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Project Confidential: Cool runnings
Six-star splendour arrives in Niseko courtesty of HakuVillas, a pioneering condotel with a warm embrace of luxury concepts
Interview: Insider intel
Through PropertyGuru Wittaya Apirakvirya aims to guide potential homebuyers in Thailand to informed decisions
Bound into the rabbit year with great gift ideas
Design Focus: Shaping the nation
Arkitek MAA’s knack for crafting landmark transport hubs and socially sustainable developments has established it as one of Malaysia’s foremost practices
Neighbourhood Watch: Binh Duong
This prime gateway to Ho Chi Minh City is earning attention from property seekers eyeing great connections and deals
Special feature: Asia’s ace bases
Branded residences saw an upsurge in interest during the pandemic with investors lured by access to luxury hotel amenities and services
The country’s property sector has slowed dramatically following the boom years, but affordable housing initiatives and interest from local buyers offer chinks of light
Destination: The Philippines
Strong GDP growth and healthy condo sales may paint a rosy picture, but external factors spell clouds on the horizon for the property sector
Dispatch: That sinking feeling
Sky-high interest rates and enduring pandemic restrictions are among the pain points for Hong Kong’s property market as prices continue their slide
Dispatch: Empire strikes back
Once regarded as a backwater in the kingdom, Thailand’s northeastern provinces are displaying strong appeal to homebuyers
THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL
Eco-conscious tourism takes on a new meaning with verdant, chic properties by UOL Group Limited and Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG)
is designed with a plethora of sustainable, green features, with foliage covering 300% of the land area.
Pan Pacific Orchard is a low-waste property—a rarity for a hotel in Southeast Asia and the world. The hotel is equipped with eco-conscious technologies such as food waste management, rainwater harvesting and recyclable water systems.
Pan Pacific Orchard, designed by award-winning firm WOHA Architects, boasts an exemplary architectural design that draws nature inwards. The project has four levels of self-sustaining sky gardens in themes of forest, beach, garden, and cloud, creating a new prototype for highrise hospitality. With 350 rooms and suites, the interiors work to reinforce the experience of each sky terrace.
UOL Group Limited emerged as one of the most triumphant winners of the 2022 PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards series. Named Best Hospitality Developer (Asia) at the 17th PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards Grand Final, UOL Group Limited won Best Hotel Development (Asia) for its eco-conscious development Pan Pacific Orchard.
In Singapore alone, the company won the Best Developer, Best Transnational Developer, and Best Hospitality Developer awards, in addition to two Special Recognitions, at the 12th PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Singapore). Pan Pacific Orchard itself won the Best Hotel Development title.
Sustainable travel is more in vogue than ever, with thousands of travellers
clamouring for ways to reduce their carbon footprint following the pandemic. According to a leading travel marketplace, 83% of global travellers perceive sustainable travel as vital.
This awareness strengthens with youth. Millennials and Generation Z are increasingly mindful of the environment when they are traveling. Many members of these demographic cohorts are known to consider sustainable options in their travel plans.
UOL Group Limited has many of these options on offer. Rising 23 storeys above Singapore’s retail heart, Pan Pacific Orchard is set to be an iconic masterpiece with four distinct yet seamlessly interconnected stacks. The Orchard Road development
A host of lifestyle concepts complement the rooms and suites. Pan Pacific Orchard is home to unique dining venues, a luxury spa, and creative high-rise spaces, including the highest ballroom along Orchard Road.
Pan Pacific Orchard is one of more than 50 hotels owned and/or managed by UOL Group Limited through its hotel subsidiary Pan Pacific Hotels Group Limited. Pan Pacific Orchard is the first hotel under UOL Group Limited to have obtained a green loan, partially financing its development.
UOL Group Limited’s efforts to align itself with climate realities do not end with Pan Pacific Orchard. The Group further nurtured the growth of its ecochic PARKROYAL COLLECTION
brand with the June 2022 opening of PARKROYAL COLLECTION
Kuala Lumpur. Each hotel under the collection is one of a kind, but they all have one thing in common: a sense of responsibility and care towards the environment and self.
The property features biodegradable packaging, filtered drinking water in every guestroom, and a variety of airpurifying plants and trees serving as natural humidifiers.
Located at the corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Imbi, the eco-chic hotel contains 527 rooms and suites, in addition to flexible meeting spaces and upscale F&B outlets. An entire floor is devoted to holistic wellness and includes a spa, gymnasium and fitness studio, and outdoor swimming pool.
The PARKROYAL COLLECTION has also made its mark on the sustainability front in Singapore with the nation’s first ‘Garden-in-a-Hotel’: PARKROYAL COLLECTION
Marina Bay which reopened in 2021 after undergoing an extensive transformation. The 583-room hotel
houses one of Southeast Asia’s largest indoor sky-lit atriums, a 15,000-square-foot space home to over 2,400 plants, trees, shrubs, and groundcovers. Its rooftop is crowned by an urban farm housing over 60 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. The natural bounty of this urban farm brings the hotel’s farm-to-table, farm-to-bar, and farm-to-spa concepts to reality.
Meanwhile, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, Singapore, an award-winning, eco-friendly garden concept hotel, has been putting Singapore on the world
map since 2013, winning multiple international awards.
In July 2021, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering was selected by TIME magazine and featured on its magazine cover for its listing of The World’s 100 Greatest Places 2021.
By making such powerful statements of sustainability and green architecture and design, UOL Group Limited, along with PPHG, makes sure that the future of travel and hospitality is in good hands.
Happy New Year and welcome to the first issue of 2023!
With the excesses of the festive period fresh in our minds (and waistlines), this issue offers dreams of escape as the year begins in earnest.
It’s our resort residences special, and we’ve rounded up some of the best options in Southeast Asia spanning breath-taking boltholes from paradise islands like Bali and Phu Quoc to (somewhat surprisingly) the more stolid shores of Singapore.
A similar vacation-mode-on attitude informs our Project Confidential where we run the rule over Haku Villas, a pioneering condotel with a warm embrace of luxury concepts.
Elsewhere in the issue, we’ve got destination updates on both Cambodia and the Philippines, countries whose property markets have experienced contrasting fortunes over the past months.
In Thailand, we take a trip up to Isaan — a region that is growing in repute — and find out about the country’s current investor dynamics from Wittaya Apirakvirya, head of Thailand Marketplaces (Developer) at PropertyGuru .
There are also updates from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Binh Duong, a prime gateway for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Enjoy!Duncan Forgan Property Report
TAKE A VOW
Some New Year’s resolutions are destined to be broken— unless you get help from the following tech accoutrements
Resolving to drink more water? Your motivator is the Hidrate Spark, a smart water bottle that tracks your H2O intake on a companion app. Anytime you’re at a deficit, notifications pop up on your phone via Bluetooth or a LED sensor glows on the bottle itself.
On your Nintendo Switch, resolve to play Ring Fit Adventure, a game sure to make your fitness regimen stick. It works through a Pilates ring and leg strap, which has slots for Joy-Con controllers to track your moves, which then translate into real life exercise sets outside the game.
RING IN THE YEAR
The 2023 way to wake up is not through alarm clocks but the Philips Somneo Sleep and WakeUp Light. Instead of rousing you from slumber with noise, this gadget mimics the progressive intensity of sunrise, counting on your circadian rhythms as the light brightens from red to yellow.
Nothing commits you to a fitness resolution than a weighing scale, and a smart one at that. Fitbit’s Aria 2 measures not only your weight but also your body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI), all displayed as easy-to-digest stats on your phone.
The Amazfit GTR is a fitness tracker that doesn’t sacrifice style. Using aircraft and automotive tech, it can go into 150 sports modes, track swimming data underwater, monitor your heart rate and stress levels, and do many other things—all while showing off chic, swappable watchstraps.
COOKING UP A STORM
Spice up your kitchen this year with furniture and accessories that will showcase every foodie’s favourite part of the house
Arhaus’ Aimee barstool is a comfy tall chair that takes inspiration from mid-century modern furniture as well as French antiques. The 30-inch-high stool, made of wood and rattan, has a rounded back and cushioned seat, plus a lacquered frame.
From USD699, arhaus.com
The Americana Kitchen Island by Homestyles Furniture has a distressed finish in many colour options. Made of strong hardwood, the island features elevated details on its cabinet doors and antique nickel-finish hardware. The dropleaf extension offers additional space while the adjustable shelves provide more storage.
From USD1,140.99, homestylesfurniture.com
CUT AND DRY
John Boos & Co., the name in American butcher blocks, has its imprint all over this Williams Sonoma kitchen cart. It features a six-inchthick maple butcher block, atop a stainless-steel frame with lockable casters. Meanwhile, the bottom shelf is ideal for storing kitchen essentials.
This compact table from Castlery’s Seb collection can fit most small kitchens but can also accommodate six people on butterflyleaf mode, which lengthens the table to as long as 80 inches. The wood is solid acacia, which resists most scratching and denting.
From USD1,709, castlery.com
FLASH IN THE PAN
The Enclume Oval Ceiling Pot Rack with Alder Shelf in Hammered Steel is made from kiln-dried wood and hand-wrought steel. This rustic-looking but professional-grade rack offers 12 hooks for your crockery. It can mount onto most ceiling joints or drywalls via special toggle anchors.
From USD539.99, enclume.com
HARE AND NOW
Bound into the Year of the Rabbit with these fabulous gift ideas
Ray-Ban is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with shades that sport icons of the beloved Chinese zodiac animal on either end of the temples. The Ray-Bans also feature a red chord and golden hardware, complete with a red leather case and rabbit-print box.
JUST MY LUCK
Let the Year of the Rabbit sparkle with Swarovski’s Asian Symbols Rabbit Ornament, which depicts a cute bunny holding a gold ingot with a full blessing print. The figurine, made of clear, pink, black, and golden crystal, boasts 351 facets.
Coach is in on the Lunar New Year with a mini wallet-on-a-chain fit for the festivities. Its coated canvas is decked with cute bunny prints while its chain strap is detachable, good for either shoulder or crossbody wear. It has an open pocket outside.
KEEP ON PRANCING
To observe the Lunar New Year, Johnnie Walker is introducing a limited annual edition of the Blue Label for 2023. Fashion designer Angel Chen illustrated the iconic blended whisky bottle with a bunny bounding along mountains: symbolising mercy, elegance and beauty.
From USD238, johnniewalker.com
Munch like you mean it with Godiva’s Chinese New Year 2023 chocolate gift box, which holds 18 pieces. The treats, which bear little rabbit drawings, include dark terrine brownies, carrés, milk chocolates, cubes, a praline, and other lip-smacking variations .
HIGH END PRIVATE LIVING
Breaking away with tradition, One Tropica by Prince Real Estate Group offers multi-storey, multigenerational living at its finest (and largest)
There is no country like Cambodia.
The country is unique in Southeast Asia in that its populace is young but increasingly maturing. The nation is very youthful, with 32% of the populace aged 10 to 24 years, but by 2030, the number of people aged 60 years and above will have made up 8.3% of the populace. This number will only increase to 21% by 2050.
Award-winning real estate developer Prince Real Estate Group was mindful of these demographic shifts when it conceived its projects, most notably its One Tropica development at Khan Sen Sok in Phnom Penh.
A winner at the 7th PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards in 2022, the high-end private residences of One Tropica are designed as large-scale spaces capable of accommodating multigenerational households. Prince Real Estate Group went against tradition and built 3.5-storey units with living spaces big enough to house property seekers of different ages.
Universal design features are sprinkled around One Tropica. For occupants who have trouble navigating the staircase, a private lift can be incorporated into select units. Also, the 3.5-storey units boast large private terraces. The roof terrace can easily double as a sky bar where friends and relatives can gather.
In addition, One Tropica offers an all-age community centre for the whole family to enjoy: a signature clubhouse with a mineral swimming pool, which is a first in Cambodia. The clubhouse also features indoor rock climbing, a world-class gym, kids’ playroom, and many other amenities.
One Tropica does not just provide amenities for multigenerational families; the developer goes out of its way to enrich residents’ lifestyles. Yoga courses are available for adults while swimming courses help children hone their aquatic skills. Assistance is also provided to adults so they can achieve stress management, relieve back pain, improve cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health, and all in all enhance physical fitness.
One Tropica offers a tranquil haven that shows off pockets of greenery throughout its masterplan. Some unit types come with a wide-view indoor garden, bringing more sunlight and ventilation into the abode. On the way home, residents stroll along a landscaped central axis avenue where they can take in the beauty of nature.
One Tropica impressed the judges of the PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards enough to win the Best Housing Masterplan Design award in 2022.
“A low-density, suburban palette is coloured with vibrant landscapes at One Tropica by Prince Real Estate Group, to be at-one with Nature, while interiors seek out sedate, muted tones and relaxed lifestyle experiences,” the judges state. “Meanwhile, the variety of low-rise residential potential soars.”
One Tropica is built through high-end construction technology. The development boasts exquisite materials such as an artificial wood panel façade, metal plate framing, a curtain wall, textured painting, illuminated brick walls, marble flooring, and more.
Residents’ peace of mind is ensured at One Tropica. The community is equipped with all-round monitoring and 24hour security, avoiding blind spots and ensuring the safety of families within the development.
With projects such as One Tropica and Prince International Plaza, Prince Real Estate Group soared to clinch the coveted title of Best Developer at the awards. “Prince Real Estate Group is a reigning force in Cambodia’s sustainable development and economic successes, and part of one of the country’s largest conglomerates,” the judges state. “From luxury housing and condos to mixed-use projects, hospitality, industrial, and townships the focus is on providing new opportunities and economic value for growing urban communities.”
There will be more such projects to come. As Cambodia continues to age gracefully, Prince Real Estate Group is ready to hear the concerns and needs of a dynamic populace. Consequently, the developer is ready to respond in kind to property seekers with the appropriate homes, mixed-use sites, and other exciting real estate opportunities.
Six-star splendour arrives in Niseko courtesy of HakuVillas, a pioneering condotel with a warm embrace of luxury conceptsBY AL GERARD DE LA CRUZ
Every winter, Niseko becomes the playground for moneyed skiers and snowboarders in search of the perfect powder snow.
Until the arrival of HakuVillas, however, the famous Japanese town had been wanting of a condominium hotel with six-star services apropos of its affluent residents and visitors.
Completed shortly before the pandemic, HakuVillas is the first catered condo hotel property in Niseko. With HakuVillas, luxury real estate and vacation rental company H2 Group built four exclusive villas and a three-storey penthouse staffed by personal hosts, butlers, chauffeurs and chefs.
A benign bit of peer pressure led to the conception of the property. HakuVillas built on the success of Hakuchozan, H2 Group’s three-storey, seven-bedroom chalet in Lower Hirafu in Niseko.
“I personally had a bunch of friends that loved what we did at Hakuchozan and wanted a similar feeling and similar product for themselves,” says Michael Chen, co-CEO of H2 Group. “But we couldn’t find it in the market for them to buy from existing products. So we chose to develop a new building to satisfy what my friends were looking for.”
H2 Group acquired the 868-square-metre site in 2017, the same year Hakuchozan was built. The site is only 200 metres from the Hirafu gondolas in a highly visible area populated by après-ski establishments.
