’t miss the popular black pepper crispy chicken, which needs to be pre-ordered at the time of reservation.

Loaf On, 49 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 2792 9966

Little Cove

If you’re hoping for something other than seafood to sate your appetite after a long day of exploring Sai Kung town, this Instagrammable nook on the side of the Sai Kung waterfront promenade dishes up gorgeous plates of Aussie-style brunch and excellent coffees. When the weather gets hot, grab a bench at its dog-friendly alfresco picnic tables for an icy acai bowl or a few chilled beers.

Little Cove, Sai Kung Town Villa Block A, Siu Yat Building Block A, Shop 1&2, G/F, Sai Kung Hoi Pong Square, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 9572 8560

One-ThirtyOne

A French fine dine mainstay tucked in a colonial-style building in Tseng Tau Village, One-ThirtyOne was opened by European cuisine enthusiast chef Gary Cheuk. Offering a four-course lunch and six-course dinner menu that changes monthly, the restaurant uses fresh organic produce from its neighbouring farm where it can. With its romantic atmosphere, the restaurant is a perfect place for special dates and celebrations, particularly weddings.

One-ThirtyOne, 131 Tseng Tau Village, Shap Sze Heung, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 2791 2684

Ali Oli Bakery

Neighbourhood guide - Sai Kung

An institution for fresh-baked European-style breads and pastries since 1986, Ali Oli Bakery is the expert you’ll want to turn to when you’re looking to carb-load with a discerning palate. Think fresh rolls, baguettes meet shiny glazed tarts and pies — they also do event catering and celebration cakes by order. The deli counter is also a great place to shop for homemade pates, sauces and oils to go along with your bread.

Ali Oli Bakery, G/F, 11 Sha Tsui Path, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 2792 2655

Tiki Tiki Bowling Bar

Not your average bowling alley, the Tiki Tiki Bowling Bar is Sai Kung’s whimsical gathering place for families, friends and couples alike. With its playful Polynesian theme, 10 professional hardwood Brunswick lanes, live music, fun cocktails, live music and UV lights, it’s the ultimate venue for parties and social gatherings.

Tiki Tiki Bowling Bar, 4/F, Centro, 1A Chui Tong Road, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 2657 8488

Momentai Bar & Restaurant

A buzzing, open-air space along the Sai Kung Waterfront, Momentai exudes a relaxed, beachy vibe (if it isn’t already apparent in the name — ‘mo men tai’ means ‘no problem’ in Cantonese) with its sunny interiors, billowing draped ceiling and pool tables. Kick back and settle in for an afternoon of people-watching with its well considered list of local craft beers.

Momentai Bar & Restaurant, Kiosk 1 Waterfront, Wai Man Road, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 2792 8991

Padstow Restaurant & Bar

Formerly the beloved Hebe 101, a fresh lick of sky blue paint and a rebrand has transformed the former watering hole to a convivial family-friendly British diner under the folks behind Kennedy Town’s Shoreditch. If you’re craving British pub grub, this is the place: Padstow’s is popular for its Sunday roasts, fish and chips and classic pies.

Padstow Restaurant & Bar, 112 Pak Sha Wan, Sai Kung, +852 2335 5515

What to See & Do

Hebe Haven Yacht Club

(Image credit: Justin Light/Flickr)

Built in 1963, the Hebe Haven Yacht Club prides itself on its friendly, relaxed atmosphere, and is one of few mooring facilities in Hong Kong especially popular with sailing and watersports enthusiasts. Boasting a busy racing calendar throughout the year, the Club’s biggest events include the 24-hour charity dinghy race and the Typhoon Series, the largest summer regatta in Hong Kong.

Hebe Haven Yacht Club, Hiram’s Highway, +852 2719 9682

Half Moon Bay (Hap Mun Bay)

(Image credit: HKTB)

Along the Sai Kung promenade you’ll find touts that will offer a quick zip by sampan or kaito ferry to a number of outlying islands dotted across the Sai Kung coast. One popular destination is Hap Mun Bay, also known as Half Moon Bay, named after the pristine beach’s crescent shape. Located on the southern tip of Sharp Island, Hap Mun Bay boasts some of the cleanest waters in Hong Kong (and regularly awarded so), and is equally enjoyed as a barbecue and picnic site as well as for sunbathing and swimming. Hike up to the rocky shores up along Sharp Island for a ferry back to Sai Kung. More information here.

