When the doors of the Arca swung open in May, it was immediately clear that it was the brainchild of someone obsessed with art and design. The stylish property is the latest art-filled and design-focused hotel opened by Justin Ma, founder of hospitality company the Yulan Group, who says he is creating “a new breed of hospitality experiences” with the business.
The Arca has 187 rooms with sweeping views of both Aberdeen Harbour and the mountains of Southern District. Inside, the rooms were created by local studio Design Eight Five Two and combine an earthy colour palette of greys, peach and copper with timber furniture to create raw yet cosy spaces.
“We want people to feel comforted and welcomed, and good art and design has a way of doing that. It plays a big part in creating a world-class hospitality experience,” says 29-year-old Justin, whose love for unique getaways was fostered at a young age. “As a kid, I was lucky enough to travel around the world with my family, and my favourite part of each trip was getting to experience new hotels. I think that’s when I became passionate about becoming a hotelier.”
As the son of property magnate William Ma—chairman and chief executive of Tai Sang Land Development—Justin could have used his family name alone to gain access to the industry. However, he was determined to start from the bottom, so he studied hospitality management at the University of San Francisco. After graduating, he worked on the front desk of Hong Kong co-working space The Hive, eventually becoming its community manager. Today, he serves as head of business development at Tai Sang Land Development and is also an angel investor in ChargeSpot, the world’s first mobile power bank rental service provider.
After founding the Yulan Group in 2019 Justin made his first solo foray into the hotel industry with boutique property The Figo in Sheung Wan a year later. “I have been very lucky to always feel a sense of belonging with my family, and this is what I wanted to provide for others with my hotels as well,” he says.
A self-proclaimed free spirit and lover of the arts, Justin uses his creative flair to set his properties apart from the rest. “I have always been interested in art and design. Incorporating art into our hotels is an important way for us to give them that unique touch,” he says. To bring Justin’s vision to life, he and his team spent the past two years choosing works by more than 40 Hong Kong artists, including illustrators and muralists Rebecca Lin and Carol Mui, as well as pieces by international sculptors such as Elizabeth Lyons and Roberto Barni, to create a relaxed and inspiring space for guests.