Kowloon is emerging as a prime location for new developments For many Hong Kong islanders, crossing over to Kowloon was once a rare event, and as for the New Territories, practically unheard of. These days, just as shopping and business districts have jumped the harbour, so too has the availability of quality accommodation, especially in the serviced apartment sector. According to CB Richard Ellis research, last year Hong Kong had more than 60 serviced apartment developments, mostly on Hong Kong Island. North Point, Wan Chai and Mid-Levels had 4,300 serviced suites between them. Kowloon accounted for 2,000 serviced apartments, and the New Territories just 1,200. Studios and one-bedroom units were the most common, followed by two-bedroom, three-bedroom and only a handful of four-bedroom apartments. Kowloon, however, is emerging as a market in its own right - and not only because of the cost factor. Continuous development of new infrastructure and improved transport links have bridged the divide between Kowloon and the business and financial districts of Hong Kong Island. And for those headed in the opposite direction, access to the mainland is now quicker than ever. And that's not all, according to Fred Leung Fook-man, manager of Lanson Place The Waterfront Residences in Tsim Sha Tsui. 'There is a better harbour view looking from Kowloon side than on Hong Kong Island,' he said. Lanson Place made a strategic decision in choosing the site for its first serviced apartments in Hong Kong. 'We are right on top of Kowloon station, with an Airport Express train underneath us,' Mr Leung said. 'For business people wanting to get to the border, there is the convenience of the China ferry terminal and the train to Lo Wu, and we are very close to many of the brand new office buildings being built in Kowloon.' The Miramar Group also found Kowloon had the right credentials for its Pinnacle Apartments, which opened in August. 'Tsim Sha Tsui is a prime location in terms of convenience,' said Vivien Chow, Miramar Group director of marketing and group service assurance. 'Very popular - especially with businesspeople and expatriates - it has easy access via the MTR and ferry to Wan Chai and Central, and to many of the new office blocks that are being developed nearby. And from Kowloon side, the harbour view is spectacular.' Harbour Plaza Hotels and Resorts, the hotel group of Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong (Holdings), moved further afield by developing a project at Tin Shui Wai in the New Territories. It even uses the distance as a marketing tool, promoting Harbour Plaza Resort City as 'a relaxing breakaway from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong'. According to Stephen Chu, general manager of leasing at Harbour Plaza Hotel Management: 'Before the development was built, focus groups told us that people wanted security, shopping and easy access to the airport. They also liked the idea of living in a rural atmosphere, where the air is cleaner. 'We provided all that at a value-for-money price, in a resort environment that is totally hassle-free. Resort City gives them a place where they can really relax after work, and because we have regular community get-togethers and parties by the pool, it also gives them a neighbourhood.' The resort is popular with airline crews (who make up 15 per cent of the occupancy), native English-speaking teachers, and business travellers who need to be near Shenzhen. The management provides 38 express shuttles daily to and from the airport, and 22 express shuttles to Tsim Sha Tsui. Facilities include a business centre, adjoining shopping mall, restaurants, a pool, spa, fitness centre and tennis courts. The complex also offers panoramic scenery, with views over Central Park and beyond to Deep Bay and the Mai Po nature reserve. Another new development in the New Territories, Horizon Suite Hotel in Ma On Shan, opened last year offering a 'lower-key' environment than is available in the city. A Cheung Kong (Holdings)/Hutchison Whampoa joint venture managed by Horizon Concept, it is built on the waterfront at Tolo Harbour to emphasise an outdoor lifestyle and what senior sales manager Peter Tam describes as 'bargain-priced views'. Every suite has sea and/or mountain views. Unusually, there are no studios or one-bedroom designs, because the developers thought its target market required more space. All suites feature two or three bedrooms, some have balconies or small private gardens, and every room has opening windows to let in the fresh air. Mr Tam said that people no longer wanted to put up with a crowded living environment, and were looking for alternatives. This had been particularly evident since the outbreak of Sars, which sparked an increase in bookings. 'Horizon Suite Hotel has many advantages, but the main one is our superb environment,' he said. 'The view is spectacular, and it's a different view to Victoria Harbour.' 'We have huge open areas all around us, and people appreciate that more and more, especially westerners who, along with Japanese and Koreans, make up 40 per cent of our guests.' Clubhouse and recreational facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant, an audio/video room, cyber corner, function rooms, children's area and gym, and shuttle buses to Diamond Hill MTR station, Sha Tin town centre and the Chinese University.