Hap Mun Bay, Sharp Island, Sai Kung, Hong Kong

Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

(Image credit: HKTB)

Sai Kung is home to some incredible rock formations thanks to volcanic activity in the area 140 million years ago. Whether you’re a geology buff or not, they are impressive: learn more from the Hong Kong UNESCO Geopark Volcano Discovery Centre located at the Sai Kung Waterfront Park to sign up for land excursions, while several boat tours are available from Sai Kung pier. Keen thrillseekers can also deem to explore the towering column formations up close by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. More information here.

Hong Kong Space Museum Astropark

Neighbourhood guide - Sai Kung
(Image credit: @greenslab/Instagram)

Located in the Chong Hing Water Sports Centre at High Island Reservoir, the Hong Kong Astropark is an open air park with stargazing facilities for you to admire the night sky at its full glory — a rarity in the concrete jungle that is Hong Kong. It’s best to head there by public transport or taxi, or you can also apply for a vehicle license to access the park.

More information here.

Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy

Looking to improve your swing? Your backhand, perhaps? The Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy is the first of its kind in the city, combining the coaching methods by Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf and Barcelona’s Bruguera Tennis Academy under one roof. Patrons can make the most of a driving range and six-hole training green, or a state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor tennis facility, on top of high-tech equipment and coaching that will help you scientifically improve your playing. Guests can also book in for overnight retreats or treat themselves to a spa session after a long hard day of training.

Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy, 81 Tai Chung Hau, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 3187 8900

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

These Are the Cities With the Highest Forecasted Growth for Luxury Real Estate in 2020

Posted in Market Report

When it comes to the global luxury real estate market, the reigning theme of 2019 has been uncertainty — with previously healthy growth rates softening due to political and economic instability around the world. According to the Prime Global Cities Index (PGCI) published quarterly by property consultancy Knight Frank, the annual prime price growth slowed to 1.4 percent (compared to 4.3 percent two years ago) across 46 world cities. The Index tracks prices at the top 5 percent of the global housing market, looking at where the world’s wealthiest are buying and investing in new homes.

Despite the slowing price growth, investors exercising caution with the advent of Brexit and rising interest rates all over the globe, a number of cities offer less muted growth opportunities. About 25 percent of Asian ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI, defined as those with net assets at US$30 million or more) are increasingly looking to buy a home outside of their country of residence by 2020, according to the Attitudes Survey in Knight Frank’s The Wealth Report. One can particularly expect a rise in property investments in European capitals in the coming year. 

With that, we look at the second Prime Global Cities Index (PGCI) released in 2019 to forecast the top eight cities with the greatest investment potential for 2020.

Berlin

With the annual growth of luxury residential prices at 12.7 percent in June 2019 compared to 14.1 percent three months before, Berlin might be seen as slowing down. However, it still boasts impressively competitive prices for Europe at €11,500 per square metre — for now that is. Among its most desirable neighbourhoods is Friedrichshain, once part of communist East Berlin, lined with Soviet-era buildings and the longest surviving stretch of the Berlin Wall. Now it’s renowned for its vibrant art scene, home to East Side Gallery, the longest open-air gallery in the world. Large multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Universal Music and Mercedes-Benz have also become attracted to the city’s creative energy, creating 30,000 plus jobs in the area and in turn growing demand for homes.

Frankfurt

Another German city on the rise is Frankfurt, which has seen annual price growth from 9.6 percent to 12 percent over the May to June period in 2019. Luxury residences fetch typical prices of around €13,500 per square metre, which remains competitive with the rest of Europe. As a historical and cultural centre with abundant green spaces, the city is consistently ranked by Mercer as one of the top 10 most liveable cities in the world. Research by Jones Lang LaSalle also notes double-digit growth for investors in the foreseeable future — average asking prices on condominiums in 2018 rose by 11.2 percent and rents increased by 6.4 percent.

