There aren't many places you can find designer fittings in a beach front property for sale for just $2.7m in Hong Kong. The are are rich pickings of stylish and cheap properties if you have the temperament of Captain Ahab or Chuck Noland from Cast Away.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome you to Sea Ranch. Sea Ranch would be the perfect place to live if you're an agoraphobic hermit, writer, lover of large and usual insects or just a bit odd. Personally I'd love a holiday home there.
Located with boat only access (unless you clambering up one hundred feet of thick undergrowth, then an hour's hike for a packet of biscuits) on the Chai Ma Wan peninsular on Lantau Island, Sea Ranch is a trek to get to. I took the bullet so you didn't have to and set off form Pui O to Sea Ranch to see just how much of a trek it was and although a beautiful walk, I wouldn't want to tackle the route carrying a sofa. The walk is long enough to make my father's old walk to school seem like a trip to the corner shop.
The path starts off in Pui O and heads off through the mud flats of Ham Tin before rising up and offering lovely views of the peninsula.
After about half an hour on a paved path, you reach the stunning cove of Mong Tung Wan. I recommend a stop off at The Hong Kong Outpost for a cold drink and a snack. I'm sure it used to be a mental institution, but I could be confusing it with another old building in Tai O. Either way, it looks to be sort of place that's only open on weekends so worth checking before you go. I'm yet to try it and when I do I'll get a post up on the site, so be sure to subscribe for updates.
Sea Ranch was built in 1979 as an enclave away from the city for the rich and those in the know. I like to imagine well groomed men in rouge flared trousers getting their sordid way with the office secretary, before jumping in the chopper to finish the Tampa deal in the reception of The Peninsula Hotel. Initially apartments sold well, but then things took a turn. Original developers Hutchinson Whampoa sold their steak to a holding company for just $1. Sea sick homeowners started to sell. New apartments were being left abandoned.
There is a rumour there is a still a dead dog lying supine on the velour sofa in the cocktail lounge, but I've not been able to gain access to verify this gruesome information.
Aggrieved that standards around the estate weren't being maintained, a group of residents broke free from the holding company and formed their own management committee, who still hold a majority share today.
The Cost of Inconvenience
The secluded nature of Sea Ranch apartments, and the fact only about 15% of them are inhabited, means the estate commands some expensive management fees. The clubhouse, cocktail lounge with full-size snooker table and swimming pool are long since chained up and rotting, so you get to pay $1800pm fee to maintain the dock, which provides you with the only access on and off the area. The fee does cover the ferry cost. The last time I was there someone was very slowly adding a layer of paint to a walkway bannister, so I guess it covers that too! I also had to make a mad dash into the bushes to escape two men who were chasing me, Bond style, in a speed boat, so I guess the fee covers the mad-dod security too.
If I had the cash I'd snap up a property and use it as a holiday home or AirBnB it to the young couple requiring space away from their in-laws for 1970's style flared trouser love making. But sadly my wife gets sea sick.
Please take note, the beach is public space, but the properties are not so please do not trespass.
If you'd like a taste of the quiet life, please contact the South Lantau specialist Karen at ariapropertyltd.com.