Sapporo-based practice Daida Design Studio had already been the architect of record on a building planned for the site when H2 Group acquired the location. “Because I had a very strong vision for what we wanted to build, I thought it would just be easier to go with the same architect and have them redo the plans based on the direction that we wanted to go,” explains Chen.
Aside from its prime location, the plot was chosen for its views of Mount Yotei, the cone-shaped stratovolcano with more than a passing resemblance to Mount Fuji down south. The volcano majestically rises on the east while the Hirafu ski resort lies on the west.
“I felt that it was important to make the space float in this landscape that flows from east to west,” says Tsukasa Daida, lead architect of the project.
“Rather than being conscious of the six-star standard, we were strongly conscious of being comfortable and being able to have a unique experience here,” he adds.
Japan has strict building regulations in areas near ski resorts. This made Daida’s work especially challenging, especially in terms of complying with building coverage ratios, height restrictions, and setbacks.
In observance of these rules, the built area became smaller. Every unit was subsequently designed to take up an entire floor, obviating the need for common areas such as corridors.
“I wanted the feeling of expansiveness and wanted to be able to put in multiple experiences within the floor plate,” says Chen. “Rather than waste a lot of space with stairwells and circulation, I came up with the idea of having full-floor villas.”
H2 Group wanted owners to not only have all the floor to themselves but also the best possible views of Mount Yotei. The team rotated the building so it would not be parallel to the road.
The building orientation gives occupants a face-on view of Mount Yotei. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls were incorporated into the façade, creating a curtain wall fronting the volcano.
A MULTI-LEVEL SUPER PENTHOUSE CROWNS HAKUVILLAS, A CONDOTEL WHERE PRIVATE BUTLERS AND REPUTABLE CHEFS ARE AT RESIDENTS’ BECK AND CALL
Construction started in 2018. In a first for Niseko, HakuVillas was practically built offsite with precast or prestressed reinforced concrete.
“This allowed us to create the slabs even during the winter season,” says Chen. “Most of the concrete buildings here are poured onsite versus having the slabs formed and made in a factory. And this meant we actually got the structure of the building up in about two weeks. It was like an erector set.”
Pillars, beams, and similar structures were made thin and flat so they would not interfere with the east-west views.
“The building is pre-tensioned with PC steel wire, so it has a very slim structure,” adds Daida.
HakuVillas is, according to H2 Group, made to be a “perfect fusion of the precision of Japanese design with western alpine warmth and tonality.” Woods with warm tones were selected for the villas and penthouse, each unit featuring a wood-burning fireplace and private onsen.
The logistics that went into procuring some of the timber were thorny. Some of the dining tables and bars required wooden slabs that were up to 900 millimetres thick and weighed 600 kilograms. “Finding trees of that size was difficult,” says Chen. “So, we sourced monkey pod wood from Thailand that had to be kilndried and then shipped over.
“Finding bars that were curved the right shape was challenging as well,” he adds.
Wood, concrete, and glass—all are easy to topple in Ring of Fire countries like Japan if builders are not careful. But Chen realised early on just how strong the building was.
“When half the building was up, I was standing on the third or fourth floor and talking to the engineer. And I made a joke,” he says. “I said, ‘What if we got an earthquake right now? Would this
I’VE HAD MANY BILLIONAIRES WHO’VE STAYED IN ALL SORTS OF PLACES AROUND THE WORLD COME IN AND WALK THROUGH OUR PROPERTY AND JUST SAY, ‘WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW.’ AND THAT GIVES YOU A GREAT FEELING
withstand an earthquake? Because they hadn’t pulled tight the cables yet. Then the engineer thought about it, talked to his boss, came back, and said it should be okay.”
Two days later, an earthquake rocked Niseko. “And the building stood up.”
The same snow that draws wintersports enthusiasts to Niseko can be relentless at times. “In dealing with snow, we listen to the know-how we have cultivated as an architect in a snowy country and the opinions of local residents, and reflect these in our designs,” says Daida.
That said, the volcanic nature of the land is responsible for one of the property’s most enduring value propositions: the onsen. H2 Group invested “quite a bit of money” in drilling for onsen water, recounts Chen. “We were successful in getting a very high-quality onsen well, which produces a lot of heat. And because of the level of heat it produces, we were then able to install a heat transfer system for heating the building.”
Chen took inspiration from Yugokorotei, a local onsen famed for its outdoor bath. “I wanted to sort of recreate that feeling in HakuVillas,” says Chen. “We wanted the onsen to be
extremely natural, so we placed natural boulders to create the onsen as if you were walking through the woods and stumbling on a hot spring.”
Apart from an onsen for every owner, the building has its own golf simulator, fine dining restaurant, and gym. All four villas are sold, with H2 Group overseeing accommodation management.
During off-peak seasons, H2 Group tries to stimulate interest in Niseko tourism through signature events featuring star chefs or collaborations with high-end retail brands.
High-net-worth individuals increasingly patronise HakuVilas. The property is fully booked as revenge travel rages on in Japan, with the penthouse alone commanding USD30,000 a night.
“I’m just really proud of the selection of the materials and the feeling that people have when they walk in,” says Chen. “I’ve had many billionaires who’ve stayed in all sorts of places around the world come in and walk through our property and just say, ‘Wow, wow, wow, wow.’ And that gives you a great feeling.”
THE HEAT IS ON
Taking a cue from the famous Yugokorotei onsen, the full-floor villas of HakuVillas use natural stone materials around their private hot springs.
“They’re not fake stone. They’re not cement made to look like stone,” says Michael Chen, co-CEO of H2 Group. “We actually inlaid real boulders. They created a lot of weight, and so the structure had to support all that weight.”
Even though the onsen is outdoors, the unit’s ceiling louvres extend from indoors to outdoors in a connected space through the window. Both the stone and the onsen also wrap into the inside of the building. “So even though the onsen’s outside, it feels like it’s part of the inside as well,” says Chen.
This creates a feeling of interconnected but independent spaces within every unit. The living and dining areas as well as the bar are all laid out to surround the hot spring.
“I think that the location of the hot spring is usually set at the end of the unit, but in HakuVillas, it is placed in a special seat where you can see Mt. Yotei,” says Tsukasa Daida of Daida Design Studio, the architecture firm behind the project. “As a result, the space extends not only toward Mt. Yotei but also inside the room, realising an open hot spring while giving you a sense of security surrounded by space.”
PropertyGuru’s Wittaya Apirakvirya aims to guide potential homebuyers in the kingdom to informed calls through portals that encompass indepth reviews and comprehensive property listingsBY BILL CHARLES
WITTAYA APIRAKVIRYA SAYS THAT THE OVERALL OUTLOOK FOR THAILAND’S PROPERTY MARKET IS RELATIVELY POSITIVE
We try to support individual homebuyers, so they understand projects in depth. And help them to make an informed decision as to whether they should buy a house or not. People need a reliable partner to supply this type of information
As the general manager of a division of PropertyGuru Group called Thailand Marketplaces (Developer), Wittaya Apirakvirya oversees three key brands: DDProperty, the country’s largest online real estate portal; ThinkofLiving.com, a website offering expert-written, in-depth reviews of new property developments in Thailand; and the Thailand Property Awards, which are no doubt familiar to readers of this magazine.
Wittaya, a Thai national whose background is in computer engineering, co-founded ThinkofLiving.com (and personally coded the website) in 2011 with two friends. The site aimed to fill an information gap then present in the market by providing knowledgeable and unbiased insights into new property developments from a professional’s point of view. The site’s reviewers are all trained architects.
“We position ourselves as a friend of the buyer—someone you’d call before you buy a house,” he says. “We try to give buyers everything they need to know and we do that by clarifying weaknesses, amplifying strengths, and overall presenting projects in a balanced way. We don’t allow developers to read our reviews before we publish them. We are in the business of matching the right buyer and the right project.”
ThinkofLiving.com became part of PropertyGuru Group in 2021. Wittaya has also assumed responsibility for overseeing DDProperty and the property awards. He says the business opportunity for developers on DDProperty is substantial. The site generates up to 200,000 leads a month, in a market that nationwide produces “maybe 10,000 or 20,000” total real estate transactions in the same period, Wittaya says. The site is widely used by agencies and agents—and, of course, buyers and sellers— but Wittaya says there’s huge potential for developers to realise more sales through the portal. “We want to encourage adoption of all the sales and marketing tools that we offer in developer communities,” he says.
Wittaya says major initiatives in his division in the coming year include seeking to further support developers and buyers by providing them with deeper data and analytics tools, including from the company’s consumer sentiment index, other surveys, and a broad range of other quantitative information gleaned from the sites and their partners.
“We also have so many marketing and sales tools that allow Thai developers to go beyond the Thai audience as part of the DDProperty portfolio. We have a project called China Solutions, which supports Thai developers in their efforts to sell Thai projects overseas in China and in Singapore, for example,” Wittaya says.
What are the latest readings from the consumer sentiment index in Thailand?
The most recent one from the third quarter of 2022 showed a big improvement in terms of consumer sentiment in Thailand. It was the biggest gain relative to the previous quarter in terms of confidence among consumers in the region.
We see a lot of recovery underway in Thailand, which aligns with what we’re seeing in the market overall. Some people are starting to worry about inflation next year, but Thailand is actually doing pretty well both in terms of sentiment and future outlook. I just attended the Asia Real Estate Summit and one speaker said that Thailand is expected to be one of two countries—along with China—where GDP growth will accelerate next year. Other markets across Asia will likely see their GDPs decelerate next year.
How did Covid-19 change the Bangkok property market?
The market shifted immediately and suddenly during Covid-19. In early 2020, the condo market just stopped and declined. And landed real estate projects spiked. In 2020,
when Covid hit, I talked with developers and many of them made record sales in landed projects in the months of April and May 2020. That’s just one example that reflects the sudden shift in terms of demand for properties. Everybody wanted more space suddenly.
How does ThinkofLiving.com aim to help homebuyers in Thailand?
Well, we don’t try to position ourselves as a macro market guru. We focus more on the micro perspective, trying to support individual homebuyers, so they understand particular projects in depth and help them to make an informed decision whether they should buy a house or not.
We believe that people need a reliable partner for this type of information when it comes to buying a house. I mean, you don’t buy 10 houses in a lifetime—unless you are an investor. We believe the majority of the market is supported by real demand, meaning a person who’s buying for living rather than buying to invest. And that’s our key focus. Buyers like this don’t always have experience—they don’t always have knowledge—so we want to support them in making their decision by providing relevant content and information.
Chinese buyers are increasingly prevalent across Southeast Asia and beyond. How important are Chinese buyers right now in Thailand’s real estate market?
Chinese investors are the biggest foreign buyer group. With them, the market becomes liquid. A lot of demand there helps support price stability, makes sure that prices keep going up, and that makes the market more attractive, especially in the condominium segment.
The absence of Chinese buyers in recent years made liquidity in the condominium market decline tremendously. We are starting to see a lot of statistics provided by market research companies showing that the Chinese are coming back. So, we see a development in condominium segments in terms of transactions this year. We expect even more when the border restrictions are relaxed further.
What development trends are you seeing in Thailand right now?
As a reviewer, we enjoy exploring new products being developed and introduced by Thai developers with new features and ideas that make the products better. Our team
consists mostly of trained and experienced architects, so we enjoy observing these almost as “new pieces of art.” With the recent emergence in the luxury segment over the last two years, we have found many high-end projects with a unique focus you didn’t previously see in the market. They elevate lifestyle to another level and justify their price positioning.
We also like developments that try to do more for the same price tag. For example, one trend we’ve been exploring recently is the emergence of twin houses. People want bigger space from a townhouse, and they want land around the house or at least part of the house so they can grow a garden. This enables people to feel the experience of living in a single detached house at a much lower price. This is one of many ways developers try to deal with the affordability challenge while at the same time trying to maximise the quality of the living experience.
Shaping the nation
Arkitek MAA’s knack for crafting landmark transport hubs and socially sustainable developments has established it as one of Malaysia’s foremost practicesBY LIAM ARAN BARNES
The evening of 13 May 1969 was a dark night for Malaysia. In the immediate aftermath of only its second general election since independence, Kuala Lumpur was plunged into sectarian violence.
Race riots between the ethnic Chinese and Malay population stunned the country, culminating in the death of hundreds of mostly Chinese citizens. The events of that night hinted at a bloody, fractious future for the young nation.
Yet what unfolded was a gradual, albeit fragile, unity between the ethnic groups and the eventual emergence of a Malaysian identity. A major step on the road to reconciliation was the formation of Kuala Lumpur as a federal state and the national capital. Formerly a predominantly ethnic Chinese area, the new city underwent a transformation aimed at fostering a multi-racial society. New residential neighbourhoods were subsequently developed, beginning with Bangsar in the early 1970s. Within a decade, the southwestern suburb had transformed from a rubber plantation into a bustling township thanks largely to the vision of master planners Arkitek MAA.
“From the off, it was designed to be economically efficient and socially sustainable for all races, genders and generations,” explains the practice’s director Datuk Ezumi Harzani. “After the Kuala Lumpur racial tension in 1969, we studied the pattern of population settlement and implemented it in our projects. We believed the right composition of different social statuses in a multi-racial neighbourhood was very important.
“Bangsar Kuala Lumpur is a testament to good planning that elevates the social status of the occupants, and it became an example to many developers over the years.”
The model has come to define the firm, founded in 1965 under the name Malaysian Associate Architects, as one of the country’s foremost nongovernmental nation builders. A few miles west of Bangsar, now considered one of the capital’s hippest enclaves, lies another of Arkitek MAA’s largescale township achievements. Launched in 1997, the 138-hectare Mutiara Damansara followed a similar ethos to Bangsar, ensuring opportunities abound for all income groups and providing employment opportunities.
According to Harzani, the award-winning development provided lowerincome residents with “better opportunities to find jobs and elevate their socioeconomic prospects. Today, many residents have moved on to higherend homes and are collecting rental income from their previous apartments.”
For the self-described “kampung boy”, the chance to contribute towards the greater good is what initially encouraged him to pursue a career in architecture. He was also inspired from an early age by his grandfather, a self-taught carpenter, who specialised in constructing traditional stilted Malay houses, and his art-teacher father. “I guess I inherited his artistic
DATUK EZUMI HARZANI, THE DIRECTOR OF ARKITEK MAA, IS A PROPONENT OF IMAGINATIVE PLANNING THAT ELEVATES THE SOCIAL STATUS OF OCCUPANTS
genes in the sense that I enjoy art, both in creating and also appreciating it.”
Harzani joined Arkitek MAA in 1997, after graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture from Universiti Sains Malaysia and a Master of Philosophy (Policy Studies) from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, and was made a director in 2016. He has also been a board member of the Board of Architects Malaysia and was appointed to the advisory board for Kuala Lumpur City Hall, as well as undertaking roles in various government working groups and committees— invaluable experiences for his role with Arkitek MAA.
