By Diana Hubbell
Travellers have long looked towards Asia – with its shimmering azure waters and near-limitless selection of palm-fringed white-sand beaches – in their search for paradise.
Intrepid hippies put the area on the map as a tourist destination in the 1960s. The intervening years, meanwhile, have seen rustic bamboo beach shacks edged out by a growing phalanx of upscale hotels and resorts.
Indeed, these days it is just as likely to be high-powered investors making for the region’s resort destinations as singlet-wearing backpackers and other holidaymakers.
Countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines, can ably cater to the most demanding of buyers, with sumptuous properties ranging from secluded island hideaways to palatial residences with easy access to first-class restaurants and highly developed transport infrastructure.
Investors who are as keen on powder snow as granules of sand are equally well catered for. Japan has come into its own as a winter-sports destination, with the legendarily consistent supply of fresh snow in the northern island of Hokkaido matched by an ever-expanding portfolio of après-ski options.
For those searching for a home away from home in regional hubs, meanwhile, urban hotel residences are on the rise. In fact, the growing number of metropolitan options has been one of the key trends in the resort residence market over the past couple of years.
The upcoming Four Seasons Private Residences on the banks of the Chao Phraya river is one of the most highly anticipated developments in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, while the Residences at Mandarin Oriental have proved popular for their dead-central locales in Asian cities such as Taipei and Macau.
It is little wonder that demand has spiked across Asia as investors seek to capitalise on their potential for both personal and financial gain
Another interesting progression has been the emergence of China as a real player in the resort residences sector. The southern island of Hainan has long been touted as the nation’s luxury playground and the new Sanya EDITION is as opulent as you might expect, while other options in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are as appealing as anything on the country’s coastline.
With this allure in mind, it is little wonder that demand has spiked across Asia as investors seek to capitalise on their potential for both personal and financial gain.
The benefits of resort property ownership are aplenty. Unlike with a condominium or an independent villa, the tedious logistics can easily be delegated to either the resort itself or a third-party management company – a boon for investors with limited time on their hands. Upon arrival, residents are treated to the same warm welcome and high-end amenities as a resort guest, with the bonus of additional privacy and familiarity. Though many residences come equipped with state-of-the-art kitchen facilities, it never hurts to have myriad dining options nearby, not to mention other perks such as state-of-the-art fitness centres and spas.
Many of the more extravagant villas also cater to extended families. For instance, at Andara Resort & Villas in Phuket, the privately owned six-bedroom Villa 3A features an in-house bar, spa room, and billiards area for adults, as well a private cinema and games for kids.
As appealing as a private bolt-hole may be, most investors getting in on the action are doing with the hope of netting a considerable profit. Luxury resorts tend to boast in-demand locations to match their stature. In the case of Villa 3A at Andara Resort & Villas, the property’s advantageous perch on a cliff overlooking Kamala Beach means it is unlikely to decrease in value. Similarly, the privately-owned Mansions, lavish two to five-bedroom residences at the Bulgari Resort Bali, sport a private funicular leading from the vertiginous bluffs of Uluwatu directly down to the Indian Ocean.
Property values may rise and fall, but internationally recognised hospitality labels have a cachet that transcends the whims of a volatile market and adds value even to remote locales
The initial investment may have been staggering, but these assets represent a stable, long-term investment due to their limited availability and prestigious names. In fact, hospitality titans such as Ritz-Carlton have begun marketing über-luxe residences that are independent of any resort, but still hope to take advantage of the brand’s respected reputation for exemplary service, design and décor.
Property values may rise and fall, but internationally recognised hospitality labels have a cachet that transcends the whims of a volatile market and adds value even to remote locales. Ultimately, resort residences offer the utmost in comfort and a high level of security of return on investment. Of the many options around the region, here are some of the finest.
With private residences available in 20 countries around the globe, Aman Resorts has long been a leader in the market. Self-professed “Aman-junkies” possess a cult-like loyalty that most hospitality brands could only dream of, and the Aman Residences come with a host of benefits, including a private chef, housekeeper, and access to all resort facilities and babysitting and concierge services. While the villas at Amanoi in Vietnam may be stunning, the Amanpuri Villas at the brand’s flagship property in Phuket offer access to Pansea Beach, a private beach with a coral reef just offshore. These properties seldom hardly ever come up for resale, but Villa 5, a 3,464-square-metre four-bedroom with a 21-metre infinity pool overlooking the Andaman Ocean, is currently up for grabs.
