UltraVillas on the Rise in Nai Thon
The Phuket Gazette.
One of the island's most picturesque beaches, Nai Thon, is undergoing a massive makeover.
Over the past few years the "UltraVilla" luxury estate Malaiwana has continued to evolve into one of the island's premium addresses. Speaking to partner and developer Stephen Paine who also spearheaded the successful Surin Heights estate, he was keen to talk about two new projects being launched by the group.
First is the 12-unit, upscale boutique Malaiwana Residences with 'to die for' West Coast ocean views. Unit sizes for the 'uber' apartments are 600 square meters, featuring 18-meter private swimming pools.
Configured with eight duplexes and four penthouses: prices range between 85 and 95 million baht.
With a public launch set for mid-November, four units have already been sold to buyers looking for top-shelf projects. Construction will start early next year and is expected to be complete by 2013.
Second is the I40-seat Malaiwana Beach Club and dining lounge, located on one rai of land at the southern end of Nai Thon Beach.
The venue will also be open to the public.
The new venue will provide some stiff competition for Catch Beach Club in Surin and Baba club at Sri Panwa resort when it opens in the first quarter of next year.
In other developments: At the north end of the Nai Thon Beach, the 281-room, internationally branded Pullman Arcadia resort will be changing the area in a major way.
International hotel chain, ACCOR, is also eyeing the Nai Thon area.
Across the street, another site is reportedly going to be turned into a well-known branded hotel.
From an impact perspective, the growing inventory of hotel rooms does pose questions about how Nai Thon can cope with this many tourists. At high tide, beach seating remains limited, and no doubt the 'Surin Beach effect' with tourists having to pay for a seat and service, looks to be inevitable.
There are two distinct camps in the mass-tourism model, and there are no better examples of these than in Nai Thon.
First is the "UltraVillas" camp dotting hillsides and coastlines consuming forest and natural resources. Those buyers tend to have minimal impact on Nai Thon Beach, with most staying in the confines of their sizable villas for days on end.
The second camp is made up of larger hotels – which are coming in fast to such a small beach. It seems things are going to get a little crowded.
Maybe a government zoning incentive might help here, or a building initiative, that could give incentives to existing residential and hotel owners to upgrade and modernize buildings already there.
A recent announcement of new environmental regulations by the government is creating a rush for developers to get building permits processed before they take effect.
Sometime this month, a new land usage plan for all of Phuket will be released by the government.
Early indications point to a marked new control strategy. However, the plan will not seriously address redevelopment or control of specific hotel zones, it has been reported.
There is no doubt that UltraVillas are one of Phuket's most appealing property products, but putting them into a mass model could be a step in the wrong direction for the long run.