Hongkongers among largest group of tourists renting water villas in Maldives for HK$26,000 a day

Resort also offers sun-soaked lodgings on the sea for sale at better prices per square foot

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 May, 2017, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 May, 2017, 6:39pm

Hongkongers are among the top tourists renting expensive water villas in the Maldives, according to the head of the luxury resort that offers the sea-based holiday homes.

According to travel website TripAdvisor, the villas cost about HK$26,000 per day to rent.

Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and chairman of Soneva, which owns the Sovena Jani resort, said: “Clients from Hong Kong and China account for about 20 per cent of people using the water villas, making them the largest group among any nationals.”

The villas are built on the waters of a private lagoon and the smallest unit still comes with a private pool. Shivdasani said the lodgings are also legally secure to be bought as private property.

He added that the villas were a form of “alternative investment” popular with Europeans.

“We have clients from Britain and Sweden buying our water villas – they can rent it out when not using the homes, and we share the rent collected with the owner.”

The cheapest price to buy a water villa starts at US$4.5 million (HK$35.1 million) for 411 square metres, which works out to about HK$7,913 per square foot.

At this rate, it is almost impossible to buy any property in Hong Kong, let alone a luxury home with breathtaking sea views.

In contrast, home buyers are happy to snap up nano flats costing much more per square foot.

“The top concern of Hong Kong people when buying overseas property is investment value, and they prefer to buy in a developed country with established second hand markets,” Gordon Tse, senior director of corporate development at Midland Realty, said.

“That is why when it comes to overseas property, most people would go for first-tier cities in Britain, Canada or Australia,” Tse added.

Professor Eddie Hui at Polytechnic University’s department of building and real estate said the mentality of property buyers from Hong Kong and mainland China is very different from that of people in western countries.

“Maybe for some Europeans, they place leisure as a higher priority, but for Hong Kong people, there are two things they always consider when buying property: potential for price appreciation, and practical value – whether they will actually live in the property.”

“That is why they prefer to buy in familiar territory even though prices in Hong Kong are already very high,” Hui said.

Ken Wong, a property owner in Hong Kong, said: “When I buy a property, I also want to pass it on to my son eventually. If I buy a property in the Maldives, I think it is a bit far away for him.”

However, Wong said he loved the Maldives as a holiday destination. “Even though I won’t buy a water villa there, I am quite happy to go there for a vacation any time.”