Tai O Heritage Hotel Hong Kong, revitalised from the Old Tai O Police Station built in 1902, has been awarded by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, with the Award of Merit at the 2013 Asia-Pacific Awards in Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Initiated and operated in a non-profit social enterprise business model by Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited (HCF) (www.hkheritage.org), UNESCO-awarded Tai O Heritage Hotel Hong Kong was opened in February 2012.
Graded as a Grade II historic building by the Antiquities Advisory Board in 2010, the 111-year-old colonial architecture had been transformed successfully from the Old Tai O Police Station to a nine-room heritage boutique hotel in the 400-year-old, culture-rich fishing village of Tai O.
This latest international UNESCO award bestowed on Tai O Heritage Hotel is the highest honour a participating project has ever received under the current Hong Kong SAR Government Development Bureau’s Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme. The Hotel has been favourably commended by the panel of jury consisting of 8 international conservation experts.
“Through a pioneering public-private initiative undertaken through the Hong Kong SAR Government’s Revitalisation Scheme, the once abandoned Tai O Police Station has been given a new lease on life as a heritage hotel. The project is particularly commendable for its involvement of local community members and former occupants of the building through an extensive cultural mapping effort that has greatly informed the restoration work and helped reinvigorate the distinctive character of the heritage property. Enhanced social and economic opportunities provided by the building’s new use ensure the long term viability of this historic landmark,” complimented by Mr Tim Curtis, Chief of Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok.
Inspired by worldwide successful practices, the award-winning Tai O Heritage Hotel has put together an innovative and committed long-term strategy and community involvement-cum-eco-tourism programme. Embarked on an 18-month dynamic theme of ‘I Love Tai O’ rolled out since its opening, the Hotel has received over 275,000 visitors from the end of February 2012 to the end of August 2013, surpassing 200% of the yearly target of 66,000 visitors set by the Government. With this latest addition, it has received a total of 14 accolades, recognising its devotion in heritage conservation, service excellence and corporate social responsibility.
Dedicated effort has been shown on both hardware conservation led by architectural consultants, interior designers and landscape experts to conserve extensively the Old Tai O Police Station’s original architecture and significance, as well as the software conservation effort by engaging the Hong Kong community, overseas travellers, conservation enthusiasts harmoniously at large while enhancing social and economic opportunities provided by the conserved heritage hotel.
A total of 47 entries were received for the 2013 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation which presented a wide range of building typologies from 16 countries in the region. This year, the jury awarded one Award of Excellence, three Awards of Distinction, six Awards of Merit and two Honourable Mentions.
The jury highly commends the achievements of Tai O Heritage Hotel and encourages the committee to continue to share the lessons learned from the project to encourage heritage conservation efforts in Hong Kong and throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.