Cecil Chao

Getting down to basics with high society lovebirds

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 February, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 February, 1993, 12:00am

CECIL Chao, ancient squillionaire and property person, recently wed Terri Holladay, 24-year-old body beautiful.

I did not talk to Terri (incredibly, I was not invited) at Happy Lodge, part of the understated 15,000 square foot cliffside compound of Villa Cecil.

Tatler magazine did, saving me the tedious haul out to Pokfulam and $7 in minibus fares.

It's a bit of a cheat; I've taken parts of that article and made it an interview.

The extracts are real. I swear I did not make them up. Neither could I have conjured this: ''Terri snuggles up to Cecil. He reaches for her hand and the sun streaming through the skylight of the floor above catches the glint from her magnificent diamond engagement ring.'' P.S.: Having a truckload of family money and concentrating on watching the property market spiral upward for 20 years must create enormous stress. How does Cecil Chao cope? Tatler : When he yearns for peace and quiet Cecil can hop into his helicopter and let his Australian pilot Brendan fly him to a grassy mountain top in the New Territories. Or he can board his new 100 foot boat.

P.S.: Does the simple life extend to the house? Tatler : Their bathroom is the size of a small flat. Its most impressive feature is the jacuzzi which takes practically a day to fill and which nine-year-old Howard uses as a swimming pool.

P.S.: Most 24-year-olds who come to Hongkong stay the first few weeks at Chungking Mansions or a friend's living room floor. How did Terri manage? Tatler : The couple clicked and soon Holladay was invited to move into Chao's 12,000 square foot home. She took, she admits, a little persuading.

P.S.: Do Cecil and children Gigi and Howard live fairly ordinary lives? Tatler : Lively Howard was jumping around begging the servants to take him to buy chocolates. Holladay duly dispatched two of the servants with the active youngster.

P.S.: I'm told the family has simple tastes. How simple? Tatler : The master bedroom is dominated by a huge circular bed - it has a diameter of three metres - which is covered with a heavy black mink bedspread.

P.S.: Will Terri become involved with charity work? I'm told she identifies strongly with the starving masses in North Africa.

Tatler : The former model, who was born to wear Versace and Moschino, feels she has a weight problem. ''I need to put on two kilograms,'' she pleads.

P.S.: Terri, are you concerned about being mistaken for Cecil's daughter? Terri: I think he is trying to create a more dignified look for me.

P.S.: Does Cecil see the 31 years between them as a problem or a challenge? Tatler : Chao is a man of contrasts and revels in creating elegance from simple beauty.

P.S.: Is Chao really a man of great depth and sophistication? Tatler : A spacious corner of the upstairs dining area allows Chao and his friends to indulge in their favourite pastime - karaoke.

P.S.: Terri, leading contemporary thinkers agree that our rampant materialism has left us spiritually empty, and the resulting environmental disaster now threatens the extinction of the human race. What are your thoughts on this? Terri: Cecil loves to buy my clothes for me . . . he likes me to dress in Versace . . . he has a great talent for knowing which colours and shapes will suit me.

P.S.: Some cynics suggest the Chao/Holladay relationship is ego and image marrying image and image. How would you answer these reptiles? Tatler : Given their difference in age and background, the romance of Cecil Chao and Terri Holladay has a fairytale quality. The couple enjoy an idyllic existence in a fantastical castle and there is no reason why they should come down to earth with a bump.

Barbara Cartland, eat your heart out. Peter Sherwood is managing director of the PR firm Edelman Hongkong.