MR. MARKUS A.FREY
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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
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
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
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
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.