The long and the short of serviced apartments in Hong Kong
Short-stayers make most of home conveniences, while long-stayers couldn’t be happier
Serviced apartments are a convenient option for temporary accommodation in Hong Kong. For short-stayers in the city for business or leisure, they offer hotel services with home-like conveniences (such as a kitchen and laundry facilities), enabling such visitors to maximise their time.
A couple of months in this popular hospitality sector gives newcomers the chance to look around before committing to a residential lease, and time to set up a flat once they have decided. Householders undergoing renovations at home can frequent nearby serviced apartments during the works, so they don’t have to leave the neighbourhood.
But what of those who choose serviced apartments as their permanent residence in Hong Kong? There’s a dedicated band of long-stayers who find everything they need in a well-located, well-managed serviced apartment property – and they say they couldn’t be happier.
Take the Feyler family. Originally from Germany, they moved into Gateway Apartments in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui when the property opened in September 1999 and are still there 17 years later.
“It really comes down to the complete package of convenient living,” explains Klaus Feyler, a business owner whose office is a few minutes’ walk from his home. “Our apartment is excellent; the staff fantastic, and we have all the facilities we need close at hand.”
Carl Franklin Joyce, a US businessman, first stayed in Gateway Apartments during a short-term assignment in 2005. When he returned with his wife for a longer posting in 2008, living anywhere else was out of the question.
“We gave up the attempt to settle elsewhere as no place could have been better than here to call home,” Joyce says. At first it was the convenient location and service which drew the couple to stay “and the longer we are here the more we appreciate that decision.”
Ronald Loges, general manager at Gateway Apartments, says 75 per cent of its residents have leases of more than one year. Of these, 16 per cent have stayed for five years or longer, while 5 per cent are residents of 10 years-plus.
“Our permanent residents fall into two major groups,” he says. “One group consists of high-net-worth retirees that want a large residence in a first-class location with luxury hotel standards and services. Security, safety and service are a key priority with major shopping, dining and recreation facilities at their doorstep.
“The second group comprises company executives, many of whom are business owners conducting business in mainland China and throughout the Asia-Pacific. The reason they choose Hong Kong and a serviced apartment is its first-class status as a business hub, enjoying convenient regional and international travel options.”
Again, the serviced apartment is a clear choice of convenience and comfort, Loges continued.
“For businesspeople who travel a lot, our turnkey solution suits them very well,” he says. “Another practical reason will be their tax status. Many are from Europe and having Hong Kong as their primary address offers substantial tax advantages.”
Without leaving the sanctuary of their property, Gateway Apartment residents also gain access to the purpose built, 140,000 square feet, Pacific Club, which provides members with a wide range of sport, recreation and dining options arranged over five levels. “We call the Pacific Club our ‘oasis’ and use the facility on an almost daily basis for eating and playing sport,” Feyler says.
Long-staying residents of Pacific Place Apartments, Admiralty, take a similar view. “We originally intended to live here for six months – we’ve stayed 18 years,” one long-staying couple said of their Swire Properties apartment. In such a fast-paced city as Hong Kong, they add, coming home to their spacious, fully serviced suite with its green views of Hong Kong Park and the Peak (or optional city skyline/Victoria Harbour view) is “just a breath of serenity”.
More than 20 per cent of existing tenants stay at Pacific Place Apartments for 12 months or longer, and 60 per cent for more than nine months.
At Harbour Plaza North Point, a retired professional, Mrs Chan, offers another good reason for choosing a serviced apartment as her permanent home. As a single woman with no close family, she finds the hotel security reassuring, and the companionship comforting. “I always have someone to talk to,” she says, “and I don’t have to worry about a thing.”