Arguably the firm’s highest-profile contribution to national infrastructure to date is its work on Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Following an expansion in the 1980s and 90s into China, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Arkitek MAA refocused its attention on KL, working with Japanese ‘starchitect’ Kisho Kurokawa to make his vision for KLIA a reality. Harzani and co. also collaborated with Kurokawa to design Malaysia’s largest transit hub KL Sentral Station. Both were completed in 1998.
Beyond Arkitek MAA’s knack for crafting landmark transport hubs and socially sustainable developments lies a firm commitment to green design and, in particular, retrofitting. “Incorporating passive design elements with minimum impact on the environment is essential,” Harzani explains. “In our design approach and presentation to our clients, the selection of sustainable materials, carbon-smart construction methods and adoption of renewable energy will always be our top priority.
“We also believe that retrofitting existing buildings with modern technologies and better-performance equipment is paramount for improving energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions.”
Recent retrofitting projects include the reinvention of the historic Sultan Abdul Samad Building into facilities for the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, Royale Chulan Penang hotel and DoubleTree by Hilton Putrajaya Lakeside. In fact, hospitality developments have become something of a speciality for Arkitek MAA of late. But unlike most of the practice’s residential and commercial endeavours, its hotel projects—whether retrofits or new properties—are primarily located beyond KL’s borders.
Harzani is keen to stress that major factors in the company’s sustained success are its sectorspanning expertise—it also designs office, retail, civic, healthcare, and industrial projects—and dynamism in new environments.
“When working in a new destination, we must understand the historical, political, economic and social features of the society before carefully selecting the accent that best reflects the society,” he explains. “However, it will never be a direct copy of any existing cultural structure. Instead, we adopt the accent of the cultural element.
“After all, architecture is a frame for society.” Indeed, it is arguably this mentality that has shaped Harzani and Arkitek MAA’s work over the decades and continues to help bind Malaysia’s many cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds.
In our design approach and presentation to our clients, the selection of sustainable materials, carbon-smart construction methods and adoption of renewable energy will always be our top priority
Affin Bank HQ Building
The Affin Bank HQ Building, located at KL’s TRX Exchange, was completed in 2022 and has already received multiple certifications, including the Green Building Index (GBI) Gold rating, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification and Qlassic building quality assessment score of 86%. One of the most impressive aspects of the 42-storey tower is the modern and progressive façade design and exterior cladding. The silver-blue glass curtain wall system with low-E insulated glazing reduces the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light and complements the building’s passive design.
Public Bank Tower II
Public Bank Tower II is a 40-storey corporate office tower rising 196 metres above the street level and an impressive addition to KL’s skyline along Jalan Raja Chulan. The building is designed to achieve both LEED Gold and GBI Gold green building ratings, with many passive design features complemented by high-efficiency, active mechanical & electrical systems.
“I would say The Curve at Mutiara Damansara is our most ambitious project to date,” says Harzani. “The first open-air pedestrianised lifestyle shopping mall in Malaysia, it was a highly experimental project to undertake 25 years ago. We wanted to design spaces for people that blurred the boundary between public and commercial areas. Creating spaces with quality is the key to success in place-making for The Curve. “Learning from this, we went on to successfully design Plaza Arkadia at DesaPark City with a similar approach.”
Ministry of Transport Office in Putrajaya
“Over the years, we’ve defined our role in nation-building and developed our skills and competencies to achieve this.,” says Harzani. “This is how we deliver our services in highcomplexity projects to the government in building national infrastructure, including KL International Airport, Kuching Airport, MRT2, KL Sentral, JB Sentral transportation hub, Custom Immigration Complex, hospitals and the Labuan International Financial Centre and many other public infrastructures. The 10-storey Ministry of Transport Office in Putrajaya was an especially satisfying project, which won us a number of awards.”
“We wanted to create a serene sanctuary in the heart of KL that resonated with young professionals, business executives and active individuals in search of convenient urban living,” says Harzani. “One Cochrane Residence, therefore, features flexible interiors with an integrated living-dining-kitchen area and a multi-functional layout in the studio units that can be reconfigured as a workspace. This was a timely project given that we’ve already seen demand for such designs soar in the wake of the pandemic.”
“We designed Nucleus Tower, a high-end corporate office building in Mutiara Damansara, with a green building approach that responds to the environment,” says Harzani. “The building facade is completed with shading devices for all curtain wall openings. In addition to featuring multi- and single-tenant office spaces in the 24-storey tower, the retail and commercial spaces located in the three-storey commercial block integrate smoothly into the development.”
The city of Quy Nhon gains a new landmark in the form of Cadia Quy Nhon, a bold new waterfront project backed by an international team of partners and a renowned Thai hospitality group
Cadia Quy Nhon, the ambitious new residential project by Phat Dat Real Estate Development Corporation, was one of the biggest winners at the 8th PropertyGuru Vietnam Property Awards.
Cadia Quy Nhon accumulated three winning titles on Vietnam’s biggest night for real estate: Best Branded Residential Development, Best Residential Development (Quy Nhon), and Best High End Condo Landscape Architectural Design. Phat Dat Real Estate Development Corporation clinched seven wins overall that night, including the title of Best Boutique Developer.
The independent panel of judges at the Awards were impressed by Cadia Quy Nhon’s many unique selling propositions and architectural flourishes. “Harmony by the sea defines every design element of Cadia Quy Nhon by Phat Dat Real Estate Development Corporation,” the
judges say. “From the wave-inspired architecture to the elegant interiors, and light-coloured palette, as well as the breezy, yet luxuriously styled communal spaces, every element blends together perfectly.”
With its outstanding values, Cadia Quy Nhon has quickly attracted the attention of many customers and investors since the first days of its launch. Located at Nguyen Van Cu ward in the city of Quy Nhon, the high-class residential and hospitality project promises to be an attractive, profitable investment opportunity.
Cadia Quy Nhon is expressed as a landmark property comprising two separate towers: one serving as a hotel, the other a condominium hotel. The prime location of both towers will certainly build up a sustainable value growth for Cadia Quy Nhon for many years.
Cadia Quy Nhon is located in the central square of Quy Nhon with a direct view of the sea. Although available land in city centres tend to be scarce, Cadia Quy Nhon is situated along the most prestigious waterfront thoroughfare of Quy Nhon, making it a “rarefied treasure” sought after by investors.
Cadia Quy Nhon is located at No. 1 Ngo May Street, right at the intersection of the busiest inner-city routes. Visitors are within easy reach of transportation hubs; Cadia Quy Nhon is only 2 kilometres away from Dieu Tri Railway Station, 3 kilometres away from Quy Nhon Seaport, and 30 kilometres away from Phu Cat International Airport, among many other important destinations.
GSA Studio, one of Australia’s leading architectural firms, brought Cadia Quy Nhon to life. The project takes inspiration from the ocean’s endless waves to create an iconic work of art. In Vietnam, waves symbolise not only strength and the origin of life but also a successful future. The result is a harmonious blend of local culture and international architectural standards, creating a new symbol of Quy Nhon City.
The project, erected on a site of more than 5,000 square metres, adds 840 apartment units to the city’s residential supply. Each unit is worthy of its location and gives
prospective owners a chance at unique and luxurious living by a beautiful bay.
Trendy utilities further add value to Cadia Quy Nhon. Residents and homeowners enjoy a beachfront clubhouse, with a first-of-its-kind tunnel connecting pedestrians from the property to the Quy Nhon city centre.
“With classically designed interiors, Cadia Quy Nhon by Phat Dat Real Estate Development Corporation gently resonates with the beachfront setting,” the independent panel of judges say. “The chill-out sky bar, infinity pool, and green landscape strip, plus lounge and kids’ play corner, complete the ambiance of chic coastal living.”
Cadia Quy Nhon is managed and operated by Centara Hotels & Resorts, a leading hospitality group in Thailand, known for their four-star services. The project was made possible by an international team of partners, which include Meinhardt (Singapore), ACONS (Vietnam), and Red Design (Australia).
Supported by such a diverse, talented team, Cadia Quy Nhon is truly a world-class development worthy of its honours.
Satellite of loveBY JONATHAN EVANS
A prime gateway to Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong province is earning attention from property seekers eyeing great connections and attractive deals 1 2 3
The Habitat Binh Duong
A joint real estate venture in Thuan An City between Sembcorp Gateway Group and Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), The Habitat is a lush, eco-forward project developed over eight years, with completion in early 2024. The high-end complex will include 1,380 apartments across six 16- to 18-storey tower blocks, with plentiful green space such as Poladium Park and a tropical garden, plus a jogging track, landscaped waterfall, infinity pool and playground. Among the sustainability features are significantly reduced waste-water carbon emissions, with 48% of energy used to produce materials. The Habitat’s grounds lie adjacent to industrial zones and close to AEON Mall (see next page), Song Be golf resort, Becamex International Hospital and international schools.
Sun Casa Central
Another Vietnam-Singapore collaboration under the company moniker VSIP, Sun Casa Central in Thu Dau Mot has been the recipient of numerous accolades. A pandemic project likened to a “miniature Singapore”, its architecture is subdivided into towhouses, shophouses, single villas and semi-detached villas; the 30-hectare site also comprises a clubhouse with pool and gym, shopping centre, entertainment area (night market, food and music), sports complex and more than 100 retail booths. Despite all these amenities, 40% of Sun Casa’s total area is given over to green coverage; the landscaped Sun Park’s laserprojecting fountains, jogging track and central square help set it apart from other integrated resorts in its class. Its proximity to health, education, retail and sporting facilities only increases its desirability.
Jeepgo Tropical Speciality Coffee & Cocktails
By some distance the classiest, most highly regarded café/bar in Thu Dau Mot, six-year-old Jeepgo’s otherwise sober, industrial-style wood-and-brick interior is animated by lively tiles, stylish fittings, beautiful flower arrangements and trees. The creative serving style of founder Nguyen My Tien’s team offers numerous coffee iterations, desserts, pastries and cocktails that are as delectable to look at as they are to taste. (Even the menu looks beautiful.) Jeepgo sources its richly houseroasted arabica/robusta brews ethically from reputable suppliers in Vietnam, Kenya and Ethiopia, and makes them from fully ripe (not mass-farmed) coffee berries accounting for both elevated quality and slightly higher prices. Flavoured fruit teas are also available, and signatures include an affogato made with coconut ice cream.
Ideally poised to capitalise on south Vietnam’s accelerating development, with its proximity to major roads and Tan Son Nhat international airport, Binh Duong province (capital city: Thu Dau Mot) is now considered the gateway to Saigon. A major industrial centre in its own right, Binh Duong‘s urbanisation, including dozens of industrial parks as well as many cultural centres, has attracted foreign direct investment, particularly from Japan. Alongside its fervent economic activity, the province also stages several festivals and has invested in attractions to help accommodate Saigon’s overspill, such as the economic/residential estate Binh Duong New City and Dai Nam Cultural Park (see below). These factors make it a primary target for house hunters.
4 5 6
Francis Hoi Restaurant
A four-year-old venue in the heart of foodiecentric Thuan An, Francis Hoi’s versatile space adapts to the varying needs of the large local population, catering for garden parties, weekend buffets, weddings and conferences. But its Euro-Asian fusion menu is so all-encompassing, and its luxurious Euro-inflected design so appealing (both indoors and outdoors), that on quieter nights, it also makes a fine destination for intimate in-house dining. Culinary eclecticism at this ambitious dining powerhouse is reflected in dishes such as French duck breast with pepper sauce, potatoes and Thai spicy sauce; grilled beef bacon with enoki mushroom and teriyaki sauce; steamed sturgeon with Hong Kong-style bok choy; and fresh oyster with spicy Mexican sauce. Live music adds to the atmosphere on selected nights.
AEON Mall Binh Duong Canary
Unveiled in 2014, AEON Mall Binh Duong was the Japanese retail chain’s second Vietnamese regional shopping centre (there are now six, with several more in the pipeline), and is an essential retail stop equidistant from Thuan An and Thu Dau Mot. More than a mere shopping centre, AEON’s strong corporate-responsibility arm organises eco-focused community events such as Earth Hour, Green Consumer Day and World Environment Day, as well as lighter-hearted gatherings like Yoga Day. But Canary’s range of 133 outlets is no less impressive, running the gamut from fashion stores (Eva de Eva, Ecco); myriad local and international F&B stops (Trung Nguyen Legend); Japan-centric shops (Komonoya); and special zones like AEON Fantasy kids’ play area, Timezone’s gaming and leisure complex, and a five-screen CGV Cinemas multiplex.
Dai Nam Cultural Park
The largest amusement park in Vietnam, Dai Nam was unveiled in 2008 and comprises four main areas covering spiritual/ historical (themed altars honouring the country’s founders), animal (the country’s first zoo), entertainment (fairground rides) and aquatic (an artificial sea/beach) attractions. The zoo offers a chance to see rare white pigmentation variants of familiar wildlife species—white lions, tigers, hippopotamuses and peacocks as well as several exotic birds. The park’s greener spaces reward exploration, offering a camping site among rubber trees, lake fishing and even a racecourse. Given the complex’s gargantuan size (21 hectares), many multi-day visitors choose to stay overnight since the park also contains a mall, cinema and hotels. Many national records were established upon Dai Nam’s opening, including Vietnam’s largest temple and largest square.
ASIA’S ACE BASES
While other property segments struggled during the pandemic, branded residences saw an upsurge in interest with investors lured by access to luxury hotel amenities and servicesBY LIAM ARAN BARNES
Not many industries emerged unscathed from the pandemic. The real estate and hospitality sectors experienced an especially dire period thanks to an almost-global moratorium on travel and financial uncertainty for many households.
But branded residences, as a property sector, has proven to be incredibly resilient in the face of recent uncertainty and change. The sector has not only survived the disturbance but continues to thrive. Over the past 10 years, it has grown by over 150%, according to Savills. And there are indications that this is just the beginning.
Lockdowns compounded people’s interest in living in a comfortable, stylish space. And branded residences and resort properties embody this demand. A recent Knight Frank survey revealed that 43% of respondents in Asia would be willing to pay a premium for ownership of a branded residence. They are especially appealing to residents who wish to take advantage of the simple convenience, firstrate security, and exclusivity of many hotel amenities and services.
“In Southeast Asia, 2023 will see the return of bricks and sticks for property investors,” says Bill Barnett, managing director of Phuket-based hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks. “So many investors were torched out in the crypto collapse that they are seeking a safer haven.
“In many markets, a key change is developers and property buyers revaluating the size of properties, given the expected long-term shift to work-from-home.”
Indeed, low-interest rates on home loans, pandemic-era savings, and the trend for hybrid work have made it much easier for people to live a dual lifestyle, “and it is this fundamental change in where and how people live that is likely to revitalise second-home markets,” adds Barnett.
Expectations for such properties are therefore inevitably increasing. There is a greater demand for restaurants, retail and other amenities that make urban living so appealing. Wellness has also held a small but growing position in the real estate industry over the last decade, with homes, offices and communities increasingly being designed and built to include an emphasis on natural materials, ecofriendly solutions, and new technologies that aim to support healthier, more balanced lives.
“The integration of wellness across all elements of the design and operation of a scheme can provide residents with the assurances that their health and wellbeing are integral to their experience and lifestyle within their branded residence and the community,” says Eri Mitsostergiou, director of world research at Savills.
