VIP Interview

by Seanai C.


Possible main sub head

Changes are afoot on a small island in the middle of the glorious Phang Nga Bay in southern Thailand. Koh Yao Noi has, until recently, been relatively unnoticed except by a few lucky travellers who happened to stumble upon it and experience the ambiance of the locals, the wonderfully unspoiled beaches and the beauty of being able to drive home with precious little traffic. The island is now changing and, thanks to a handful of ambitious but environmentally-conscious developers… it’s just the start of what looks set to be one of the most desirable locations in the region.

A Man With a Passion for Views

What do you imagine would happen if you spun together some land on an ‘undiscovered’ island; two highly knowledgeable social anthropologists; a chance meeting with a man who collects views and a sprinkling of magic from a friendly ghost?

Even in his wildest dreams, Markus A. Frey, Swiss banker and entrepreneur had not anticipated what would materialize from this rather unusual hotch potch.

What eventually grew from this little pot of gold was to put the ‘undiscovered’ island on the map forever – starting with the birth of a unique resort and moving on to offering foreign investors the chance to have a slice of the pie by purchasing homes here. The establishment of Koyao Island Resort was to fashion a special sanctuary within the same landscape that existed when a traveling Frenchman bought the land years before.

Around 26 years ago, social anthropologist and acting Consul for France, Jean Boulbe bought the land where Koyao Island Resort now stands. He kept it as it was, visiting for picnics on occasions, until four or five years ago when his health was failing and he decided he ought to sell.

At around the same time the young, Peter Pan loving banker, Markus A. Frey, happened to be at a party at the French Consulate in Bangkok and, over a glass of Chardonnay had reason to strike up conversation with Mr Boulbe. Frey was immediately taken by Boulbe’s adventurous character and his extensive knowledge of South East Asia and quickly found himself revealing one of his passions in life. "The most perfect view…" he told Boulbe, "While other people collect classic cars or stamps, my hobby is collecting views."

Boulbe offered to take Frey to Yao Noi Island the very next day and the dream began. Frey was overwhelmed by the charm and beauty of Boulbe’s land, the views out to the smaller islands in the bay bowled him over and he bought on the spot. Part of the deal however was that Frey honour an old man’s wishes and take on Boulbe’s student, Georges Cortez, to oversee any development on the land.

Cortez studied Vietnamese, Laotian and Thai tribes and culture with Boulbe and had, at this stage, vast knowledge of the flora and fauna of the region. He also just happened to be an architect – just the combination both Frey and Boulbe were hoping for.

The three men (with the help of a ghost don’t forget) have since fulfilled their dreams and, at the same time, have given others the chance to share in the magic. A heavy dose of love (and of course, a little investment) was involved in the creation of Koyao Island Resort and it shows in every inch of its lush greenery and classically simple style.

The resort was the prototype for what has now metamorphosised into a growing property development team and a small scale house building operation that is not only providing a selection of well-heeled Europeans with stunning holiday homes but that is also giving kudos to the island and creating jobs for residents.

Frey, always keen to adhere to Boulbe’s wishes, has ensured that the Frenchman’s insistent environmentally-friendly approach prevails in all his developments. He initially took his advice from Cortez who knows Boulbe well and understands the island and the surrounding region better than most foreigners here. Cortez, using his knowledge of Asian lifestyle and ancient architectural techniques, created in Koyao Island Resort a blueprint for what is going to become Koyao style.

While Cortez is now off setting up new projects (see related article), Frey has teamed up with Swiss born partner Jean-Michel Germing and is developing an unusual niche in the fledgling property market on Koh Yao Noi. The ambitious pair have just taken on the mammoth task of a Six Senses managed Evason Hideaway Resort and Spa right next to their current resort and have their first resident living in a property that was designed using Cortez’ original ideas and a combination of the client’s own. (See related articles for more information.)

Frey, who is CEO at Bank Frey, Zurich, applies the same philosophies to his development work on Koh Yao Noi as he does in his banking life. "You can’t have success with secrets. Where we win is our comprehensive, long-term approach to asset management," he said. Indeed this shows through in his Koh Yao Property development (KPD) projects where the customer comes first and all legal, taxation and home management issues are taken care of ‘in house’.

N.B. The ‘friendly ghost’ is still taking care of the land
at Koh Yao Island resort.

Mr.Georges Cortez

This month features
 Thailand and Asia
 phuket travel info
Phuket Travel and Tours
  Tropical Living Magazine
  Koh Samui
  Recommend this site

Last Minute Hotels


 Benjarong Magazine - October 2005, Volume 8 Issue 10


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