Thai developer Ben Taechaubol, 38, is embracing a unique model for prestige Bangkok residences. He wants to focus in new sectors and lead Country Group Development, in which his family has a 31.36 per cent stake, to broaden their income stream. Taechaubol who holds the position of development director at Country Group Development, joined the firm shortly after completing his studies at the University of New South Wales in 2005. He was appointed chief executive in 2010 and has since led the company’s most significant project to date, Chao Phraya Estate, a 32 billion baht (HK$7.05 billion) luxury residental -hotel project. The 73-storey Four Seasons Private Residences made a strong impression upon Hong Kong buyers during a marketing debut last year, attracting more than 1 billion baht in sales following two separate sales events. When completed the project will feature a 312-room Four Seasons Hotel and the 101-room Capella Hotel, along with a high-rise residential block. Taechaubol, a Thai Chinese, also launched Thailand’s first international real estate investment trust in December by repackaging its newly acquired 2,300 square metre data centre, Anchorage Point, in London. Can you tell us more about your investment plan in education? The concept is similar to our Chao Phraya Estate. We make direct investment in the development and bring in Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to manage the property. There are a lack of international educational institutions in Bangkok, and other countries in Southeast Asia. In August last year, a bomb blast at the Erawan shrine in Bangkok killed 20 tourists and injured 100. How did it affect foreignbuying interest for properties in Bangkok? A: It did changed our sales campaign. We planned to launch the second roadshow in Hong Kong in August which was around the time of the bomb attack. After taking the advice from our consultants, we have to move it back and re-sheduled the sale to November. It was a sad incident. Nobody was in the mood at that time to make happy decisions. It also had the same impact in local property sales. But later on, investor and end user demand to buy a condominium for their second home or for investment was still there. Our sales in November achieved a satisfactory response giving the timing. Will you bring the Four Seasons Private Residences on a marketing tour to Hong Kong again? Half of our 132 units were sold to foreigners. A small percentage of whom live in Thailand. About 40 per cent of them lived aboard, largely from Hong Kong. We were extremely pleased with the result as we had only taken a marketing tour abroad twice, and both times were in Hong Kong where the market is very mature. You do not have to explain very much for prospective buyers to understand what the product is. The brand affiliation with Four Seasons was very strong. This is the Four Seasons biggest branded residences in the world. We plan to come to Hong Kong at least once a year. Prices for the next batch of luxury apartments will be increased incrementally. The next round of sales will probably be in the third quarter of this year. One buyer paid 410,000 baht per square metre, the highest price achieved by Four Seasons Private Residences. What was his or her nationality? The buyer was a European. Were any penthouses sold to Hong Kong buyers? None of the three penthouses sold were purchased by Hong Kong buyers. But our first buyer was a Hong Kong gentleman who bought several units. The amount he paid for several units was very close to the price of a penthouse. A lot of Hong Kong people visit Thailand quite often. We understand that they would like to keep the flat for long term investment as the project is located along the Chao Phraya River and served by Four Seasons Hotels. The average price for the forthcoming penthouses will be pledged at 373 million baht. Will it be the most expensive along Chao Phraya River? Yes, it will be the most expensive along the river. Our four-bedroom flats start from 400 square metre, while the size of our penthouse are more than 1,000 square metre. How did the firm secure this large waterfront site? This is very special government crown land. The last waterfront site available was 25 years ago and it was developed into a Shangri-La Hotel. Our site is seven times bigger than the Shangri-La Hotel. The government awarded this site to us largely because of our unique master layout plan. After we secured the site, luxury hotel chain Capella came on board to manage one of the two hotels in the proposed development. Later, we formed a partnership with the Four Seasons Hotel to manage the other hotel. .