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Weekend Property

Little Tai Hang serviced apartments designed ‘to bring Hong Kong’s modern culture into the living space’

New York architect Tommy Watari Pao puts his faith in a design-centric serviced apartment and boutique hotel development in ‘hidden sweet spot’ between Causeway Bay and Quarry Bay

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 2:00pm

A sojourn to Hong Kong in 2006 took New York architect Tommy Watari Pao to Tai Hang, a quaint district he calls “the hidden sweet spot” between Causeway Bay and Quarry Bay.

Three plots of land brimmed with potential in a neighbourhood on the cusp of gentrification, its laid-back vibe a refreshing contrast to the surrounding shopping/commercial districts.

Without knowing what he would do with it, Harvard-trained Pao secured the site. When he returned four years later, a design-centric serviced apartment and boutique hotel development felt the right fit. Thus Little Tai Hang,the product of one man’s vision, opened in late March as the newest arrival on Hong Kong’s hospitality scene.

Pao’s architectural training had equipped him with skills that extended to urban design, real estate finance, landscape architecture, project management and construction. “So when I came across this opportunity in Hong Kong, I thought this was a good chance to apply what I had learned,” he says.

“I’d always wanted to get my hands dirty and do something quite special. With serviced apartments the yield is good, and at that time there weren’t that many purpose-built boutique properties with a unique identity, but at the same time an upscale luxury standard. I don’t think there’s anything like it.”

He cites the character and privacy of the neighbourhood, the “incredible” parkland and harbour views, and the convenience. Located within walking distance of the MTR, Victoria Park and Causeway Bay, Little Tai Hang is easily accessible for anyone looking to go to Central and Hong Kong East.

“There’s a lot of street life, which is rare,” Pao says. “A lot of valuable land in Hong Kong is on The Peak or south side, [and] you have to drive to get to your restaurants or convenience stores. At Tai Hang, it’s all here.”

[It’s] sophisticated yet down to earth; quiet yet in the heart of the city. These contrasts bring an edge to the property that we hope appeals to those looking for something off the beaten track yet accessible
Tommy Watari Pao, founder, Little Tai Hang

Adding to the choice of trendy bars and cafes recently established in the area, Little Tai Hang has attracted two new F&B concepts. Second Draft, a convivial neighbourhood gastropub, offers a comprehensive beverage menu, including locally brewed beers by the Young Master Brewery, along with creative dishes by award-winning chef May Chow. Restaurant BOND by the Three Monkeys serves comfort fare in a casual and welcoming space.

Pao says that, as a purpose-built serviced apartment property, he was able to implement spatial planning not always possible in a converted building. An unrestricted lease allowed flexibility of the site’s redevelopment, so he could incorporate a hotel licence, allowing scope for short- and long-stay guests.

The first phase of the development comprises 91 apartments, of about 121 in total with an expected completion date of late 2018. There are four room types: studios (358 sq ft to 533 sq ft gross), one-bedroom (458 sq ft to 802 sq ft), two bedrooms (810 sq ft) and a 1,499 sq ft penthouse with a 424 sq ft terrace.

Specially sourced bricks and stone give the façade its identity. The interiors are full of bespoke and characterful touches, their layouts designed to frame one of the most defining characteristics of the building: most rooms have sweeping views across Victoria Park to the harbour, with the rest overlooking the Lin Fa Kung Temple and mountains to the south.

Surrounding the property will be six luxury residential projects – Pavilia Hill, Warrenwoods, The Warren, Park Haven, Yoo Residence and Jones Hive, representing strong residential demand and bringing a young and invigorating demographic into the neighbourhood.

Pao says Little Tai Hang is designed “to bring Hong Kong’s unique modern culture into the living space while providing an upscale experience for business and leisure travellers alike”.

“[It’s] sophisticated yet down to earth; quiet yet in the heart of the city. These contrasts bring an edge to the property that we hope appeals to those looking for something off the beaten track yet accessible.”

As the founder and creative mind behind Little Tai Hang, Pao believes that such a property will be able to fill a market niche.

“We’ve had a very successful opening, and [have set up] a social media page. It’s just a matter of getting the word out,” he says.