Indeed, resort markets in Asia offer freedom, space, fresh air, nature, exercise, adventures with family and friends, and escapism—all the things that lockdown did not provide— so it is perhaps not surprising that these destinations are resonating more than ever with homeowners boasting the financial means. As Barnett notes, “Space is the new luxury.”
With that in mind, we round up some of the latest branded and resort residences piquing investor interest around the region in 2023.
In Southeast Asia, 2023 will see the return of bricks and sticks for property investors. So many investors were torched out in the crypto collapse that they are seeking a safer haven
The Residences at Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resortby AppleOne Mactan,
An appropriately tropical vibe combines with local aesthetics at this 190-unit property on the northern tip of bustling Mactan. Indeed, location is a major drawcard at Sheraton’s first branded residences in the region. Proximity to the coral island’s extensive amenities—including a quick trip to Cebu International Airport—is complimented by a beachfront location that boasts unobstructed views of Magellan Bay and the coral-rich Hilutungan Channel, home to some of the Philippines’ most in-demand dive sites.
And it was to the ocean and surrounding cliff formations that globally renowned resort architects BLINK turned when masterminding the project’s aesthetics. Interiors at the oneto three-bedroom apartments and courtyard pool villas all feature subtle finishes of exposed natural stone, rattan, and marble. The landscaping, meanwhile, makes the most of the existing topography to transition from the cliff tops to the coast, subtly incorporating upscale amenities along the way. These include a huge public pool at the heart of the resort, steam rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, courtyard
garden and pool lounge. Direct access to a private beach will of course be another boon for residents when the property opens its doors later this year.
Meyer Mansion by GuocoLand
Freehold seafront residences are something of a unicorn in Singapore nowadays. It is unsurprising then that Meyer Mansion in the city-state’s District 15 has already made a major impression on investors. The 25-storey property features 200 units across 25 floors with unobstructed views of the Singapore Strait and CBD. References to the grand mansions that once dotted the east coast influence the design. From the dark grey steel and burnished copper screens that create the facade to the elegant interiors and oversized private terraces, Addp Architects and developer GuocoLand have fashioned an old-world aesthetic that equally contrasts and compliments the stark modernity of neighbouring high-rises.
Almost 80 per cent of the property is dedicated to lush landscaping and amenities, making these one- to fivebedroom apartments a particularly attractive proposition for families. The onsite facilities include a 40-metre pool, clubhouse, beach house and ‘grand lawn’. Location-wise, besides being a stone’s throw from East Coast Park, Meyer
Borey Lorn City Lotusseaby 5LH Lorn
City Development Co., Ltd
Sihanoukville might not be the prettiest of cities, but the coastal destination remains the primary jumping-off point for Cambodia’s most impressive islands and beaches. While overdevelopment in recent years has further dented its appeal, the promise of pristine coast, conveniences and sedentary pace of life maintains its appeal amongst both domestic and international investors. Indeed, beyond the garish casinos and backpacker hubs, pockets of paradise can still be found. Nearby Prey Nob is one such spot and the destination for developer 5LH Lorn City’s latest ‘borey’ (housing development).
Borey Lorn City Lotussea is a compact township covering more than 320,000 square metres. The first phase, already under construction and slated for completion in late 2023, features five unit types, ranging from shophouses to link villas and detached townhouses. Upon completion, the wider 58-hectare project will feature commercial buildings, supermarkets, coffee shops, leisure parks, a reservoir waterfront, gyms, and playgrounds. There is even talk of incorporating a resort property at a later stage, too.
Park Hyatt Phu Quoc Residences by BIMLand
It feels like Phu Quoc’s evolution happened almost overnight. Once a sleepy backwater, the Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia is now deemed a must-visit destination. Amidst the tourism boom, an array of high-end branded residences have also emerged. The latest, Park Hyatt Phu Quoc Residences, spans 160 acres of beachfront on the southwestern tip—half of which sits in the national park and Unesco World Heritage-designated Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve.
Within this unique setting—a 30-minute drive from Phu Quoc International Airport and 40 minutes from the island’s main town, Duong Dong—the 65 pool villas are spread over a natural slope, affording residents ocean and hilltop vistas. They also have access to the resort’s world-class amenities including restaurants, bar and a poolside barbecue, two swimming pools, a lakeside spa, a gym house with lap pool and the Camp Hyatt kids’ village.
Teratai Villas Canggu by PTTeratai
Occupying a lively corner of Bali’s south coast, Teratai Villas Canggu blends the usual touches of Balinese luxury with a Japanese contemporary design. Privacy, meanwhile, is paramount here with only 17 pool villas, ranging from one- to three-bedroom layouts. Each features the usual island villa essentials: floor-to-ceiling windows, oversized bathtubs, plush furnishings, and spacious pool decks. The highlight is undoubtedly the Sakura Villa, complete with three master bedrooms, a spacious study area and open-plan kitchen.
Access to nearby Canggu is a breeze. Popular with the boho crowd and long-term expats, the laid-back village is brimming with fashionable boutiques, bars and restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. The neighbourhood is also home to Batu Bolong, ground zero of Bali’s surfing scene. Canggu’s most frequented beach has it all: great surf, chilled hangouts, a convenient location, family friendliness, and glorious sunsets.
The Valley by Botanica Luxury Villas
Phuket-based developer Botanica continues to go from strength to strength. Its seventh property Botanica The Valley, located on the slopes of the island’s west coast, takes its design cues from another of Asia’s top resort destinations. Here, Balinese touches seamlessly blend with a mid-century facade that maximises the views and surrounding nature. With only 14 villas available, the project is Botanica’s most exclusive to date. The five property configurations range in size from 800 to 1,778 square metres and come with a private swimming pool and landscaped gardens, whilst an additional sixth six-bedroom unit is set to be launched this year.
With its secluded location, shallow bay and shaded beach, nearby Layan is arguably one of the Andaman’s most picturesque stretches of sand. Still, the beach is connected to a host of world-class attractions, including Laguna Phuket and international schools, and has easy access to Phuket International Airport.
WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN
Cambodia’s property sector has slowed dramatically following the boom years, but affordable housing initiatives and interest from local buyers offer chinks of lightBY GEORGE STYLLIS
SIHANOUKVILLE’S RAPID DEVELOPMENT HAS BEEN STALLED AS CAMBODIA HAS CLAMPED DOWN ON THE ONLINE GAMBLING INDUSTRY THAT WAS LARGELY FUELLING ITS GROWTH
When Sihanoukville’s property sector collapsed after years of rampant growth, it wasn’t just the seaside town that suffered. It set in motion a slowdown across the country that is still being felt.
More than 1,000 buildings stand unfinished in the southwestern city. It marks three years since the government pulled the plug on a booming casino industry that led to billions of dollars in investment and turned a cheap backpacker spot into a frenetic gambling mecca.
The government ban on all online gambling led to an exodus of expats and investors. Among those that have stayed, the jubilation of those early years has given way to bitterness as they find themselves ensnared in disputes and litigation.
“There was a lot of greed,” Zhang Jiawei, head of a Chinese business association in Sihanoukville, tells Nikkei Asia.
“Businesspeople wanted to get money, even if they knew the prices of land or rent were too high. It was a bubble and people knew it would break, but you don’t think anything bad will happen to you.”
The unprecedented investment in Sihanoukville which reached its peak around 2017 was fuelled by online gambling.
Operators would rent out space in physical casinos and beam the games from there to mainly gamblers in China.
The industry sparked an entire economy around gambling, with Chinese restaurants, hotels and real estate multiplying. It became a popular place for Chinese to work and play away, and park their money outside China.
In 2019, Hun Sen banned online gambling, saying that the industry had been used by foreign criminals to extort money.
Yov Khemara, director of the Sihanoukville Labour Department, said at the time more than 7,700 locals had been left unemployed after the ban.
Analysts say the damage done to Sihanoukville’s property market was the beginning of a decline across the country as the property bubble burst and the pandemic later hit.
SHOPS STILL TOPS IN CAMBODIA
Brick-and-mortar shops might be on the decline in major western cities amid the dominance of online shopping, but in Cambodia they remain strong.
According to CBRE, retail occupancy was around 70% with physical shops in strong demand.
Some of the new developments include Chip Mong Sen Sok Mall, Chip Mong 271 Mega Mall, Prince International Plaza, and AEON 3. There has also been a flurry of new openings of stores, such as 7-Eleven. The Prince Supermarket brand is rapidly looking to grow from 100 stores by the end of 2023 to 150 by the end of 2024.
Makro has doubled down on its market capitalisation with its huge megastores, with plans to have as many as three locations in the capital (the most recent just opened in Chroy Changvar last month).
Simon Griffiths, managing director of The Mall Company, said that as the retail segment expands its quality should improve.
“AEON 1 is a traditional shopping mall format. AEON 2 went much further, introducing ‘retailtainment’ as a core concept throughout the mall. Watch out for AEON 3 going even further with this concept and taking the idea to a new level.”
level of support from the
In Phnom Penh, it follows an oversupply in the condo market that started in 2015 and led to a steady downward trend in unit selling prices.
In Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, land prices dropped on average by 11.2% and 7.2% respectively during the second half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 and have yet to go back to normal.
Sam Soknoeun, president of the Global Real Estate Association, says transactions and rentals in the commercial building, office, condominium, apartment, and high-end housing segments “have been devastated” due their reliance on wealthy clients.
“When the Covid-linked economic crisis emerged in late 2019, further downward pressure was put on real estate markets across the globe, including Cambodia, with lockdown measures introduced by governments and flight cancellations reducing arrivals of international visitors and investors to near zero,” he says.
The problem has been compounded by the war in Ukraine and prolonged lockdowns in China to combat Covid-19.
“Unfortunately, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has led to soaring energy costs and inflationary pressure, threatening the country’s economic recovery post Covid-19,” said Knight Frank.
“This crisis has impacted the global and regional economic recovery, including China which was a key source of FDI into Cambodia.
Due to its stringent Covid-19 policy, China’s economic recession has led to more frequent lockdowns and retrenchment in its real estate industry, which may harm Cambodia’s economic recovery over the short term.”
The situation has forced many agents and developers to shift their thinking and look to previously overlooked markets, such as local buyers and projects in suburban areas.
While land transactions and prices fall in major urban centres, both are growing in smaller urban areas and suburbs, as transactions in the affordable market remain stable, say analysts.
Knight Frank country manager Ross Wheble tells Property Report that the growing interest among local buyers in residential properties like condominiums was an “encouraging sign”.
Equally, he says, is “a growing trend of young Cambodian professionals renting condominiums with monthly rents starting from USD300 per month, indicating a level of support from the domestic market and propping up market prices and rental returns.
“This, in part, can be attributed to developers offering better payment plans and incentives due to a softening in demand from foreign buyers, reducing the barrier to entry for Cambodian buyers and tenants.”
The market has been further buoyed by new government incentives for low-income buyers, who have long been precluded from
The growing trend of young Cambodian professionals renting condominiums starting from $300 per month indicates a
AIRASIA TO LAUNCH IN CAMBODIA
AirAsia is set to make its move into Cambodia next year as the airline looks to expand in the region.
The move is expected to bring in more foreign visitors in the same way it did in Vietnam, says Thourn Sinan, chairman of Cambodia’s Pacific Asia Travel Association.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia received 1.58 million foreign tourists between January and October compared with Vietnam which received 2.35 million, local news reports.
Sinan told The Post on December 11 that the local affiliate’s entry into Cambodia, given AirAsia’s “very strong reputation in the region, will be a major boon for our tourism industry”.
“I hope that the airline will not only operate regional flights but also domestic ones.”
The deal between AirAsia and local company Sivilai Asia Co Ltd was made on December 9, with plans to launch the low-cost carrier in Cambodia in late 2023.
“This new airline will allow AAAGL to operate to the various existing markets … AirAsia Cambodia aims to further stimulate the Cambodian aviation and tourism industries, launch exciting new destinations, create jobs and bring a true low-cost operation to the country,” the Kuala Lumpur-listed firm said in a statement.
IN SIEM REAP, LAND PRICES DROPPED ON AVERAGE BY 11.2% DURING THE SECOND HALF OF 2020 COMPARED TO THE SAME PERIOD IN 2019 AND HAVE FAILED TO RECOVER
entering the housing market, says Socheat Khemro, deputy director general at the Ministry of Land Management.
“The government wants to see more developers investing in affordable housing. The price of each affordable house should not be higher than USD30,000 so that low- and middleincome people can buy,” he says.
CBRE Cambodia managing director Lawrence Lennon says: “This implies that the units are going to need to be smaller, affordable or at the very least on the mid-end of the market. It is where the most likely demand is going to come from over the next few years.”
“It’s true that the government wants to promote affordable housing but it will take some time to see the impact,” says Neang Neang Sao, analyst at CBRE Cambodia. “It requires cooperation from both the government and the private sector.”
While analysts don’t expect the local market to take the industry to the heights it reached before the demise of Sihanoukville, it comes at a much-needed time.
According to the World Bank, the “strong rates of growth seen prior to the pandemic will prove challenging” for Cambodia.
“The country remains vulnerable to downturns in external demand and disruptions in global supply chains,” says Maryam Salim, World Bank country manager for Cambodia.
As for Sihanoukville, there are still some banking on a comeback. Maritime City Co Ltd’s has had its proposal approved to build a USD164.4-million hotel, with 582 rooms, in the province.
It comes as the government commissions the Urban Planning and Design Institute of Shenzhen to complete an “ambitious” masterplan to turn the city into a “commercial, services and logistics hub.”
Yet with the city still getting bad press over Chinese gangs operating in the area, having switched their focus from gambling to romance scams, it remains to be seen whether it can build a better image and lift up the industry as a whole like it once did.
NEW DOMESTIC FLIGHTS TO AREAS AROUND CAMBODIA SHOULD HELP THE OVERALL DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTRY
BRIGHT SPOT IN MID-TIER
Serviced apartments were one of the few bright spots for the industry, with several big name launches last year.
Citadines Flatiron Phnom Penh and TK Central Apartment added 407 units to the market in H1 2022, taking the total cumulative supply to 7,695, an increase of 5% over the same period in 2021.
The Citadines Flatiron is the first Citadines brand to open in Cambodia under The Ascott Group.
Their entry comes as excitement builds around the mid-tier landed sector and appetite for condos broadly declines.
Five mid-tier landed projects launched in Q3 last year and 18 were completed, while there were no new condominiums launched and none completed.
Developers should be focused “on affordable and mid-range properties to meet the demands of a population with an average age of 27, with 55% in the Gen-Z and Gen-Y age groups,” Lawrence Lennon, managing director at CBRE, says.
“Borey projects will continue to be the driver of residential activity, condominium developments will remain slow both depending on location, positioning, and product differentiation. Outer suburban land sites will present the highest growth opportunity as infrastructure develops and activity shifts to more decentralised locations,” Lennon adds.
Strong GDP growth and healthy condominium sales may paint a rosy picture, but external factors spell clouds on the horizon for the property sector in the Philippines
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will try “very, very hard” to house poor Filipinos during his presidency.
