Sea view, two little words, one powerful phrase
Two words: sea view. These two words, two syllables have a great
deal of power. The addition of the words ‘sea view’ to a residential
development’s list of assets enables that developer to tag a premium
to its sale price. These two words imply that returns on rental
properties will be greater; everyone enjoys a holiday at the beach.
The promise of a sea view instills feelings of relaxation, of intimate
occasions or of grand, glamorous parties. Yes, these two little
words have much clout.
Flip through any glossy Thailand property magazine and you’ll find
that as many as 70% of the advertisements for residential developments
around the island, promise a ‘sea view’ as part of the package,
but what exactly is a sea view? How can a villa with direct ocean
frontage be compared with a villa that has but a shrouded strip
of blue horizon to view?
Buying Phuket property is an investment into a lifestyle. Nowhere
else in Thailand, perhaps nowhere in Asia, offers the affordability,
accessibility and liveablility that the Phuket package does. The
buyer market is dominated by Hong Kong buyers, typically Western
executives who can easily take the short flight over every weekend
to enjoy Phuket’s offerings. Expatriates in other Asian capitals
like Beijing and Singapore are also attracted to the island lifestyle
and increasing numbers of Europeans. In 2004 Europeans were the
third largest buyer group with a 10% market share.
Within this hungry market, demand for sea view property is fierce,
Ms. Charlotte Filleul, Phuket Sales Manager for CB Richard Ellis
said, "most people want a sea view property more than anything
Mr. Steven O’Brien, Managing Director of Knight Frank Phuket qualified,
"Sea views are the number one reason why tourists holiday in
Phuket and why investors buy. The better the sea view, the more
appealing it is to buyers. There is a great demand for apartments
with sea views at the moment in Phuket and in meeting this demand,
developers could well charge upwards of THB 75,000 per sq.m."
Most Phuket agents quote that sea view properties along the west
coast can range between THB 60,000 – 85, 000 /sq.m. The east coast
is still approximately 25% cheaper than the west coast but popular
opinion suggests it won’t be long before these prices rise.
Mr. Bob Andrews of Phuket LandSearch Ltd. suggested that currently
the premiums attached to properties with direct water frontage could
be as much as 200%. "Certainly for a property directly on the
water the premium is massive. Set back, up a hill but with good
sea views, and sunsets, the premium is quite large; around 100%.
The thin strip on the horizon will get a premium but only small,
Ms. Tara Sudlow of Phuket Realty explained that, "the average
price per sq.m. of a seaward property is difficult to define, since
it depends a lot on the quality of the specifications, the kind
of build (i.e. flat land or hillside – hillside being a more expensive
build), the location of the land; NW, W & SW all vary in price
and specific pockets of land can be more or less expensive than
others. The East coast pricing is similar."
In 2003 the Phuket Treasury office reported an island-wide increase
of 65% in government-appraised land values. The momentum gathered
by the market saw prices rise even higher toward the end of 2004.
Since the tsunami, land prices have stabilized, but as Ms. Filleul
pointed out, "sea view property is a finite commodity, and
in the future we’ll see a premium put upon resale values."
Mr. Andrews agreed, "Building permits near the water are going
to become harder to obtain. Prices have risen dramatically over
the last few years and show no signs of slowing down. It is still
cheap compared to centres like Hong Kong and Singapore but more
expensive than other Asian countries, which lack the political stability
and infrastructure of Phuket. There will be resistance at the US$1million
per rai (1600sq.m.) mark for a while, so we have at least another
50% increase on average before we get there."
The sea-view market is dominated by the island’s west coast. Most
high-end developments are located within Phuket’s "Millionaire’s
Mile"; a stretch running along the north-western coastline
from Patong up to the airport. This area of the island is extremely
convenient for the dominant buyer group, because of its proximity
to the airport as well as the island’s leisure and entertainment
sites. The west coast’s grandest natural features are the long stretches
of soft sandy beaches, dramatic headlands and the famous Phuket
As land in this stretch becomes more densely populated many developers
are turning to the east coast. Chunks of prime real estate still
remain, but there are already over five high-end estates being built
and more have been slated for development over the next few years.
