Hong Kong’s latest export to China? Its party zone.

Lan Kwai Fong Group, the Hong Kong developer that hatched the nightlife district by the same name, has teamed up with golf-course developer Mission Hills Group to build a new 2 billion yuan ($314 million) shopping and entertainment complex in Haikou, the capital of China’s Hainan province. 
Synonymous with the after-hours scene in Hong Kong for nearly 30 years, Lan Kwai Fong was dreamed up by Canadian-born entrepreneur Allan Zeman. It now occupies a stretch of bars and restaurants in the city’s Central neighborhood, though it started with California, a restaurant Mr. Zeman opened in 1983.

He has since built Lan Kwai Fong Chengdu, a similar development in Chengdu that opened in December. The Haikou project will be his second one in mainland China.

“Every day, I get approached by different cities in China, asking me to put a Lan Kwai Fong in their cities,” said Mr. Zeman. Potential next cities for future nightlife zones include Guangzhou and Hangzhou, he said.

Mission Hills, also a Hong Kong-based company, has completed the first phase of the Haikou development, which at more than 80 square kilometers (31 square miles) is bigger than Manhattan. Mission Hills already runs the world’s largest golf facility in nearby Shenzhen, which boasts 12 courses, each with 18 holes.

Mission Hills-Lan Kwai Fong-Haikou, which breaks ground next year, will be a 2.6 million square-foot complex. At its center will be a manmade lake that serves as a backdrop for nightly performances, but unlike the Hong Kong and Chengdu versions, Haikou will also feature retail strips and six hotels.

“I’m a day-club operator, and you’re a nightclub operator. That’s a good match,” said Ken Chu, Mission Hills’s chief executive, pointing at Mr. Zeman, his partner in the project. “It’s about how we make it more fun for tourists.” 
Hainan is touted as the Hawaii of China, and the Chinese government is pushing tourism in a big way. Already, Chinese fleeing the cold are going in droves: In the first half of this year, 14.4 million tourists came to the island province, a 12% increase from the same period in 2010.

While the economic outlook remains uncertain, the two developers are cheery about their prospects, saying that the emergence of a Chinese upper and middle class has created a legion of potential visitors.

“Consumer spending is still up,” said Mr. Zeman. “The country is going through a massive change into a consumer economy, and there’s opportunity for us.”

SOURCE: blogs.wsj.com

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