Following nearly a decade of unbroken expansion, Asia’s real estate markets are in for choppier waters. U.S.-China tensions, rising interest rates, expensive debt financing — the region has its fair share of challenges. Nevertheless, market fundamentals in 2019 remain solid: high-level acquisitions continue — backed by massive reserves of institutional capital — and, despite volatility, experts are predicting investment in the region will rise to US$108 billion. For now it seems, the cycle continues. To help you get the most out of it, we’ve curated a mixture of 10 ultra-luxe homes — both condo-style and freestanding. Located in mature and emerging Asian markets, these will make a welcome addition to any private portfolio (or at the very least, a stunning holiday home). Read on below.
YOO8 Residences, Kuala Lumpur
Located in the heart of the KL city centre, YOO8 sets a bold new benchmark for premium living in Southeast Asia. The apartments, designed by British interiors guru Kelly Hoppen and ranging in size between 705-1,328 sq ft, are part of the ambitious mixed-use development at 8 Conlay — local developer KSK’s answer to world-class dining, residences, and retail all rolled into one.
Martin Modern, Singapore
Situated within earshot of the Singapore CBD, and 5 minutes walking distance from the Great World MRT line, it’s all ‘location location’ at Martin Modern — the newest addition to GuocoLand’s coterie of luxury residences. In the best tradition of Singaporean condos, the development makes ample use of the native landscape: residents have access to 15 different green spaces (e.g. forest trails, rain gardens, mazes), whilst 80 percent of the site has been intentionally earmarked for arboreal use.
28 Barker Road, Hong Kong
Located amidst the billionaire enclave of Barker Road, this 4-bedroom property — much like neighbouring addresses on the Peak — boasts uninterrupted views of Victoria Harbour. It’s part of an exclusive 7-house development, with all residents sharing a private clubhouse and indoor swimming pool. Each house features a private lift and includes two covered carports.
ARNA Ekamai, Bangkok
Located at the intersection of Thong Lo, Ekamai and the upscale Emporium mall, ARNA is a relatively serene development consisting of 11 private residences. Homes are available in three configurations: all of which feature a 4-car garage, and a bare minimum of 3,710 sq ft interior space. Additionally, the development’s location (off of 65 Sukhumvit Road) gives residents unprecedented access to some of the best transport infrastructure in the capital.
Damansara Hilltop, Kuala Lumpur
Located in the Damansara township straddling the border of Petaling Jaya, this lofty 5-bedroom listing is an ideal base of operations for families — not to mention throngs of errant bachelors — but is still within driving distance of Malaysia’s capital. No expense was spared in the entertainment department, with the property boasting an infinity pool, gym, and purpose-built home cinema.
Siyut Villa, Bali
Quiet beachfront villas are something of a rarity in Bali nowadays yet this five-bedroom listing — at the centre of a sprawling 2.23 hectare estate — is a potent reminder of why holidaymakers fell in love with the province in the first place. A stone’s throw from the southeastern town of Sanur, this listing meshes airy modernist architecture with Balinese interiors à la Bill Bensley. Not to be missed: the jaw dropping pool-slash-courtyard.
Le Nouvel Ardmore, Singapore
WingTai’s latest luxe abode — overseen by Pritzker Prize winning architect Jean Nouvel — is set within the heart of Ardmore Park, boasting all of the bells & whistles one would normally associate with Singapore’s new wave of premiere condos. There’s a clubhouse, concierge service, even a full-size tennis court, but it’s the building’s facade — clad in a mesmerising grid of luminescent material — that proves the most striking.
15 Northcliffe Terrace, Gold Coast
Gilt with pristine ocean views as far as the eye can see, this 3-bedroom condo — at a covetable address in the heart of sunny Surfers Paradise — mixes Antipodean cool with the very best in modern living. The property is accessed via dedicated key-coded lift, and opens out onto a verdant living space which doubles as a jewel box of natural light.Finishes make ample use of premium timber and Carrara marble, whereas all kitchen appliances come courtesy of Gaggenau.
Majes Tower, Tokyo
Within earshot of retail/dining hotspots such as Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills, Majes Tower is a fantastic option for residents who wish to explore Tokyo’s more cosmopolitan side. While the average floor plan here veers toward cosiness, Majes Tower’s location more than makes up for this — yielding excellent views (particularly at nighttime) of surrounding Minato-ku.
