What’s that odd clus­ter of build­ings you see on Lan­tau on the way to Ma­cau?

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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.

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. – Sea Ranch Raider 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.

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.

The Sea Ranch! Where dreams are made!

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