Moscow

Following the ramifications of the 2008 global financial crisis and a dramatically devalued rouble in 2014, Russia’s luxury property market has been leading the country’s way to economic revival. Ranked third on Knight Frank’s latest PGCI, Moscow reported 9.5 percent annual growth for Q2 last year. Rising quickly up the ranks in prominence, Moscow’s prices for luxury apartments rose the second-fastest in the world during the first quarter, with the city moving up 34 positions in the index over the previous year. Whether it’s the prestigious addresses along its ‘Golden Mile’ and its US$2 million town houses or the up-and-coming neighbourhoods such as Agalarov Estate on the outskirts of Moscow, the historic city is worth consideration for luxury investment.

Manila

Manila offers the most potential for property investment at the moment. Topping the PIRI 100 list by Knight Frank, which measures the worth of 100 luxury residential markets by performance each year, Manila has enjoyed 11 percent of growth in home prices from 2017 to 2018 — a thrilling statistic during a downturn — thanks to its GDP growth exceeding 6 percent in 2018. Its UHNWI pool is expected to grow 37 percent by 2023, which adds to the keen interest in home purchases in the near future. Forty-eight percent of Knight Frank’s clients from the Philippines reported domestic property investment even after purchasing first and second homes. Eyes are on Alabang, an up-and-coming hotspot with a slew of infrastructure and development projects such as Alabang Town Center, which combines nature and retail, and Alabang West, a 10-billion-peso project that’s billed as Metro Manila’s answer to Beverly Hills.

Geneva

Consistently in the top-10 rankings for quality of life and safety, and long favoured by the wealthy for Switzerland’s lenient tax policies, Geneva still maintains its reputation for high price and prestige. However, that might be about to change — prime prices fell 2 percent in 2018, according to Knight Frank, and with less banking secrecy practices due to recent crackdowns on Swiss private banks, those attracted to moving to Geneva prize financial legitimacy above all else. As such, mid- to high-level executives from an assortment of non-finance sectors are starting to move in, according to Alex Koch de Gooreynd, Switzerland specialist at Knight Frank, in an interview with FT.com. The consultancy’s Wealth Report states that Trois Chénes, to the east of Geneva’s city centre, is gaining interest with a brand new fast rail link, pedestrian corridor and cycling route providing easy access to the city centre. A two-bedroom apartment at Trois Chénes starts at 800,000 Swiss francs.

Madrid

The relative affordability of living in Madrid and its attractive lifestyle are making it exceedingly popular among luxury homebuyers. The Spanish capital is recording similar prime price growth to Paris, at 5.2 percent according to Knight Frank. Non-prime districts on the outer areas of the city are performing well, while Knight Frank’s Rosa Uriol recommends Castellana Norte, a new area under construction to the north of Madrid. It’s set to create 2.6 million square metres of mixed-use development, including more than 10,000 homes, office space and, naturally, jobs. It sits just on the edge of Chamartín, one of Madrid’s most sought after addresses with limited new supply, and this northern sector of the city is certainly on the rise with the trendy and wealthy.

Paris

In the wake of Brexit’s impact on London, Paris is emerging as an alternative gateway city for living and investing in Europe. Young professionals and small families are gravitating to the 11th arrondissement, says Knight Frank’s Roddy Aris. “Located on the edge of the historic Marais district, the 11th arrondissement is a young, vibrant neighbourhood” replete with chic boutiques and restaurants. Prices are on the rise with the gentrification of the neighbouring 10th arrondissement, which has begun to pull up property values in the 11th. A three-bedroom apartment on each of the wide Haussmannian boulevards starts at €850,000, while the same property in the 4th arrondissement takes the price up to €1.2 million.

Zurich

Switzerland’s capital is a reliable choice for wealthy investors looking to purchase a holiday home, simply because of its enduring desirability. At number two on Mercer’s quality of living city ranking this year, Zurich stands as a prominent centre for business while offering easy access to the ski slopes. Knight Frank records a 4.5 percent price growth in 2019 from last year, and while home prices remain the highest in Switzerland while rent yields stay relatively low, it’s the negative interest rates and high quality of life that continue to drive investors. Due to its location and history, Switzerland will always be a stable investment for those who can afford it.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

8 Scented Holiday Candles to Make Your Home Cosy this Christmas

Posted in Interior Design

Add some festive sparkle to your home with these comforting scents of Christmas.