One Riverside, Taipei
Residents at this high-end development, pitched across the water from New Taipei City, enjoy panoramic vistas of the Taiwanese capital’s many landmarks. Taipei 101 and the Keelung River are all within sight, and for those who prefer exercising outdoors a 204-hectare public park — popular with Taipei locals — is within walkable distance. Residents also enjoy proximity to some of the city’s ‘it’ destinations, including Miramar Commercial Circle and The Mandarin Oriental.
On the tail of a construction boom lasting the best part of two decades, Bangkok now suffers from a glut of condominiums, with Bloomberg reporting in May that some 65,000 new apartments were added to the Thai capital last year alone, an 11 percent increase on 2017.
Although it’s been claimed that there are now as many as 450,000 residences sitting unsold across the sun-drenched “Land of Smiles”, and snapshots of more-ordinary properties are yellowing sadly in real-estate agency windows from Hat Yai to Chiang Rai, one sector of the market remains in fine fettle, mainly through demands of the domestic market, but also supported by a steady influx of foreign capital.
That sector is luxury.
“The luxury end is pretty resilient, though the mid and lower end of the market has fallen off, certainly compared to last year,” says Tim Skevington, managing director at Richmont’s Luxury Real Estate, which represents Christie’s International Real Estate in Bangkok.
Skevington is speaking in early August, from an exclusive gathering to celebrate the grand opening of Banyan Tree Residences Riverside Bangkok, a luxurious freehold condominium tower comprising 133 luxurious units over 45 floors, all overlooking the Chao Phraya River. A large turnout is expected.
“Particularly Thai people but also potential buyers from overseas,” says Skevington, who has more than 15 years experience in Bangkok’s high-end residential market. “That’s an indication of where we are. There’s still a lot of interest in the higher end in Bangkok.”
Thailand’s economy has wobbled in 2019, and tightened borrowing rules kicked in earlier this year. The result is what Bloomberg has dubbed “tepid” demand across the Bangkok property market as a whole (with developers reporting an overall new-project take-up rate of just 55 percent). The steamy City of Angels, however, is still one of the most attractivedestinations on the planet for high-end homes.
There are multiple reasons for this, says Apichart Chutrakul, CEO of leading full-service real-estate developer Sansiri PCL, which is behind some of Thailand’s most sought-after addresses. They range from high build quality and the creative input of megastar designers to a plethora of value-added services and amenities that increasingly come as standard.
Most attractive of all, however, is the fact that gateway prices are a fraction of those in Hong Kong or Singapore.
As a rule of thumb, Skevington says luxury properties in Bangkok should be considered those with buy prices upwards of 250,000 baht per square metre (roughly HK$5,920 per square foot). “And then we have super-luxury, which would be from around 350,000 baht [about HK$8,300 per square foot],” he adds. “That’s where we and Christie’s are positioned.”
Real estate consulting firm CBRE, meanwhile, defines “premier” residences as those requiring 300,000 baht per square metre, with about two-dozen Bangkok developments fitting the top-end bill at the close of 2018.
Sansiri recorded overall sales of US$1.5 billion that year, up 25 percent from 2017, and the company is currently bullish. Its sales target for the three years from 2019 is US$5 billion. This year alone, Sansiri will launch close to 30 new projects worth US$1.5 billion. It now boasts four super-premium properties in its Sansiri Luxury Collection.
That fab four includes the company’s first branded condominium project, Khun by Yoo. With construction to be completed in November, its 27 storeys will house 148 residential units ranging from one-bedroom apartments (440-570 square feet) to ultra-luxurious penthouses (3,165-3260 square feet). Interiors described as “playful” come courtesy of legendary French design whizz Philippe Starck, and the average buy price currently hovers at about 380,000 baht per square metre (HK$9,000 per square foot).
“Top-tier buyers can achieve a high degree of design, service and personalisation at prices that are approximately four times less than Hong Kong,” Chutrakul says, singing Bangkok’s praises. “All within one of the world’s most popular and vibrant cities, and a global gateway.”
Also in Sansiri’s Luxury Collection are Regency-styled, single-house development Baan Sansiri Pattanakarn and prestigious 45-storey condo tower The Monument Thong Lo, which features bespoke trimmings by Bohemian hand-blown glass specialist Lasvit.
