SEASIDE rendezvous

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 May, 2011, 12:00am


From Bali to Mauritius and Vietnam to Hua Hin, investing in beach properties has picked up briskly after a lull in the past two years because of the financial crisis.

Agents and developers say investors from the mainland and Hong Kong are especially keen to take advantage of a rising yuan and low interest rates to buy properties in Southeast Asia.

David Simister, chairman of CB Richard Ellis Indochina, says the beach and waterfront projects his firm has marketed in Cambodia and Thailand have sold out within days.

He points to Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia's first luxury private island resort. The first phase of villas was launched in late 2009 and sold out within two months to investors from Japan, Hong Kong, Britain and France. The subsequent phase of one-bedroom, over-water villas was launched in October last year.

'While over-water villas are commonly seen in the Maldives, Song Saa is the first and only development at present to offer over-water villas for private ownership in Southeast Asia,' says Rory Hunter, CEO of Brocon, the Australian-owned company behind the development.

Development on Cambodia's coastline has been limited and tourism has centred on Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. The Cambodian government is keen to open up the real estate market to wealthy foreigners and investors, and has allowed foreigners to buy properties.

With regular airlifts from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, from March, this has become a major catalyst for growth in Sihanoukville and Cambodia's south coast tourism. Song Saa is accessible by a 20-minute boat ride from Sihanoukville port. The resort can also be directly accessed by a one-hour sea plane flight from Siem Reap. Brocon has agreed a deal with a sea plane operator to operate two daily flights to and from the island.

Another beach villa project is coming up on Singapore's Sentosa Island. Sandy Island is being developed as a tropical island with 18 waterfront villas nestled within a lush rainforest.

The waterfront villas are been designed by Italian architect and designer Claudio Silvestrin, whose works include the 26 Giorgio Armani flagship stores around the world, including Armani/Chater House in Hong Kong and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin.

In his modern interpretation of tropical architecture, Silvestrin aims to 'abstract the elements of a house into pure geometric forms, stretching of perspectives, purity of view, the use of natural materials, and an architecture that is intentionally timeless'.

In Vietnam's Da Nang, Savills is marketing the Norman Estates, which will have 33 villas spread on 7.5 hectares of land. The project is developed by VinaCapital, whose head of sales and marketing, Matthew Koziora, says the firm has sold eight villas, mainly to investors from Hanoi, before the public launch.

The two-, three- and four-bedroom villas are priced from US$800,000 to US$2 million.

Koziora says the demand in the country is enough for him to sell all the villas in Vietnam. 'If there are villas left unsold, then we will offer them to international investors,' he says.