Property

A Monument to Luxury in Bangkok



Central Bangkok is no stranger to high-end, often branded residences. In the past few years, the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental have all successfully launched residential projects there. Now comes the BTS/Sansiri collaboration, The Monument Thong Lo.

It’s significant for riding on the strength of local developer Sansiri’s reputation and sitting in the heart of a BTS-sanctioned transit hub that is expected to reach out towards China by 2030, and one that is making infrastructure the linchpin of Bangkok’s ongoing investment appeal.

First of Its Kind

Bangkok property gained 8.5% in 2015 – the eighth best in the world – and the luxury market performed even better.

The city now features the Ralph Lauren-designed ultra-luxury 98 Wireless, which recorded the highest sales price to date in Bangkok: THB570,000 per square metre (or just HK$11,000 per square foot) and the Ritz-Carlton branded residences at MahaNakhon set a record for its THB480 million (HK$187 million) sale, while Hong Kong movie star Louis Koo Tin-lok purchased a HK$54 million penthouse in 2014.

Sansiri projects rental yields at The Monument to be in the neighbourhood off 4% to 5% to go along with strong capital appreciation.

The Thong Lo district is widely considered to be The Peak or the Beverly Hills of Bangkok.

“There is nothing in the world like the Peak,” says Apichart Chutrakul, CEO of Sansiri Public Company, referring to the eye-popping 180% capital gains seen on The Peak in recent years.

But, “Thirty per cent or 100% is not out of the question. Let’s put it this way. Three years ago the land in Thong Lo cost THB300,000 per wah [four square metres], and now it’s THB1.5 million. Land alone has gone up five times, and so property costs have gone up the same amount. If you think it’s out of the question it’s really not,” he says.

Location is always crucial, and Thong Lo is indeed one of Bangkok’s finest. Thai industrialists such as CP Group’s (Ping An Insurance’s majority shareholder) chair Dhanin Chearavanont; brewer (Chang Beer) and hotelier Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi; and insurer Vanich Chaiyawan are just a few that call the affluent Thong Lo district home.

“We see great upside potential in investing in Bangkok. The luxury property price in Thailand’s capital is four times cheaper than that of Hong Kong, thanks to the low exchange rate of the Thai baht against the US dollar,” argues Ashton Hawks’ director Frederick Ho.

“Apart from that, increased spending on infrastructure projects by Thailand’s government should help boost economic growth rates and thus, the luxury property market is expected to grow in the next few years and demand remains high from both local and overseas investors. Investing in a luxury property in a premium location in the heart of Bangkok would be a good choice for a long-term investment.”



A Monumental Project

The slender tower that will be The Monument is being compared to something like Opus Hong Kong – except for the minor detail that Opus prices are 10 times The Monument’s.

Perfectly positioned steps from Sukhumvit Road, The Monument is targeting well-travelled executives and professionals looking to take advantage of the countless hotels, restaurants, bars and retailers in the immediate area. Some of Bangkok’s best international schools are also nearby.

When completed in 2019, The Monument Thong Lo’s 127 units spanning 46 floors will comprise two to four-bedroom luxury condominiums starting at 1,345 square feet.

Penthouse suites will start at 5,480 square feet, one with a private pool, two taking up a full-floor (THB220 and 257 million, about HK$48 and $57 million) and one a duplex (THB333 million, HK$74 million). Prices average HK$7,200 per square foot.

Among the facilities and amenities are a lobby lounge, sprawling gardens and terrace, multiple swimming pools, gyms, butlers and valet services, 24-hour security, private lifts, charging stations for electric vehicles, interior materials such as rose gold and Italian marble, Gessi, Sub-Zero, Wolf and Binova appliances and three-metre windows.

The Monument comes with services offered by Ashton Hawks, including a dedicated personal assistant to handle luggage, expedited immigration and limousine transport from the Phuket or Suvarnabhumi airports. Some purchasers may be eligible for five-year visas.

“When you see a market just starting its luxury cycle, look at its hotel brands. Look at Kuala Lumpur, which is also in the early stages. People don’t know where to go, so look for the Mandarin Oriental or the Ritz-Carlton projects. That’s a good way to see where you are. Hong Kong doesn’t need that because it’s already a mature market. Bangkok is growing fast,” says Asia Bankers Club founder Kingston Lai.

Also growing is interest from the PRC, not surprising given the proposed high-speed rail connection to Kunming.
“There’s a lot of tourist interest from China in a few key places: Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok. In terms of understanding about investing in Thailand, that’s very new. China now is going through the education period that Hong Kong went through four or five years ago.”

Neither Lai nor Apichart see much getting in the way of Bangkok’s continued luxury growth, and neither is concerned about the ceaseless rumblings about the Fed raising interest rates again.

“Thailand isn’t too reliant on the US and even if the Fed were to increase rates I don’t think it would affect Thailand,” Lai says.

“If anything was to affect the market it would be any cooling measures that could come in. We’re not there yet, and I wouldn’t say it’s a risk, but that could hurt the market.”