By Bill Barnett
While the global pandemic has raged across the world, many island destination’s across Southeast Asia have shown remarkable traction in luxury real estate. From Phuket, to Koh Samui and down to Bali similar pushing upward in demand are now the norm. Let’s take a quick look at the top 5 trends in Phuket in a real estate update.
During the pandemic, Phuket has experienced an influx of wealthy elite Thai villa buyers from conglomerates and family offices. As word of mouth spread in Hi-So Bangkok circles, this spurred friends, other family or acquaintances to also buy. Layan Beach has become an epicentre of this new luxury push with branded developments tagged to Anantara and Avadina coming into the limelight. A similar push has been from high-net-worth Thai tech entrepreneurs and even connected to their foreign counterparts. Urban flight of Bangkokians is on the rise, given the impact of the ongoing pandemic, rising pollution, and emotional change in values towards a more healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Big, Bigger, Biggest
In broad terms, the gross floor area of luxury villas has doubled over the past decade. Mindful of the fact that tropical properties often have massive outdoor covered and outdoor areas, this also is growing but the key movement is in more interior spaces. This all comes at an interesting juncture when Thailand’s construction costs are currently escalating to levels above 10% and with steel and petrol pricing moving up, will only grow more expensive. But at the luxury level where during the pandemic multi-generational living is making a comeback and work from home is now the new norm. This is expected to only continue. It’s important to also see the relative affordability of ultra-luxury in Phuket when buyers are coming from Singapore, Hong Kong or London so while the sizes might be eye-popping, the terms of reference for owners are far beyond Phuket.
It’s Not Just About the Beach
The perception about Phuket luxury villas is most often considered to be factored on two things. The first is West Coast locations, most often from Kalim, through Kamala up to Surin, Layan and onto Nai Thon. Second is elevations and what might be best termed ‘cliffhangers’
Of course, the reality is that you can go to the East Coast and Cape Yamu area where over 80 multimillion-dollar villas have been developed and sold or down to Panwa which after Sri Panwa helped form the ultra-luxury market is starting to see new projects starting to sell. Inland popularity is also moving upwards as can be seen by the entry of the wellness-themed community Tri Vananda or the rapid escalation of pricing points in new projects for developers such as Botanica and Anchan who now are pushing up prices beyond USD2 million and above. This shift is only going to continue given high barriers to entry for prime west coast land parcels.
A Degree of Separation
All too often luxury real estate developers are possessed by product versus people. Over the past two decades, there has been a direct connection in Phuket’s most expensive projects between the developer’s nationality, connections, and background. A number of micro precinct-type communities have evolved. One case in point is Allan Zeman and the two Andara branded developments on Kamala’s Millionaires Mile whose heavy influence in Hong Kong and Mainland China drove sales momentum. For all the hype on luxury brand marketing, ultimately word of mouth is often the biggest influencer for sales.
There is little doubt the lowering of the age barrier of luxury home buyers and changes in pandemic lifestyle is creating a higher degree of customisation for villas. These can be seen everywhere from flexible spaces that are sold to buyers who can customise in-villa spas, fitness areas, theatres up to art collections, meditation zones, and more robust working areas. Another evolution is developers leaving a portion of the GFA (gross floor area) as cold shell space, whereby they still earn development margins but allow buyers to design more substantial areas. Expect more custom designs, a greater focus on interior spaces, and changes in villa configuration for multi-generational living or friends and family stays.
To sum it all up, Phuket remains a strongly demonstrated luxury leisure market and this is expected to continue its journey forward but the above points out to decide changes in products and buyers in Phuket 3.0.
This article appeared on C9 Hotelworks.