In November, the son and namesake of the former dictator vowed to build 1 million low-cost, socialised homes for every year of his term.
The ambitious housing program could be the definitive answer to the Philippines’ chronic housing backlog, set to balloon to 11 million units by 2028.
Or it may end up being one in a long line of myths shrouding the Marcoses, a political dynasty that once owned towers and mansions from Manhattan to Manila.
Today, the younger Marcos’ capacity for mythmaking faces a hydra of obstacles, from the vestiges of a pandemic to an impending global downturn.
Kept afloat by the explosion of pent-up demand due to eased Covid-19 restrictions, the Philippine economy left 2022 with one of the highest GDP growth rates among Southeast Asian economies.
But The World Bank projects that growth to decelerate from 2023 through 2025 as an unfavourable external environment bites, characterised by high inflation and interest rate hikes.
The residential real estate market is self-correcting in response. Condominium prices have been trending upwards on the back of extended downpayment terms, stretching from the usual two years to as long as five years. Metro Manila alone saw condominium sales regain 85% of pre-pandemic levels by the fourth quarter of 2022, according to data from Leechiu Property Consultants.
“We have seen the drop in supply and demand during the initial pandemic years, the residential rental market having been heavily impacted by the exit of a large number of POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) impacting the residential rental market,” says Roy Golez Jr., director for research at Leechiu Property Consultants. “Now new reservation sales have been boosted by developers’ extended payment terms, which lowered buyer monthly amortisations and allowed more buyers to participate.”
But developers may see these reservation sales as “soft numbers” due to the possibly growing backout rate. Many companies have committed to clearing inventory instead, with only 10,009 condo units launched in Metro Manila in 2022, down 61% from 2021. While this has prevented a glut, this has left only 16 months’ worth of supply for the metropolis as of December.
“These buyers are not as solid, are not as strong, are not as committed compared to before when the
As consumers bristled at eyewatering vegetable prices, investors saw condominium values in Metro Manila post growth rates of 1% to 8% annually while those in Metro Cebu and Davao grew 3% to 5%
TICKET TO RIDE
As infrastructure projects pass from the administrations of Rodrigo Duterte to that of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., land values are being unlocked across the archipelago.
Big-ticket projects such as the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas Expressway (CBTEX), Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX), LRT-1 Cavite Extension, MRT-7, and North-South Commuter Railway are luring various developers to central and southern Luzon Island. Property prices consequently surged with the demand for second home properties.
“The pandemic lockdowns and infrastructure have played a big part in this,” says Roy Golez, director for research at Leechiu Property Consultants. “They made the travel time to Bataan, Laguna, Cavite and Batangas shorter, making them feel like they’re part of Metro Manila.”
In Visayas,the new Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway has boosted major developers’ interest in the vast tract of reclaimed land known as South Road Properties. The new international airport in nearby Mactan has caused condominium prices to hit more than PHP400,000 per sqm, according to data from Colliers Philippines.
While vertical homes paused a while in Metro Manila, the reverse is true for residential products within townships or estates in Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga and Tarlac, reports KMC Savills. Moreover, horizontal homes, such as house-and-lot units (H&Ls) and townhouses, recorded better take-up.
“A big factor is the presence of various existing and underconstruction infrastructure projects that link to the Metro: unlocking values and addressing concerns related to travel time and safety,” says Michael McCullough, managing director of KMC Savills.
buyers had more skin in the game due to previously higher downpayments,” says Golez.
“A lot of these buyers find out that they may not be able to afford the unit as soon as it’s finally turned over to them. The economy is still not yet up to pre-pandemic level.”
The pullbacks among this set may grow if interest rate hikes continue apace. The central bank in December raised its benchmark rate to 5.5%, the highest level since 2009, as the inflation rate soared to 8.1%, the highest since 2008. The bank’s Residential Real Estate Price Index (RREPI) ascended by 6.5% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2022 due to price rises of duplex houses, condominium units, and single detached homes.
“We haven’t seen much of a crash in the residential property cycle, and we may see some depressed prices with interest rates peaking over the next six to 12 months,” predicts Michael McCullough, managing director of KMC Savills.
In such a high-inflation environment, real estate promptly behaved like a natural hedge. As consumers bristled at eyewatering vegetable prices, investors saw condominium values in Metro Manila post growth rates of 1% to 8% annually while those in Metro Cebu and Davao grew 3% to 5%. Buyers who had taken advantage of the long low downpayment periods were able to lock in the unit prices and participate in the capital growth.
“The only issue that you may have around inflation is that certain things will cost more, such as your electricity bill may have doubled, as well as food prices,” says McCullough. “But in terms of property investment? It should have no effect.”
For the last three years, high-end to luxury condominiums or those selling from PHP12 million (USD216,000) have consistently performed well, according to Leechiu. Highersegment residential assets in Manila, Cebu and Davao, especially those situated within their CBDs, recorded stable price increases as high-net-worth buyers purchased in bulk, reports KMC Savills.
“Prices of both condo and H&L (house-and-lot) units outside Metro Manila appreciated quite fast as property seekers sought wider spaces and work-from-home remained ascendant,” says McCullough. “The lockdowns were a little heavy-handed and hurt vertical living, particularly within CBDs. It caused people to look for H&L units so they can be the master or the king of their own castles, and that has really accelerated the housing markets outside of Metro Manila.”
Uncertainty continues to undermine the secondary market, with property seekers lacking the wherewithal to afford full cash payment of the total contract prices. “Due to the pandemic, we may see ‘firesale’ or ‘desperation’ sale of unit owners,” says Golez. “But because most of these units have already gained good capital appreciation, these sellers and renters may not even be below acquisition cost.”
The Philippines remains among Asia Pacific’s most restrictive countries in terms of foreign ownership of land as well as foreign direct investment. However, other sectors in the country have greatly opened up to investors.
Analysts believe significant investments will start entering the country if the government allows 100% foreign ownership of land. Under current rules, only 40% of land is allowed for foreign ownership; the remaining 60% is for local Filipinos.
“The Philippines is kind of somewhere in the middle,” says Michael McCullough, managing director of KMC Savills. “Other countries also have restrictions on foreign ownership.”
But the Phippines ranked the most restrictive Asian country on the OECD’s 2020 Foreign Direct Investment Regulatory Restrictiveness Index, next only to Libya and the Palestinian Authority.
Change is afoot, however. Foreigners can now fully own renewable energy firms, for example. The Retail Trade Liberalisation Act (RTLA) has also been enacted, allowing foreign retailers to come to the Philippines with less onerous capital requirements.
“And it’s generally headed to a more opening, more openness to foreign investors, especially under this new administration,” says McCullough.
Anticipated tweaks to the Public Service Act (PSA) and Foreign Investments Act (FIA) are also expected to create more openness to foreign investors.
On the leasing side, condominium units in the CBDs have started to show signs of recovery.
“The recovery in the residential leasing market will be driven by local employees starting to work onsite and the gradual return of expatriates,” says Richard Raymundo, managing director of Colliers Philippines. “Residential demand should also be supported by an increase in office leasing and an improvement in general business confidence. The return of traffic to pre-Covid levels should also urge employees to rent a condominium unit or co-living facility near their offices.”
Marcos may yet free up more cash for consumers to allocate in real estate investments by continuing his predecessor’s tax reforms. Building on former President Rodrigo Duterte’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), the new administration is unleashing a host of new income tax deductions and exemptions in 2023, which may lead to higher take-home pays.
Marcos is also doubling down on a legacy of his father: labour exports, long seen by critics as complicit in a culture of mendicancy. Remittances of overseas Filipino workers
(OFWs), which hit USD3.23 billion in October, continue to serve as a crutch for the residential real estate segment. But they have their limits.
“Lower-segment assets are more hit by the pandemic as the buyers’ profile is composed of those in the middle class or families of OFWs,” says McCullough.
Another top market for the residential segment, the IT-BPM industry, hired 265,000 workers in the Philippines during the pandemic, surpassing the headcount from 2017 to 2019 as outsourcers in western nations implemented costcutting measures. Yet the uptick in unemployment has not necessarily been a boon for the commercial segment.
“It did not translate to office space lease because of the work-from-home phenomena,” says Golez. “Companies only got about one-third to half of what would’ve been an equivalent number of space per seat in the office sector.”
It remains to be seen if the premier, who has appointed himself the agriculture secretary, will make good on a campaign promise to push for lasting industrialisation—a
missed opportunity of the original Marcos administration. While manufacturing fueled growth in neighbouring economies like South Korea and Thailand, the Philippines languished under crony capitalism in the 1980s.
Done right, Marcos’ push for industrialisation may engender manufacturing competitiveness, galvanising clamour for space in industrial parks such as those in northern and central Luzon. Warehousing assets so far are showing positive fundamentals due to the boom in e-commerce and demand from 3PL and cold storage firms, according to KMC Savills. Build-to-suit (BTS) facilities are also hot properties as data center players increasingly penetrate the Philippine market.
“Generally, I think the Marcos administration will be pro-business and pro-foreign-investor, which should have a positive impact on the property market overall,” says McCullough.
Although far from the “Golden Age” dreamed up by Marcos fans, 2023 is shaping up to be a cautiously optimistic year for all. “All of the fear and uncertainty seem to have come and gone,” says Golez. “I believe the market is going to be a bit better than 2022, but it’s not quite 2019 yet.”
While still not up to par with some ASEAN countries, the Philippines’ tourism sector continues to drive real estate sentiment. Around 1.9 million foreign tourists arrived in the country as of the third quarter of 2022, overshooting the 1.7 million arrivals projected by tourism authorities for the entirety of 2022. Only 164,000 tourists had arrived in the Philippines in 2021.
“The hospitality industry is seen to be preparing for growth and has attracted foreign brands to set up in the country post-pandemic,” says Roy Golez, director for research at Leechiu Property Consultants. “We have also seen a demand for projects inside tourism estates because of the improved infrastructure.”
Wellness real estate is an interesting offshoot of pandemic-era travel innovations. More than just a resort, wellness real estate caters to guests’ wellbeing and offers services from detox regimens to meditation to yoga retreats. The properties have sprouted everywhere from Pasig City to Panglao and Palawan.
“In the last three years, what we saw was the affluent crowd not being able to travel,” says Golez. “They needed to deploy their funds somewhere. They needed to be entertained in a safe manner. So what happened was they started buying all of these second homes also for health reasons.”
WEAVING TRADITION INTO HOMES
A Filipino developer goes full circle with its inclusive portfolio of residential developments, showing that a home is more than just shelter; it is also a tic ket to a better life
The Philippines has one of the highest rates of income inequality in Asia. The top 1% of earners represent 17% of national income, with only 14% being shared by the bottom 50%, according to the World Bank.
This gap is reflected in the massive housing backlog as well as the prevalence of informal settlements in major urban centres across the archipelago.
PHINMA Properties grew out of a response to such inequalities. Having pioneered the medium rise building (MRB) for affordable property seekers as well as the advanced construction method called Tunnel Form System, the company is known for developing easy-to-own condominiums across Metro Manila. It has also nurtured a reputation over the last decade for being an inclusive business, constructing socialised housing projects as well as high-quality homes for upper mid-income to high-networth property seekers.
PHINMA Properties makes lives better by shaping new urban centres, providing sustainable homes, and fostering the Bayanihan Spirit for the underserved Filipino families so they can live with dignity.
“Our country faces a lot of housing problems. Our response as a developer is not just to build and sell structures,” says Ricardo Luis Hilado, senior vice-president and CFO of PHINMA Properties. “Every Filipino deserves more, so we provide you with a home that you can be proud of. We believe that owning a home is not just about a roof over your head; it is also about a sense of achievement and dignity.
“It uplifts a person’s sense of belonging in a community and having a permanent sake in society, not just living as someone passing through,” he adds.
Initially known in the late 1980s for upscale projects such as the Manila Polo Club Townhouses, the company spent the early part of the next decade catering to the housing needs of most workers.
PHINMA Properties has come a long way since, developing homes for property seekers across a wide spectrum of income segments. The company recently won two titles, including the prestigious Best Housing Development (Philippines) award, at the 10th edition of the PropertyGuru Philippines Awards for PHINMA Maayo San Jose, a horizontal development catering to starter and growing families in Batangas province.
The development won over the independent panel of judges at the Awards with their single attached homes and townhouses, reminiscent of Spanish colonial design. The units also impressed the judges with their solar energy use and green architecture elements, plus the clubhouse that knits the community together.
The company also won the Best Affordable Condo Development (Metro Manila) title for Metrotowne, a midrise condominium development in Las Piñas suited for young professionals as well as starter families.
Additionally, PHINMA Properties is expanding its offerings outside Luzon Island with UniPlace at SWU Village Cebu, a condominium-dormitory development within a masterplanned community in Visayas. The property is ideal for young professionals and startup families, as well as investors.
And now PHINMA Properties is back to where it started. Marking the company’s return to the luxury market, LIKHA Residences Alabang offers 68 upscale townhouses in Muntinlupa for established families and investors.
Indeed, the Filipino dream is simple: to live a comfortable life—and comfort is found in a place that is close to Filipinos’ hearts and heritage.
“We want a world with as stable a business environment as can be for our next generations,” says Raphael B. Felix, president and CEO of PHINMA Properties. “If there is no world for them to live and thrive in, why even bother aspiring to build homes the way we do? Imagining the lives our children will live in this fast-changing world is a scary thought, but kids today are better than us. They look for a purpose other than themselves.”
Vietnam’s finest real estate was accoladed on 21 October 2022 at the 8th Annual PropertyGuru Vietnam Property Awards, presented by Kohler and supported by Häfele Vietnam, Saint-Gobain Vietnam, and Dulux Professional, as well as Batdongsan.com.vn in cooperation with local partner Oriental Media Vietnam.
Held at the Gem Center in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), the PropertyGuru Vietnam Property Awards saw Keppel Land emerge with 11 competitive wins, including the titles of Best Mixed Use Developer and Best Sustainable Developer. Joseph Low, president of Keppel Land (Vietnam), received the 2022 Vietnam Real Estate Personality of the Year award.
Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park and Township Development Joint Stock Company (VSIP JSC) was named Best Industrial Developer while Phat Dat Real Estate Development Corporation was named Best Boutique Developer. Hung Thinh Land gained the Best Community Developer title while SonKim Land Corporation won Best Luxury Developer.
TNR Holdings Vietnam earned the Best Lifestyle Developer title as T&T Homes won Best Breakthrough Developer.
