MISSION HILLS: BEFORE & AFTER KEN CHU

观澜湖:朱鼎健的新时代

Jet Asia Pacific - - Front Page - Text by Joyce Yip

Before the sun even fully rises, Ken Chu would’ve ran his daily five kilometres while absorbing the world’s major news across two flat-screen televisions and lifted his share of weights for the day before catching the first flight out at 6:30 a.m. This regime is already a toned-down version of his previous routine of cruising through an 18-holer in under an hour. .

Chu has always been efficient: he finished university within two years; became a father – to what is now three daughters – in his early 20s; inherited the reigns to his family business at 32 years-old; and, in a decade’s time, transformed it into something unfathomable even by his late father, first-generation founder of Mission Hills and one of the “Most Powerful People in Golf”.

In 2015 alone, Chu has cut the ribbon to Mission Hills Centreville in Shenzhen – a 500,000sqm retail and commercial hub that houses an international school, shopping malls,

residences and entertainment hubs like 5D theatres and bowling. Late last year, its Haikou location erected a Ritz-carlton – the first of its kind to be built atop a golf course – beside another crossover phenomenon, Mission Hills Lan Kwai Fong. On the pipeline are Hard Rock Hotel represented by Taiwanese celebrity Jay Chou; China’s first Wet N’wild water-theme park following Gold Coast, Sydney and Las Vegas; as well as a slew of museums, clubs and restaurants.

Though present-day Mission Hills seem to be an improved 2.0 version from his father’s original – which primarily aimed to facilitate friendships with clients, businesses and the rich and affluent through golf – Chu jokes he took the lazier way out: “I’ve always been petrified of the two Chinese proverbs – ‘to grow a business is tough, to sustain it even tougher’ and ‘wealth doesn’t pass three generations’ – so rather than maintaining what my father has built, I took the easier path of growing it. The ultra-luxury, ultraaffluent image of golf kills the sport and is only a result of when we have more golfers than golf courses: we want to turn that around and make the sport friendlier, more accessible, affordable and family-oriented,” he said, adding that Mission Hills’ memberships range from RMB200 to RMB2400.

Unlike his father, Chu’s eye is on the global tourism market, one that doesn’t exclude the golf widow or families, who, as a result, have been prolonging their stay to up to four days and are spending more at his resort. From last year, his non-golfing guests have jumped from three million to 10m: “Mission Hills is transforming the game and guests’ spending habits; we’re not just about golf, we’re a hip, popular destination with something that fits everyone in the family.” On a corporate level, he says a number of companies are knocking on Mission Hills’ door asking for opportunities to co-brand. “We’re playing a leading role in China’s leisure and tourism industry, and a lot of people want to connect with our affluent guests; they want to tap into the resources and contacts that we have. My life-long goal is to pioneer a Chinese global tourism brand. I want to be the next Disneyland.”

Though Chu dreams big, he doesn’t forget his roots: despite its new branches, Mission Hills remains a choice venue for a number of high-profile golf tournaments from amateur-grade, celebrity Pro-am to even junior games. Currently, the resort holds 52 programmes for young players, who can practise for free in their own time in Chu’s mission to “cultivate the next Chinese Tiger Woods”.

And though he’s constantly weighed against his late father, Chu says surpassing him has never been his goal.

“Everything that I do I want to showcase that he was a good father: everyone knew he was a very patriotic and successful businessman. But what they don’t know are the values he’s instilled on us as his children: and how we can showcase his legacy is by living these values, by behaving the way he has taught us – that’s the ground Missions Hills will always be built upon,” he said.

太阳还没完全升起,朱鼎健在赶上6:30的第一班飞机之前,已经完成了每天5公里的跑步,正一边透过两部平板电视接收世界主要新闻消息,一边做举重练习。相比他之前在一小时内完成18洞的壮举,这已经算是很普通的事了。

朱鼎健一向高效率,他只用了两年的时间就大学毕业,然后成为父亲,现在有三个20岁出头的女儿; 32岁便继承了家族生意,成为掌舵人,并且在十年间将公司发展得如日中天,连观澜湖的第一代创始人和“高尔夫界最具影响力人物”之一的他已故的父亲也望尘莫及。

仅仅是在2015年,朱鼎健在深圳开设了面积50万平方米的综合零售和商业中心观澜湖新城,当中包括国际学校、购物商场、居住区、以及提供5D电影院和保龄球场的娱乐休闲中心。去年底,位于海口的观澜湖丽思卡尔顿酒店隆重开业,是首个建于高尔夫球场上的酒店项目;另外,备受瞩目的观澜湖兰桂坊也同时开幕。其他陆续推出的项目还包括由台湾明星周杰代言的Hard Rock酒店;继黄金海岸、悉尼和拉斯维加斯之后,中国首个Wet N’wild水上乐园;以及多个博物馆、俱乐部和餐厅。

他父亲成立观澜湖的最初目的,是通过高尔夫球与客户、企业和富翁建立友谊。虽然现在的观澜湖好像是从原来的模样进化而成的2.0版本,但朱鼎健开玩笑说他采取了比较懒惰的做法:“我一直被‘创业难,守业更难’和‘富不过三代’这两个中国谚语吓怕,所以与其守住我父亲建立的事业,不如以更容易的方式来将它发扬光大。高尔夫球奢华的形象扼杀了这项运动,这是高尔夫爱好者比高尔夫球场多所造成的必然结果。我们想扭转局面,使这项运动变得更平易近人、更容易接触、大众化和面向家庭。”他补充说,观澜湖的会籍从人民币200元至2,400元不等。

跟他的父亲不同,朱鼎健放眼全球旅游市场,他欢迎不同类型的客人,无论是高球球迷的妻子或家庭,结果吸引他们在其度假区延长逗留至四天,并且花费更多。从去年开始,非高尔夫球客人的人数已经从300万跳升至1,000万:“观澜湖正改变市场的游戏规则和客人的消费习惯,我们不只是一个高尔夫球俱乐部,我们更是一个热门的时尚旅游目的地,适合家庭中的每一位成员。”在企业层面上,他表示许多公司都寻求与观澜湖合作的机会。“我们在中国休闲旅游行业担当领先者的角色,许多人希望接触我们的富裕客人,他们想分享我们拥有的资源和客户。我的终身目标是首创一个中国国际旅游品牌。我想将其打造成为下一个迪士尼乐园。”

虽然朱鼎健拥有伟大的梦想,但他并没有忘记自己的根:尽管提供不同的服务,观澜湖仍然是许多著名高尔夫比赛的首选比赛场地,包括从业余级赛事、明星赛、甚至青少年赛事。目前,该度假村为年轻球手提供52项课程,这些球手可以随时免费进行练习。朱鼎健的使命是“培养下一个中国的泰格·伍兹。”

虽然他不断致力改变其已故父亲的经营方式,但朱鼎健表示超越其父亲从来都不是他的目标。

他说:“我所做的一切是为了向人们展示他是一位好父亲:人人都知道他非常爱国,而且是一位成功的商人,但他们不知道他灌输给他孩子的价值观,以及我们如何秉承这些价值观和他教导我们的做人方式来展示他的辉煌成就,这就是观澜湖永远不变的基石。”

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