Grandson of famous builder follows where the money is - designing restaurants in luxury hotels Inheriting the family business often means having to face a host of challenges, especially when the business belongs to a sunset industry. So David Sung Hai-soon reckons it is not worth following in the footsteps of his late grandfather, the famous construction engineer Sung Tak-sui. The elder Sung was one of the builders of the HSBC Building on Shanghai's Bund district in 1923 and the founder of construction firm Sung Foo Kee, which erected most of the landmark edifices in Hong Kong's Central district such as the Mandarin Oriental hotel and Prince Building. 'Hong Kong's construction industry is a sunset industry as the growth pace of its economy slows. It is also capital intensive as contractors need to buy the building materials in advance and get paid by the developers only months later,' Mr Sung said. 'And it is an industry that easily draws criticism from the public.' Instead of putting up buildings, the young Sung has set his sight on a robust industry in fast-growing regions. Mr Sung specialises in designing restaurants for luxury hotels in the mainland and Macau - forecast to be two of the world's fastest-growing economies in the next decade. 'There are not many business opportunities in Hong Kong. How many new hotels are being built in the city?' said Mr Sung. The choice ran against his grandfather and father's footsteps. 'Most of my grandfather's construction businesses were confiscated when the Communist Party took control in 1949. He and his family then came to Hong Kong and set up Sung Foo Kee,' Mr Sung said. 'When China announced it would take back Hong Kong in the 1980s, he sold Sung Foo Kee and moved to Canada. 'The old generation lost confidence in China. But I, the younger generation, am not afraid,' he said. 'With the fast expansion of its hotel industry, the China market is a must-go market.' Mr Sung said most international hotels were entering the mainland, so the business opportunities were huge, especially for small companies that faced tough competition in Hong Kong, where construction projects had become fewer than in past years. The world's top 10 hotel groups, including InterContinental, Marriott and Hyatt, have all entered the mainland, attracted by its growing economy and the prospects of the domestic tourism market, according to Xinhua news agency. There were 12,930 star-level hotels in the mainland by the end of 2005, topping the 2004 figure by 2,042, ResearchInChina said. Mr Sung is one of the few key designers in the mainland's hospitality industry with clients that include Grand Hyatt, Hilton International and China Resources Holdings. The latest project was designing interiors for all five restaurants of the newly opened Shangri-La hotel in Guangzhou. Mr Sung said he would follow his clients moving to southern China. 'Many international hotels have set up their presence in Shanghai and now they are shifting to southern China as well as Macau,' he said. Mr Sung has designed one restaurant for Melco PBL's Crown Casino Macau. He is also in negotiations to design another restaurant for Melco PBL's City of Dreams hotel-casino project that is undergoing construction in the enclave.