Not hot enough for Hollywood? Can't afford Manhattan? Console yourself with a prestigious address in a city that brings the world's ritziest locales closer to home WHAT'S IN A NAME? Well, billions of dollars, apparently. Why else would Hong Kong's 21st century map look like a full-size version of Shenzhen's Windows on the World? We may not have an Eiffel Tower or the pyramids, but we do have the world's most exclusive residential zones right here: Palm Springs, the Gold Coast, Bel-Air and Manhattan. These are not cheap replicas - in fact, they are not replicas at all. About the only thing these huge upmarket developments have in common with their namesakes abroad is just that - the name. The nomenclature favoured by Hong Kong developers is mostly inspired by overseas des res addresses. There is an adage, popular with politicians: 'If you say something enough times, people will eventually believe it.' Communist regimes have long used propaganda for this purpose, but it applies equally in capitalist culture. Only we call it advertising. The marketers tell us something is hot and hip and we are seduced, whether it is the return to fashion of flared trousers and kipper ties or the revival of a once passe brand of aftershave. The same now applies to where you live. Tell us we live in Palm Springs and we feel as if we have been transported to leafy, wealthy, suburban California even though we may actually live near the mainland border, eat rice not wraps, and breathe air as thick as chowder. Discovery Bay, which was long dubbed Delivery Bay for its number of stroller-pushing residents, is undergoing a chic renaissance, thanks in part to developments such as Chianti, the latest - and most bizarrely named - phase of the predominantly expat enclave. When the first flats went on sale in the 1980s, the names of phases were decidedly more prosaic: Beach Village, Headland Village and Parkridge Village. But simple geography no longer appeals. The last phase was called Siena and now it has turned to Tuscan red wine. Perhaps Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will be slated for construction soon. The architecture of Palm Springs, a gated community near Yuen Long, is certainly modern and international. But such is its incongruence with its surroundings that its raison d'etre was the subject of a recent study paper by Laura Ruggeri for a conference on environmental aesthetics in Estonia. In the paper, 'Palm Springs. Imagineering California in Hong Kong', Ms Ruggeri notes that glossy brochures and computer images of model suburban neighbourhoods, coupled with the idea of selling an international lifestyle, are key to the success of the development near Mai Po Nature Reserve. 'Palm Springs ushers in the new [cosmetic] style of 'real imitation life', the Californian lifestyle, which can be imported, like any other commodity. It achieves coherence by drawing on a widely shared myth, California,' she writes. 'If Americans flock to gated enclaves because they are terrified by crime and worried about property values, Hong Kong residents seem more interested in the promise of a socially homogeneous, friendly and fashionable neighbourhood.' Bel-Air On The Peak (despite not being on The Peak but the southwestern coast of Hong Kong Island) also sells the Californian dream mixed in with messages of European lifestyle. Its website promotes the development's landscaping, greenery, luxury amenities and its rich and famous residents as its main draw - hence the name Bel-Air. But no one seems sure where the 'On The Peak' part came from, other than to make it a double-whammy for good marketing measure. If the government wants to boost the property market, it could follow suit and rebrand the less salubrious Wah Fu estate as Wah Fu On The Peak. The trend is not new. For many years Castle Peak Bay has been better known as the Gold Coast, even though it bears little resemblance to its namesake in Queensland, Australia, besides being by the sea. There are restaurants and bars, a hotel and swimming pools, but it would be a tall story to equate it with the magnificent sandy shores where people swim in crystal clear seas. The wall of high-rises that make the Caribbean Coast in Tung Chung are as far away in reality as they are in distance from the palm-tree fringed beaches of Barbados, while Manhattan Hill in Lai Chi Kok is more an oxymoron than an aphorism. One wonders what people think when they search for a holiday on the Caribbean Coast and find a row of skyscrapers. In the past, gauche property names which make some residents proud but others cringe were largely restricted to buildings - Tycoon Court, Wealthy Mansions. Some residents are so embarrassed by such ostentatious cliches that when writing to friends and relatives overseas they simply give the street number of the building and conveniently leave its name out. After all, if someone thinks you are a tycoon, they might soon send begging letters. Chinese developers have been playing the name game for a decade, too, as the wealthier class grows and seeks gated homes. For those who lived for decades in a closed society, it is doubtful many Chinese even know what Palm Springs is supposed to look like, so the reality is perhaps easier to sell. Gone are Hong Kong's evocative names in tune with nature or local history, such as Hong Kong Parkview, South Horizons and Jardine's Lookout. Bricks and mortar have never been so well dressed up, but whatever the development's name, when you look out the window the view will still be Hong Kong. And when you open it so, sadly, will be the air.