The east coast is home to the island’s four marinas and rumour has
it that there may be as many as four additional marinas built along
this coast over the next few years. The protected waters of Phang-Nga
Bay provide smooth sailing year round and the hundreds of tiny islands
dotting the bay display a completely different sea view than westward
While the east coast is quiet and peaceful, the west coast is home
to approximately 90% of the island’s hotels, resorts, restaurants,
bars, shopping and entertainment venues and if we are to compare
the coasts we must ask: "Why has the east coast been left alone
for so long?"
The east coast topography is quite different to the west; there
are only a few pockets of beach, the ground is softer and the slopes
are steeper thus rendering construction a difficult and costly task,
but the technology is there; many west coast developments are built
on steep rocky headlands. What it really comes down to is what the
buyers want. Phuket is a lifestyle market and what better display
of tropical lifestyle is there, than to have a luxurious private
villa just metres away from a white sandy swimming beach?
Mr. Andrews compared the coasts, "The east coast is great
if you are a sailor but for the white sand, clear waters during
the high season and sunsets it has to be the west coast."
Ms. Sudlow who describes the east coast as "nearly developed"
believes, "It is more peaceful and visually attractive with
lovely views over Phang-Nga and the islands. The area is more tidal;
there are mangroves and mud, however there are also some nice pockets
of sandy beaches as well."
Ms. Filleul is also rooting for the east coast, "The east
coast looks onto Phang-Nga bay which is beautiful and personally,
I think this is more interesting than the west coast view because
the bay is dotted with so many little islands and there are boats
sailing through all the time. The east coast sea view plots are
already being bought and developed. I think many of the east coast
developments actually represent much better value than some west
coast properties. Many developers have already built on the west
coast and have now moved east, bringing their experience with them.
This means they have a better idea of which contractors to use,
what the best building materials are, best designs etc. In this
way developments on the east coast offer more than the west coast
Mr. Andrews agreed, "There is more value on the east coast
but infrastructure is weaker. It will boom over there for sure;
it has started already. At the moment the east coast is cheaper,
but I think there will always be a margin for the west coast even
though this margin will narrow, for sure."
Trends in Phuket design make use of natural materials for their
aesthetic appeal and exotic accents. However with some of these
natural materials used on a seaside property, come hefty maintenance
as Mr. Andrews demonstrated, "it is very popular to build using
a lot of wood but if you do so then high maintenance does become
Some other problems associated with seaside property as Ms. Filleul
suggested, can be the steep land, which means properties almost
always need a lot of steps, and the lack of control of the areas
surrounding the property. "Unless you have direct ocean frontage,
there is always the possibility that something else could be built
to block your view."
When asked to suggest some of the better west coast developments
with true sea views, the professionals cited in this article all
proposed Trisara, as a good example. Topping the bill for west coast
development, Trisara presents palatial residential homes adjacent
to its luxury boutique hotel. Each villa is built to the highest
specifications and offer between two and five bedrooms, separate
pavilions for dining, living and food preparation, built around
large 20m swimming pools. Situated on the headland between Nai Thon
and Bang Tao beaches, all villas have either direct ocean front
plots or are set high, in pockets of tropical forest overlooking
the sea. The resort offers residents and tenants a restaurant, bar
and private dining facilities, library, spa and salon, gym, tennis,
beach access and a swimming pool.
Villa Santi is located on the hillside of Santi Bay, 2km north
of Patong Beach. The project land area covers 28,000sq.m (seven
acres) and features sloping hills facing Patong Bay and the ocean
beyond. A thin strip of road lies between Villa Santi and Kalim
Beach, a rocky but picturesque swimming beach. The resort village
consists of 20 spa villas, 21 apartment suites and six superior
residences all on elevated terraces, all enjoying total privacy
and uninterrupted sea views.
Villa Santi is a real estate project which focuses seriously on
creating rental returns for the villa and apartment owners. With
22 years background in boutique resort management, Villa Santi’s
operations are able to manage the resort community to compete with
5 star hotels to offer travellers an experience beyond traditional
hotels. Estate facilities include a common 25 metre swimming pool,
reception, pool bar, global cuisine and a great selection of old
and new world wines, fitness centre, squash and tennis courts and
covered car park. Mr. O’Brien commented that, "the Villa Santi
development represents very good value for money and all the units
have sea views. Villa Santi offers a wonderful fully integrated
resort plan. All the facilities you could need are on site, so there
is no need to go out for anything. In terms of ROI through holiday
rentals, this is very appealing." Villa Santi owners can expect
returns of 9% per annum when joining the rental program offered
by the professional management of the resort.
