Golf not your bag? Play at being a star

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2006, 12:00am

Airport ready to make travellers' dreams come true at $2b SkyCity entertainment hub

Would-be movie stars will soon be able to make their dreams come true in a small way - not at a film studio, but at the airport. For the camera-shy, there'll be a golf course and a mall.

The Asia Hollywood attraction is intended to help promote Hong Kong's film industry.

'You can play your own role in a movie and you can take the CD home, having yourself in the movie,' the Airport Authority's commercial director Hans Bakker said.

The initial concept is that a visitor to the Chek Lap Kok airport can choose a scene from one of their favourite movies and, with the help of technology, 'appear' in the scene and play a role before the cameras.

Asia Hollywood is part of the $2 billion SkyCity project, which the authority hopes will help the airport maintain a competitive edge in the region.

'It's an entertainment centre. The operator has a lot of celebrities under contract. So when a celebrity arrives they will have their press conferences there,' Mr Bakker added.

He would not say any more about the entertainment centre or disclose who the business partners are, since negotiations are still going on. More information would be announced in May, he said.

Apart from Asia Hollywood, SkyCity will also comprise the AsiaWorld Expo convention centre - already in operation - in which the Airport Authority has a 10 per cent stake; a $100 million, nine-hole golf course; a four-star, 700-room hotel - the airport's third; and the 38,000 square metre SkyPlaza, with 134 shops and restaurants and a 4-D cinema beneath two office towers.

The complex's SkyPier will provide connections to Pearl River Delta cities and airports.

The Nine Eagles golf course, expected to open this year, will take up 11 hectares, and include an artificial-lake water hazard. It will operate daily from 7am to 11pm.

Mr Bakker said the course was temporary. 'It's a creative solution for us. There's a big piece of land we don't need yet. We could've spent millions of dollars on landscaping or found a partner to invest $100 million on a golf course.'

Hong Kong's airport has been voted the world's best by passengers for five years running, and last year passenger traffic rose by 3 million year on year, to 40 million. Still, Mr Bakker said Chek Lap Kok faced a challenge from competitors around the region, such as the airports in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Singapore.

He said that since announcing the SkyCity project, other airports had been trying to copy the idea.

'They try to bring in more entertainment and duplicate our retail offer ... for example [the airport] in Singapore has a swimming pool, which we don't have so far.'

Summing up his role, Mr Bakker said: 'We have a home market of 6.8 million people. But we have to look for other markets.'

He said it was important to find new ways to generate income, but 'money isn't the only drive. First we satisfy the needs of passengers ... and automatically you'll make money'.

SkyPlaza will have its soft opening in August.