Seeking paradise

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 November, 2010, 12:00am

Away from the hustle and bustle of bright lights and big cities, holidaymakers are turning to remote luxury resorts in far-away places, seeking a paradise of tranquil sights and dreamy nights.

Singapore-based Banyan Tree was partly responsible for creating the trend through its impressive resorts, and now offers villas in select locations for rent and for sale.

'We see this as a natural extension of our hotel and resort business,' says David Wong, the head of Banyan Tree Residences. 'It allows investors to participate in the potential capital appreciation and receive recurring income, as there is a lease-back arrangement for residences to be managed as part of the hotel.'

Investors can choose either to take a guaranteed 6 per cent return for at least the initial six years or go for an agreed share of the revenue generated from renting out their residence.

Owners have use of the property for 60 days a year for themselves, friends and family. The typical 'package' of management services extends from housekeeping and pool cleaning to gardening, maintenance and pest control, which are all part of the leaseback agreement.

The frills and benefits also include discounts on whatever the hotel provides in terms of spa treatments, food and beverage services and other local amenities.

A dedicated manager is available to offer help both during individual stays and over the investment itself.

The programme also makes it possible to exchange part of one's annual entitlement for stays in other group resorts around the world.

Wong says this opens up the possibility of holidays in places as diverse as the Seychelles, Mexico and, soon, the mainland. The company asks all owners to join the programme and to 'deposit' seven days at the start of every year into the exchange pool. Members can then book to stay in any units they know to be available.

Typically, deals range from about US$650,000 to more than US$2 million in locations such as Phuket in Thailand, Lijiang in China and Bintan in Indonesia. Upcoming destinations may include Hue in Vietnam. So far, many of the buyers are from East Asia and Europe.

'Typically, about one-third of the hotel villa inventory may be released for sale as residences,' Wong says. 'Where the location is suitable for property sales, we will roll them out as part of the business proposition in developing the hotel. A typical reservation fee equivalent to approximately US$10,000 is required.'

Sales of resort properties, Wong suggests, with or without exchange schemes, is set to be a growing trend. He believes the appeal lies in luxury accommodation, recurrent income and potential asset appreciation.

Although Banyan Tree may be one of the more high-profile companies in the sector, other resort homes are also available, especially in popular vacation destinations such as Phuket.

Royal Phuket Marina offers its villas - some with private pools - condominium units and penthouses with private pools for sale, while the Yamu Phuket, a hotel designed by Philippe Starck and architect Jean-Michel Gathy, includes pool villas and seafront estates for sale.

Investors need to be mindful of the restrictions in national laws and foreign exchange regulations. Some independent property experts have pointed out that contracts for these types of properties normally prevent owners from concluding rental agreements on their own behalf.