Naoko Simms and husband Eric have lived in many different places around the world but have settled on Macau as their forever home. Naoko Simms and husband Eric have lived in many different places around the world but have settled on Macau as their forever home. They wanted a new property but set in historic surrounds and found the Fountainside at Lilau Square.
The Brief given to find their new home in Macau was that it had to be located on the peninsula and importantly be within walking distance of the historic center. “We’ve visited Macau countless times over the years,” smiles Japanese-born Naoko, “and I suppose because I grew up in Kyoto, surrounded by wonderful castles and temples, I’ve always had an affinity for beautiful old buildings and gardens. My husband Eric, who’s from Canada, has lived in Asia most of his working life and also greatly admires Asian culture and historical sites.”
After only a few days search, the Simms settled on buying in The Fountainside, a 6-year old, low-density residential development in Macau’s prime Penha Hill district, historically the home of Portuguese nobility. Their 3-bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2,150 square foot apartment is one of 38 apartments housed within a restored heritage structure. Contemporary interiors, with attractive reception lobby area, small gym and underground parking fuse seamlessly with the building’s well-preserved Portuguese-style façade.
“We’ve been living in Hong Kong for the past few years and have got used to the compact size of most apartments so it’s a real treat for us to have such a spacious living area, a big walk-in storage area, two terraces and decent-sized bedrooms with plenty of room for built in wardrobes” explains Eric. “The building has good security and we particularly enjoy having the roof top sitting area for glorious sun-sets over a backdrop of the hills across the water in China. When we bought there were no more car parks available to buy; it didn’t worry us, we love to walk everywhere and to feel the local buzz.”
“We’re located adjacent to Lilau Square, one of the first Portuguese residential quarters in Macau,” adds Naoko. “There’s a fountain in the square; the ground water of Lilau used to be the main source of natural spring water in Macau.” Local nostalgic attachment to the square is apparent in the popular Portuguese phrase: ‘One who drinks from Lilau never forgets Macao’.
“We’re surrounded by history” Eric enthuses. “We appreciate the fusion of western and Chinese urban architecture, the distinctly Mediterranean atmosphere from the mixture of Art Deco buildings, some abandoned or being restored and the traditional Chinese architecture of the Mandarin’s House residential complex opposite. It’s a very local area; the modern day structures of walk-up residences with their caged balconies and washing hanging out to dry. There’s a school opposite, then there’s the Barra market down the hill with road side stalls for fruit and vegetables, a wet market for our fresh fish and a large Royal supermarket for other daily necessities.”
The Simms’ home is also no more than a 15-minute stroll along little streets and patios to other world heritage sites, the charming Dom Pedro theatre, St Joseph’s Seminary and Church, the beautiful San Lourenco church, the Moorish Barracks and further along the Barra Square and A Ma temple after which Macau is named. And of course there’s the much loved Bella Vista up and over a short steep rise from our front door and then down the other side is the lakes area.
The apartment itself has pale wood flooring, good ceiling height and is light and airy. The living room terrace and two bedrooms look towards Lilau square, peaking between the yellow-painted back walls of no. 27 and no. 7 & 9 Largo do Lilau, and out on to interesting tiled roof tops and Banyan trees with their tentacle-like roots clinging to ancient walls. One of the bedrooms has been converted into a home office and it’s become their favourite room. “Sun streams through the window, I love looking out on to the old tree, it’s very inspiring” says Naoko.
“Our kitchen has a window but it’s a bit dark so we’re dabbling with the idea of perhaps knocking the wall down and opening it up into the dining room.” But for now the couple is focused on getting settled. “We bought all our furniture over from Hong Kong. It’s so lovely to finally be able to unpack and hang our art and to display treasures collected from our travels. We used a local contractor to put in some security measures and install wardrobes. A nice man but not a very skilled carpenter – we wish we’d bought the wardrobes from IKEA instead!”
“The master bedroom ensuite bathroom doesn’t unfortunately have a window so as I prefer having natural ventilation I tend to use one of the other bathrooms … fortunately we’re not short of bathrooms as we have the luxury of 3 to choose from!” laughs Eric.
“We’re delighted to have made the move, we adore Macau,” exclaims Naoko. “It’s safe, it’s small and easy to get around, local neighbourhoods are intimate and cozy, the narrow lanes to explore are full of nostalgic vibe, passersby we meet are very friendly. And yet in a ten-minute taxi ride we can be in the glitzy world of luxury hotels, casinos, high end retail and Michelin star restaurants. And a little further on, the hill trails and beaches of Coloane. Macau offers so much.”