HK Magazine Archive

What’s the Sea Ranch, that Odd Cluster of Buildings You See on Lantau on The Way to Macau?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 July, 2016, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:19pm

The Sea Ranch? Why, it was meant to be paradise on earth.

In May 1975, Hutchison Whampoa announced plans for a new resort at Yi Long Wan on Lantau, about halfway between Mui Wo and Pui O. Named The Sea Ranch, it was envisioned as a hyper-luxury development of the very finest type. The bay would not be accessible at all by land: Instead it was just a brief ferry hop to Central. It would cost some $40 million to build: A wholly self-contained resort, a haven of isolated luxury. The facilities would be superb, the clubhouse and swimming pool second to none. 

Read More: Why Doesn’t the Do-Not-Call Register Stop Me from Getting Sales Calls?

Read More: What Exactly Is a “Jetso”?

The development sold, and sold well. By 1976 Hutchison has sold all 200 apartments, and by 1976 The Sea Ranch was ready for its new inhabitants. 

But after it opened, business fell off a cliff. In four short years, Hutchison racked up debts of somewhere from $7-9 million. By 1984 the company bugged out, selling its interests to a consortium of Sea Ranch apartment owners.

Over the years the properties continued to lose value, and Sea Ranchers moved away. Many rented their flats out, and for a while the resort became a destination for city dwellers who just wanted a great pad for a house party, much to the ire of a select few long-term residents—or “permanents,” as they called themselves. 

Meanwhile, the 90s were marked by a string of legal actions against the residents and management alike. The Clubhouse was permanently closed and lies abandoned still, with dust-strewn billiard tables and molding armchairs.

But The Sea Ranch isn’t quite the dilapidated ruin you might expect. These days around 40 or 50 people still inhabit the resort, and it’s said to be a great place to live. The apartments are large and the views are spectacular, with your very own private beach. The drawback? Nowadays the ferry only goes to Cheung Chau, so it’s about an hour’s journey from Central. Oh, and there aren’t any shops. Not one.

Read More: Why Are Salads I Buy From Hong Kong Supermarkets Always So Close to Spoiling?

Read More: Why Does That Building in Repulse Bay Have a Hole in It?

You can still buy a flat at The Sea Ranch, and for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere. The most recent sale, in February, saw a 615 sq. ft. flat go for $1,238,000. That’s $2,013 per sq. ft.—a third of what it’d cost you in Kennedy Town. A slice of once-exclusive luxury that can be had for a song—the Sea Ranch might be paradise after all.