PARADISE in Penang
For sun-seekers aspiring to a home away from home, Malaysia is the land of plenty. Famed for its idyllic islands, the bejewelled archipelago boasts more than 4,600km of coastline, and a choice of gorgeous islands for putting up one's shingle.
Penang holds particular appeal. As the first British trading post in the Far East, it has a rich colonial history. Its multicultural fabric stems from the earliest days, when the island attracted thousands of settlers and traders, including Malays, Sumatrans, Indians and especially Chinese.
Visitors love this fascinating fusion of East and West: Penang, embracing modernity while retaining Old World charm, has made it to a tourism list of '10 places to visit before you die'. Penang properties range from heritage houses, to luxury new builds.
More expats are choosing Penang for their home in Malaysia, with the island state a particular favourite with Hongkongers. The emergence of well-developed, conceptualised properties has followed.
Jerry Chan Fook Sing, Penang chairman of the Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association, says: 'Astute local and foreign real estate investors have complemented Penang's progress in offering not just some of the most attractive product designs but developments at attractive prices.'
Chan notes that values of Penang real estate have held steady. Reports indicate that property prices have jumped 25 per cent in five years.
Some of the luxury developments in Penang are targeting international investors, including two projects marketed by Hamptons.
By The Sea in Batu Ferringhi is set on 1.9 hectares of beachfront tropical gardens. Developed by Selangor Dredging Berhad, its units due for completion in 2016, include luxurious podium suites with pool deck, and executive suites that include an expansive roof terrace.
Andaman at Quayside, the final phase of the master-planned development Seri Tanjung Pinang, offers luxurious condominiums facing the Andaman Sea. Scheduled for completion in 2015, the project is developed by Eastern & Oriental Berhad, and it is set to become a world-class waterfront community.
Richard Teoh, sales director of Hamptons International in Hong Kong, expects the Penang residential market will continue to be buoyant this year, with demand for well-located and conceptualised developments such as By The Sea remaining especially strong.