2013 | Tai O Heritage Hotel Hong Kong Receiving Award of Merit at UNESCO 2013 Asia-Pacific Cultural Heritage Conservation Awards Celebrate with Tai O Community and Exchange with Conservation Professionals
25 November 2013

Initiated and operated as a non-profit social enterprise by Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited (HCF), Tai O Heritage Hotel has rolled out a committed long-term strategy and community involvement-cum-eco-tourism programme ‘I Love Tai O’ since 2012. With its dedication to promote heritage conservation, tourism and green living, Tai O Heritage Hotel has been awarded by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, with the Award of Merit at the 2013 Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation on 3 September 2013.


This latest international UNESCO award bestowed on the hotel is the highest honour a participating project has ever received under the current Hong Kong SAR Government Development Bureau’s Batch 1 of Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme. The hotel has been favourably commended by the prestigious UNESCO panel of jury consisting of eight 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.


To share this honour and joy, an awards presentation ceremony took place today at Conrad Hong Kong. Ms Julia Davies, Programme Officer of Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok presented the awards and shared the significance of cultural heritage conservation to the society. The Honourable Mr Paul Chan, MH, JP, Secretary for Development, Hong Kong SAR Government Development Bureau, Mr Daryl Ng, Director of Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited, the Tai O community, former marine police officers and 100-plus honourable guests all attended to celebrate at the occasion.


At the ceremony, all guests could experience the scenic, culture-rich Tai O fishing village, the Living Hotel Museum of UNESCO-awarded Tai O Heritage Hotel with 20 sketches of Tai O fishing village and Tai O Heritage Hotel by international young talents of “Brushstrokes Over Hong Kong - International Children Painting Competition in Hong Kong 2012 – 2013”. Guests also had a taste of Tai O through the exhibition and delicacies highlighting the indigenous flavours. About 10 former marine police officers shared the beautiful memories of their heyday at the Old Tai O Police Station through the “Police Song” with composed lyrics to describe the daily routines at the station. The young generation of Tai O, 20 students from Tai O - Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial College delivered “One World” to dedicate to Tai O Heritage Hotel for receiving this honour. The performances captured the impression and beauty of the 111-year-old historic architecture and the daily life of the vibrant fishing village, showing the lively harmony across generations.


“We are humbled by this prestigious honour and we believe that without the Tai O community for their ongoing support, the Hong Kong SAR Government for the valuable opportunity to manage this historic site, it would have been impossible for us to win this award,” Daryl Ng, Director of Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited remarked.


Ng added, “We often tell ourselves that, this is not a hotel project. We are the stewards of this historic site and we put our hearts into managing the hotel for the community. What is important to us is, this project contributes to the sustainability of the Tai O fishing village and the conservation of the village's rich cultural heritage.”


Tai O Heritage Hotel is one of the six projects under Batch 1 of Hong Kong SAR Government Development Bureau’s ‘Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme’. Graded as a Grade 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 the nine-room heritage boutique hotel.


Embarked on a 21-month programme with the dynamic theme of 'I Love Tai O' rolled out since its opening, Tai O Heritage Hotel Hong Kong has received about 320,000 visitors since the end of February 2012 and the hotel 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 boutique 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.