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High Life: Interview: The luxury of patience
May 10, 2012
Vorasit Isarra, better known as Wan, is the managing director and creative mind behind Phuket’s celebrated Sri Panwa Resort and Residences. Having sold out Phase 1 and 2, he recently launched a third phase of villas that will set a new benchmark for Phuket luxury property.
Have you had to adjust your prices to match global economic woes?
We’re not dropping the price or rushing to build. The new villas are actually more expensive, 6 to 15 million US, because they are bigger, but in general the price per square metre is about the same. We understand the wider market may be slow, but whenever some people are losing money others are making it. The most recent valuation for the resort was around THB 6 billion (US$195 million) excluding the sold residences, so it’s still a value proposition. One of our clients resold their villa to friends at double the price, but the buyer was still more than happy.
Will the new villas differ significantly from the original designs?
The villas in the new phase are all customizable, but within the theme of the resort. They are incredibly spacious — 1,600 to 2,500 sqm, and very practical with plenty of stand out individual touches. The lighting is inspired from the 60s, for example, so softer with no halogen spots. Through ventilation, large, airy rooms and big windows make the most of the ocean views and there’s a good balance of in and outdoor living spaces with private pools on every level.
What green features did you include in the construction?
We were green from the start at Sri Panwa. All the trees on the site were marked and named, and whenever we build on a plot, we dig up all the trees that need to be removed and put them in a nursery for replanting. In the initial construction phase we dug up more than 1,500 trees and replanted them into the landscape with an 80 per cent survival rate. If you look across the resort, the villas are almost invisible. Part of being green is building properties that are maintenance free. We don’t have to paint too much and only occasionally have to oil the teak.
Why did you chose to develop your own brand as opposed to getting an international brand to manage the resort and residences?
We talked to all the brands and they had plenty of ideas, but they’re not developers. My family has been in the development business for 30 years, so we had our own ideas. For the resort side I wanted to apply our own concept and be free to choose key elements like the music and the food. You never know what will happen if you give your baby to others. Back in the day when people booked through travel agents, brands had the advantage, but now online is king, which suits our business model as we appeal to that independent spirit.
Do most of your clients buying for investment purposes or as a second home/lifestyle?
The majority of investors buy for self use. We also have some corporate villas, which companies use for their business partners or clients in Asia. There are 13 nationalities represented, with owners based in Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, India and America. We also have two clients from mainland China, both property developers. The owners usually come four or five times a year personally and around 35 per cent put the property back into the resort for rental. There’s no fixed entitlement. We just ask them to let us know in advance if they’re planning to use the villa.