Four Seasons Private Residences Chao Phraya River

Bangkok’s luxury investment star continues to rise as the city welcomes Four Seasons’ branded residences.

As anyone that’s been to Bangkok knows, the Chao Phraya River is the city’s defining artery, more so even than Sukhumvit Road, and its lifeblood going back centuries. With that heritage in mind, the city has finally decided to exploit the river and create a waterfront that rivals any in the world. Contributing to that come 2018 is Thai developer Country Group and its Four Seasons Private Residences Chao Phraya River.

River Queen

“We have a unique river, particularly in the way it winds, so this design allows us to overcome the normal ‘river views/city views’ distinction,” begins Country Group CEO and director Ben Taechaubol, describing the forthcoming 73-storey tower.

“At a certain height there are river views from every single unit as the river wraps around us. The second key design feature is the project’s low density. This allowed us to centrally place the tower amid low-density resorts for the very simple reason it can’t be blocked.”

The Four Seasons Residences is set on the 14-acre Chao Phraya Estate, the last riverside plot of land available for development, and includes the city’s longest private waterfront promenade. The estate will also feature two five-star hotels (a Four Seasons naturally, as well as an all-suite boutique Capella Hotel) and a variety of food and beverage outlets to go along with the residences.

“The other key design feature is the ‘all corner-unit’ concept as it means much more façade areas and amplified views,” Taechaubol says. “It allows us to allocate views to secondary spaces. You wouldn’t normally prioritise assigning a river view space to the bathroom, for example.”

Designed by Dhevanand Architects with interiors by BAMO and PIA Interior, the Four Seasons Private Residences will comprise 355 suites ranging in configurations up to five bedrooms and sized from about 1,200 to 11,000 square feet. The property is perched a few minutes from a BTS skytrain station, a boat launch and the Chan Road Expressway.

Perhaps most appealing for long-term investors, the residences are blessed with a rare (in Thailand) 75-year leasehold. Residences are about THB300,000 per square metre (HK$6,100 per square foot).

A host of amenities and services attached to the hotel, including but not limited to, include concierge, security, valet parking, wine storage, all hotel services, optional in-residence dining, housekeeping, grocery stocking, catering, sommelier services and limousine transport.

The tower includes a River Lounge (with a garden and private dining room), an infinity pool, children’s pool, sauna, massage suites and fitness facilities among others on level three, and the 64 through 66th-floor Four Seasons Club, featuring multiple lounges, screening room, music studio, yoga room, atelier, rooftop pool and sun deck.

Trending up

If everything goes according to plan, and the Four Seasons Private Residences looks like the model suite, the properties will be spectacular. But will there be a market for it? Bangkok is a great city, but for investors, a project like this belongs in Hong Kong, Singapore or London.

“Yes, Singapore and Hong Kong are more developed cities, but that’s precisely what makes this opportunity so exciting,” Taechaubol says.

“International investors are already sold on coming to Thailand, and the fact that Bangkok is not on a price par with Singapore and Hong Kong is added appeal.”

That schism can put Bangkok luxury projects at 10% of Hong Kong or Singapore prices, similar to Kuala Lumpur. Rental yields in Thailand hover around 6% to 7%, often higher for branded residences, and Bangkok’s 20% capital gains rates add fuel to the investment fire.

Taechaubol isn’t concerned about finding a market. Pointing out the two-pronged hospitality and residential elements, he believes there’s plenty of interest to go around.

“In terms of hospitality, Bangkok was ranked number one in 2016 for tourist arrivals (by volume). I think many of the market leaders in the hotel sector are beginning to feel dated, so we believe a different product like this will be well received.

“Bangkok is ready for it. On the residential side, our consumers are UHNWIs, and for our local UHNWIs clientele, the feedback is they feel it is refreshing they’re getting a project of this quality and concept.”

On top of it, the Four Seasons Residences is a trophy property for collectors who appreciate the “peace of mind” that comes with knowing the apartment will be ready when they are.

This year is turning into one that could be challenging for Thailand’s property market: newly minted US president Donald Trump is raising eyebrows in all corners of the globe in all sectors, and Thailand’s planned general election for 2017 has been delayed.

But the market is “incredibly resilient,” and is likely to (again) weather any storms on the horizon.

Tourists may ebb and flow, but most purchasers are comfortable enough to throw in for the long term. A fluctuating greenback doesn’t have as much impact on Country Group’s construction costs (denominated in Baht), and though potential buyers may waffle briefly, Taechaubol has seen no significant impact on sales.

“Clients may procrastinate in their decision to buy, but if they want the property they’ll inevitably buy it.”

So how does he see 2017 shaking out?

“I honestly think this year is going to be a better version of 2015 and 2016 for the Thai economy. Our property market is largely driven by developers, which in a way is unfortunate, but it makes the market more predictable.

“Growth should be more stable – more so than in the past – and the key concern would be the timing of the election.

“For the wider economy, the main factor that is likely to be most detrimental to the country is over-reliance on short-term subsidies to the agricultural sector without initiatives that address the structural aspects of the problem. It’s complicated and it’s always been the Achilles heel.”

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