For the full list of winners, please visit asiapropertyawards. com/en/award/vietnam
Chairperson of the Awards in Vietnam and General Director, Group GSA
Managing Director, Vietnam, Knight Frank
General Manager, Astra
Executive Director for Legal Transactions, SC
Capital Partners Pte Ltd
Dang Van Quang
Director of Strategy Consulting Services, Navigat
General Director, WT Partnership (Vietnam) LLC
General Director, Haysom Architects Vietnam
Managing Director, CBRE (Vietnam) Co, Ltd
Group Director of Hospitality and Design, Archetype Group
Director, Savills Hotels APAC
Paul D. Volodarsky
Senior Associate, Deputy Head of Regional Real Estate, DFDL Legal and Tax
Tran Quynh Trang
Owner of property management firm Sapphire
SPONSORS AND PARTNERS
Oriental Media Vietnam
Official portal partner
Official channel partner
Property Report by PropertyGuru
Official PR partner
Deluxe Magazine, Luxuo, Palace, Robb Report, Vietnam Heritage, and Yacht Style
Official ESG partner
Baan Dek Foundation
IFC – Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies
THE BEST LUXURY DEVELOPER TROPHY
OFF BEST INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPER WIN
IS HAILED BEST BREAKTHROUGH DEVELOPER
ONE OF TWO DEVELOPER AWARDS
THE BEST COMMUNITY DEVELOPER TROPHY
ACCEPTING THE BEST LIFESTYLE DEVELOPER TROPHY
The 12th annual edition of the PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Singapore), supported by Kohler and Mitsubishi Electric Asia Pte Ltd., was held 28 October 2022 at the Shangri-La Singapore ballroom.
UOL Group Limited was named Best Developer, a title it had last won in 2012 and 2019. The company was also named Best Transnational Developer and Best Hospitality Developer.
GuocoLand won the titles of Best Luxury Developer, Best Sustainable Developer, and Best Mixed Use Developer, with new project Meyer Mansion winning Best Condo Development (Singapore). Fairview Developments Pte Ltd (a unit of Tong Eng Group) won Best Landed Developer, with project Belgravia Ace winning Best Housing Development (Singapore).
The Assembly Place was named Best Co-Living Operator, buoyed by a win for 138-142 Jalan Besar.
Aurum Land (Private) Limited was named Best Lifestyle Developer and Best Boutique Developer. The company’s chief executive, Michelle Yong, came to accept the Singapore Real Estate Personality of the Year title.
For the full list of winners, please visit asiapropertyawards. com/en/award/singapore
Chairperson of the Awards in Singapore and Head of Partnership Growth for APAC, IWG PLC
Chua Shang Chai
Partner, Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP
Architect, Robert Greg Shand Architects
Director, Atelier Ten
Sustainability Director, Singapore, Lendlease
Tay Kah Poh
Adjunct Associate Professor at the NUS
Department of Real Estate
Dr. Teo Ho Pin
Senior Adviser, Managed Services, Surbana
Jurong Private Limited
Partner, SPARK Architects
SPONSORS AND PARTNERS
Mitsubishi Electric Asia Pte Ltd.
Official portal partner
Property Report by PropertyGuru
Official channel partner
Official PR partner
d+a Magazine, Luxuo, Palace, and Yacht Style
Official ESG partner
Baan Dek Foundation
Singapore Estate Agents Association and Singapore Green Building Council
Outstanding residential, commercial and industrial developers took centre stage at the 8th Annual PropertyGuru Indonesia Property Awards, presented by Kohler.
The celebration at The Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place, Jakarta saw Agung Sedayu Group emerging victorious as Best Developer. The company previously won the title in 2018 and 2017.
With a diverse range of wins, Sinar Mas Land was one of the most awarded companies of the night. Its joint venture with PT. Bumi Parama Wisesa (NavaPark) Hongkong Land won the Best Boutique Developer award.
PT Logos SEA Indonesia earned four wins, including the Best Industrial Building Developer and Best Sustainable Industrial Developer titles. Triniti Land also won in four categories, including Best Lifestyle Developer.
Other winning companies include PT. Bumi Serpong Damai and Central Group, named Best Sustainable Developer and Best Emerging Developer, respectively.
Setyono Djuandi Darmono, president commissioner and cofounder of Kawasan Industri Jababeka Tbk, accepted the Indonesia Real Estate Personality of the Year award.
For the full list of winners, please visit https://www. asiapropertyawards.com/en/award/indonesia
Chairperson of the Awards and Senior Director and Head of Advisory, JLL Indonesia
Founder, Managing Partner, and Creative Director for Indonesia and Singapore, Genius Loci
Senior Director for Office Services, PT. Colliers
Cornel B. Juniarto
Senior Partner, Hermawan Juniarto & Partners
(Member of Deloitte Legal Network)
Managing Director, PT Meinhardt Indonesia
Doddy A. Tjahjadi
Managing Director, PTI Architects
CEO, PT. Leads Property Services Indonesia
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Indonesia Design
M. Archica Danisworo
Co-Founder and Design Director, PDW Architects
President Director, PT. Lantera Sejahtera
SPONSORS AND PARTNERS
Platinum sponsor Kohler
Official portal partner
Official channel partner
The Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place, Jakarta
Property Report by PropertyGuru
Official PR partner
Kompas.com and Suara Indonesia
Official ESG partner
Baan Dek Foundation
IFC-Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies
BUILDING FUTURE-CITIES OF TOMORROW
Championing the planet and the Philippines alike, Robinsons Lan d paints a sustainable, equitable picture of progress for the country
Climate change, or the mitigation thereof, has truly changed the game in property development. Nowadays, properties must be sustainably developed with people and the planet in mind. As a signatory of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Philippines is committed to a projected greenhouse gas emissions reduction and avoidance of 75% by 2030.
Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) is showing maturity and leadership in this environmentally aware, socially responsible era of property development and community-building. Powered by smart, honest people with an entrepreneurial mindset, the developer is leading by example in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.
Sustainability remains at the core of the company’s business strategy. Robinsons Land Corporation deservedly won the Special Recognition in ESG at the 10th edition of the PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards, in addition to prestigious titles such as Best Developer and Best Developer (Luzon).
Since its pioneering move to install solar energy panels in 2015, RLC has made great leaps and bounds in shrinking its carbon footprint. Today, the company has solar rooftop installations in 24 of its shopping malls, including Robinsons Starmills: the record holder for the world’s largest solar-powered shopping mall. With a 2.88-megawatt system covering a 1.75-hectare roof space, Robinsons Starmills can reduce 2,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions every year.
Together with Robinsons Malls, Robinsons Offices nationwide in 2021 used 30.24 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable energy, offsetting 22,401 metric tons of CO2. And the work has not stopped since. In 2022, Robinsons Offices’ Cyberscape Gamma became the Philippines’ first EDGEcertified REIT building, thanks to significant reductions in power and water consumption as well as materials’ embodied energy. This comes on the heels of Robinsons Giga Tower obtaining the LEED Gold certification for sustainable building design and construction in 2021. Part of RLC’s Bridgetowne Destination Estate, a mixed-use, sustainably-designed integrated development, Robinsons Giga Tower is a premiumgrade office building that is 100% powered by renewable energy sourced from a hydroelectric power plant.
There will be more such sustainable commercial spaces to come—Robinsons Offices pledges to green-certify all new developments in Metro Manila as part of its thrust to promote responsible and efficient land use.
Meanwhile, RLC Residences continues to look for ways to incorporate water-saving features and curbs against water pollution into its operations. Two of RLC’s residential projects, Magnolia Residences and Escalades at the 20th, feature rainwater and greywater collection systems, respectively.
Highly Commended for the Best Operational Hospitality
Portfolio title at the recent PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards, Robinsons Hotels and Resorts is also doing its part. All hotel, resort, and leisure properties under RLC will
implement a solid campaign aimed at decreasing annual food spoilage by 5%.
RLC has implemented many other initiatives in the pursuit of lowering carbon emissions and building communities. In Pampanga, for example, the company has donated 1,200 trees ahead of the completion of the 216-hectare Montclair Destination Estate, which includes the award-winning Montclair Industrial Park, set to be an economic driver of Luzon. In 2020, RLC launched Robinsons Land Foundation Inc., its CSR arm, ramping up the company’s efforts to provide assistance to communities and spearhead public welfare programs.
RLC is setting its sights further on a sustainable, thriving future for its customers, suppliers, employees, and stakeholders. By 2025, all RLC developments will incorporate wastewater treatment and materials recovery facilities in its plans. By 2030, RLC will divert most non-biodegradable materials thrown in its properties away from landfills and towards waste processing facilities. By 2035, RLC will use clean power in all
its malls. It will also pursue investment opportunities through the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). Finally, by 2050, RLC will make strides in its roadmap towards net zero carbon emissions.
RLC will work closely with the Gokongwei Group to widen its reach and maximise the impact of select projects. For instance, through its partnership with URC, RLC will expand coverage of the Plastic Waste Recovery Program, reducing the volume of waste sent to landfills.
“At RLC, we continuously strive to create shared success with every Filipino through the projects we build, the communities we shape, and the sustainable practices we promote,” says Robinsons Land Corporation President and CEO Frederick D. Go.
Indeed, the path towards a future-ready real estate industry looks clearer than ever, thanks to the impactful and innovative ideas and actions of RLC.
That sinking feeling
Sky-high interest rates and enduring pandemic restrictions are among the pain points for Hong Kong’s property market as prices continue their slideBy Steve Finch
For years, Hong Kong has debated how to make housing more affordable amid ever-rising home prices and the highest per-square-metre transaction rates in the world. But then last year, within just a few months, prices began to crash.
In October, the home price index of Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department fell 2.4%, its lowest level in nearly five years. By the fourth quarter, average residential prices had already slumped by 10%. In Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan, lower-priced areas of Hong Kong away from Central and the main harbour, prices at two housing estates
plummeted more than 20% in the year up to November, according to data compiled by Midland Realty.
Property agencies and banks agree that house prices in Hong Kong are set to continue to slide through 2023—and the bottom of the market is still not in sight. After years of price growth, Hong Kong is facing a perfect storm of headwinds impacting the real estate market. Base interest rates which started 2022 at less than 1%, ended the year at 4.75% following the latest in a series of hikes in December, pushing mortgage rates to their highest
level since before the global financial crisis 15 years ago.
The local currency remains pegged to the US dollar and is heavily influenced therefore by the US Federal Reserve which has promised further interest rate increases this year to tackle inflation driven by the conflict in Ukraine. The US remains some way off its target inflation rate of 2%.
“The public should be prepared for the likelihood that bank deposit and lending rates may go up further, and should carefully assess and manage the relevant risks when making property purchases, taking out mortgages or making other borrowing decisions,” says Eddie Yue, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), following the latest rate increase in mid-December, the seventh such hike in 2022.
The global pandemic remains another key driver weighing down the city’s real estate sector, despite a return to normality in many other parts of the region. Although Hong Kong announced the end of some restrictions in December, including the easing of travel and quarantine controls between the territory, Macau, and mainland China, lagging pandemic measures have weighed on the economy and contributed to recent record net emigration.
Many expatriates and locals have cited enduring restrictions, including separating virus-positive children from their parents, as the final straw in the decision to move away.
Others have spoken of political instability culminating in a series of new laws restricting dissent imposed from Beijing. The result has been a loss of about a quarter of a million workers from Hong Kong in the past three years, or about 7% of the labor force, according to data from the city’s Immigration Department and Moody’s Analytics.
“This is not just because of emigration,” says Martin Wong, head of research at Knight Frank in Hong Kong. “It’s also [the] aging population and lower labour participation rate. These are structural changes that impact both economic growth and property market demand.”
Homebuyers in Hong Kong are now facing a situation considered unthinkable just 12 months ago—negative equity. Those with 90% mortgages will see the worth of their house or apartment drop below the amount they borrowed should the price of that property fall by 10%, a concerning threshold already reached for many who borrowed and bought at the start of 2022.
With prices set to continue to slide, growing numbers of Hong Kong homeowners are expected to find themselves stuck in a negative equity trap while paying off increasingly expensive loans. Nearly 97% of Hong Kong homeowners with mortgages have borrowed at a variable rate, according to HKMA data, amid previous widespread expectations in the territory that interest rates would remain manageable in the longer term.
THE PUBLIC SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR THE LIKELIHOOD THAT BANK DEPOSIT AND LENDING RATES MAY GO UP FURTHER, AND SHOULD CAREFULLY ASSESS AND MANAGE THE RELEVANT RISKS WHEN MAKING PROPERTY PURCHASES
The question is: just how far will the market fall, and when will we see the bottom? At the end of November, Citibank projected prices would crash another 10% and bottom out in the second quarter of this year, but that was before the latest rates hike in midDecember. Since then, estimates have trended downwards further still in some cases. In the luxury segment, prices were expected to slide a further 5% to 10% in 2023 after a drop of at least 10% in 2022, according to Savills.
Similar forecasts have been made across the entire residential sales segment. Wong of Knight Frank projected prices could slide up to 10% this year, compounding the double-digit losses recorded in 2022.
Rosanna Tang, head of research at Cushman & Wakefield in Hong Kong, says the market could expect a softer landing through the
HONG KONG’S RECENT TRAVAILS, INCLUDING STREET PROTESTS, HAVE SPARKED AN EXODUS OF EXPATRIATE RESIDENTS
remainder of this year with prices dipping no more than 5%.
“Property prices are forecast to further correct in the first half of 2023, yet we may see prices stabilise in the second half as interest rates could potentially peak in midyear,” she says.
Analysts have cited a few reasons for optimism in Hong Kong’s residential market ahead of the Year of the Rabbit.
Fueled by reduced pandemic restrictions and a stock market tipped to rebound, transaction volumes were expected to pick up following a dismal year, according to Tang: “The primary market transaction volume slowdown in 2022 may prompt developers to accelerate their new launches in 2023, with prices closer to the secondary market to attract buyers.”
Empire strikes back
Once regarded as a backwater in the kingdom, Thailand’s northeastern provinces are displaying strong appeal to homebuyersBy Liam Aran Barnes
The 12th-century temple of Phimai remains a reminder of the strength and breadth of the Khmer Empire.
Located just a two-hour drive from northeast Thailand’s largest city Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat), the architectural marvel once marked the end of the Ancient Khmer Highway.
Nowadays, only fragments remain of the highly significant route, which extended 225 kilometres to Angkor, the mighty capital of the once potent Khmer Empire,
and transformed the constituent parts of northeastern Thailand (known as Isaan) into one of the empire’s most affluent outposts.
Fast-forward 800 years and the launch of a new highway could once more bolster the region’s fortunes. Scheduled to be officially opened this year, the 200-kilometre Bang Pa-in-Nakhon Ratchasima motorway will slash travel time from Bangkok to just a couple of hours, considerably improving the city’s investment potential.
THAILAND’S NORTHEAST, A FORMERLY IMPORTANT PART OF THE KHMER EMPIRE, IS REASSERTING ITSELF ON THE REGIONAL STAGE
ISAAN IS THE UNDISPUTED WINNER WHEN IT COMES TO ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS AND INSPIRATION. HOUSING ESTATES THERE TEND TO HAVE A TRUE NARRATIVE
“It goes without saying that major infrastructure improvements bring direct and indirect economic growth, with real estate being one of the main beneficiaries,” says Marciano Birjmohun, a leading Thai property consultant. “It has already triggered major interest from the public and private sectors, resulting in growing business investment across the wider region.
“An uptick in the average household income and business accumulation in the region has also brought new wealth to many SMEs –thus raising the living standards.”
Isaan—which refers to the cluster of provinces in Thailand’s northeast that covers more than 60% of the country—has long been viewed as something of a backwater. There are no postcard-perfect beaches, rainforests and rolling peaks here. Instead, the landscape is largely flat and featureless, scorched by some of the country’s highest temperatures.