In 2018, the most desired of 77 units in the collection’s 98 Wireless — Sansiri’s 25-storey, beaux arts-inspired residence, with interiors by New York-based designer Anne Carson (formerly interiors guru for Ralph Lauren) — were being offered for as much as 700,000 baht per square metre (about HK$16,575 per spare foot), making it the priciest residence in the Big Mango.
While Thailand is no stranger to occasional financial turmoil, it’s frequently argued that, with tourism being a major driver of the economy, buyers here enjoy a coincidental level of protection when investing long-term in Bangkok’s more exclusive properties. While the Southeast Asian kingdom can be knocked down, its natural charms mean it always bounces back.
According to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index, Bangkok has been the world’s most visited city every year since 2015 (ahead of London and Paris). International arrivals last year hit 38 million; 41 million are expected this year. The more high-net-worth of these visitors, perhaps lured by Thailand’s intoxicating brew of gorgeous weather, convenient regional access and high-end bang for the buck, might jet home with a shiny new home in the portfolio.
Ease of condominium purchase, says Chutrakul, is another convincing factor. “In other major cities in Asia,” he argues, “it’s almost impossible to obtain freehold land in prime locations, whereas Thai property law allows foreigners to buy and own up to 49 percent of the total area of a condominium on a freehold basis.”
Skevington’s years of experience tell him that the largest percentage of foreign buyers in Bangkok luxury are from Hong Kong, with Singaporeans traditionally taking second place, only recently to be eclipsed by mainland Chinese. “Hong Kong interest has been steady for many years,” he says. “Singapore has been more up and down. Mainland Chinese are more recent buyers. The rest are mainly from Asia, but also from all across the world. But the majority are still Thai.”
Foreign purchasers account for as much as 30 percent of Sansiri’s sales, with investors from Hong Kong and mainland China making up the lion’s share (even with China’s economic slowdown and capital controls limiting cash outflows), followed by buyers from Singapore. But purchasers in Bangkok real estate are increasingly choosy and not every luxury property is a sure-fire winner.
As prime downtown land becomes ever more scarce (land prices in the city centre jumped 30 percent in 2017 alone) and the market becomes more selective, location is key. The most obvious port of call for the savvy luxury buyer is what Chutrakul calls Bangkok’s “Golden Triangle” of the Siam district, Sukhumvit Road and Lumphini Park. Home to 98 Wireless, this sprawling downtown area accommodates most of the city’s premium real estate – far too many options to list here in total.
In-demand developments include the recently completed Nimit Langsuan, a super-luxurious 53-floor landmark, just north of Lumphini, with 187 freehold residences ranging from 840 square feet to around 6,460. Nearby Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevardis a mixed-use development overlooking the racetrack of Royal Bangkok Sports Club. It houses 316 residential units in a sculpted 60-storey tower (homes at Magnolias RatchadamriBoulevard are leasehold, with 50-year terms, meaning lower buy prices than at Nimit Langsuan). The building will also house Southeast Asia’s first Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Longer-in-tooth is Marque Sukhumvit, a freehold condominium complex beside the Emporium shopping mall on Sukhumvit Road at Phrom Phong. Completed in 2017, Marque contains 149 units with 3.4 metre-high ceilings; the plushest also feature private plunge pools.
Just one stop east on Bangkok’s convenient Skytrain sits the Thong Lo neighbourhood, home to Sansiri’s The Monument Thong Lo and Khun by Yoo. Thong Lo has transformed in the past decade to become Bangkok’s most happening entertainment zone, chock-full of stylish eateries, Instagrammable bars and nightclubs, cute coffee joints and boutique hotels.
Tela Thonglor, completed last years and developed by Gaysorn Property (from the same group of companies responsible for the chic Siam shopping mall Gaysorn), is another condo complex to include on the shopping list. “Thong Lo is attractive to investor buyers looking to rent out, because there’s a lot of tenant demand in that area,” says Skevington.
Unlike many other cities internationally, Bangkok was unfathomably slow in exploiting the waterway that meanders through its heart, but that’s also changing. Three new ultra-luxury branded residences have recently debuted on the Chao Phraya’s banks: the aforementioned Banyan Tree Residences Riverside Bangkok, Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok, and The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. And keep your eyes peeled for Magnolias Waterfront Residences, which will be the city’s first residential-only super-tall tower.
