Along Cheung Chau Praya, towards Sai Wan, a housing development is taking shape. Not just any development - this is on land bought in 2007 for a whopping HK$96.5 million by Cheuk Nan (Holdings) Ltd, the chairman of which is Cecil Chao Sze-tsung - who has been described as "extraordinary Casanova, socialite and businessman". Mr Chao has said his company would turn the site into "paradise" - and change the surroundings.
As yet, doesn't look too much like what many people might consider "paradise", but work is ongoing.
The Colourful Mr Chao
Cecil Chao is the kind of chap you might describe as "colourful". He hit the headlines a few years back during split from Terri Holladay, a Vietnamese-American model who had born him a son, believed they were married, then learned as they separated that there never was really a marriage. He lives in a compound he built, and named Villa Cecil.
As Asiaweek once put it:
[quote]It is possible to see in men like Cecil Chao the fault lines that run through the whole of Hong Kong's high society -- a self-centered arrogance that denies any reflection or thought of greater purpose ... a hero of his age, a man who pursues what he desires with enormous appetite and with no regrets...[/quote]
And so, to the construction site, and the paradise planned for Cheung Chau.
The site is south of the main village, just across from the road along the side of the harbour to the small village of Sai Wan. The road is mostly quiet, but popular with strollers and cyclists during weekends and public holidays.
Looking at the site, it is interesting to read some of Mr Chao's thoughts on it:
[quote]The islands of Tsing Yi and Lantau, Chao said, are already linked with roads.
"I think, sooner or later, there will be road links [to Cheung Chau] but as to when, it is government policy," he said.
Until then, the site - which will be called "New Villa Cecil" - will be served by helicopters and luxury yachts.
"We will not only turn the site into a paradise in Cheung Chau, we will also change the surroundings," Chao said.
Such improvements include an artificial beach, a lagoon for swimmers, a pier to the site, improvements to roads and the possibility of using golf carts for transport by the residents at New Villa Cecil.
"Cheung Chau's development will not be done in one day. We are looking at development in the next 10 to 20 years. So we are bullish on Cheung Chau," Chao said[/quote]
I've found paradise, says Chao
Some folks questioned paying almost HK$100 million for the site; some might wonder if Mr Chao will really create paradise complete with artificial beach, lagoon for swimmers, and served by helicopters and luxury yachts.
Even so, the Hong Kong Standard found Mr Chao was upbeat in 2007:
[quote]"On a land price of about HK$100 million, I guarantee it will definitely make money. As to how much money is made, it could exceed everybody's forecast," he said.
So certain is Chao that he has a winner on his hands that he is offering the ultimate buy-back offer. "I guarantee you one thing, if it does not make money, I'll privately buy it all," he said.[/quote]
I've found paradise, says Chao