Cities such as Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Buriram, meanwhile, lack Bangkok’s big-city bustle and the charm of Chiang Mai. Culturally, too, the region and its people have been often looked down upon by the kingdom’s urban elites, with jokes and insults about their perceived backwardness commonplace.
But such perceptions are gradually shifting. In recent years, Isaan has asserted itself as a dynamic cultural destination. Following the development of Buriram’s Fifa-standard Chang Stadium and Buriram International Circuit MotoGP track, the city was dubbed Thailand’s premier sports hub. The culinary scene has also exploded, with numerous world-class chefs returning to the region to celebrate their roots. Another major boon for the food scene is the introduction this year
of the Michelin Guide in Isaan. One of the contenders will inevitably be Samuay & Sons, led by Chef Weerawat “Num” Triyasenawat who returned to Udon Thani more than a decade ago after working in some of San Francisco’s top restaurants. With the help of his brother Joe, he has cast the provincial capital onto the culinary map.
“People in the cities and central Thailand used to think of people in Isaan as subordinates, but I don’t think there’s as much discrimination now,” Num says. “They see Isaan culture as offering value and as a source of income. There are so many talented people in the region and that is more evident with the crafts and local expertise.”
Indeed, the resurgent pride in the region is seemingly being reflected in the real estate market. According to the Real Estate Information Center, new sales of residential units in Nakhon Ratchasima in the first half of 2022 reached 1,481 units, worth a combined THB7.66 billion, up 79% and 214% respectively, year-on-year. During the same period, the number of single detached houses sold in Khon Kaen totalled 287 units worth THB1.14 billion, up 23% and 36%, respectively, from the same period in 2021.
Low-rise detached properties accounted for most of these sales. In fact, Birjmohun posits that condominium units represent just 10% of the total stock in the Isaan market. This is largely down to the availability of large land plots and the appeal of countryside living. What’s more, he believes many of these lowrise projects are on par with similar products around the Bangkok area.
“Let me bust a myth: the Isaan real estate market should not be perceived only for low-income households,” says Birjmohun.
“Over the past five years, many of the new housing developments to come online are multiple room ‘mansions’, ‘villas’ and single detached houses topping anywhere between THB7 million to THB50 million— similar prices to the outskirts of Bangkok.
“However, Isaan is the undisputed winner when it comes to architectural designs and inspiration. Housing estates there tend to have a true narrative and well-integrated placemaking blueprint and are more often influenced by international architecture. This is in contrast to Bangkok where they are often straightforward, pre-designed properties that try to maximise the builtup area and often look identical.”
But not all industry observers are convinced that Isaan is on the cusp of a real estate boom. Narathorn Taninpitak, president of the Nakhon Ratchasima Real Estate Association, told the Bangkok Post in September 2022 that many infrastructure projects in the province have been delayed, hindering long-term investment in property development. These include the Nakhon Ratchasima motorway and double-track railway from Map Kabao in
BURIRAM IS ON THE RISE THANKS TO OUTSTANDING SPORTS FACILITIES INCLUDING A MOTORSPORT RACE TRACK AND ONE OF THE BEST FOOTBALL STADIUMS IN THAILAND
Saraburi in Khon Kaen, which would pass through Nakhon Ratchasima. He is also concerned that recent amendments to the city planning could impact developers’ land acquisitions.
“Higher interest rates also affect the purchasing power of homebuyers despite the improving economy in the province because their increasing income cannot keep up with soaring interest rates and inflation,” he tells the Post. “Moreover, developers need to design common areas in low-rise housing projects to avoid a new cost which customers would have from the land and building tax which will tax these areas.”
Much like the Khmer expansion into the region a millennia ago, Isaan could well witness another invasion with out-oftown investors looking to capitalise on the recent emergence of cultural attractions and quality housing stock to snap up bargains. They may find however that they face stiff competition from Isaan emigres and the region’s middle classes at the end of the road.
OASIS OF RELAXATION
With an abundance of greenery and a dozen leisure facilities for residents to choose from, The Royal Condominium offers world-class lifestyle possibilities in the Cambodian capital
As Cambodia’s economy expands, so does Phnom Penh’s. The capital has been the recipient of plenty of foreign direct investment over recent years. Now home to around 2.3 million people, the metropolis has seen a demographic shift, skewing more and more to millennials, many of whom are starting families or businesses. The populace is also growing more diverse with an influx of expatriates and foreign investors now that borders are open once more.
But with progress comes congestion, and it can be hard for residents to find an escape from the city’s seemingly infinite traffic jams and swelling crowds.
Greater Phnom Penh beckons to home buyers seeking reprieve from all this hustle and bustle.
In Khan Sen Sok, leading developer Orkide Development has built an award-winning collection of homes, The Royal Condominium.
Encompassing six 18-floor towers, The Royal Condominium won the Best Condo Development (Phnom Penh) title at the 7th PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards. The development boasts over 100 facilities—including an assortment of pools—spread out in 12 zones, namely the Beach Zone, Chilling Zone, Eco Zone, Beachside Zone, Family Zone, Golden Zone, Breath Zone, Adventure Zone, Lakeside Zone, Meditation Zone, Play Zone, and Lake Zone. Each zone is distinct, with hardscape materials in the landscaping selected according to the theme.
“The Royal Condominium by Orkide Villa 2 boasts rooftops with green spaces, and over three hectares of zoned leisure facilities with a unique garden and beach pool,” the independent panel of judges at the Awards remarked of the project. “Between the sky club and spa, and lifestyle floors, residential units are tranquil and sophisticated.”
The property also won the Best Condo Landscape Architectural Design. Every tower has a rooftop garden, with an auto-irrigation system to maintain the swathes of greenery across the development. The podium features an eco-pond, a pool bar, steam room, indoor play area, walking track, and many other amenities.
“The focus is firmly planted in leisure and wellbeing,” the judges say.
For residents’ convenience, the first and second floors of the development house the 51,000-square-metre Royal Shopping Mall. This section of the development houses many shops, in addition to a premium supermarket, cinema, bowling alley, food court, and event spaces for residents to use.
The building follows a gilded theme, highlighted by a golden screen as well as golden nighttime lighting. The residences, which begin at Level 3F, are available in an array of types including studios, one- to three-bedroom units, and duplex units.
Every unit boasts high-quality, imported flooring. The ceiling heights are generous at 2.6-metres, lending a sense of spaciousness to every room. Kitchens are furnished with branded equipment such as a hood, hob and sink while
dining areas are large, with designs unique to each unit type. The toilets also have a full range of branded sanitaryware accessories, including faucets, a sink, bath tub, wash basin, overhead shower, water heater, and water closet. The vanity sports a mirror cabinet with lighting; other storage solutions include spacious cabinets for the TV and footwear, among others.
The developer was named Best Lifestyle Developer at the Awards. The company adopts a “brilliantly bold, selfassured ethos” when developing luxurious residential and mixed-use projects, according to the judges. “Landscaping and green spaces are given pride of place, interspersed with state-of-the-art amenities, and architectural design that encompasses longevity and appeals across generations.”
Apart from The Royal Condominium, Orkide Development also won big at the Awards for such projects as The Botanic City, including The Botanic City (The Palace), which won the sought-after Best Housing Development (Cambodia) award.
As Orkide Development helms real estate development across Cambodia, Phnom Penh is due to blossom ahead for years to come.
Artisan Park Binh Duong New City, Vietnam
Artisan Park is a pedestrian-friendly retail and residential community, comprising 175 four-storey shophouses and 174 threestorey townhouses.
Situated in the city of Thu Dau Mot in Binh Duong province, Artisan Park provide residents an airy, green suburban environment in a dynamic location with all the perks of a 21st-century city. Artisan Park is only 300 metres away from Binh Duong New City’s heart at WTC Gateway and 700 metres away from the provincial administration headquarters.
Artisan Park is home to a public plaza set next to an urban park, complete with a playground, basketball court, exercise machines, and ample seating. Indigenous trees populate Artisan Park’s open spaces, which include a Miyawaki forest, established by developer Gamuda Land to promote biodiversity.
In line with Gamuda Land’s biophilic objectives, Artisan Park uses grey water to nourish its greenery. While all streetlamps are solar-powered, the houses have roof spaces ready for solar panel installation.
Every floor of the houses has a balcony large enough for planting. Meanwhile, the bedrooms are available in larger-thanaverage cuts, enabling residents to establish workspaces at home.
Artisan Park has adequate parking space for cars and bikes. Unlike most shophouse developments, Artisan Park offers double frontages, with a back lane pedestrianised for safe shopping and dining at Europeanstyle cafés and eateries under tree-lined walkways. Moreover, the shophouses at Artisan Park come in three different façade types, avoiding the redundant designs seen in other developments.
Developer: Gamuda Land
Product type: Shophouse and townhouse
Architect: BYG Projects Co., Ltd (Malaysia)
Launch date: November 2022
Completion date: June 2024
Total land area: 56,015 sqm
Number of units: 349
Average unit size: 359 sqm
Facilities: Shopping street, garden linkway, alfresco alley, townhouse community garden, car and motorbike parking areas, garden sitting area, Miyawaki lawn, playground, street basketball court, outdoor fitness area, EV charging station
Price range: VND7.16-20.7 billion
Phone number: 0903 340 888
Address: No.68, Street N1, Son Ky Ward, Tan Phu District, HCMC, Vietnam
Thu Duc City, Vietnam
Urban Green is the latest condominium developed by Kusto Home in Ho Chi Minh City. The development comprises 735 condominium units, 38 shophouses and 6 villas, contained in two towers, with plenty of amenities suitable for various generations.
Strategically located next to National Way 13 in Thu Duc City, Urban Green is directly connected to the CBD and accessible to points of interest like Giga Mall and Tan Son Nhat International Airport, as well as schools, hospitals, and places for recreation. Urban Green is just five minutes away from the Metro 3B line and 250 metres from the nearest bus station.
Urban Green offers more than 60 amenities, a highlight of which is a swimming pool with BioDesign technology from Italy. Both pools in the two towers apply salt electrolysis technology, eliminating the need for chlorine sanitation, balancing the waters’ pH level, and rendering them harmless to the human eye.
Urban Green’s technologies and designs create a positive impact on the environment. Following the “Hybrid Habitat” landscape design model, Urban Green uses curves in its design to evoke the beauty of nature, incorporating the rich colour of greenery and the movement of water.
Overall, Urban Green allows property seekers to “Settle for More”, living the modern city life without sacrificing green space, fresh air, and leisure areas.
BEST SMART BUILDING DEVELOPMENT
BEST WELLNESS CONDO DEVELOPMENT
Developer: Kusto Home Joint Stock Company
Product type: Condominium
Architect: Level Architect
Launch date: April 2022
Completion date: December 2024
Total land area: 20,204 sqm
Number of units: 735 (residential), 38 (shophouses) and 6 (villas)
Average unit size: 105 sqm
Amenities: Gardens, pools, sunken garden lounge, lawns, outdoor fitness area, activity area, amphitheatre, chill corner, café terrace, green walkway, retail spaces, kid’s room, gym, yoga area, community room, and more
Price range: USD117,400-747,826
Phone number: +84 938 480 888
Address: No.1 - Street No. 104-BTT - Quarter 3, Binh Trung Tay Ward, Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The 9 Stellars
Thu Duc City, Vietnam
Located in the heart of Thu Duc City, The 9 Stellars is positioned to be the first transitoriented development (TOD) in Vietnam. The development boasts strong connectivity, with access to current and upcoming transport, education, and entertainment hubs in the country such as Hi-Tech Park, Binh Duong and Dong Nai industrial parks, University Village, and the Long Thanh International Airport.
The autonomous shuttle network is a highlight of the area, providing ease of transportation to residents and investors of The 9 Stellars and reducing pollution and carbon emissions.
The condominium units of The 9 Stellars reveal one-of-a-kind views. Each apartment is oriented to face the lake, the golf course, and the cultural park.
In cooperation with leading wireless technology innovator Qualcomm, The 9 Stellars comes with modern equipment, integrating software and tech platforms to add value to residents’ lives. The 9 Stellars is close to an innovation hub, which attracts tech-savvy people worldwide, making homeowners part of a smart, growing international community.
Security is strictly guaranteed at The 9 Stellars. Residents need not go far away to experience amenities like a shopping centre, school, central park, and landscaped lake. In addition, The 9 Stellars has dedicated facilities such as a swimming pool, gym, spa, community living rooms, parks, sports areas, playground, 24-hour convenience stores, restaurants, cafés, BBQ areas, golf simulator, and more.
Developer: SonKim Land Corporation
Product type: Condominiums, apartments, villas
Architect: NQH Architects Vietnam
Launch date: October 2021
Completion date: Q1 2024
Total land area: 164,949.9 sqm
Number of units: 205 (apartments – phase 1), 79 (villas), 550 (Alpha apartments – phase 2)
Unit size (GFA): 49.62-393.48 sqm
Facilities: Swimming pool, gym, spa, community living rooms, parks, sports areas, playground, 24hour convenience stores, restaurants, cafés, golf simulator, and more
Price range: USD2,2217-7,064 per sqm
Phone number: (+84) 899959988
Address: 53 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC, Vietnam
Park Hyatt Phu Quoc Residences Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Park Hyatt Phu Quoc is an integrated resort development designed to be reminiscent of a tranquil Vietnamese village, complete with bamboo paths and terraced rice fields.
The resort, located in the town of An Thoi in Phu Quoc Island, pays homage to traditional Vietnamese culture in its architecture and design. The project is decked with handcrafted, custom-made lacquer, rattan and bronze, as well as contemporary artwork, showcasing the regional arts and crafts of Vietnam.
Park Hyatt Phu Quoc is home to 65 villas, available in two-, three- and four-bedroom configurations and single- and double-story variations. Spread on a natural slope, the
villas recall traditional Vietnamese houses in their roof plans. The units come with wide, full-height windows as well as expansive swimming pools.
The interior design details of the villas take inspiration from the rhythmic textures of the resort’s natural surroundings. Nestled on the southwestern tip of Phu Quoc, Park Hyatt Phu Quoc is surrounded by lush undulating hills, with a natural spring flowing through its centre, and bordered by a 1.7-kilometre white sand beach with clear blue waters.
Developer: BIM Land
Product type: Integrated resort
Architect: AR+D & Design Lab
Launch date: January 2019
Planned completion date: December 2022
Total land area: 550,000 sqm
Number of units:
Facilities: Sunset pavilion pool bar, infinity swimming pool, garden-view swimming pool, ballroom, restaurants, kid’s zone, play areas, playhouses, spa, 24-hour gym, lap pool, and more
Phone number: +84 24 7305 3555
Address: 2nd floor, Hanoi Aqua Central Building,44 Yen Phu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Meyhomes Capital Phu Quoc Phu Quoc City, Vietnam
Developed by Tan A Dai Thanh – Meyland, Meyhomes Capital Phu Quoc is a pioneering township development in the central core of Dao Ngoc.
