New views of the beach

Posted on May 20, 2013

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As the key resort destinations in Southeast Asia respond to a swift and seismic shift in source markets from Europe to the East, a new type of beach residence is emerging that not only serves developers’ voracious appetites for high returns, but happily also matches the realistic needs of second home investors based around the region.

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On Phuket, the transformation is perhaps most apparent, with beachside and ocean view condominiums now increasingly stealing the sunlight from the once ubiquitous villa developments that were regularly making property price headlines a few years ago.

Nowadays, it seems neither magnitude or  brag-worthy price tags appeal to investors when it comes to resort properties in Asia. On the contrary, it is the  relatively modest but well appointed and attentively serviced apartments that are enjoying strong interest and take-up, even in a market where off-plan sales appeared to be losing favour.

At the end of last year, Laguna Resorts and Hotels launched Laguna Shores close to if not actually on the beach inside the Laguna Phuket complex. The project features modest units with sizes from 42 sqm and a starting price of around THB 4 million (US$135,000) and more than half of the 229 units in the stepped six storey U-shaped Phase 1 building have already been reserved. Phase 2 is due for launch this coming weekend in Singapore.

Another big name developer, Thailand’s own Sansiri plc, recently followed the trend, all be it at a sightly higher price point, with the launch of its first luxury beachfront condominium project, Baan Mai Khao, which has already attracted significant domestic demand and is also expected to do well when showcased in Hong Kong and Singapore in the coming months. The project comprises six three-storey condominium buildings and three five-storey buildings and will feature a total of 206 residential units in sizes ranging from 59.50 to 263.50 sqm, starting THB7 million (US$235,000).

Both of the above developments will come with lifestyle add ons such as concierge services and privilege cards for use in nearby hotels and resorts. It’s a new view of the beach that not only suits the Asian market, where buyers are already used to serviced apartment living in their own countries, but also appeals to a younger, well travelled set that doesn’t mind hopping on a low cost airline to spend a long weekend in their pad by the sea. Built in rental and management programmes are another part of the appeal, with the opportunity for yields when owners are too busy to make use of their holiday home. Deferred payments also tempt investors as they wait for the projects to complete.

Over on Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, firms such as Kalara Developments with its massively successful Code and Lanna projects, as well as Beach Republic and its clever take on tropical living have long been drawing international investors to their beachside condos with a combination of attractive designs and entry level pricing. Down on Bali, despite an excess of badly planned condotels, more sophisticated projects like Ayana Residences, which features 115 luxury apartments and villas have also done well. Over half of the first phase of the development sold out before the foundations had even been laid.

Although island observers and environmentalists have expressed concern that a proliferation of beach condos will pose a threat to these delicate island environments; developers have for the most part applied low density designs and construction techniques that are sensitive to the location. Low rise regulations also means that within a few months of completion the buildings are all but hidden from view by the surrounding tropical landscape and, of course, each new development brings with it demand for local staff.

When it comes to comfort and convenience by the beach, the boutique condo looks set to take this year’s coastal crown.

About the Author:
Jules Kay is managing editor of Property Report Magazine and Helm Superyacht Lifestyle Magazine.

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Posted in: Phuket