National TreasureAs if it weren’t already one of the most up-and-coming districts in Hong Kong, Sheung Wan has a new serviced apartment player on the landscape. Now open for monthly and yearly leasing — and for a few nights if necessary — is The Jervois, located at 89 Jervois Street. The latest addition to National Properties’ serviced residence portfolio, The Jervois is billed as part of a continuing effort by National to bring world-class design to Hong Kong. In a market crowded with similar properties touting the same product, National has its work cut out for it.

On the heels of the developer’s prior collaborations with European designers, at The Putman and Le Rivage, also in the area, comes the purpose-built 36-storey tower with interiors by Christian Liaigre. Liaigre was selected to take the design helm this time around because of his emphasis on natural woods, fine leather and his signature marble. Some of his most noted work includes The Mercer in New York, Hakkasan in London and Rupert Murdoch’s Manhattan residence, and National Properties wanted Liaigre’s cosmopolitan touch for The Jervois.

The tower’s 49 suites are dominated by marble and wood, which some would argue appeals to Mainland tastes. National’s managing director, Loewe Lee, however, was thinking broader than that. “I would disagree with that. For us, it feels very Western, more so than many new buildings in Hong Kong,” he begins. “When we went ahead with [The Putman] in 2007, we saw it as for business executives with multinationals and in banking and so on. It fulfilled our goal and so I think this will too. There’s a lot of woods and wood panelling. A lot of white marble, which is a hallmark of what Liaigre does.”

Whatever your tastes, The Jervois’ interiors blend seamlessly with Sheung Wan’s increasingly international vibe. The 44 700-square foot one-bedroom and 5 two- bedroom (1,550 square feet) suites each feature private lobby lifts and are dominated by fine woods, leather (on built-in bench seating, perfect for cocktail parties at home), marble bathrooms, Frette linens, custom furnishings, lighting and storage (plenty). Units are fitted with all the state-of-the-art appliances expected in luxury serviced residences. Services and facilities include 24-hour security, complimentary gym memberships, business centre, daily housekeeping and access to the 36th floor sundeck, equipped with barbeque facilities. The roof deck faces the harbour.

Tenants can lease for as many months (from $40,000 per month) as needed or desired up to a maximum of one year per lease, but suites are also available at a nightly rate, the same way scores of the major serviced residence operators now offer accommodation. “It’s one of the reasons we designed The Jervois as a hotel. A lot of serviced apartments still have a minimum 30-day lease and people are turning away from big, identical hotels. We’re providing an alternative,” Lee states. As if it needed any introduction, The Jervois sits in that happy spot in Sheung Wan close enough to Central to be, well, close, but far enough away to afford a semblance of quietude in the middle of the city. The neighbourhood is now packed with coffee shops, boutique dining, hidden gem watering holes — and a French deli for all your foie gras desires. Even the local Park N Shop has a markedly improved diversity of product.

Ironically, with so many in Lee’s target market making the switch to older, “character” buildings, National has dedicated itself to development, not refurbishment. Isn’t that swimming against the tide? “I would disagree” Lee begins once again, going on to point out apossible downside to rejuvenation projects. “It’s a matter of turnaround time. A refurbishment takes half as much time and less money out of pocket and has a quicker turnaround. And you see it in terms of quality. There is a move to renewing older structures, true, but we do what we think has timeless appeal.”

That makes Lee sound like a bit of a crank who wants to raze everything over 20 years old to the ground. But that’s far from accurate. He too would love to see National tackle a truly worthy structure for renewal — just not on the surface. “The government loves to encourage it and it would be nice to find an old heritage building and renovate it, like they did with 1881. A lot of people have done a great job with old buildings aesthetically,” he admits with one caveat. “But it’s fundamentally still and old building.” Touché.