Concerns over public access to hotel planned for historic Tai O site

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 February, 2009, 12:00am

Concerns were raised about public access to a proposed boutique hotel at the historic Tai O Police Station after details were unveiled yesterday.

Una Lau Yuk-man, assistant general manager of the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation, released more details of the proposal at an on-site press conference.

The foundation, an NGO set up by developer Sino Land, won the bid to revamp the site under the government heritage revitalisation scheme.

Ms Lau said that if the public wanted to view the indoor architecture, people had to join free guided tours that would run three or four times a day. 'We should respect our guests' privacy,' she said, explaining the need for organised tours.

Each of the nine suites in the hotel will feature a fireplace and wooden windows and floorboards, Ms Lau said. Suites would be 200 to 400 sq ft, she said. Rates would be between HK$1,500 and HK$2,000 per night.

The public will be able to sit around the front yard and join bilingual workshops there to learn how to make shrimp paste and salted eggs, Ms Lau added.

Wong Wai-king, a resident who runs a self-financed workshop to promote Tai O culture, said she hoped the hotel would not shut out locals.

'Please don't turn it into a private villa for the rich. It won't cost them much to rent the whole hotel [for private functions and prevent access to the public],' she said.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said the hotel should be kept open for public access as much as possible, 'otherwise it will not meet the scheme's original intention to encourage public appreciation of heritage'.

Among parts of the building open to the public will be the reception area, which is the former report room of 30 square metres, and the restaurant. The reception area will also feature an exhibition of historic photos and documents on Tai O.

The two jail cells inside the room will be turned into a business centre with an internet connection.

The two watch towers will be closed off, however, because the iron ladders leading up are not safe.

The hotel was expected to break even in two years.

Ms Lau said the glass-roofed restaurant would offer dining cheaper than at four-star hotels. For example, coffee would cost HK$20 a cup.

The hotel will invite artists to create work with themes related to Tai O, and the artwork will be exhibited and auctioned to generate income that will be shared equally between the artists and the hotel.



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