Skevington says Bangkok’s riverside traditionally lacked the facilities and mass-transit convenience of more downtown locations such as Siam and Sukhumvit, but that’s no longer the case. “Just outside the Banyan Residences is the brand-new Gold Line monorail [to begin operation next year], and Iconsiam shopping complex has opened next door,” he points out. “Until quite recently, the riverside lacked these amenities and was quite difficult to get to, but all of that is changing.”
Skevington believes luxury buyers are considering what they will do with a Bangkok property, and choosing locations to suit. “Many luxury residences are bought for ‘lifestyle use’ — as a holiday home or as a pied-à-terre, or for their friends to use,” he says. “With that type of purchaser, a lot are now looking at the riverside. I’d say investors are looking at city-central locations, and lifestyle users are leaning towards riverside.”
After location, it should be noted that Bangkok in the 21st century is a mature luxury market. While the quality of facilities, fittings and finishes remains paramount to a property’s success, a state-of-the art fitness centre, pool and sauna, and the inclusion of top European brands such as Bulthaup, Franke, Dornbracht, Hansgrohe and Bang & Olufsen, no longer cut it in turning the most discerning heads or opening the fattest wallets.
As well as securing the services of A-list designers Starck, Carson, Gert Voorjans, Lorenzo Castillo, Hutton Wilkinson, Mary Fox Linton and others for the Sansiri Luxury Collection, Chutrakul says the current trend is for the finest residential properties to supply “luxury bespoke services” and “curated experiences”.
To this end, Sansiri — which will collaborate in a residential project with Tyler Brûlé’s lifestyle brand Monocle in coming years — has partnered with concierge specialist Quintessentially. This has allowed the developer, Chutrakul says, “to deliver high levels of personalisation to residents, such as securing tickets to the most exclusive sports and entertainment events, seamless hotel and travel arrangements, reservations to the most exclusive restaurants and anything you can think of that’s legal and moral”.
It feels like we’re in Bangkok, but we really aren’t. Life on the river is nestled far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet we can still sense the essence of urban living — which makes things perfect, doesn’t it?
The comfort of being able to breathe fresh air, far away from the polluted confines of a city filled with traffic congestion — these days, that is a luxury. Being distant enough from the city’s buzzing sound and chaos that often cause pain to our ears is also a luxury. In one way or another, we know that there are lots of perks to living by the river, apart from living a healthier life.
Today, we live such fast-paced lifestyles, trapped in our own bubbles, trying to race against time. It’s overwhelming. It seems like we forget to slow down for those moments in our everyday life and appreciate what we really have. We often opt for the idea of having the city’s skyline by our side, but do we really want to be surrounded by high-rise condominiums that isolate us from the outside world?
Think about waking up to a golden sunrise over the spectacular view of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river — it really soothes your soul. There’s a slither of calmness in the river that can really perk up your everyday life, one that revitalises your body and soul with positive vibes. Living by the river is a choice to live at a peaceful pace with a finer quality of life.
This is an escape from Bangkok’s notorious traffic. Thonburi is an emerging new city centre that is becoming more cosmopolitan than ever. Thonburi, straddled in the western side of the Chao Phraya River, is an oasis within the city’s main artery. Living here, you are not only privileged with an unobstructed view of the majestic riverside, but you also have all the benefits of living in a central location. From preserving its historical treasures and cultural roots, this riverside community is shaping into a suburbia of sorts — a place where you could see yourself living long term, settling down and raising a healthy family.
Bangkok’s thriving and second city centre has itself well on the map and is more connected than ever, thanks to Bangkok’s growing connectedness via public transport lines. Thonburi has a flourishing art scene and offers quick access to plenty of interesting activities such as to quaint art galleries, fascinating museums, and local markets. With its convenience of location and the Gold line extending BTS transit from Thonburi station, property investors are now shifting to Thonburi more than ever. The neighbourhood offers flourishing culinary experiences, provides easy access to the CBD, is a prime shopping location and features entertainment places like the new luxurious shopping mall ICONSIAM.
Take a stroll along the river’s edge and you will find plenty of options for enjoyable nightlife such as ThreeSixty Lounge Bar at Millennium Hilton Bangkok or 342 Rooftop Bar at Baan Wanglang. Sitting beside the best riverside luxurious hotels like The Peninsula, Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, and many others within the area, it’s no secret that Thonburi beats areas like Thonglor or Ekkamai with its thriving scene. Nothing could be better than living an urban life by the serene aesthetics of the river and its stunning views.