An entrepreneurial couple with a first-of-its-kind, urban farm business in Macau chooses Oscar Crescent for the family home.
Australian Sam Power met his Macau-born wife Sandra when she was on holiday visiting an aunt in Adelaide. When she returned to Macau he followed his heart, coming originally for a month. That was six years ago. Today they are happily settled, juggling a busy family life and running their own business.
A chef by trade, Sam worked initially for several food and beverage operations and soon noticed that even though excellent fresh produce comes daily across the border from China, there is a need for locally grown micro greens to enhance the meal experience of diners in Macau. “Micro greens,” he describes, “are any plant, for example a cabbage, a leak, lettuce or kale that is in its first 2 weeks of growth. They are 40 times more nutritious than when a fully grown plant.”
Seizing this business opportunity the entrepreneurial duo set about tackling the bureaucracy involved in establishing their own micro greens production company, Its Pure Production Ltd. “We are the first and only commercial aquaponics urban farm in Macau”, Sam explains. Located in a warehouse on the peninsular they worked tirelessly with the relevant licensing departments to establish the very high quality standards required. The business continues to expand, supplying hotels and restaurants with the freshest of micro herbs and other greens. Sam also enjoys giving tours of the farm and educational talks on the production process and nutritional efficacy of this food.
Home for the Powers is a stunning 4-bedroom apartment in the relatively new Oscar Crescent residential complex perched on the western edge of the Macau Jockey Club. Why Oscar Crescent? Space was a major concern; Sandra and ex-husband now close friend Francisco share 3 boys, Francisco aged 15, Rafael, 12 and Joaquim 8, so they needed the 4 bedrooms. Plus the extra high ceilings, the huge master bedroom with its own terrace, the high quality bathrooms and the spacious living-dining area and terrace all sold Sandra and Sam to the place. Location was crucial too; “We moved from One Oasis as we found it too congested”, explains Sandra “and because I spent the whole day in the car” driving the boys backwards and forwards to school, football and all their other extracurricular activities.
After a year on a lower floor they moved to a higher floor when their current apartment became available. They now enjoy an unobstructed, breathtaking view of the race track, the boats plying up and down the river estuary that curves its way between Taipa and Hengqin and in the distance the Lotus Bridge crossing.
Sandra’s family roots are from places as far flung as Luanda, Pakistan, China Portugal and Macau. Her father, Marinho de Bastos, was Macau’s Director of Tourism in the 1980’s and at that time was involved in the setting up of the Institute for Tourism Studies, today the much respected IFT. When she was 14 Sandra’s father took a job in the European Commission so the family uprooted and moved to Brussels. At 22, by then fluent in French, English as well as her native Cantonese and Portuguese she graduated with a degree in International Affairs and Economics and immediately decided to move back to Asia. “I always wanted to return to Macau. Brussels is a big city but I found it boring.” By comparison “Macau is a little village but I missed the sights and smells”, the mix of east and west. “I feel comfortable being surrounded by familiar faces of people that I grew up with here. You even need to dress up to go to the supermarket as you’re sure to see many friends!” she laughs.
With a passion for interior design and fashion, Sandra’s creativity comes to bear in how she has decorated their home. “My décor taste for this apartment is the modern minimalist look” but with 3 growing boys who have been known to play football in the living room, “its not easy” she groans! A favourite colour is turquoise and this is attractively splashed here and there against a neutral colour palate of mid-brown wood floors and cream sofa, with the use of throw cushions, a side table, a vase, cabinet, and even the toaster in the kitchen.
The striking circular wall mirror framed in translucent-golden shells is from Indigo, Horizon Plaza, in Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong. The sofa, dining chairs and silver-lacquered cabinet are from Sofa Sale, once a big showroom in the Shun Tak ferry terminal in Hong Kong but now, like many, their business has moved on line. Ashley Home near Tap Seac, from where the matt-turquoise cabinet was found has also closed shop and sells on line. “The trouble with on line shopping is that I like to see and touch a piece in person” sighs Sandra, “I miss not going to Hong Kong and especially to Horizon Plaza”.
Some IKEA pieces are cleverly mixed in the blend – in the master bathroom, with its double vanity, big bath and spacious shower is an over-sized orange-red framed mirror and a large white 6-door cabinet, ingeniously reconfigured to include super-useful multi-drawers.
The master bedroom is an oasis of calm, with pale grey feature wall behind the bed, pale grey curtains and delightful floral bed linen from Zara Home – another favourite shopping haunt of Sandra’s. And that view again, lying in their custom-made bed (with extra drawers underneath), through the glass terrace barrier out to the wonderfully open aspect and green of the race track. More treasures are the chaise long and the dining table that were bought from home furnishing shop AreaHome, also now located in Horizon Plaza.
One of the bedrooms has been allocated as a walk-in dressing room cum sewing room. “I’m waiting for the borders to be open and then I’ll go and look for some lovely fabrics to make clothes with”, longs Sandra.
Sitting at the dining table and gazing out through the sliding doors and living room terrace to the beautiful view, Sandra and Sam seem content and are positive about Macau’s future. “We don’t like being crowded with tourists although we understand that businesses need tourists, nor the bureaucracy, but if you want to eat at 3 in the morning you can and you can walk anywhere. The place is so safe, I sometimes don’t even bother to lock my car,” smiles Sandra. “Yes,” agrees Sam, and the great thing is that “if you’ve got the drive and motivation you can do what you want, the opportunities are endless here.”
Article written for the Macau Closer magazine by Suzanne Watkinson, managing director of Ambiente Properties
Photographs by Suzanne Watkinson