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:
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…
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:
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.
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:
“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.
I’ve found paradise, says Chao
“Paradise” update – Jan 2022
Some more posts about this below; and here some shots from January 2022 – some apartments lived in [rentals; seems people don’t stay too long], while work on main clubhouse not yet finished, and swimming pool still just a big hole in the ground. Not “paradise” as most people think of it…
Cecil Chao paradise taking shape on Cheung Chau
Good luck with the artificial beach. For one thing that means filling in part of the typhoon shelter, and I’m not sure that’s allowed. And even if it were, would anyone want to swim in the water there?
Maybe Gordon Wu will build us a road…
Good luck with the artificial beach – and taking a swim in our lovely typhoon shelter.
Hi, Mr. Chao!!!
Good luck in all your endeavors, Mr. Chao! I worked for you very briefly but i only had good memories of you. I can say, you were a very good employer!!! If i had the chance to visit HK, i would definitely drop by your place and give you a big hug 🙂 You were a very big part of my success and I thank you sincerely for that…
Cecil Chao redefining paradise
Two years on from the origninal post, it's interesting to look again at the site, and see how "paradise" is taking shape. As yet, no sign of some amenities like swimming lagoon etc etc. Nearby areas not really changed; and interior of site is yet to look like most people's idea of paradise.
How is Mr. Chao’s “paradise” progressing? I know God didn’t create the world in just one day, but hasn’t it taken long enough time for us to witness some of the “transformations” promised? Are there signs that arrogant, flamboyant playboys & girls like Mr. Chao and his elks are taking over Cheung Chau?
Paradise lost its way?
Well, seems things are moving very very sloowwwwllllllly, or even the Paradise project is moribund.
Haven't seen any news re Mr Chao talking of the venture lately. Just a bunch of boring buildings, in lifeless development, right now. But perhaps there will be investors from mainland China?
When will those developments in Cheung Chau start selling?
How big are the houses? Estimated price?
Cecil paradise still looks a little lost
Still not what many people would consider to be "paradise".
Interesting from previous articles to note from Cecil: "I guarantee you one thing, if it does not make money, I'll privately buy it all,"
a few people moving about!
I did noticed that there are a few people going to and from the site. Some laundry are hanging around the court yard, so some acting is going on there. It could be the cleaners, grounds keeper or a squatter ha ha ha. But I don’t thing its anywhere close to being high end living.
Paradise sales to start in summer
Seems that sales of apartments in this "paradise" site are to start in summer, maybe June
Here's a shot from today; indeed more activity, with additional construction underway.