It's All About the Address
As I typed the headline for this article I was jolted into a state of pun-phobia. I had fallen into ad-speak, and written what is a bad real-estate tagline.
Or is it? Does the address add value to property, and if so which address is the right one?
Phuket is an island where 'luxury' is the most overused word in the English lexicon. Throw in the frills of ocean views, beaches, ultra villas, mega yachts and expensive beamers cruising the coastline with couples in the back tossing back the Veuve Clicquot, then spice the whole thing up with a stunning west-coast sunset as a backdrop.
It's enough to take your breath away.
Of course, we also have the wannabes – condos and apartments branded as luxury that are so small that life must be spent standing up, nebulous Bt4-million luxury pool villas, or my personal favourite, the oxymoronic "cheap luxury" products.
For island property, luxury boils down to the address – or in more urban terms, the hood.
The Kamala headland – known as Millionaires Mile – was an early claimant of luxury status, back when Laem Son pioneered the area. Now estates such as Andara, Waterfall Bay, Cape Sol and Ayara dot the coastline.
Surin played the home field advantage with the mother of all luxury brands – Amanpuri. Slowly the creep took hold, with Surin Heights, Surin Hill, The Chedi (now calling itself The Surin), and upscale retail took hold with Allan Zeman's Plaza Surin. A series of boutiques and restaurants such as cudos and Opus One began drawing in the beautiful people.
A new moniker has been coined for the area: The Surin Strip. It has a familiar ring, but is kind of catchy.
Over in Cherngtalay, where the destination resort Laguna Phuket has rewritten the map, there is the island's largest concentration of resort-grade residences. But the area continues to suffer from an identity crisis. Laguna remains protective of its intellectual property and use of its name, so anything outside the gate falls under the Bangtao Beach, Bangtao Bay, or Layan sign posts. They're in the standing room only basket.
Cherngtalay is a mouthful and I'm not quite sure how the whole thing will sort itself out, but for most people the area will forever be known as Laguna.
Jutting up into Nai Thon, uber-resort Trisara continues to give the Aman a run for its money and the Malaiwana and Istana multi-million dollar homes for the rich and famous are rapidly making this area Phuket's Golden Mile.
Meanwhile, Cape Yamu did a mini-Laguna job and rewrote the map once again, after the development. These days, it's been broken up into bit-sized chunks like The Yamu, The Cape and The Bay, but for most, the entire area is Cape Yamu.
In a strange way, property developers have somehow become tropical explorers, re-drafting maps and renaming locations that have existed for centuries. Perhaps this address thing does have some legs – so let's check out the neighbours before we put down a wad of cash on a new luxury villa.