Tai O Heritage Hotel celebrates its 10th anniversary with refreshed guest rooms and an array of cultural initiatives
Tai O Heritage Hotel has recently refreshed their nine guest rooms and the Heritage Interpretation Centre, under the lead of the celebrated interior designer Natasha Usher, Founder and Design Principal at Nude Design Limited.
Tai O Heritage Hotel is revitalised from the old Tai O police station, one of the earliest police depots on the outlying islands of Hong Kong. Built in 1902, it served to combat pirates prevalent in the neighbouring waters, as well as resolve family disputes and arguments between villagers. In 2009, Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation was selected to undertake the site’s revitalisation, which involved its conversion into the Tai O Heritage Hotel, the home to nine colonial-style, elegant rooms and the glass-roofed, open-view restaurant, Tai O Lookout. This year, the hotel celebrates its 10th anniversary with a renovation led by the renowned interior designer Natasha Usher.
Natasha takes pride in leading the interior design of the recent refurbishment project. “Tai O is a quaint fishing village that has a fascinating history, with fishermen residing there since the Ming dynasty in the 19th century,” she notes. “One can find unique stilt houses lining alleys of local stores filled with dried seafood, cable ferry, sampans, and cafes peeking over the estuary.”
She stresses that Hong Kong’s heritage and its restoration are fundamental to our history. “I am delighted to support The Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation, which is dedicated to enhancing and preserving Hong Kong’s heritage, supporting local employment, and doing good for the Tai O community,” she adds.
Natasha has led countless interior design projects for hotels and resorts, large and small, but for sheer size and design purpose, the Tai O Heritage Hotel is quite unique. “In working on a 300-bedroom hotel with multiple restaurants and facilities, we design with the goal of ensuring the guests stay longer and enjoy all the amenities,” she explains. “On the other hand, Tai O Heritage Hotel requires a refurbishment for only nine rooms and the Heritage Interpretation Centre.”
“The project sounds relatively straightforward, but is, in fact, much more delicate,” she continues. “We not only needed to preserve the integrity of the much treasured historical structure, we also had to work with the existing space, since we cannot just remove any walls in a heritage site.”
To refurbish the hotel of ten years of service history, Natasha draws her design inspiration from the rich history of Tai O Village, and makes a point of preserving those historical elements in the refined space. For example, the original architecture of the room, including the fireplace, the wooden casement windows and the French windows, have been retained in their original form. The rooms adopt a lighter palette, using light colour toned woods, light sage green, light blues and beiges against rich fabric prints from the feature walls, sofa and other furniture, overall giving a hint of classic decoration that reminds people of the site’s past glory.
“The light renovation for the rooms are inspired to stay true to the historic elements, whereas the classical furniture, colours and fabric prints are refreshed in the relaxed elegance representative of this unique hotel,” Natasha elaborates. “Stylish photo frames with pictures of Tai O when it was first built are also installed in the room, standing as both pictorial proof and memorandum to the city’s humble beginning.”
2022 holds special meaning for the hotel as it celebrates its 10th anniversary and the historic building celebrates its 120 years of community making, in addition to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
“We want to offer hotel guests a stylish, timeless experience that represents a nostalgic escapade to a unique village hotel both rich in history and its natural landscapes,” she observes. “We have consciously decorated the space to add personality and charisma for relaxing and short stays, allowing guests to be mentally and physically away from the hype of the city.”
Tai O Heritage Hotel was classified as a Grade II historic building by the Antiquities Advisory Board in 2010 and conferred the prestigious UNESCO Award of Merit for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2013. It is committed to heritage conservation and promoting Tai O’s local economy, eco-tourism and sustainability, while breathing new life into the century-old building, helping the public to appreciate the architectural and cultural gem.
“Acclaimed as a UNESCO site, Tai O Heritage Hotel presents a holistic experience for people visiting the fishing village and supporting Tai O’s development into a must-visit destination of Hong Kong,” Natasha concludes. “We are reminded that in contrast to the busy modern cosmopolitan city, there is a gem in Tai O village set against a rich natural landscape that tells a story of our colourful past.”
In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Tai O Heritage Hotel has launched an array of initiatives encompassing refreshed guest rooms, limited-edition Tai O Special Afternoon Tea Set presenting an authentic taste of Tai O, and daily guided docent tours educating guests about the original functions of each hotel interior, the stories of the building, and the tranquil lifestyle of the old fishing village. Guests will receive a tote bag per room designed by renowned British artist, Lorette E Roberts, who has painted for the Hotel’s 10th anniversary under the theme of ‘The True Colours of Tai O’ and a thermal flask.