Cochine: Orange Amère and Star Anise

Launched in a balmy garden in Saigon 10 years ago by former London beauty industry magnate Kate Crofton-Atkins, French-Asian candle house Cochine focuses on native Vietnamese scents in its modern approach to fine home fragrances. It’s freshly released a Southeast Asian interpretation of a seasonal candle, featuring orange amère, a bitter citrus native to Vietnam, the warming spice of star anise, with a melange of holiday usual suspects such as clove, nutmeg, cinnamon leaf, on a vanilla and guaiac wood base. The glass features a limited edition design by British fashion illustrator Susannah Garrod. 

HK$490/230g from Cochine

Goutal: Une Forêt d’Or

Translating to ‘a forest of gold’, this scented candle is inspired by the morning of decorating the house for Christmas after a leisurely stroll through snow capped pines, where the freshness of winter is topped off with the zest of fresh orange and mandarin peels. This festive candle by Parisian fragrance house Goutal is dressed in a Nutcracker motif for the season, and in the spirit of sustainability, all of Annick Goutal’s candle holders can be refilled with any other candle in the collection, making this a limited edition collectible for years to come.

HK$900/300g from Goutal, Shop 20, G/F, Fashion Walk, Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2613 1303

Tom Dixon: Underground and Alchemy

Following a spate of new collections released in celebration of London Design Festival — just off the heels of the Salone del Mobile earlier in the year — Tom Dixon’s latest addition to its Eclectic scents family are Underground and Alchemy. Underground features a gingery scent common of rhizomes, or subterranean-grown root plants, combined with sweetly spicy Haitian cardamom that’s perfect for the winter season. Alchemy, inspired by the age-old notion of crafting valuable substances from basic materials, is an enigmatic scent with black pepper, woody cypress, eucalyptus, patchouli and smoky guaiac wood. The two candles are encased in a chic new waisted metal vessel design, available in three sizes.

HK$330/60g from Tom Dixon, 52 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2882 2068

Diptyque: Lucky Flowers

Shopping for candles isn’t complete unless you take a gander through Diptyque’s seasonal must-haves. This year’s holiday collection is inspired by end-of-the-year festivals, with limited edition designs by artist Olaf Hajek. The Lucky Flowers candle is particularly apt for the tag-team of important holidays we have just around the corner in Hong Kong of Christmas and Chinese New Year. With notes of rose, clove and aniseed, this candle carries a positive message of good luck and auspiciousness, with a design featuring lucky charms such as a four-leaf-clover and the Japanese maneki-neko, a bearer of good fortune.

£44.17 (HK$454.31)/190g from Mr. Porter

Buly 1803: Sumi Hinoki

This well-loved scent by the artisans at L’Officine Universelle Buly captures the fresh scent of walking through an ancient winter forest, with notes of cypress, juniper berry, charred hinoki and cedar. Carved in marble with an elegant and luxurious Buly stamp, this is the perfect candle to own or gift for any woody scent lovers — doubling as an elegant decorative item long after it’s burned down. But even that would take a while — this durable candle boasts a burning time of 80 to 100 hours.

HK$1,350/300g from L’Officine Universelle Buly, G/F, 20 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2191 9005

Byredo: Chai

The soothing spices of Indian chai is just the thing to warm up a frigid room in the dead of winter — and in Hong Kong’s chilly non-insulated homes, no less. This homage to masala chai was conjured from Byredo founder Ben Gorham’s memories of his grandmother’s home in mind, with the scent of spices and black tea leaves swirling and infusing in boiling milk. A familial and cosy scent apt for a holiday spent with all your loved ones.

HK$600/240g from Lane Crawford

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle: Joyeux Noel

Crafted by master perfumer Dominique Ropion, this seasonal candle captures the traditional essence of winter with warm spices meshed with the bracing freshness of winter pine. With pine, amber, cinnamon and an unexpected addition of cotton candy, the image this scent conjures is a candlelit living room on Christmas morning as children play and spice cake is served with tea, as a fire crackles softly nearby. You can’t get more festive than that.

