The emergence of premium offices, luxury malls and world-class hotels in Kowloon has reinvigorated an area that has taken a back seat in the development of Hong Kong.
Kowloon East is a major business district in the making. Many companies, including several in finance and manufacturing, have moved to Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay, where there is a supply of new, affordable grade-A offices. The up-and-coming commercial area will become even more attractive following the introduction of the Sha Tin to Central Rail Link in 2020, with a station at Kai Tak, and the redevelopment of its area to create a residential, commercial and recreational hub by 2021.
Another district under transformation is West Kowloon, where the 118-storey International Commerce Centre provides 2.5 million sq ft of office space, and houses The Ritz-Carlton, the world's highest hotel. The area is also home to an array of designer labels and high-end residential properties.
All eyes are on the West Kowloon Cultural District, a government initiative to establish Hong Kong as the hub of culture, to be completed in stages from 2015. The mega-project, together with the opening of the Express Rail Link in 2018, that will connect Hong Kong with the Pearl River Delta, is expected to bring visitors in droves.
Daniel Kerr, director of operations of Ovolo Group, which runs an apartment hotel in Sham Shui Po, says the revitalisation of Kowloon presents a great opportunity for serviced apartments. 'We are forecasting excellent growth over the coming three years and [are] looking for opportunities to increase our portfolio in Kowloon,' he says.
SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP
The Golden Mile shopping experience
A visit to Kowloon would not be complete without a taste of the famous shopping experience along Nathan Road. Also known as the Golden Mile, Nathan Road connects Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok, and is packed with shops selling goods, from clothes and jewellery to electronics, such as cameras and mobile phones. Bargain hard (and don't expect good service), be prepared to be elbowed by throngs of locals and tourists along the way, soak in the atmosphere and take in the buzz of the experience.
Kowloon offers a string of fine dining options for customers with a deep wallet. In addition to celebrated restaurants, such as Gaddi's in The Peninsula and Spoon at InterContinental, several high-end restaurants have recently landed in Kowloon, including Tosca at The Ritz-Carlton and RyuGin at the International Commerce Centre. The latter's mother restaurant in Tokyo has been awarded three Michelin stars.