Banyan Tree Holdings, which develops and operates luxury resorts, hotels, and spas throughout Asia, is making a foray into the residential market with its first development in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
Eddy See, senior vice-president and chief financial officer of the Singapore-listed hospitality group, said the maiden project would be developed on a 333,350 square metre site in the city's suburbs, some 45 minutes from downtown Chengdu.
The project would comprise luxury homes and affordable condominiums and would be developed in phases, he said. See said the group's expansion into the residential market was natural, taking into account the company's niche in building holiday homes.
Founded by former journalist Ho Kwon Ping, the group was named after Banyan Tree Bay (or Yung Shue Wan), a village on Hong Kong's Lamma Island, where Ho stayed for few years in his youth.
It opened its first resort hotel in Phuket in 1994, and at the end of March this year had equity interest in 15 resorts or hotels operating under the Banyan Tree and Angsana brands and managed another 15 resorts or hotels in which it does not have an equity interest.
In China the group manages hotels in Hangzhou, Sanya, and Macau. It also holds equity interests in a hotel and holiday homes in Lijiang, in Yunnan province. See said the market in China, with its vast and growing economy, had been identified by the group as a key one into which it planned to expand.
Chengdu was chosen as the location for its first new-home development because Sichuan was one of the country's fastest growing provinces.
"Prices in Shanghai and Beijing are over the top. Potential is limited," he said.
The group did not intend to compete with local property players, but would attract buyers through a niche marketing strategy, he said.
"Branding plays a big part, and the second part is design and layout."
Banyan Tree was also eyeing business opportunities in other cities, See said.
Apart from targeting the housing market in China, it planned to market its brand to the many wealthy Chinese who were active in buying holiday homes.
"The Chinese are going everywhere, and they buy everything along the way," said See, who was speaking in Hong Kong, where the group presented its residential property products under the Banyan Tree Residences, Laguna Property and Angsana Residences brands at an exhibition that ended on Sunday.