Banyan Tree


“When my wife Claire and I backpacked in Asia or Europe during our younger, budget-conscious days, it was the romance and intimacy we remembered and associated with our accommodations, no matter how humble. Surely, other people would also cherish such memories, even if they had more money? That was my starting hypothesis. So, with intuition and a hankering to recapture the magic of romantic and intimate holidays in a culturally evocative and exotic setting, Banyan Tree was born.

The name Banyan Tree comes from the fishing village on Lamma Island in Hong Kong where Claire and I lived for three idyllic years before I joined the family business. Yung Shue Wan, or Banyan Tree Bay, despite its modest, rustic village setting, symbolized for us a sanctuary of romance and intimacy. Yung Shue Wan is hardly luxurious, but it proved that when two people have a wonderful experience, the place they had it in acquires a magical quality. Our hotels aspire to be the Yung Shue Wans, or sanctuaries, for our guests whatever their age or origins.

As a development economist-cum-journalist backpacking in the region, I was distressed by irresponsible tourism—destruction of the physical environment; exploitation and degradation of the cultural environment. My subsequent experience in rehabilitating the 600 acres of land that Laguna Phuket stands on today, from an abandoned tin mine into an award-winning environmental showcase offering five resorts, showed me what responsible tourism could do. These experiences—one negative, one positive—taught me that as tourism practitioners we have the immense responsibility and yet also the power to do something positive about our physical and human environment.

Through activities like the Green Imperative Fund and a group-wide committee to coordinate corporate social responsibility initiatives, we have been able to uphold that commitment. Larger-scale projects, such as marine conservation initiatives in the Maldives and the little things (refillable containers for non-toxic, biodegradable toiletries) ensure the continued preservation of our ecological environment.
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The Wit and Wisdom of Peter Lynch

Peter Lynch

By Kaushal B. Majmudar, CFA

We were fortunate to have an opportunity to hear Peter Lynch speak at an investment conference in New York about a year ago. Peter is, of course, the famed ex-manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund. Under his stewardship, the Magellan Fund, which he ran from 1977 to 1990 grew from a small $20 million fund to $14 billion in assets when he stepped down to focus on family and other interests. In 1983 (just 6 years after he took over), the fund had grown to $1 billion on the back of Peter’s exceptional performance. More specifically, according to a secondary source quoting Valueline, Lynch achieved an average annual return of 29% per year over his 13 years running the Magellan Fund.
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Sheldon Adelson

‘My parents had little to give to me in terms of starting me off in this world. We slept in a bedroom that could hold only one bed and that was for my parents. The four children slept on the floor. And that’s the way that we started out. But…I felt myself very rich, because when I look back and think what my parents gave to me, they gave me values and that’s the most important thing.’

– Sheldon Adelson, founder of Las Vegas Sands Resort and ranked by Forbes as the world’s 15th richest man

Swaps and Derivatives by Phillip Wood

Hong Kong


Derivatives is a generic term used to describe futures, options, swaps and various other similar transactions. Apart from interest swaps, most derivative contracts are contracts for differences – the difference between the agreed future price of an asset on a future date and the actual market price on that date.

Futures Contracts

A futures contract is a contract under which one party agrees to deliver to the other party on a specified future date (the “maturity date”) a specified asset at a price (the “strike price”) agreed at the time of the contract and payable on the maturity date. The term “forward contract” is often used in relation to private contracts not transacted through an organised exchange.

The asset may be a commodity or currency or a debt or equity security (or a number or basket of securities), or a deposit of money by way of loan, or any other category of property.

The effect is to guarantee or “hedge” the price. The hedging party protects himself against a loss but also loses the chance to make a profit.
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“Once you get home, nobody will be remotely interested in what you did or what you saw. Why should they be? All they’ll want to know is whether or not you ‘had a good time’, and your notion of a ‘good time’ is unlikely to be theirs. The best kind of traveller is a thief on the prowl, looking for illuminating moments. Travelling, unlike tourism, is just living more intensely, freed for a short time from the constraints of being whoever it is we’re accustomed to thinking we are. It’s being on the prowl, beholden to nobody, for the beautiful self we’d forgotten was locked up inside us.”