2. Six Senses Con Dao
Even as the popular beaches across the region have grown increasingly overrun, the Con Dao archipelago in southern Vietnam has remained almost supernaturally serene. Only 6,000-odd inhabitants eke out a living across this 15-island chain, leaving visitors free to survey unspoiled coral reefs and bays in near solitude. The residential villas at the Six Senses Con Dao epitomise barefoot luxury and range in size from 540-square-metre three-bedrooms to sprawling four-bedrooms situated on a 2,000-square-metre plot surrounded by manicured foliage. Most impressive of all, The Hill Retreat Villa has its own wine cellar, entertainment room, two swimming pools, and five bedrooms.
3. Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
When it comes to service, few names in hospitality can match the weight of Four Seasons. The brand’s famous attention to detail extends to any guests renting these two- to four-bedroom residences. The Family Residence comes loaded with board games and an LCD flat-screen TV, while the Spa Residence has its own treatment room for those seeking R&R in complete privacy. Most impressive of all is the four-bedroom Owner’s Residence designed by starchitect Bill Bensley and outfitted with a four-metre swimming pool with outdoor Jacuzzi and a wine room. Rare Thai artefacts and artworks adorn the walls and the living room has a view of the resort’s waterfall. A private chef, butler, and army of expert housekeeping staff are on-hand whenever the owner or a renter chooses to visit.
4. Niseko Annupuri Residences
The mountains of Hokkaido offer unbeatable conditions for winter sports. When the snow melts and the après-ski revellers depart in summer, Niseko offers abundant trekking options, as well as a steadily growing culinary scene that takes advantage of the region’s pristine seafood and produce. Small wonder, then, that these 19 ski-in residences housed on plots of up to 2,700 square metres are in such high demand. These modern chalets ensconced by birch and pine forest blend contemporary design touches with classic alpine style.
5. The Peninsula Shanghai
Nestled among the historic baroque facades of the Bund lie the first Peninsula Residences, 36 Art Deco apartments with decorative touches by French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. With hand-tufted wool carpets, ebony and mahogany furnishings, private elevators, LED televisions, and an exceptionally curated collection of original works of art in each three- and four-bedroom residence, these posh pads make a serious statement. As if that weren’t enough, owners can hop over to The Peninsula Residences Club House for a splash in the 15-metre pool or a workout at the fitness centre. To further gild the lily The Peninsula Shanghai itself features half a dozen restaurants and lounges, a world-class spa, and superlative extras like a fleet of BMW 7-series limousines and Rolls-Royce Phantoms for cruising around town.
6. The Sanya EDITION
For its Asia-Pacific debut, this slick hotel pulled out all the stops with features like a cerulean artificial sea pumped with 37,854 litres of purified saltwater each day where guests can go kayaking, paddle boarding, or cruising while sipping Champagne. Ownership of one of the 37 private residential villas entitles you to access to everything from a kids’ area stocked with bumper cars and a rideable train, to discounts on in-house eateries serving everything from Asian-fusion tapas to Cantonese classics to Balinese beachside barbecue. The Jing Villas, which range in size from 530 square metres to 813 square metres, all come with ocean views and spacious gardens. Though the asking price of CNY28 million (USD4.6m) to CNY110 million (USD15.9m) might deter some, an in-demand location right on Haitang Bay ensures that these are likely to appreciate quickly.
7. Alila Dalit Bay Sabah
For nature-lovers, it’s hard to top the location of these 74 private villas in Malaysian Borneo on a lush five-hectare plot overlooking the Mengkabong River. Beyond the gardens lies one of the most biodiverse rainforests on the planet, while Mount Kinabalu, the region’s mightiest peak, is a scenic hour-and-a-half drive from the resort. Though the project will not be completed until the first quarter of 2018, viewings are already available and many of these are likely to be snapped up by then. Local woods, tribal items, and woven rattan add to the rustic chic vibe in these one- and two-bedroom villas, which start at around USD1 million.
This article originally appeared on Property Report.