The spa villa floor plans feature connecting pavilions in private
courtyard settings, with outdoor gardens and plunge pools facing
the ocean. The central living area, the bedrooms that flank its
sides and the master suite are all positioned to capitalize on the
Apartment suites are built with two or three bedrooms. The 178sq.m.
2-bedroom units are split level and just 50 meters from the ocean.
Three-bedroom units have between 206sq.m. and 215sq.m. with infinity-edged
pools merging seamlessly into the Andaman.
Being the most prestigious homes on the project, the Residences
feature 570sq.m. of inside and outdoor living space on two levels.
The design includes spacious living areas, separate dining room
and kitchen, two master bedrooms, two guest bedrooms, a family terrace,
a maid and laundry room, a 36sq.m infinity-edge swimming pool on
a large deck and a private garage. Floor plans demonstrate that
the designer tried to capture the sea view from most areas of the
Mr. Anthony James, Chairman of the Plantation, a collection of
apartments, duplexes and several stand-alone villas in Kamala, believes
the keen interest in the Plantation has been predominately "generated
from the location. This is paramount in the Plantation’s success.
Quality development should only ever be developed on a quality site."
Among other influencing factors like credibility and design quality,
the site of the Plantation has been key to its success. From the
elevation of approximately 40m the view spans 180° from the
Laem Son headland across to the Amanpuri headland with the glistening
Andaman Sea taking centre stage. The Plantation cascades down some
44 rai with a maximum elevation of 80m. The upper half of the site
is devoted to stand-alone villas while the apartments and duplexes
occupy the lower areas. The views from any elevation are magnificent.
A narrow road separates the Plantation from the sea, but the site’s
steep gradient makes each property feel even closer to it. This
topography posed some challenges not only in terms of structural
engineering but also in access. The developers devised some ingenious
solutions for example the inclusion of an ‘inclinator’ which is
a lift that runs on a 45° angle to bus residents effortlessly
from the beach access right to their doors. The driveway up the
hillside incorporates a fly-over ramp allowing vehicular access
to conventional cars.
The apartments have 225sq.m with spaces assigned to 2 bedrooms,
a study, kitchen, dining and living rooms. The internal areas while
not being terribly spacious are functional and aesthetic. Approximately
50sqm is devoted to the outdoor space on the terrace and a transitional
indoor-outdoor area links this to the dining and living spaces.
The absence of internal doorways in the design enables the view
to penetrate almost every room of these luxurious apartments.
The fact that the Plantation is being built by Pacvest, the group
responsible for two of Bangkok’s most prestigious addresses, Somkid
Gardens and the Saladaeng Colonnade, also attracts investors. The
resounding success of these projects has left the company with a
staunch reputation in a high-end niche.
The Plantation offers a true sea views, luxurious yet utilitarian
designs and a development company with considerable experience and
reputation. The mixture of these elements promises investment return
rates of up to 11.5% within only five years if buyers choose to
utilize the rental management options.
When asked to suggest some of the east coast developments with
sea views and great potential, the professionals cited in this article
all proposed Cape Yamu, as a good example. This property boasts
a unique sea view. Nestled along the shores of a private gated peninsula,
Cape Yamu is Phuket’s newest ocean front resort community. The peninsula
stretches a kilometre out into ocean on Phuket’s east coast commanding
views on both sides. On the north sit the Phang-Nga Bay Islands
in the background with Naka Noi, Naka Yai and Raet Islands in the
foreground. The eastward outlook is of Yao Noi, Yao Yai and Phi
Phi Islands with the Krabi hills in the background. The view south
looks out to Rang Noi, Rang Yai and Maphrao Island as well as the
entire Sapham Bay with the hills of Phuket Island in the background.
Initially, 38 luxury villas are being offered. A five star boutique
hotel with spa and other resort facilities will also be built together
with additional hotel villas and luxury cabanas. Collaboration between
world famous designer, Philippe Starck and international architect
Jean Michel Gathy of Aman resort fame, has created villa designs
that "retain the elements of Thai traditional architecture
yet offer fresh and inspiring spatial and visual approaches to ocean
Large estates, averaging two rai each, are being established and
almost every property is oceanfront, nestled along 3 kilometres
of beaches and bluffs. Cape Yamu presents villas of various sizes
and layouts all with private swimming pools. Community facilities
will include secure, landscaped entry with guard house and gate,
spa, international restaurants, tennis facilities and children’s’
playground with common swimming pool, reception/management offices
and a small grocery market. Management of the villas, for upkeep,
housekeeping, amenity services and rental program will be exacted
by the hotel. The five star hotel will be small, under 75 rooms,
located on one of Cape Yamu’s hill tops with commanding 360 degree
views of the Phuket sea.
