An in-depth special focus on Asian real estate hot spots, as well as key interviews with important industry figures and analysis
In Depth: Driven to distraction
Apr 09, 2012
By Samantha Coomber
Courses with attached luxury residences are seeing Vietnam emerge as one of Asia’s hot new golfing destinations.
Vietnam’s golfing heritage dates back to French Indochina when a golf-obsessed emperor helped inaugurate the nine-hole Dalat Palace Golf Club. Today, the location is an 18-hole championship highland course, known as one of Asia’s oldest and finest. In fact, Vietnam has emerged as a leading Asian golfing destination, recently declared ‘Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year’ by International Association of Golf Travel Operators.
Issuing golf course development guidelines in 2009, while publicly endorsing the economic and tourism- related benefits, the Vietnam government’s national master plan ‘Decision 1946’ targets 89 courses to be established by 2020. With 28 courses currently operating, this leaves a staggering 60 courses approved and/ or under construction. “Golf in Vietnam is growing at an incredible pace, aided by significant domestic and international tourism growth,” says Jon Tomlinson, general director, The Montgomerie Links. “More courses will definitely be required to cater for increased demand.”
Vietnam’s Central Coast Region (CCR) and Danang in particular, now shines as Vietnam’s top golfing location. The region is also Vietnam’s fastest growing luxury tourism and second home destination and known as the country’s most competitive economic province. Tomlinson says the growth in the golf industry has contributed enormously to CCR’s continual development, but the the area also boasts an ideal combination of highly prized coastline, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a proactive local government that supports investment in high-end facilities and hospitality. Embracing FDI and developing an advanced infrastructure, the region is now served by a new international terminal at Danang International Airport. With over 20 courses planned, Golf Coast Vietnam is one of the world’s fastest emerging golfing destinations.
Two world-class championship courses launched recently on the wild seaside landscape beside Danang’s historic China Beach rate as Vietnam’s, arguably among Asia’s finest. Designed by European Ryder Cup Captain, Colin Montgomerie, the Montgomerie Links resort style course became CCR’s first 18-hole facility and Vietnam’s first PGA Golf Academy, awarded ‘2011 Best Leisure Development in Vietnam’ at the Asia Pacific Commercial Property Awards.
Another significant addition is the rugged Dunes Course at Danang Golf Club (DGC), designed by Australian golfer, Greg Norman, which has also won numerous accolades since opening in 2010, including ‘Best New Course in the Asia Pacific’ at the Asia Pacific Golf Summit last year. “This shows our new courses are as good as anything built in Asia,” enthuses Dr. Nguyen, secretary general of the Vietnam Golf Association.
Two more courses opening in the next two years, again from prolific designers, will add further to CCR’s golf destination eminence in the region. At a former French hill station, west of Danang, Bana Hills Golf Club (BHGC) is the inaugural design for Luke Donald, maximising mountainous undulations, natural vegetation and cooling breezes. Then there’s multiple championship winner, Sir Nick Faldo’s second Vietnam course, opening Q2’12, which is part of the luxury Laguna Lang Co development, north of Danang in spectacular Lang Co Bay. Developed and managed by Banyan Tree Group, beachfront Laguna will be Vietnam’s first fully integrated resort complex and Vietnam’s largest, with 2,000 hotel keys under international branded resort operators, plus convention and recreational facilities. Integrated golf resorts are rare in Vietnam, and this 18- hole course, incorporating mountain backdrops, woodland, paddy fields and rocky outcrops, beautifully enhances the resort and vice versa.
Laguna Lang Co
Golf course development goes hand- in-hand with Vietnam’s burgeoning second home and luxury property market and around 50 per cent of golf courses are being developed with residences or commercial centres attached. “Golf course residences are in high demand as they provide a clean, tranquil and secure quality of life away from stressful cities,” says Tomlinson. “Long term golf course living is emerging as an extremely popular investment in Vietnam.”
Sandwiched between sea and mountains, Indochina Land’s The Estates at Montgomerie Links offers three pool villa types on a leasehold basis, with rental options. Starting at US$500,000, owner-accessible deluxe facilities include a private beach club, clubhouse and recreation areas. “With CCR’s dramatically growing infrastructure and development, the value of these properties is bound to increase,” says Gillian Sturtevant from IndoChinacapital.
The Dunes Golf Course at DGC is part of VinaCapital’s luxurious Danang Beach Resort, touted by the developer as one of Vietnam’s leading golf residential resort developments. Completed in 2011, the beachfront Ocean Villas, comprise multiple bedroom leasehold pool villas with rental options, and were awarded ‘Best Golf Development’ at the 2011 Asia Pacific Property Awards.
Danang Beach Resort’s second residential estate, The Dunes, features 3-bedroom pool villas and is scheduled to launch in April 2012, while at the upcoming Norman Estates, a selection of properties – Point Villas, Beachfront Enclave and Cham Condominiums – will offer investors even more choices. “Sales have been strong,” says the developments head of sales, Craig Douglas, director, Hospitality Group, VinaCapital Real Estate, “which shows a growing buyer appetite for golf-centred communities”.
Following up on its condominium- style investment properties at Angsana in Lang Co, Laguna Lang Co will also launch exclusive golf course residences. “Vietnam’s golf industry is booming,” says Tran Thu Hien, the company’s PR executive. “With many golf course residential properties introduced to the market, it’s an opportunity for us to create distinctive and memorable properties that match the unforgettable experience that Nick Faldo brings to golfers.”
Finally, once completed in 2014, Saigon Golf, Country Club and Residences (SGCCR), will surely rank as Vietnam’s most exclusive, fully integrated residential, golf, and country club community, featuring some of Asia’s most luxurious residential opportunities. Again designed by Greg Norman, the18-hole championship golf course (playable late 2012) is Vietnam’s first club with MiniVerdi greens and an equity-based venture with a private members’ club similar to Augusta. World-class facilities include a 1,400 sqm clubhouse, a conference centre and recreational amenities including a 5,000 sqm spa.
Just six km from Ho Chi Minh’s CBD, SGCCR’s walled residential enclave, comprising 193 luxury villas and 132 apartments beside waterways and fairways, are available freehold – a first for any Vietnam golf project. The project will also feature ‘Reflections by Greg Norman’ – 52 premium villas on a private island and Norman’s second signature real estate project worldwide. “SGCCR will leave a legacy of excellence,” general manager Rick Blackie confidently predicts, “by raising the bar in terms of residential estate and golf course development regionally, not just in Vietnam”.