There are about 16,500 serviced apartments in Hong Kong. At the high end, corporate executives make up the bulk of the clientele. These high-flyers are used to the best and the industry knows it needs to get creative to meet their demands.
Belinda Kuan, deputy general manager of Signature Homes, the residential leasing arm of Sun Hung Kai Properties, believes demand will remain high. 'The market is active and will continue to flourish. General rentals increased 20 per cent to over 30 per cent last year,' she says.
Signature Homes' Four Seasons Place has 519 serviced suites and its sister project, The HarbourView Place, has 266. 'Demand for high-end serviced suites with prime location is growing,' Kuan says.
The two complexes feature a 24-hour multilingual concierge, in-room dining, housekeeping and limousine pick up. The company's guest liaison specialists/orientation specialists provide personalised orientation and can organise social activities, such as fung shui talks, aroma oil balm workshops and hiking trips, to help guests get comfortable as they settle in their new city.
Coco Wong, portfolio manager of Pacific Place Apartments of Swire Properties, also expects continued growth. 'In view of the strong economic growth in Asia-Pacific, the demand for serviced apartments is strong and maintaining a positive growth. We anticipate there will be another 10 to 15 per cent growth this year,' she says. It is important to equip apartments with state-of-the-art communications and electronic appliances, Wong says. Suites are furnished with complimentary plug-and-play broadband internet and appliances including flat screen televisions and a surround-sound home theatre system. Kitchens come with a full range of appliances.
For Shama Serviced Apartments, it's all about little extras such as a rooftop herb garden, a barbecue grill and free mint tea.
Marilyn Fu, director of sales and marketing of the ONYX Group, which owns Shama in Hong Kong, says different designers are used to creating trendy yet comfortable apartments. She believes it is important to anticipate a guest's needs and give them what they want before they ask for it. She says that Shama, which has more than 400 units in Hong Kong, was the first to introduce iPod docking stations to all apartments six years ago. Fu adds that the apartments were also the first to be pet-friendly.
Following last month's tragic events in Japan, demand for rooms in Hong Kong has increased. Shama has received hundreds of inquiries from companies looking to temporarily relocate staff. 'We are doing our best to help as much as we can. We will speed up maintenance to turnover rooms as soon as we can,' Fu says.
The company has also approached one local Japanese Club about providing short-term memberships to help the new arrivals. 'They were kind enough to offer temporary membership for a small fee, so they can come and use the facilities,' Fu says.