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Dong’ao Island resorts look set to open next year

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The ambitious project to turn a Zhuhai island into a tourist attraction is taking shape. Two hotel resorts built by Gree Island Investment are approaching their final construction phases, with one of them scheduled for a soft launch early next year according the company’s general manager Xiao Jianbo.
“We have two hotels in the first phase (of the project). The smaller one has already entered the testing stage. The hotel operator will take over the building at the end of November. It then has to provide training to staff for up to two months. The hotel will have a soft opening around Chinese New Year. As for the bigger hotel, it may be (opened) in July or August next year.”
In a phone interview with the Times, Mr Xiao said that the construction didn’t face many obstacles with the only one being that Gree Island Investment changed hotel operator. He explained that the change of style and business orientation led to the adjustment in design. “It was originally an American company. But we have switched to the Club Med (Club Mediterranee). As a result, we have made some changes in the interior design. This led to the delay in construction.”
He continued to explain why they picked the French company: “Club Med is more of a leisure and vacation resort chain. The original American operator focuses more on business hotel service. Since we are on an island, the main theme should be leisure.”
The general manager also elaborates on different activities that his resorts will provide to the guests. “There will be many activities. In the sea, there will be surfing, diving, sea fishing, etc. There will be golf, archery, a tree house, circus, volleyball, basketball, badminton, mountain bike riding, rock climbing and all sorts of activities.”
Apart from outdoor activity, there are also some indoor venues provided. “There are performance halls and restaurants with buffet provided. It will not be like our traditional Chinese catering style. Other amenities also include a spa.”
When asked whether it is difficult to transport building materials to the island construction site, Mr Xiao said transportation is not much of a problem, although the weather did bring some challenges to the project. “Between March and June this year, it was humid and there were typhoons. These factors have somewhat affected the project. We could only catch up with the schedule by working extra hours and putting in more human resources. But this didn’t affect us very seriously. What is more concerning is rather the change of operator and the adjustment in design.”
Speaking of business orientation, Mr Xiao told the Times that the resorts will mainly focus on attracting overseas customers. “According to the typical practice of Club Med, about 50 to 60 percent of the visitors are foreign tourists. They (Club Med) have a resort in North Eastern China called Yabuli and another resort in Guilin. Currently, 60 percent of the guests in those two resorts are from overseas. The remain 40 percent are from China.”
The general manager acknowledged that there are abundant chances for Gree Island Investment to collaborate with Macau businesses due to the geographical proximity. “This is especially so now that Hengqin is in the developing stage. There will be the Chimelong Ocean Resort and an assortment of supporting facilities. When the guests come visiting the region, they can first go to the Dong’ao Island. Those overseas visitors coming into Macau can enter Hengqin via Zhuhai and then come visiting us. There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate.”
As for the issue regarding customs, during an interview with Macau Inc in March, the general manager said that there would be a port facility set up on Dong’ao Island so that visitors can travel to the island directly instead of going through Zhuhai. However, he now stated that it is not an easy task. “The customs service is not there yet. This is because, from the government’s perspective, it is not the Zhuhai government or even the Guangdong provincial government who can decide where to set up customs. This has to be decided by the Central government. Therefore, we have reported it to the government. When the first phase of our project has been completed, we will report this issue layer by layer, first to the Guangdong government, then to the Central government and hope that a decision will be made soon.” He added that there are going to be ferries between Hengqin and Dong’ao and it will only take 20 minutes for visitors to travel to the island.
When discussing the future plan of Gree Island Investment, Mr Xiao said that they have another two phases in the Dong’ao Project that include another hotel and a golf course. So they are going to focus on this project first. “We have thought about other islands as well. We will see what the future will bring.”  JPL

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