Sanctuary Resorts Guardian Andrew Jones talks with the South China Morning Post about "Dream to create spa getaway in New Territories."

Dream To Create Spa Getaway In New Territories

Escaping the rat race for a spa treat with a touch of the spiritual has become a popular holiday choice for many. So it should come as good news that such a resort, the kind people buy air tickets to get to, may soon become available in Hong Kong.

Andrew Jones of Sanctuary Resorts, a holistic resort management company based in Hong Kong, has a dream to set up such a place in the New Territories and will be talking about his plans at a food and beverage forum in Hofex 2004. The forum, titled “Looking beyond the core B&B business”, will look at “alternative directions for food services in Hong Kong”. It will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre at 11am on Thursday.

“My Vision Is To Create Responsible And Sustainable Tourism Projects"

Mr Jones, the man behind The Bale in Nusa Dua, Bali, which opened two years ago (and was named one of the best new hotels by Corde Nast Traveller), also manages Shinta Mani, an 18-room boutique hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This month he will open two new resorts in Thailand: The Racha, which consists of 75 villas on a secluded island off Phuket, and La Flora in Kao Lak, on the island of Phuket.

Hotel de la Paix, a Siem Reap property scheduled to open in September, will offer vacationers a holistic spa experience against the backdrop of Angkor Wat.

If Mr Jones’ wish comes true, Hong Kong may be next in line as a spa destination. He is working on a plan to transform an abandoned village in the New Territories into a premium resort. An experienced hotelier and a spiritual missionary, Mr Jones worked for Marco Polo, Shangri-La and Westin, but after 20 years he grew weary of the lifestyle of the corporate elite, he says. He does not describe himself as either chief executive of managing director of his company but rather as “guardian” of his properties. He says he does not work with a board of directors but with a group of “collective wisdom”

“I Realised These Villages Were An Integral Part Of The Heritage And Culture Of Hong Kong And That They Had An Unrealized Potential As A Tourism Asses". He says his company’s objective is to promote sustainable tourism and socially responsible ways of conducting business. His Siem Reap property, for example, provides free vocational training to disenfranchised young Cambodians. The training is funded by revenues from the property.

As guardian, Mr Jones says he makes business decisions that are based on instinct and a trust in fate. On his company website he describes, in a story titled The Omen of the Ashram, how he was inspired to set up Sanctuary Resorts.

A friend had suggested he visit the Osho Ashram in Pune, India, to find inspiration for the new resort company he wanted to set up. He did not take the idea seriously at the time, but during a business trip that happened to take him to Pune, he stayed at a hotel that happened to be right in front of the holy shrine. He visited the ashram and realised he had found the inspiration he was seeking to create his dream project.

Fate continued to guide Mr Jones. He came across reports in the media about abandoned villages in Hong Kong that had succumbed to neglect and vandalism, and reading these prompted his plan to create a village resort here.

“I realised these villages were an integral part of the heritage and culture of Hong Kong and that they had an unrealized potential as a tourism asses.” he says.

Mr Jones is in discussions with several property owners and believes a Sanctuary Resort in Hong Kong is on the horizon.

“My vision is to create responsible and sustainable tourism projects,” Mr Jones says. “We believe that there is an untapped potential for such resorts and that, if properly and professionally managed, they would be economically viable.”

Mr Jones hopes that when the resort becomes a reality, it will help change perceptions of Hong Kong among overseas travelers. “The resort will show that Hong Kong is not just about neon lights, shopping and eating. It will show that locals have an interest in their heritage and culture, and in creating a balanced lifestyle for their own wellness and that of the community.”

In time, the mainland is also likely to see Mr Jones’ resorts. “In China, people are moving out of the villages and into the cities because of a perceived lack of opportunities,” he says. “This is depleting resources in the rural areas and causing social unrest and other problems n the urban areas. Our goal is to reverse this trend by offering practical solutions to address these issues.”

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