MISSION HILLS: BEFORE & AFTER KEN CHU
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.
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。