PHUKET: One thing that I love about Phuket is the ability for luxury to live side by side with abject casualness. You could be sitting next to a multi-millionaire or a packaged tourist on the bar stool, as the ties that bind are the flip-flops adorning your respective feet.
Islands tend to have little social stratification, which can probably be explained in a Robinson Crusoe round-about manner. Be it a local eatery, or stepping down the aisles of Villa Market, or indeed sitting in the crowd at a kids’ sporting event at one of Phuket’s many international schools, the pecking order doesn’t much matter at these venues.
All that equality of course does not necessarily apply to where the top end of the market lay down their heads on comfy pillows at night. The history of luxury pool villas has been recanted many times around the local watering holes, so that’s no place we need to go now.
One clear positive sign for Phuket’s luxury real estate is the amount of impressive new product now coming into the marketplace. Just a few days ago, I had the chance to visit one of the newest launches, Avadina Hills overlooking Layan Beach, and once you catch your breath, all of Bangtao Bay and beyond.
Size does matter in what has been a hand-crafted effort of 22 ultra estate villas. One feature that I personally love is the ample plot size with an average of two rai each. With configurations mainly of four bedrooms, built up areas range from 1,700-1,800 square meters and internal built up space of over 709sqm.
Is the price tag, starting from 300 million baht, high? Certainly, but viewing the high level of quality, the artistic framework of architect Sakakura Associates and landscape planner James Hyatt, ultimately the price tag is attuned to the exclusivity, privacy and view overlooking one of the island’s most sensational vistas.
Writing this, I can almost hear the online boo-birds chirping about the demise of Phuket, being overrun by cheap travellers and with a declining trajectory. Yet, looking at the bare facts and quality of investment into the island’s luxury property sector by well-heeled groups and affiliates like Kajima (Japan), Minor (Thailand), HPL (Singapore), and New World (Hong Kong), the reality seems to suggest that, despite a world gone mad, upscale property is continuing to find a global marketplace in Phuket.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, more than US$500 million in new luxury estate villas will enter into the market, including notable projects such as Rosewood, MontAzure and others, joining Avadina Hills, Anantara Residences and Point Yamu by Como. One reality of the sector is that a fresh phase of demand will be induced by the world class product and will generate sales from both domestic and overseas buyers.
If you want a reality check about Phuket’s leadership in real estate, take a drive on Kamala’s Millionaire’s Mile some time, or take a look at the superyachts that can’t find space at the island’s overfilled marinas.
There is little doubt that our island is transforming into an urbanized landscape, and yes – volume is inevitable in all things we do and see. Yet, putting perspective into the real estate sector, and viewing the positive investment sentiment, all indications are that we will continue to move ahead as we enter the next development cycle.
Luxury living is indeed finding more partners to sleep with, given some very spectacular new products that are gracing our shores.
Bill Barnett is Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks, the Phuket-based hotel and property consulting firm.
This article appears in the September 5-11 issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper.
Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking here.
— Bill Barnett
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