How well do you know Ocean?

Today’s South China Morning Post, in Central at least, comes with an inserted glossy booklet apparently advertising an up-market Mediterranean resort.  It weighs more than the rest of the newspaper together and hits the bottom of the streetside waste bin with a satisfying thud.  However, there is no escape: a double-page spread in the main section is devoted to the same product, namely Larvotto.

It is, of course, a tacky real estate development, somewhere down near the tatty suburb of Aberdeen.  The Chinese name translates simply as South Bay.

It is still being built, but we can be fairly sure that when it is finished the place will look nothing like what the print ad disclaimer calls “the artist’s imaginative impression”.  What are the chances that, instead of/as well as green mountain views, there will be dense thickets of drab concrete residential towers, or maybe even some old multi-storey factory blocks?  The sea will probably have more than a few plastic bags floating around in it.  Maybe there will be a sewage treatment plant or a columbarium out the back.

Although the property developers apparently try to differentiate their over-priced wares, the marketing concept and execution always look and feel the same.  It comes across as shoddy rather than classy, tawdry rather than glitzy, and above all unconvincing.  Even nouveau riche mainlanders must feel insulted by the rushed insincerity of it all.  It’s a template: a name (typically French or Italian); a logo; a theme (oceanic, rustic, baroque, yuppie); the fanciful illustration (with the same slightly surreal colours and perspective); photos to make sure you get the point (Monte Carlo, meadows, a chateau, a cool dude in a Porsche); a model, possibly Western, enjoying a life of luxury.

The reason is simply that the developers are a cartel.  They are not in competition with one another.  The properties, within their respective price ranges, are all much of a space-starved, profit-extracting muchness.  The friendly government keeps the supply of housing artificially low, and the consumers have little choice.  Yoho, Larvotto, Shining Heights, The Sparkle, Celestial Heights, Le Prime, Le Prestige – which sounds least embarrassing when you say you live there?

And how much will an apartment at Larvotto (named for a district of Monaco) cost?  How much living space do the developers promise, and how tiny will the apartment really be after you subtract the square feet that are in fact out in the hallway, the stairwell, the club house and the glamorous foyer with waah-so-high-class! marble and chandeliers?

A glance at the nasty website gives us the usual stuff…

…plus a menu offering, among other things, ‘transparence’.  Click on it and you get ‘Floor plans and property information … coming soon’.  So the blueprints are in the mail.

If it’s where I think it is, at the Ap Lei Chau Praya Road construction site shown in Google Maps (halfway down the east coast), Larvotto does overlook the Marina Club in the distance, but is adjacent to a grotty-looking strip of shipyards.  Luxuriate in the exclusive, glamorous, elegant, prestigious, lavish waterfront surroundings and have barnacles scraped off your bottom.

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11 Responses to How well do you know Ocean?

  1. Chanboy says:

    Haha, real estate cartel? Not exactly news around here. Ever since most of the manufacturing business headed up north in the 70’s and 80’s, what are we really left with? Finance and Real Estate. This is of course due to the failure of Hong Kong to develop other industries. The Government is dependant on revenue from land sales which means it is reluctant to offend the real estate cartels. It is the cartel that really runs the show in this city. Those who don’t know this must be living in a cave.

  2. Maugrim says:

    It’s true. I drive past that construction each day and it doesn’t look like the ‘artist’s impression’ let me tell you, lol, there are about 6 blocks that are in essence squashed together, miraculously missing from the photos. I’m not even sure if there is even a proper acces road. The visage is yes, over rotting dragon boats, Ocean Park though strangely omits the construction for the new Southern railway extension (for some reason).

  3. Dr Henderson says:

    Garn! You’re only jealous. It’s so much better than SoHo(orrible)!

  4. Funboy3 says:

    My photoshop skills are not up to it but I am surprised that someone hasn’t launched a blog showing how these overpriced shoe boxes really look.
    The developers claims are ripe for parody.

  5. Jason Ali says:

    On this one, I am with the developers.

    If people are daft enough to fall for this nonsense, then so be it.

    Actually, Hemmers, I was hoping for 2-3 paras on Milkshake Nancy. To this end, pehaps you could knock something out for us this afty.

    Ta, J.

  6. Dr Parkview says:

    Dear Jason

    Pardon me for butting in. Why the curiosity?

    As someone who saw most of the trial, the Appeal and the CFA proceedings and got to know the father of the deceased, I can tell you that Ms Kissel is a boring and banal individual.

    The secret of most murderers is that they are very ordinary people who, for once in their lives, did something extraordinary. That doesn’t make them into subjects worthy of much attention, in my view.

    Their victims and the lives they harm around them – in her case, her children’s above all – are much more worthy of empathy and interest.

    Let her rot in the temple of banality – prison.

  7. Historian says:

    SCMP: ‘The 45-year-old’s three-month trial featured a heady mix of adultery, violence, spying, greed and enormous wealth, gripping the former British colony and even inspiring books and films.’

    Post can’t even be arsed subbing out the foreign point of view ‘the former British colony’. Tony Chan’s case also contained a ‘heady mix’ last week, though, so they might have put that in.

  8. Jason Ali says:

    Dr Parkview

    Ms Milkshake is not a murderer – otherwise why would she be getting a retrial?

    Actually my fascination with the young lady stems from the fact that when she’s scrubbed up (or not in the scrubs), I think she looks pretty hot. Sorry, but I can’t help it.


  9. Vile says:

    Of course she is a murderer. She’s getting a retrial because these damned new-fangled mediations are skimming the cream off the litigation business, and lawyers have to make money somehow.

  10. Dr Parkview says:

    See you at the retrial then.

    You will be sorely disappointed on all counts.

  11. Jason Ali says:

    Dr Parkview.

    Although the chances of it happening are about 4 trillion to 1, it would be rather fun if the pair of us got picked to sit on her jury. Also, it would save the hassle of each day having to queue for a seat in the public gallery.

    Hope to see you soon, J.

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