Phuket is the gift that keeps on giving. One of Thailand’s most popular destinations, for vacation as well as investment, would seem to have a never-ending supply of beachfront investment properties for sale. Every time the island flirts with a saturation point, another development comes on to the market. It’s hard to write the island off when it repeatedly defies the odds.
Welcome to Phuket
Economic stability, falling unemployment and steadily increasing demand from Thais are among the factors that are keeping Phuket in the limelight. The lifestyle, the infrastructure — arguably the best compared to the emerging Southeast Asian holiday locations — the high standard of living and the generally welcoming population have made Phuket the investment powerhouse that it is, so maybe that defiance is justified.
The latest to join the landscape in Phuket is Sansiri’s Baan Mai Khao, a premium beachfront condominium development nestled amid a clutch of the island’s five-star resorts. A swift 15 minutes from the airport on Mai Khao Beach, it is Sansiri’s first project like it in Phuket. The Bangkok-based developer is among Thailand’s most prominent, with almost 30 years of development experience across the country spanning affordable mass and high-end projects in a portfolio that includes condos, townhouses and detached houses. The developer launched over 50 projects in 2012. Currently, roughly 10 percent of Sansiri’s launches are in the resort sector, and the developer is looking to broaden its brand recognition and profile (high in Thailand) beyond its borders. “That’s what we aim to do,” says Wanchak Buranasiri, chief operating officer of Sansiri. “We’ll probably maintain our resort share as we expand and we’ll tap into the growing local market. At the same time we want to do projects that appeal to Hong Kong [investors], Singaporeans, Europeans and Americans too.”
New Face, New Standards
Since its official mid-year launch, interest in Baan Mai Khao has been steady, with investors in Hong Kong and Mainland China leading the pack. The THB2.8 billion (HK$700 million) Baan Mai Khao is notable for its semi-outdoor lobby, its Sino-Portuguese architectural elements and its comprehensive amenities, including a swimming pool that stretches from the condo to the beach, garden, fitness room and concierge services. Facing the island’s longest stretch of beach, the area is also surrounded by forests and teems with wildlife and greenery that is unique in the world. Spanning a two-hectare section of Thalang district, the entire project comprises nine three- and five-storey buildings with 206 units ranging in size from approximately 640 to 2,800 square feet. Residences are configured as one- to three-bedroom suites, two-bedroom duplexes and penthouses.
Baan Mai Khao follows Sansiri’s Baan Plai Haad Wongamat in Pattaya, launched in 2012, which is similar in philosophy if not design to Baan Mai Khao. With so many projects like it coming on the market in various parts of the country, how does Wanchak hope to make Baan Mai Khao stand out? “We’re one of the top developers in Thailand. Most of the Phuket developments are local so we’re bringing higher quality and function. In other parts of Phuket developments are not beachfront. This area is quite raw, it’s near the airport, but the beach is lovely,” he states. And what about all those cheaper emerging markets in Cambodia, Vietnam and, some maintain, Burma that are supposed to be stealing Phuket’s thunder? “I think that’s a tough question to answer. We hope our product will speak for itself. We’re not competing against local Thais and we’re committed to what we do. Obviously it’s a much larger playing field. Our position as a top developer speaks for itself and [Baan Mai Khao’s] location, the size and the design will sell itself.”
Wanchak predicts rental yields on the new property in Phuket should clock in around 6 percent, despite Thailand’s average of 4. “Phuket is a bit different. It’s an international location and the cost of living is higher than in Bangkok,” he notes. Additionally, Baan Mai Khao is private ownership and properties will not be compelled to go into a rental pool. Rentals are at the owners’ discretion. And Wanchak isn’t worried about skyrocketing Phuket prices scaring investors away. You get what you pay for. “I don’t know enough about other holiday homes markets but they are competition,” he admits. “But doing business [here] is much more mature as well. Our service industry is renowned, Thai people are a little better English speaking and they’re more service-minded.” Prices at Baan Mai Khao range between THB7 and 53 million (HK$1.8 to 14 million).