Sino Land has converted some unfurnished flats at its Hong Kong Gold Coast project into serviced apartments to tap business growth in the sector. The conversion programme proved to be successful, with the developer receiving higher rentals for the serviced units. Victor Tin, assistant general manager of the leasing department at Sino Land, said the programme helped increase the value and competitiveness of the project. Under the scheme, Sino Land renovated some unfurnished units and provided value-added services to explore the niche market of serviced apartments. The first batch of 30 serviced apartments, converted from conventional flats, was released last June. They were two- and three-bedroom units, measuring between 700 and 900 square feet each. Mr Tin said the units immediately attracted a strong response from customers, with the 20 two-bedroom units leased out in two weeks and the 10 three-bedroom units committed to within a month. Conventional unfurnished apartments at Hong Kong Gold Coast were leased at $10 per square foot in the middle of last year. Average rental for the serviced flats after renovation was about 30 per cent higher, he said. In view of the strong response, the group renovated another batch of 92 units as serviced apartments, which were released in September. The rental range for the first two batches of units, measuring 735 sqft to 935 sqft, was between $13 and $15 per square foot, or between $9,000 and $15,000 per unit. Mr Tin said the serviced apartments at Hong Kong Gold Coast had a 90 per cent occupancy rate. In response to demand for bigger-sized serviced flats, the group would offer 30 three-bedroom units, measuring 1,138 sqft to 1,372 sqft, next month, he said. Rents would range from $20,000 to $25,000 a month. Off Castle Peak Road, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong Gold Coast is a comprehensive development, comprising 88 low-rise waterfront beach houses and 19 high-rise residential towers, a five-star resort hotel, a members-only yacht and country club, and a shopping mall. Mr Tin said the serviced units generated higher rental than conventional flats due to growing demand and the group was planning to turn more units in the project into serviced apartments. 'The market is changing fast. We have to cope with the changing market needs and provide flexibility to tenants,' he said. Many expatriates were now working on shorter-term employment contracts in Hong Kong so serviced apartments emerged as the perfect option to provide hassle-free accommodation at flexible terms, he said. 'Increasing demand from local residents also comes as another booster to the serviced apartment market.'