In the Lap of Natai Luxury
Real life property success stories in the broad market of resort- grade real estate have been an endangered species over the past few years. The chances of winding up in some specialty restaurant in mainland China have been invariably higher, unless of course your last name starts with a "Z", as in Allan Zeman.
Aside from the more familiar lairs of the rich and famous, be they Amanesque, or in the "Millionaire's Mile", there remains another name to add to the list.
This is Natai, located to the North, just over the Sarasin Bridge.
While it's still Phang Nga without a doubt, over the past seven years a long, slow burn in the area has now resulted in some of the most expensive real estate in the Kingdom.
Aleenta was a pioneering development with its hospitality-led residential, boutique Thai-based concept. Jivana, further on up the beach, was another and of course there's the big daddy, headline-grabbing, Villa Beyond.
Eric Levine drew widespread headlines on a double digit resale in the multi-million dollar penultimate ultra-villa.
Now the news that the sevenvilla estate Sava, has sold out its final three ultra-properties over the past few months has created an undercurrent of new interest.
Developed by Avila Capital, using respected designer Adrian McCarroll of Original Vision the project stands out as a unique example of tropical modern architecture on a spectacular white sand coastline.
South of the Sava new upscale projects are also reportedly on the rise, while going in the opposite direction, near to the Hot Springs, is one of our Greater Phuket top luxury projects to watch in the coming year. The boutique art, design and gastronomy led private hotel Iniala is taking shape.
Here the vision of UK-based entrepreneur Mark Weingard will see a 10-bedroom world-class offering open in June 2013.
Bedrooms and salons are being individually designed in an eclectic nod to create a highly personalized experience.
Mark has also recruited leading top Chef Danny D r i n k w a t e r, whose previous life includes stints at the Park Hyatt in Sydney and the chic Luna2 in Bali's trendy Seminyak, to oversee operations.
Some of the products include a stylized gastronomic restaurant, which will open in the second quarter of next year, and a freestanding Art gallery and caf_ near to the hotel. Over 100 individual art pieces will be curated in the facility.
Expectations are running high for Iniala as private hotels are becoming increasingly sought after by upscale travelers.
Take Bali for example, where properties such as The Edge, Istana, a large 10 bedroom mega villa at Alila Soore and Luna 2 all command daily rental rates from thousands to ten thousands of US dollars a day.
This is a world apart; with leading global personal chefs, an army of full time staff at your beck and call and big private for events such as glittering weddings or parties for A-listers.
Will these more personal settings be the next big thing in luxury travel and compete with the Amanpuris and Trisaras of the world? Virgin brand man Richard Branson with his Neckar Island private retreat has continued to attract the cream of the crop year in and year out for longer than I can remember.
As for Natai, certainly the property market of southern Phang Nga hit a speed bump a few years ago with the new commercial zoning restrictions from Thai Muang all the way down the Sarasin Bridge.
A number of branded hotel and destination developments were put on the back burner but at the same time the area has continued to create a bit of a Hamptons feel. It's hard to describe but maybe more of a classy bedroom community in the land of Lux.
While Phuket finds itself embroiled in a growing concrete jungle, all along the watchtower those in the industry are taking a view point on the storyline which will unfold up in Natai. Will luxury start to make a great escape to less crowded surroundings or is this an isolated example of a micro-market going wild? Meanwhile start looking out for some very fancy cars heading up North over the new four lane Bridge of Sighs.