The Heights Bangsaray provides retirees 'young at heart'


The fact that the world is ageing rapidly is a well-documented phenomenon, and one that could potentially have dire consequences for society, development and economies around the globe. An ageing population is at the heart of China’s looming demographic. Millennials and the generations preceding them are having fewer children, later if at all, and healthcare infrastructure in countries like the UK and Canada are already under stress. But people are wealthier and healthier than ever, and some are taking their retirement needs into their own hands. Now.

You might be interested in:
>> An intro to overseas property investment for retirement

Mature markets

According to the United Nations’ World Population Ageing report, as of 2015, 2.1 billion people were over 60 years old, a number set to grow 56% by 2030 — faster than any other age group, including children. The UN went on to state that in the next 15 years, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia will lead the way with a projected 71 percent increase in their 60+ populations. Currently there are 508 million people in Asia over 60, which will climb to 844 million by 2030, and a whopping 1.3 billion in 2050.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the burgeoning retirement living industry is heating up. Retirement communities are well entrenched in North America and parts of Europe, and the 50+ buyer has been on developer radar for years. Ironically, retirement-focused property is a young industry in Asia. Bangkok-based Sunplay Asia is the first out of the gate, but it may not be alone much longer. Hoiana, a massive project under construction in Central Vietnam, is focused on creating a new leisure destination, but planners are leaving room for a retirement element down the road. Also in Thailand, Twinpalms’ newest development at Kamala is flirting with the idea too. So why now?


“We think it is timely for Thailand to have a first-class retirement community,” begins Chris Delaney, managing director for developer Sunplay, which launched its first retirement project, The Heights Bangsaray, this year. Not only are Thais and other Asian buyers ready to consider their future, international buyers are as keen on Thailand as they’ve ever been, underpinned by fixed incomes that go twice as far in Thailand as they do in Europe, world-class healthcare, amenable weather, a high standard of living and welcoming people.

“We expect 50% of our market will be Asian. The other 50% will be northern Europeans and regional expats,” says Delaney, who also admits Thai buyers have shown more interest than Sunplay initially expected. They, like many others, are buying despite traditional Asian family ties. “We have had a strong interest from Asian families, from parents who want to be independent.”

>> Spend your golden years at Sunplay Bangsaray

The Heights Bangsaray

Sooner and later

Come next year, Bangsaray, on the east coast, will be home to Thailand’s first active retirement development. Located 90 minutes from Bangkok and in close proximity to the expanding U-Tapao International Airport (whose second terminal opens later this year) in Thailand’s future Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and a stop on Thailand’s ambitious high-speed rail link, the property is ideally connected for what will likely make up its primary buyers. It’s also feng shui approved.

The Heights Bangsaray

Ocean Marina

The Heights Bangsaray will feature a host of 50 friendly services and amenities without tipping into managed care — yet. There are no plans for elderly care but it’s a possibility in the future. In the meantime, the project’s 28 hectares will include cycling, hiking and jogging trails in a village atmosphere, with plenty of golfing, sailing and retailing nearby. And while fiftysomethings may not have the healthcare requirements of older residents, 50 becomes 60 quickly. The Heights is planning for three-times weekly doctor visits, as well as comprehensive security. In addition, the architects A49 and GFAB Architects have put a great deal of thought into design.

“For instance, doorways are wide enough for easy wheelchair access, there are no lips in the apartment floors, there are bench seats in the shower areas with soap recesses both at sitting and standing levels. Elevator panels are horizontal rather than vertical, and around the estate there are ramps wherever there are steps. We’ve taken care of little details like that,” Delaney notes.

The Heights Bangsaray

The Heights Bangsaray

For the kids out there — in their 30s or 40s — The Heights also provides a strategic investment opportunity, both for now and in the future. “The Sunplay Club has a concierge service similar to a five-star hotel. Owners can send an email to the concierge and ask for a limo to pick them up at the airport, stock the fridge with their favourite foods, or prepare fresh arrangements,” explains Delaney. The concierge will also handle rentals. “If you buy for investment the concierge will handle rentals and resales. It’s not compulsory of course, but it’s there if required. I expect that in a few years we’ll have a waiting list of buyers and rentals.” Also critical is relative value; a comparable property in Bangkok runs three times the price. “There is a limit to how far prices can and will rise in Bangkok,” warns Delaney, citing London as an example. “No one buys there today expecting 30% in capital gains within a couple of years. Bangsaray is situated in the newly designated EEC, which is a very important hub in Thailand’s long-term development plan.”

The Heights Bangsaray

The Heights Bangsaray

Developers worldwide are looking at ways to serve a growing demographic, be it in the upscale or mass market, and retirement properties are probably the wave of the future. As Delaney finishes, “We’re not just building a project. We’re pioneering a new industry for Thailand.”

Other new developments in Thailand:
>> Best of Bali
>> Four Seasons Private Residences Chao Phraya River

The Heights Bangsaray’s 70 condominium units and 50 pool villas comprise of one- to three-bedroom apartments, and two- and three-bedroom pool villas beginning at 968 square feet. Condominium prices start at approximately THB10 million (HK$2.4 million), and villas at US$2 million. The Heights Bangsaray is set for completion in late 2018.

The Heights Bangsaray

The Heights Bangsaray

The Heights Bangsaray

>> Previous issue: A look into Residence G in Shenzhen

>> Next issue: Developer Ballymore regenerates London's City Island