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A Summer Spent On The Cambodian Riviera

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 15th Jan 2015

Jetsetters and trendy trippers on the Continent simply love to wax poetically about last summer's parties in Cannes or St. Tropez. You can even throw in a little Ibiza in as a topping, although I remain perplexed about why everybody returns home insisting, with a wink, that it's called "ee-be-tha".

Still, Euro trash be damned; a fine French ros, daytime dirty dancing and a stupendous collection of seafood certainly sounds like a great way to waste a day. But living large is nothing for the real estate world. Buzz-worthy gems like 'ultra', 'mega', 'magnificent', 'awesome' and the ever-present catch all phrase, 'luxury', cloud my thoughts like a cold winter's mist in Cusco. I'd also strongly recommend a swift kick in the rear end of anyone using terms such as 'authentic', 'experiential' or 'going local'.

If you really want to do the latter, dispose of all your possessions, find Jesus, or else start living out of a shopping trolley near the closet exit of a public transport link.

Speaking of Cusco, where did my secretary put those premixed Pisco Sours? Saying yes to day drinking after all puts me alongside my Continental cohorts, although I do lack the white beach garb and silly straw hat that makes wearers looks like refugees from the Buena Vista Social Club.

Which brings be back to the Riviera. One of my favourite buzz phrases of all time came from a friend of mine, and avid brand man, David Keen who, while speaking at hospitality investment conference session about Thailand's neighbour and the opportunities on its coastal areas, used the phrase, "Cambodian Riviera".

Sometimes if you wish hard enough things do come true.

Sure, the placid beaches along the country's shores may have been a regular summer haunt for the French colonialists in the early 20th century, but I think this slice of buzzology should be put on ice for at least another few years.

Back in my stamping ground, Phuket, we've been expanding the island's boundaries for a few years now under the moniker of 'Greater Phuket', because, let's face it, who really gives a damn about Krabi or Phang Nga when we can add some Vegas pizazz to the region's leading leisure real estate market. It's even made its way over the Sarasin Bridge towards the white sandy stretch of Natai Beach; Asia's very own version of The Hamptons.

There remains a clear and present danger of being too current. Flirting with edginess in an Uberesque manner should teach us that in an industry with an ever-declining shelf life, the risk of falling over the edge and into oblivion is never more than a smartphone away.

One of the terms I loathe the most, however, is 'disruptive technology'. On hearing this I immediately want to throw myself under the nearest Uber taxi. That is of course if the term still exists by the time this article is published. Hard copy be damned, but let's not even go down that one-way street.

Although property remains a matter of substance, how did we ever end up in this age of here today, gone tomorrow neologism? Can the world of real estate not just be itself, rather than desperately trying to seek out summers on the Continent or in The Hamptons? Can't it just sneak out back for a bit of day drinking and a dip in the pool?

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C9 Hotelworks Founder and Managing Director Bill Barnett is a noted columnist, author and leading authority on travel trend, hotels and property.

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