HK$650/220g from Lane Crawford

Jo Malone: Myrrh and Tonka

The iconic seasonal scent of myrrh is paired with sweet vanilla and tonka bean in this luxurious scent by Jo Malone, also available as a popular cologne. Perfect to wind down a chilly winter evening, the rich scent of the hand-harvested sap of the Namibian myrrh tree is blended with the lovely layers of vanilla and almond from the tonka bean. A top note of lavender adds an herbaceous brightness to the mix so it’s not too heady, while also softening the atmosphere and helping you relax before bed.

HK$680/200g from Lane Crawford

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Go Big in Bali: The Most Incredible Villas on the Market Right Now

Posted in Holiday Homes

Infinity pools, cliffside sunsets, and the mecca of modern wellness just at your doorstep: Who wouldn’t want a home away from home amongst the palm trees in Bali? Check out some of the most stunning villa properties that are currently on the market.

Seven-bedroom forest villa in Ubud

Take to Ubud’s lush jungles for this HK$32.9 million 7-bedroom oasis: Built by a furniture designer who has worked with numerous famed resorts, hotels and private properties around the world, this villa exudes chic and modern Scandinanvian influences mixed in with rustic influences from Indonesian tradition. Three bedrooms boast king-sized beds with their own en-suite, open air baths, with one bedroom particularly featuring an impossibly tall five-metre ceiling and a handsome, centuries-old bed frame. With your own gym, a long deck fitted for barbecues and the 25-metre infinity pool, this estate is perfect for entertaining and relaxing. More information here.

10-bedroom cliffside condo in Ungasan

For HK$31.3 million, this cliff-front, 8,847-square-foot, five-bed villa with not one but two pools is yours. Seamless floor to ceiling windows allow in plenty of light, while large communal areas, spacious bedrooms and private balconies are all ideal vantage points to catch the sunset. Just a few steps away is access to a private beach owned by the resort, while Sundays Beach Club is nearby if you’re looking for a more convivial brunch experience. More information here.

Four-bedroom party pad in Ungasan

Located in Karang Saujana Estate in tranquil Buki Uluwatu, this four-bedroom villa is located at the tip of millionaire’s mile in Southern Bali. Tastefully appointed with Batik touches and sleek modern finishings, this HK$13.3 million property features an swoon-worthy infinity pool overlooking the ocean, while a manicured lawn, spacious dining and living areas and a state-of-the-art kitchen makes it the ideal pad for entertaining. More information here.

Eight-bedroom hideaway in Seminyak

If you’re always waiting for a quick and easy getaway, this HK$14.2 million eight bedroom villa is right up your alley — it’s centrally located in Seminyak, just 200 metres away from Petitenget beach and just 20 minutes’ drive from the airport. At the heart of this three storey property is a deep blue swimming pool and ample deck space for sunning yourself — whether poolside or up on the terrace, accessible from the upstairs bedrooms. The efficient layout, featuring a high tech kitchen, lounge bar and entertainment area, feels a lot more spacious than its 8,180 square feet. More information here.

Six-bedroom minimalist abode in Uluwatu

Ideal for culture-minded holidaymakers, this contemporary six-bed villa features minimalist interiors practically made for maximalist art collections — there’s ample space the display your beloved pieces. The clean, white on white aesthetic is enhanced with frameless glass doors, which helps you take advantage of the sea views and infinity pool that truly seems to go on forever. At HK$19.4 million, this stunning villa has six ensuite bedrooms, a full gym, two staff quarters, and plenty of entertaining space, including a spare room ideal for setting up your own home theatre. More information here.

Three-bedroom mansion in Uluwatu

For a cool HK$46.6 million, this lot spanning over 12,000 square feet seems almost like a steal. With priceless privacy and 180-degree unobstructed ocean views, this cliffside private property is the ultimate millionaire’s pad. With just three bedrooms, it’s ideal for small families or couples without children. There’s plenty of space indoors and out, with a larger pool at the corner of the property and a smaller dipping pool for days you’re just looking to cool off. In between the hours of sun, indulge in a private steam and sauna, a massage in the dedicated spa room, or grab some popcorn for your own movie screening in the home cinema. A separate butler’s residence and staff quarters are also located off the main building. More information here.