Robert Dessaix in “The Age” newspaper, 18.ix.04.

Bus Uncle

The film starts out when the protagonist, a middle-aged man, reacts strongly when a young man sitting behind him taps his shoulder to ask him to keep his voice down while talking on the phone.

“I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Why do you do this?” the infuriated bus rider says, punctuating the sentence by jabbing his right hand downward in the air.

When the young man, who rarely talks back during the argument, expresses an unwillingness to continue the conversation, the middle-aged man explodes, “This is not resolved! This is not resolved! This is not resolved!” – now a new catch phrase in Hong Kong.

He goes on to say, “I face pressure. You face pressure. Why did you provoke me?”

In another twist, just when the dispute seems to have ended after the young man apologises and the two shake hands, the young man takes issue with profanity used by the middle-aged man, who then launches into another round of profanities.

The video has inspired numerous spoofs, including a karaoke version and a rap song using the middle-aged man’s refrain, “I face pressure. You face pressure.” Internet users have also added Chinese and English subtitles.

It still isn’t clear who shot the film and it isn’t certain if the film was staged or not. The middle-aged man has not been identified but a man claiming to be the victim of the verbal abuse has been interviewed on Hong Kong’s Commercial Radio.

“Why did I just sit there? I paid to be on the bus. You don’t think I would get off the bus and waste my money, do you?” said the man, identified only as Alvin.

A very liquid investment

Finance Asia
Timothy Cuffe, 13 April 2006

Fancy owning your own bar?

My father was never one to dispense advice lightly, but on the odd occasion that he allowed himself the extravagance he would put forward a gem. Aside from his sage counsel on marriage, his other chestnut was: “Son, if you are ever going to invest your money in anything, make damn sure that it is something you know a lot about.” So here I am writing about investing in bars, a subject that I think I know an awful lot about. In fact, I would imagine my dad would be rather proud of all the comprehensive research I have done on the subject. With the high density of expat professionals in Asia, owning a bar sounds like the ideal investment for many potential entrepreneurs and bonus-laden investment bankers. Unfortunately owning a bar is not always about rooms filled with friendly conversation, pulling a few pints and people enjoying themselves. There is definitely more to the enterprise once you step behind the counter. “Owning your own food and beverage outlet can be hugely rewarding in many ways, but be aware that owning your own bar is a little like a relationship,” says Mark Leahy, a partner in the Singapore-based McCraic Holdings, owners of BQ, Molly Malone’s, Father Flanagan’s and Dharma Kebabs. “A successful business needs constant love, attention and care. It’s a long term commitment and if you neglect it, it can quickly lose its charm.” It is important to be realistic about the amount of work involved in running your own business, especially a bar, pub or restaurant. People think owning a bar is all about sipping cocktails, enjoying the craic with friends, but they often overlook the amount of hours that are involved in creating the idea for the bar, setting it up, stocking it and organizing and managing staff. “Running a bar isn’t easy – there are a lot of potential pitfalls to owning one,” says Lawrence Morgan, owner of Jem in Hong Kong’s illustrious Lan Kwai Fong district. One of the primary stumbling blocks in owning a bar is lax cost control, and that all begins with the property’s lease agreement. In Hong Kong, leases on commercial property are classically six-year agreements with a three-year rent review. Unfortunately, with soaring property values, bar proprietors who negotiated favourable leases three years ago are now seeing their landlords ask for another 40% or more when their review comes up. “Given the steep rise in property values and subsequent rental increases, a lot of bar owners are beginning to look at the numbers and realize that it just won’t work anymore,” says Morgan. Continue reading A very liquid investment