Banyan Group’s KP Ho Developing USD2 Billion Phuket International Community
The resort island of Phuket which once was highly tourism dependent, has quickly evolved into a global hotspot as an international community for a rising tide of global citizens. Taking flight is a migration megatrend that is being driven not only by geopolitical events worldwide but a series of other emerging segments. Those highlighted in C9 Hotelworks latest research include urban flight, an increasingly mobile work-from-anywhere class of business owners, executives, and digital nomads, and a greying population that is retiring early and moving across borders.
Take a closer look at what is happening on the ground, there is no better example than KP Ho’s pioneering destination-integrated resort (IR) Laguna Phuket. Developed in stages over more than three decades, the composition and DNA of the mixed-use project was highly premised on an idyllic holiday getaway that had everything you wanted on your doorstep. It wasn’t about getting away, more so it was in an insulated package that reflected travel trends of the day. As often happens, things changed, the smartphone opened a world of options in your palm and suddenly travelers wanted out of the box, into non-traditional accommodation and freedom of choice.
Wind forward to 2024 and the Banyan Group which was founded as a hospitality icon and their Laguna flagship has shifted into a real estate-led entity. I’m reminded of Willie Sutton’s famous quote on why he robbed banks and he replied ‘That’s where the money is.’ You could pretty much say the same thing in a side-by-side hotel vs. real estate comparison.
For KP Ho, who once changed the face of integrated resorts, his latest endeavor is developing an inland USD2 billion international community called Laguna Lakelands on a large land bank of 276 acres (approximately 700 rai). Set to house over 5,000 residential units in various configurations, but the main property classes planned are condominiums and detached single-family homes.
Laguna Lakelands is located in the island’s hottest property market Bangtao/Cherngtaly, in what is now being referred to a Phuket Thonglor. The latter is a reference to one of Bangkok’s trendiest urban districts. In early 2023, C9’s market research identified over 10,000 residential units in the pipeline, and in less than a year, the number now tops 20,000.
What is clear is that Bangtao is no longer just about the beach, and as in the case of many resort areas over time from Waikiki to Bali is that they are becoming urban-focused. That said, today’s socio and economic trend and post-COVID-19 changes is that instead of being transformed into a new CBD (central business district) Bangtao/Chengtalay’s inland areas are gravitating towards central lifestyle districts (CLD). Bolstered by soaring land prices and height restrictions mid-rise development will be the path forward for the greater share of properties.
As for the transition from tourism to lifestyle, Laguna Phuket which introduced resort real estate properties in the mid to late 1990s has seen the transition of many travelers who first came to Phuket as tourists and later came to live a resort lifestyle. There remains much chatter in the property market about Russian and Eastern European buyers being a dominant force, the reality is there are 13 international schools on the island, and speaking to the largest of them, our research shows there are 59 nationalities of students.
Closing out the piece I’m often asked how deep is the Phuket property market or how much more can it grow. In my opinion, the metric should not be isolated to the current key demand segments or nationalities, but look to a rapid global lifestyle migration trend which means that the island’s potential is truly set to see sustained growth in the decade ahead as an international community.