Homes with a difference

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 July, 2011, 12:00am


When American trend forecaster Faith Popcorn first coined the term 'cocooning', many people might not have heard it before, but a few instantly got what it meant.

As early as 1981, Popcorn sensed that the practice of going out had lost much of its allure for many and, that within a decade, increasing numbers of us would just want to stay at home - even in Hong Kong. As cocooning caught on here, it challenged certain accepted conventions, not least of which saw many of us cooking and entertaining more, often for the first time.

Interior designer Suzy Annetta, of Studio Annetta, says the cocooning phenomenon is particularly strong in Hong Kong because so many people here live such full and busy lives.

'Despite the wide range of things to do in this city, sometimes it's nice just to stay at home. And it's just as nice staying home with friends if you like to entertain,' she says. 'People in Hong Kong have cottoned on to investing in their living spaces for this reason. Adding to this is people travelling more for work and pleasure, and then wanting to recreate at home all the luxuries a 5-star hotel or resort has to offer.'

Serviced apartment operator Swire quickly caught on to this, renovating its Pacific Place Apartments - with interiors by award-winning designer Ed Ng of AB Concept - with home comforts foremost in mind.

The property's prime location, within the Pacific Place office and retail mall and directly connected to Admiralty MTR, sets the scene. 'The magic that draws residents to Pacific Place Apartments is its offer of serene living - right in the middle of everything you need,' says Coco Wong, portfolio manager.

Wong says residents are mostly executives with an intense work and travel schedule, who 'very much value' the quality of their leisure time. 'Our apartments are truly home size, allowing busy people the space and comfort to rejuvenate,' she says. 'There is a unique Zen essence which becomes they key accent in every design detail - not only pleasing the eye, but also the body, soul and mind.'

Residents can choose from generously sized one- to three-bedroom apartments, ranging from 1,220 sqft to 2,650 sqft, in either contemporary or oriental design. Clean forms and lines give the Oriental theme a contemporary interpretation.

'Instead of using overwhelming designs, residents will be impressed by the functionality behind each detail - the subtle, user-friendly aesthetic designed for people who are serious about living comfort, and appreciate the real meaning of less is more,' Wong says. The apartments are also state-of-the-art, equipped with complimentary plug and play broadband internet, and top-notch electrical appliances, including a 42-inch flat screen television and Bose surround-sound home theatre system in the living room, and a Nakamichi audio system and an LCD television in the bedroom.

With home cooking a priority for today's budding master chefs, kitchens come with a full range of fittings, including a microwave and convection ovens, dishwasher, washer-drier, fridge-freezer and Siemens counter-top appliances.

Round-the-clock personalised service is another home-like touch. 'We assign one contact point from start to finish for each resident to ensure their special needs and preferences are fully taken care of. Our team of resident services staff is multilingual and painstakingly trained,' Wong says.

These frontline staff make an effort to remember all residents by name. Special occasions, such as anniversaries, babies born and family birthdays, are remembered and celebrated with surprises, Wong says. She describes 'many emotional partings' when residents leave. 'They tell us our staff have embraced every challenge and constantly strive to exceed expectations,' Wong says. 'This is the reason why a consistent flow of our customers are from referral and word of mouth.'

Residents enjoy a range of premium hotel services such as daily housekeeping, 24-hour room service and round-the-clock security, concierge and maintenance.

Private limousine and taxi drop-off points, and MTR access with a direct link to the Airport Express rail, are on their doorstep. Step outside their front door and they're in Pacific Place mall with more than 710,000 sqft of retail space, in excess of 130 premium shops, a stadium-seat cinema, plus stylish cafes and restaurants, and four 5-star hotels.

The tranquil greenery of Hong Kong Park is just next door. And a pedestrian tunnel enables direct, all-weather access from Pacific Place complex to Star Street Precinct, a cosy yet stylish area with character cafes, bars and galleries.

Most high-end serviced apartment operators talk about offering 'home comforts', but Wong says this is something Swire does particularly well.

The company has positioned its property 'from day one as Hong Kong's true deluxe-grade serviced apartments'.

It says: 'Pacific Place Apartments cater for the needs of residents who look for superb convenience and fully appointed accommodation that enhances, rather than compromises, their quality of living. Our apartments offer a complete luxury community with shopping, dining and entertainment. Residents of Pacific Place Apartments can truly have it all.'