Sri Panwa is located on Cape Panwa, and presents 2 bedroom Pool
Villas and 3 to 5 bedroom Residence villas created in the pavilion
design, interconnected by spacious terraces and pool decks. All
pavilions face the sea with some enjoying ocean views on both sides,
and all include private verandas and spa-sized bathrooms and large
infinity pools. Villas on the upper ridge offer 360° panoramic
ocean views. Plot sizes range from 250 – 365 sq.m. for the 2 bedroom
Pool Villas, to 800 – 2,000 sq.m. for the 3 to 5 bedroom Residence
Developer Songkran Issara is a 30- year veteran of the real estate
business and Managing Director of Charn Issara Development PCL.
He was taken with Cape Panwa from his first visit. The lush greenery
and the mountainous slopes, offered wonderful vistas of the sea
and rocky islands in the horizon, and he claims this inspired him
to realize a life-long dream.
Ms. Filleul said, "Sri Panwa is a good development under Thai
management. It was the first high-end project on the east coast.
They have already sold all the units in Phase One."
Each villa will be custom-built to preserve the rich natural terrain
thus floor plans have had to adhere to natural contours and landscapes,
but the sea view is commanding in almost all living spaces. Villas
designs are tropical contemporary employing abundant use of natural
The Bel Air Panwa project, also located on Cape Panwa, is a Thai-Australian
joint venture of Mystasia Company Ltd and Perth-based Watson Property
Group. The project presents 82 two- and three-bedroom apartments
with freehold title. The apartments are of varying size from 106
to 212 sq.m, with the latter being three-bedroom penthouses. Set
in a gated compound, the development’s common areas include two
large swimming pools, a fitness centre, reception area, Jacuzzi,
sauna and games room plus a mini-mart.
Mr. O’Brien reviewed the Bel Air Panwa costs, "On average,
the three-bedroom apartments [139 sq m] with a view of the sea are
approximately THB 53,700/sq.m., with smaller apartments offering
an entry point at 49,400 baht," he said.
He added that what makes the project unique is the fact that financing
is available from Kasikornbank. "This is a huge drawing card
for foreign buyers as obtaining a mortgage in Thailand for a foreigner
is difficult, indeed impossible. However, in some cases, KBANK has
extended financing up to 60% of a condominium’s value."
Dr Johan Marckx, Director of Mystasia, said extensive research
was undertaken prior to the development and master plan being finalized.
"The outcome of that research in essence was that there was
a lack of affordable apartments with sea views anywhere to be found
in Thailand and yet demand continues to be robust."
Ranging in price from THB 3.9 – 12.5 million Bel Air Panwa apartments
offer a more affordable east coast sea view.
While all the developments outlined above offer great variation
in views, architecture, interior design, types of units and price,
they all have these things in common: each is located within 100m
of the sea and each fully capitalizes on the sea view by allowing
it penetrate as much of the property as possible.
Is this it? Could that be the true definition of a ‘sea view property’:
one where the sea can be seen from most areas of the property? Mr.
Andrews stated that, "as far as we are concerned a sea view
has to be something that can be seen from the main living area of
the property. Secondly it would be defined as "distant"
or "great" depending on how close to the sea it actually
is. In my opinion a true sea view is a property which is located
within 400 metres form the sea itself. Once you start to go much
further back it tends, not in all cases to be fair, to be a thin
strip on the horizon."
Ms. Sudlow defines a sea view as, "any property that has clear
views of the sea from the ground or living area. Otherwise the definition
should be sub-categorized to clearly define its meaning, i.e. partial
sea views, absolute sea views, undisturbed sea views, waterfront
The idea of sub-categorizing would surely make it easier for buyers
to identify true sea view property in the future but this would
render some developers and their advertisements without the wow-factor
that the simple use of ‘sea view’ provides.
Ms. Filleul, advises developers to remain open and honest about
the extent of the sea view. She says, "There is no point in
fabricating anything because the clients will eventually go and
see the site for themselves anyway.
Sea view: two little words, one powerful phrase.