The project contains a variety of products, including townhouses, villas, apartments, serviced offices, hotel complexes, and commercial centres. It also encompasses a series of outstanding internal facilities, as well as green parks, clubhouse complexes, and theme parks. Combining Tan A Dai Thanh’s Urban Ecosystem (Ecosystem) and Home Ecosystem (EQhomes), the township meets the needs of residents, visitors, investors and entrepreneurs.
Meyhomes Capital Phu Quoc is located at the centre of Truong Beach, one of the most popular, pristine beaches on the Pearl
Island. It is also located at An Thoi Ward, the most progressive area of Phu Quoc, next to five arterial roads of the city. Due to its strategic location, residents and visitors can easily access other famous 5-star resorts in the island.
Meyhomes Capital Phu Quoc is built in cooperation with renowned design partners such as Dark Horse from Australia (planning and architectural Design) and HBA Architecture from Singapore (architectural design). The project also features the work of reputable landscape design partners One Landscape (Hong Kong), West Green (Canada), and Belt Collins (Hong Kong).
Meyhomes Capital Phu Quoc creates a liveable, investment-worthy megacity in Dao Ngoc: spreading prosperity in the island city.
Product type: Shophouse, villa, condominium, serviced office
Architect: Dark Horse (Australia), HBA Architecture (Singapore), One Landscape (Hong Kong), West Green (Canada), Belt Collins (Hong Kong)
Launch date: March 2020 (Tropi City Subdivision)
Completion date: March 3, 2023
(Tropi City Subdivision)
Total land area: 267,32 ha
Number of subdivisions: 5
Facilities: Parks; sports, entertainment, commercial, and healthcare centres; library; 24/7 contact centre; lake; central square; outdoor sports area; walking path; children’s play area, and more
Price range: From VND10 billion
Phone number: 0968 699 999
Cadia Quy Nhon Quy Nhon City, Vietnam
Cadia Quy Nhon is an international-standard development of 840 tourist apartments in Quy Nhon City.
Set near two important coastal routes, An Duong Vuong and Xuan Dieu, Cadia Quy Nhon is part of a popular commercial complex by Ngo May beach. The property boasts a prime location in the central city square with a view of the sea.
This area is an entertainment, tourist and cultural hub filled with hotels and apartments. It is also a starting point for exploring Quy Nhon, a heritagerich place filled with century-old traditional craft villages.
Architecturally, Cadia Quy Nhon takes inspiration from the endless ocean waves typical of its beachfront location. From afar, the curves of the building look like a wave in the heart of a bustling tourist destination.
Cadia Quy Nhon is designed for a trendy beachside lifestyle. Its range of excellent amenities includes a
clubhouse and a first-of-its-type pedestrian tunnel that leads to the sea.
Residents and guests enjoy world-class services from Centara Hotels & Resorts, a leading hospitality group in Thailand with a portfolio of 89 properties around the world, such as Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives, Centara Reserve Samui, and Maikhao Dream Villa Resort & Spa, among others.
Developer: Phat Dat Realty Business and Service Corporation (Phat Dat Realty)
Product type: Condotel
Launch date: September 2022
Completion date: Q3 2025
Total land area: 5,246 sqm
Number of units: 840
Average unit size: 32-77 sqm
Facilities: Clubhouse, pedestrian tunnel, rooftop bar, pocket park, swimming pool, playground, conference room, rooftop park, gyms, spa, and more
Price range: VND90-110 million per
Phone number: 0935 39 6868
Email: cadiaquynhon@ phatdatrealty.com.vn
Address: 10th Floor, Tower B, Viettel Complex Building, No. 285, Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ward 12, District 10, HCMC, Vietnam
The Residences at Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort
The Residences at Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort is the first Sheraton-branded residences in Southeast Asia. Set next to the first-ever Marriott-branded resort in the Philippines, The Residences at Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort is a seamless integration of a holiday destination and living space.
Nestled in Mactan, one of the world’s top island destinations, the 44,000-square-metre property features a 22-storey main tower containing 154 private units in one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations. With only up to six residences per wing and an open-air, resort-style lobby, residents’ space and privacy are ensured at The Residences.
The exclusive Courtyard Villas at The Residences includes generous living spaces offering unobstructed views of nature and the courtyard lagoon pools. All 36 villas, available in two-bedroom homes and three-bedroom loft configurations, come with their own private pool, an open deck, and family-friendly features.
Top global architecture firm Blink Design Group, a specialist in luxury hotels and resorts, fused contemporary design with tropical aesthetics and local touches in designing The Residences. Taking inspiration from its coastal surrounds, The Residences features clean lines and materials like natural stone, rattan, marble, plush fabrics, and wood. Every unit looks out through large panoramic windows for unobstructed vistas of the ocean or courtyard pools.
Amenities include the residents-only Beach Club, modern dining facilities, a signature spa, decadent steam rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, yoga room, exclusive courtyard garden, and pool lounge. Residents always have access to the resort and a scenic white sand beach, affording them an incomparable experience.
BEST BRANDED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
BEST CONDO INTERIOR DESIGN
Developer: AppleOne Mactan Inc.
Product type: Towers and villas
Architect: Blink Design Group
Launch date: October 2016
Completion date: Q2 2023
Total land area: 3.8 hectares
Number of units: 190
Average unit size: 120.23 sqm
Facilities: Residents-only beach club, courtyard lagoon pool, fully-fitted fitness centre, residential owners’ lounge, multi-purpose function room, steam rooms, kids’ room, and more
Monthly maintenance fees: PHP125 per sqm
Price range: PHP10.4-95 million
Phone number: +63 977 830 4655
Address: Punta Engaño Road, Mactan Island, LapuLapu City, Cebu, Philippines
Gold City Parañaque City, Philippines
As SM Development Corporation (SMDC)’s very first township development, Gold City is a world-class intra-city built to exemplify the true gold standard in modern living. Seamlessly integrating masterfullydesigned living, leisure, and work spaces, Gold City consists of Gold Residences and Gold Residential-Offices.
Gold Residences was made for discerning individuals with a penchant for prestige and elegance. It carries SMDC’s signature hotellike lobbies, resort-style amenities, and endto-end property and leasing management services – only with the touch of awardwinning design stalwarts.
On the other hand, business meets leisure at Gold Residential-Offices. Envisioned as the perfect home for the Filipino entrepreneurs, the innovative development grants business owners a professional office in a thriving economic corridor, and the flexibility to use the same unit as a place of residence.
A testament to the promise Gold City holds is its prime spot in Parañaque City, where several infrastructure developments, such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway (NAIAX), Circumferential Road5 (C-5) extension, and the Mega Manila Subway, will be close by. More than just a safe, secure, sustainable, and future-proof living experience in the community, Gold City locks in maximum returns for investors.
Developer: Summerspring Development Corporation
Product type: Township
Architects: ASYA Design, MConcept, Michael Fiebrich Design, and Plus Architecture
Total land area: 11.6 ha
Average unit size: 25.4 sqm (Gold Residences Phase 1), 27.9 sqm (Gold Residences Phase 2), 25.58 sqm (Gold Residential-Offices)
Total number of units: 2,468 (Gold Residences Phase 1), 4,322 (Gold Residences Phase 2), 2,050 (Gold Residential-Offices)
Launch date: October 2020
Completion date: July 2026
Facilities (Gold Residences): Pools, Kid’s Playce, fitness Centre, central Parks, enclaved gardens, jogging path, yoga studio, social halls and lounge, and more
Facilities (Gold Residential-Offices): Meeting rooms, function rooms, pools, poolside decks, outdoor play area, leisure lawn, sculpture courtyard, outdoor work areas and lounge terraces, sky lounge, central pavilion with coffee kiosk, fitness hub, and more
Average price: PHP7.4 million (Gold Residences), PHP7.7 million (Gold Residential-Offices)
Phone number (Gold City showroom): +63965 615
Address: Two E-com Center, 15th Floor Harbor Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, CBP-IA, Pasay City, Philippines
Belgravia Ace Belgravia Drive, Singapore
Belgravia Ace is a development of freehold strata landed houses with thematic condominium-style facilities.
Belgravia Ace is designed with the intention of connecting individuals with the environment: establishing a deeper bond between oneself and nature.
The glass façade of each unit features a sleek fin frame, blending classic and modern concepts. The façade also serves to showcase six-metre-wide internal spaces. The 4.59-metre-high ceilings with loft, located on the first storey, further highlight this spaciousness. Meanwhile, the roof terrace provides additional space for semi-outdoor family activities.
Inspired by the elements of the natural world, Belgravia Ace contains the so-called 8 Garden Treasures. These are zones throughout the development, each distinguished by exclusive features that define one of eight themes: fire, earth, air, metal, water, wood, stone and light.
The amenities include plenty of water features such as a 50m lap pool, cloud waterplay, family pool, water trellis,
waterfall, and family jacuzzi. Facilities are strategically placed, creating balance between movement and stillness.
Several green features will be incorporated into the development. They include the optimised window-to-wall ratio; low-emission glazing; water-efficient wares and fittings; air-conditioning systems and appliances with the highest energy efficiency ratings; air-conditioning with plasma quad; and electric vehicle charging points. The buildings will use eco-friendly cement and paints, adhesives, and sealants with low volatile organic compounds.
BEST STRATA HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
Developer: Fairview Developments Pte Ltd (A unit of Tong Eng Group)
Product type: Strata landed houses
Architect: JGP Architect
Launch date: January 2022
Completion date: January 2028
Total land area: 26,990 sqm (290,520 sq ft)
Number of units: 107
Average unit size: 3,929-4,370 sq ft
Facilities: 50m lap pool, family pool, water trellis, waterfall, family jacuzzi, landform play, putting green, The Garden pavilion, hammock lawn, quarry lawn with seating planter, party lawn, whispering pond with waterfall, and The Courtyard
Monthly maintenance fees: SGD462-504
Price range: SGD4.2-4.6 million
Address: 101 Cecil Street #26-01 Tong Eng Building
AMO Residence Ang Mo Kio Rise, Singapore
AMO Residence consists of two 25-storey towers, containing 372 units that range from two- to five-bedroom units and three exclusively curated penthouses.
The development is strategically located in a well-developed, mature housing estate in the North-East region of Singapore. The prime location is in the vicinity of BishanAng Mo Kio Park and the Lower Pierce Reservoir. It is also within a short distance of reputable schools and shopping malls, as well as an MRT station.
The towers are strategically orientated North to South, employing passive cooling strategies and ensuring uninterrupted views of the verdant surrounds.
The reservoir-themed landscaping gives opportunities for residents to relax and
rejuvenate. More than 60% of the site is dedicated to landscaping and facilities, making the development suitable for young families. The development is home to three landscaped zones, encompassing natureinspired facilities coupled with organic geometries. These facilities include the main clubhouse, a 50m infinity lap pool, spa pool, outdoor fitness stations, a tennis court, gymnasium, yoga lawn, and gourmet dining pavilions.
The function rooms are designed to be flexible, allowing a variety of activities from parties to workshops. Meanwhile, the gym and social space are designed to accommodate changing work-from-home lifestyles, allowing residents to work or study in reading nooks or at the communal table.
Architect: P&T Consultants Pte Ltd
Launch date: July 2022
Completion date: 2026
Total land area: 12,679 sqm
Number of units: 372
Average unit size: 935 sq ft
Facilities: Pools, kid’s splash, cabanas, decks, tennis court, gym and social space, function rooms, kid’s play, pavilions, lawns, pet’s scape, gardens, sitting alcove, foot reflexology, cascading stream, waterwall, reading terrace, outdoor fitness, rustic woodland, karaoke, bicycle park, and more
Monthly maintenance fees: from SGD414-621
Price range: from SGD1.269-6.008 million
Address: Along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1
Perfect Ten Bukit Timah Road Singapore
Perfect Ten is a freehold condominium development situated in District 10 of Singapore. The 104,531-square-foot site along Bukit Timah Road is home to two symmetrical towers, containing 230 residences that range from two-bedroom (753-797 sq ft) to three-bedroom units (1227-1281 sq ft).
The twin towers are angled to give every unit the utmost privacy. Standout amenities include a 50m-long infinity pool, gym, and roof garden above the 24th storey.
All three-bedroom kitchens come with full Miele appliances including a wine chiller, coffee maker, and steam oven, in addition to a Gaggenau double door fridge. The kitchen countertop adds a welcoming ambience to the dining and foyer area.
The clubhouse within the development features over 40 facilities and recreation zones. Tranquil private zones are available, letting residents rest and be rejuvenated.
Just within a five-minute drive from Orchard Road, Perfect Ten is near reputable schools; both the Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) and Singapore Chinese Girls’ School are within a kilometre from the area.
Developer: Japura Development Pte Ltd
Product type: Condo or high-rise apartment
Architect: DP Architects Pte Ltd
Launch date: December 2021
Estimated completion date: Q4 2025
Total land area: 104,534 sq ft
Number of units: 230
Average unit size: 753-1,281 sq ft
Facilities: Clubhouse, pools, outdoor showers, piazza, decks, lift lobbies, cabanas, pavilions, party lawn, kids’ playground, gardens, signature link, grand dropoff, grand staircase, cascading water features, function room, gyms, steam rooms, and more
Monthly maintenance fees (before GST): SGD522610
Price range: From SGD2.4 million (two-bedroom) and SGD3.6 million (three-bedroom)
Tel: 6297 0111
Address: 321 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 259781
Park Nova 18 Tomlinson Road, Singapore
Located near Orchard Boulevard in the city-state’s prime District 10, the ultra-luxury development reflects the developer’s philosophy of combining its expertise in hospitality and sustainability to create an unparalleled living experience.
Park Nova is a three-minute walk away from Orchard Boulevard MRT station and is close to a host of premium lifestyle attractions, from luxury retail shops and fine dining restaurants to deluxe hotels and urban landmarks along Orchard Road.
As a vision of green living, Park Nova is designed to be a living and breathing urban garden that brings nature closer to the residents of its 54 exclusive units. Its distinctive biophilic design features a lush vertical garden, copious outdoor space, abundant natural light, verdant communal planters, and high-end club facilities for residents’ health and well-being.
Park Nova residents can choose from a range of homes— from 3-bedroom Classic to 4-bedroom residences and penthouses, catering to singles, couples, and a variety of family types. Each unit comes with interiors of the highest
quality as well as fittings and accessories from worldleading luxury brands such as Molteni & C, Vola, and Laufen.
Residents can choose to unwind amid nature at a 25-meter pool and hot spa that sit in the heart of the garden. A Sky Lounge will also be available for hosting exclusive parties and private soirees in an intimate setting boasting stunning views of the city. Reflecting Shun Tak’s rich heritage in hospitality, Park Nova comes with a host of exclusive services, including a concierge service that caters to the needs of residents.
Developer: Shun Tak Holdings
Product type: Condo
Architect: PLP Architecture/P&T
Launch date: May 2021
Total land area: 43,356 sq ft
Number of units: 54
Facilities: Lap pool, pool deck, poolside lounge, leisure pool, water play area, garden seating, outdoor lounge, hot spa, jacuzzi, outdoor deck, garden pavilion, and garden bridge
Price range: SGD 6-35 million
Address: 111 Somerset Road #03-38, SG238164