Marriott eyes timeshare for Macau luxury flats

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 February, 2008, 12:00am

Luxury hotel chain Marriott International has acquired 30 luxury flats in a top-end residential project in Taipa, Macau, overlooking Cotai Strip, and plans to turn them into timeshare holiday homes.

Marriott Vacation Club International has bought five floors at the Buckingham, within a walking distance to Cotai - where strata-title sales of flats in developments in the area are prohibited, says Jeff Wong Chi-wai, head of Macau residential sales at Jones Lang LaSalle, the marketing agent of the project.

Under existing rules, reclaimed land on Cotai Strip is set aside for casino and hotel purposes only.

Las Vegas Sands Corp petitioned the Macau government in October last year to lift the ban on the sale of serviced flats at its Venetian Macao on Cotai Strip, but so far there has been no progress.

'It is the first time for a hotel chain to buy flats [in Macau] and rent them out to club members as short-term holiday homes,' Mr Wong said.

The club, which set up its office in Hong Kong two years ago and has 30,000 members, operates 46 timeshare resorts close to golf courses, beaches and popular holiday destinations. Its resorts are in United States, France and Spain. In Asia, it operates only one such resort, the Marriott Phuket Beach Club in Thailand.

Mr Wong refused to disclose the transaction prices but said the developer aimed to presell the units at an indicative price of HK$6,000 per square foot - against luxury residential transaction prices of HK$5,000 to HK$8,000 per square foot.

The 41,380 sqft bought by Marriott Vacation Club could have cost more than HK$248 million. The 30 flats range from 1,100 to 1,900 sqft.

A spokeswoman at Marriott Vacation Club said no further information could be released.

'It will be positive to the outlook of Macau's luxury residential market,' said Simon Smith, senior director for research and consultancy at Savills.

With strong demand from upgraders, he expects the prospects of top-end housing sector to remain bright.

The 50-storey Buckingham comprises 196 units with typical sizes of 1,100 to 1,900 sqft. There are three simplex units each at 5,800 sqft and nine duplex units measuring between 3,800 sqft and 4,200 sqft.

The project, built by developer Wai Heng Group, is slated for completion by the first quarter of next year.

Without providing the land cost, Mr Wong said construction of the project cost about HK$600 million as Wai Heng bought the land through a private treaty 10 years ago.

'More than 50 per cent of the development has been sold internally,' said Mr Wong, adding buyers came from Japan, Britain and the mainland.

Next month, the developer would release about 50 units for official sale in Macau and Hong Kong, he said.

With another luxury residential project, One Grantai on Tai Tam Hill overlooking the Cotai Strip, achieving a record price of HK$12,000 per square foot, Mr Wong said Wai Heng would pitch the simplex units at the Buckingham for HK$10,000 per square foot. He said buyers from Hong Kong would receive mortgage loans of up to 90 per cent from banks in Macau. Buyers paying in cash would get an 8 per cent discount to the listed price.

Ambrose Liu, director of CBRE Consulting, expects luxury residential prices to grow 20 per cent this year. But he said new developments in general were offered at high prices as developers have factored in future capital appreciation, with some uncompleted developments put on sale at up to HK$8,000 per square foot.

'Macau properties are still attractive to Hong Kong investors, who are confident of the market outlook,' he said. Macau peninsula and Taipa are traditional luxury residential areas, he said.