PHUKET: Thinking of owning property in an island paradise? Swaying coconut trees, tropical drinks in day-glow colors and of course the ultimate deal closer – the beach.
Let’s take an example, someone named Dieter, snowbound in Bavaria, with subzero weather, a veritable glacier outside the front door and packs of wolves howling at the moon.
Maybe the wolf thing is an exaggeration but you get the drift. In the long dark winter of discontent, what dreams does our hero Dieter have? Sun, sand and a life lived in Phuket.
In broad terms, much of the island’s high street property trade is focused in beach areas – be it Karon, Kata, Surin, Rawai, Patong, Kamala, Bang Tao, Cape Panwa or Cape Yamu.
There is little doubt that all beaches are not created equal. Some have fine white sand, others have views or aspects, and yes, there are those so close to a jungle of bars and restaurants that you can hear the tops being pulled off beer bottles long into the night.
One beach area that somehow escaped the mass excesses of the last boom five or six years past is Layan up near the north end of Bang Tao.
On the books, things were set to go over with a large luxury resort Shangri-La, which offered multi-million dollar villas for sale, and even a proposed marina project nearby.
Then came the global recession, the fall of Lehman Brothers and all those multicolored shirt protests and the area went into sleep mode. Sure, there were successes: Layan Estate, Pavilions, Laguna Village, Lakewood Hills, Layan Gardens, Maan Tawan, La Colline and a handful more.
And failures: Baan Talay, Layan Sunset, and Tamarind Hills. While the barometer of the neighborhood was the stalled Shangri-La site.
The big sleep continued as a rush of activity bypassed the area and moved up to the next beach – Nai Thon.
No beach area in Phuket has evolved so quickly over a year as Nai Thon. With new hotels, luxury villas and condos, the once unspoiled area has now started to take on the look of Phuket’s other beaches. Rising ranks of taxi stands, the white sands now obliterated with sun loungers and parking areas being taken over by vendors.
Moving in the early days of 2013, my own radar was on Layan as being a beehive of activity. Leading Thai group Minor purchased the Bundarika resort last year and it’s currently being upgraded into a luxury branded Anantara. A vacant portion of land, which was acquired, is being planned for multi-million dollar branded villas and an extension of the group’s vacation ownership product is expected to follow.
Next to this is the Japanese conglomerate Kajima, who have put in the infrastructure for what will be one of the island’s premier ultra villa estates. Here, 22 lots with panoramic ocean views will have mega-homes built on them at selling prices expected to exceed 200 million baht.
Though the Indonesian owners of the former Shangri-La development remain on hold, nearby at Pavilions, Hong Kong entrepreneur Gordon Oldham is preparing to launch a new phase of large exclusive residences.
At Laguna, the property giant recently brought to market a new phase of residences and deluxe townhouses, which straddle the area between the master-planned community and the Banyan Tree Double Pool Villas.
Just up the street, the Nikki Beach resort is piling and getting ready for construction.
Driving around the area, the fenced off Baan Talay site, which was purchased by an overseas property fund, is up for sale as a prime resort or residential lot. And next to this land, preparation has been done for house lots, which have been subdivided and put into the market. Also, the Villas overlooking Layan are promoting another phase of the project.
There is speculation that the plans for the Layan marina project might be brought to ground again, given the property traded hands some 18 months ago.
As for the rumor of a golf course in the area, that remains thin air, with little substance or truth at this stage.
Why Layan? Why now?
It’s fairly simple, as that’s where the land is and room for developers to grow.
Expect this area to experience the domino effect, which hit Nai Thon last year.
As to where will be next?
Mai Khao, Koh Siray and finally at one point Ao Po, all seem destined to fall under the hammer.
Bill Barnett is Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks and can be contacted through C9hotelworks.com.
— Bill Barnett
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