Six-bedroom jungle sanctuary in Canggu

Tucked in the heart of Canggu’s lush green belt, this stylish sanctuary features a 700-square-foot infinity pool overlooking the Pancaran riverbank and waterfalls. Surrounded by trees, the villa ensures plenty of privacy, while offering various gorgeously designed spaces for relaxing and reflecting under the sun-dappled shade. This property has operated as the best rental villa in Canggu on TripAdvisor for three years, and is now available on the market. More information here.

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.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Top 5 Niseko Properties for Ski Lovers

Posted in Holiday Homes

Avid skiers who make their yearly powder pilgrimage in Niseko are no stranger to staying at the abundance of new hotels and chalets popping up around the slopes, but nothing beats having your own home base with all the creature comforts of home. If you’re in the market for your dream winter home, look to these exceptional new properties in Niseko.

Skye Niseko

Located above the popular area of Hirafu village within the Hokkaido National Park in Niseko, Skye Niseko is a privately owned luxury condominium-hotel ski resort that allows for ski-in ski-out access. Designed by global design firm Wilson Associates, the modern, minimalist property features two L-shaped interlocking buildings so that all living rooms and bedrooms have external views of the mountains. Skye Niseko is ideal for those looking for serviced luxuries during their stay but want a private home base. One- to three-bedroom apartments are currently available for investment, each fitted with state-of-the-art kitchens, heated outdoor balconies, open fireplaces and Rotenburo onsens. After a day out on the slopes, unwind at Ryoko Spa, or check out soothing Hokkaido fare at several onsite dining options.

Skye Niseko, 204-7 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0081, Japan

The Pavilions Ginto Residences Niseko

Located just a hop and a skip away from Hirafu, Ginto is a brand new developed area just 800 metres from the most sought after ski lifts in the area. Part of The Pavilions Hotels and Resorts portfolio, The Ginto Residences gives you the chance to design your own luxury ski home or invest in one of the existing well-appointed villas, while expecting plush furnishings and picturesque views of Mount Yotei, private onsen baths, and all the spoils of a five-star resort in your own home. Owners also get preferential rates at The Pavilions Niseko Hotel & Resort, slated to complete by autumn 2020. Currently, Phase II of The Ginto Residences is releasing this November, with five new villas set to complete while four more villas are set to break ground next summer. 

Visit pavilionsginto.com for more information.

Hana Ridge Niseko

For a long time visiting the popular Hirafu slopes meant well over two hours’ travel from the nearest Chitose international airport. A newly developed airport expressway is currently being built, shrinking driving time to an hour and 45 minutes, while a brand new bullet train station in Kutchan is also in the works. At the epicentre of this development is Hana Ridge, Niseko’s first luxury chalet and land development with ski-in access from Hanazono ski resort and just around the corner from the Park Hyatt. All 12 plots have natural hot spring connections, uninterrupted views of Mount Yotei, and privacy in the midst of a lush silver birch forest.

Hana Ridge Niseko, 267-4 Aza Iwaobetu, Kutchan-Cho, Abutagun, Hokkaido 044-0084, Japan

Intuition Niseko

Part of the Zekkei Properties portfolio, Intuition Niseko is an estate located just several minutes’ walk from some of Hirafu’s most popular restaurants, bars, shops and supermarkets. Conveniently close to ski lifts yet quietly nestled in a forest setting, Intuition was developed with Tokyo-based ALA Inc., which was founded by Ryuya Umezawa — a veteran project manager who has worked with renowned studio Kengo Kuma & Associates for over a decade.

Visit intuitionniseko.com for more information.

HakuVillas

If you’re looking for the ultimate alpine home, HakuVillas’ ultra-luxe Upper Hirafu penthouses are on the market. Just 200 metres from the Hirafu gondolas, HakuVillas boasts itself as the first luxury condominium development featuring in-house staff, including a personal butler, chauffeur and chef. Managed under the HakuLife brand, the development’s sister property Hakuchozan features holiday rentals for US$15,000 a night and a 7-night minimum during the wintertime — now you can invest in your very own for a VVIP experience every time.

Visit HakuVillas for more information.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.