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Henri Young, Raimon Land Director of Sales and Marketing

Phuket Boost: Amalfi Villas 4.5b Baht Launch

Thursday, November 13, 2008
DESPITE the gloom and doom, Raimon Land today launched its 4.5 billion baht Amalfi villa project, taking the definition of high-end on Phuket to a new, unprecedented level.

That 4.5 billion baht will be spent on just 16 villas, spread across 37 rai on the headland between Surin beach and Bang Tao.

This is certainly top turf, as evidenced by the neighbors, the Amanpuri and the Chedi.

But in a climate of restraint and prudence, will it be possible to sell this kind of exclusive lifestyle package for $3.5 million and up?

Others targetting the high-fliers are not exactly reporting stunning success.

Onward and upward, say the planners at Raimon Land, where being positive is part of the philosophy.

They certainly have confidence, not to mention guts, and are prepared to back Phuket to the hilt in tough times. That's good.

Henri Young, Director of Sales and Marketing, says: ''The plot sizes start from 1200 square metres, up to around 4000 square metres.

''We will be launching this December. We are targetting high net-worth individuals.''

With that kind of starting price, he's not kidding.

''It's a little bit different to a typical Raimon Land type project,'' Mr Young added, meaning condominiums of the kind they mostly have offered so far in high-rise Pattaya and Bangkok.

''We still feel there is a lot of strength and depth in this market, despite the financial crisis.

''The high end is probably the only market that is less impacted than the general market.''

Cash is what it's all about. Some people, apparently, still have some.

Phuket, he said, is probably South East Asia's prime holiday destination. He is probably right.

''Out of tourism comes property growth, so it's an ideal combination for both.''

He said that the island was an ''attractive investment location'' and added, when questioned about security, that local authorities ''look after Phuket very well.''

''There are often issues in Samui but Phuket, it hasn't had any of the problems of the deep south of Thailand or Bali.''

He saw the direction of property on the island as ''certainly up.''

''Everybody buys with cash at present but if people can get loans, the property market size would double,'' Mr Young said.

''We are going to see a slowdown in the number of buyers in Thailand, but we are lucky that we are a sizeable company, that we have the cash flow to be able to keep going and ride out the storm.

''You have to look at property over a 10 year cycle. Along the way you are going to have ups and downs, troughs and peaks.

''We here in Asia are much more fortunate than in Europe, the US and Australia because we did not have so much exposure to loans.

''We will bounce back first and have less downside than other markets.''

The project would be finished in 2010, Mr Young said.

''We are certainly looking to make more acquisitions on Phuket,'' he added. ''This is one of the opportunities that comes out of a bit of a recession.

''Land prices get a bit cheaper. Our partners, our major shareholders, from Dubai, are certainly keen to pursue acquisitions, mainly for resort style properties.''

Earlier this month, Raimon Land won the Thailand Property Award for Best Developer for the second year in a row. It seems they do not plan to give up just because they are ahead.

The launch of Amalfi, at the Twin Palms Resort in Surin, was accompanied by a seminar-style briefing on Phuket property from some of the island's top names in resorts and real estate.

Having in the past borrowed inspirational quotations from Susan Sontag, Steve Jobs and Confucius, Raimon Land turned to Italian film director Frederico Fellini for Amalfi.

''There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.''

Now is that a $3.5 million conversation starter, or not?

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