Top Of the Rock in 2010
The Phuket Gazette.
As we come out of the peak season, there is fresh optimism in the Phuket property market, and the industry's players are talking about what's hot on the island. Based on research carried out for this column and local property news website thephuketinsider.com, the following Property Watch forecast lists the hospitality and property industry's 'top of the rock' for the coming year.
Top Five Hot Properties
1. Kata Rocks
This piece sea-front real estate has a stunning aspect of west-coast views, which pairs high-profile buyers with world-class designers. Buying real estate on strong fundamentals is key to good investing. Kata Rocks has those fundamentals.
2. Mandala Condominiums
Located in central Bang Tao and a short walk from the beach, the developers took a major initiative and built the project prior to going to market. The condo units with super-sized pools are nearly complete and ready to move in.
3. Andara Residences
There are just a few units remaining in this mixed-use hotel project managed by Allan Zeman. The adjoining villas have seen resale transactions and appreciation beyond 100%. While this may not happen for the condos, there are strong fundamentals at play for excellent yields and good capital appreciation.
4. Malaiwana Luxury Apartments
We've heard that this project with a beach club in the works and super villas is now nearing completion in Nai Thorn, on the north-west coastline, and may be coming to the market in 2010. Be on the lookout for more international hotels in Nai Thon, which is poised as one of the island's best addresses in the future.
5. Land in Mai Khao and Thalang
Both these areas are set for large-scale development. More hotels are going up in Mai Khao including the new convention center. With addition of the Phuket International Academy (PIA) in Thalang, land prices are moving up fast in that area. The British International School is an example of how a the surrounding area can become a great place for longer term investment.
Top Five New Hotel Openings
1.Westin Siray Bay Resort and Spa
The upscale 268-room resort is the latest offering from global hospitality chain Starwood. The resort made its debut this month on the island's growing east-coast market.
2. Andara Resort and Villas
Heads are turning in the luxury market to check out the combination of Allan Zeman's creative genius with a prime sea-view location at the start of Kamala's Millionaires Mile. The all new SILK Restaurant has relocated to the 37-key property, at which a grand opening ceremony was held in February.
3. Centara Grand Beach Resort
Given its prime location directly on a white-sand beach at the north end of Karon, this 262-room hotel should prove to be a a tough competitor for the aging Le Meriden Patong Resort. The new resort is set to begin welcoming guests in the first half of this year.
4. B-Lay Tong
Located on the northern part of the Patong beach road, this 125-room property is being compared to the stylish resort, Twinpalms. Opened in January under the management of Kevin Beauvais, this addition to the boutique chain InVision moves the bar up a notch in this busy neighborhood.
5. Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa
This is the newest entry into Mai Khao in northern Phuket. The 150-key hotel will open in the first quarter and has the JW Marriott, Sala Phuket and Anantara as neighbors. With a long, white-sand beach and in close proximity to the airport, east coast yachting, golf and access to scenic Phang Nga, the area is becoming a major destination on the island.
While Phuket is the birthplace of modern Asian pool-villa resorts such as the Amanpuri and Banyan Tree, all the hardware in the world won't make a difference unless there are some brave souls in the industry who will take risks, influence trends, and remain passionate about hospitality. Five who stand out in the crowd are:
1. Olivier Gibaud
Innovative and creative, Twinpalms quickly became the envy of many five-star chain managed hotels here. After introducing iconic Sunday brunches and Catch Beach Club, Olivier continues to hit home runs, and has created more buzz with the imminent opening of an island-wide chain of high end BAKE outlets.
2. Vorasit “Wan” Issara
This Swiss hotel graduate showed the trendy hi-so crowd in Bangkok that Phuket could be a cool place with Sri Panwa resort and the chilled-out Baba Dining Lounge. High-profile celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay could only sing the islands praises when he stayed at Mr Issara's resort.
3. Allan Zeman
With his own unique brand name, Allan Zeman effectively raised the bar for the coming decade by transplanting Hong Kong's rich and famous to this Andaman gem, offering them Plaza Surin, Andara Villas and SILK Restaurant, which has just opened at Andara. There seems to be little rest for this driven achiever.
Wolfgang is a strong supporter of tourism on the island and is the longest serving general manger of an international property. During his lengthy tenure at the Holiday Inn Patong he has received numerous accolades within the top IHG hotel group and has fostered many repeat visitors.
Owner and witty personality of one of Phuket's best dining and drinking outlets, the Supper Club, Sean has created an atmosphere where the rich and famous broker high-end transactions and close deals. Sean has seen it all on a nightly basis, running a quality operation with a constant stream of new ideas, making his restaurant a 'scene to be seen'.
No doubt I've missed many deserving businesses and individuals here – the list is by no means exhaustive. For those here who have helped raise the bar, take a bow and give yourself a pat on the back.