Residential renaissance: Branded residences shine bright amidst pandemic property plight

While other property segments struggled during the pandemic, branded residences saw an upsurge in interest with investors lured by access to luxury hotel amenities and services

Low-interest rates on home loans, pandemic-era savings, and the trend for hybrid work have made it much easier for people to live a dual lifestyle. MattGrimaldi/Shutterstock

Not many industries emerged unscathed from the pandemic. The real estate and hospitality sectors experienced an especially dire period thanks to an almost-global moratorium on travel and financial uncertainty for many households.

But branded residences, as a property sector, has proven to be incredibly resilient in the face of recent uncertainty and change. The sector has not only survived the disturbance but continues to thrive. Over the past 10 years, it has grown by over 150 percent, according to Savills. And there are indications that this is just the beginning.

Lockdowns compounded people’s interest in living in a comfortable, stylish space. And branded residences and resort properties embody this demand. A recent Knight Frank survey revealed that 43 percent of respondents in Asia would be willing to pay a premium for ownership of a branded residence. They are especially appealing to residents who wish to take advantage of the simple convenience, firstrate security, and exclusivity of many hotel amenities and services.

“In Southeast Asia, 2023 will see the return of bricks and sticks for property investors,” says Bill Barnett, managing director of Phuket-based hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks. “So many investors were torched out in the crypto collapse that they are seeking a safer haven.

“In many markets, a key change is developers and property buyers revaluating the size of properties, given the expected long-term shift to work-from-home.”

Indeed, low-interest rates on home loans, pandemic-era savings, and the trend for hybrid work have made it much easier for people to live a dual lifestyle, “and it is this fundamental change in where and how people live that is likely to revitalise second-home markets,” adds Barnett.

Expectations for such properties are therefore inevitably increasing. There is a greater demand for restaurants, retail and other amenities that make urban living so appealing. Wellness has also held a small but growing position in the real estate industry over the last decade, with homes, offices and communities increasingly being designed and built to include an emphasis on natural materials, ecofriendly solutions, and new technologies that aim to support healthier, more balanced lives.

In Southeast Asia, 2023 will see the return of bricks and sticks for property investors. So many investors were torched out in the crypto collapse that they are seeking a safer haven

“The integration of wellness across all elements of the design and operation of a scheme can provide residents with the assurances that their health and wellbeing are integral to their experience and lifestyle within their branded residence and the community,” says Eri Mitsostergiou, director of world research at Savills.

Indeed, resort markets in Asia offer freedom, space, fresh air, nature, exercise, adventures with family and friends, and escapism—all the things that lockdown did not provide— so it is perhaps not surprising that these destinations are resonating more than ever with homeowners boasting the financial means. As Barnett notes, “Space is the new luxury.”

With that in mind, we round up some of the latest branded and resort residences piquing investor interest around the region in 2023.

The Residences at Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort by AppleOne Mactan, Inc.

An appropriately tropical vibe combines with local aesthetics at this 190-unit property on the northern tip of bustling Mactan. Indeed, location is a major drawcard at Sheraton’s first branded residences in the region. Proximity to the coral island’s extensive amenities—including a quick trip to Cebu International Airport—is complimented by a beachfront location that boasts unobstructed views of Magellan Bay and the coral-rich Hilutungan Channel, home to some of the Philippines’ most in-demand dive sites.

And it was to the ocean and surrounding cliff formations that globally renowned resort architects BLINK turned when masterminding the project’s aesthetics. Interiors at the oneto three-bedroom apartments and courtyard pool villas all feature subtle finishes of exposed natural stone, rattan, and marble. The landscaping, meanwhile, makes the most of the existing topography to transition from the cliff tops to the coast, subtly incorporating upscale amenities along the way. These include a huge public pool at the heart of the resort, steam rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, courtyard garden and pool lounge. Direct access to a private beach will of course be another boon for residents when the property opens its doors later this year.

Meyer Mansion by GuocoLand

Freehold seafront residences are something of a unicorn in Singapore nowadays. It is unsurprising then that Meyer Mansion in the city-state’s District 15 has already made a major impression on investors. The 25-storey property features 200 units across 25 floors with unobstructed views of the Singapore Strait and CBD. References to the grand mansions that once dotted the east coast influence the design. From the dark grey steel and burnished copper screens that create the facade to the elegant interiors and oversized private terraces, Addp Architects and developer GuocoLand have fashioned an old-world aesthetic that equally contrasts and compliments the stark modernity of neighbouring high-rises.

Almost 80 percent of the property is dedicated to lush landscaping and amenities, making these one- to five-bedroom apartments a particularly attractive proposition for families. The onsite facilities include a 40-metre pool, clubhouse, beach house and ‘grand lawn’. Location-wise, besides being a stone’s throw from East Coast Park, Meyer Mansion is within easy reach of central Singapore and a five-minute walk away from the upcoming Katong Park MRT station.

Borey Lorn City Lotussea by 5LH Lorn City Development Co., Ltd

Sihanoukville might not be the prettiest of cities, but the coastal destination remains the primary jumping-off point for Cambodia’s most impressive islands and beaches. While overdevelopment in recent years has further dented its appeal, the promise of pristine coast, conveniences and sedentary pace of life maintains its appeal amongst both domestic and international investors. Indeed, beyond the garish casinos and backpacker hubs, pockets of paradise can still be found. Nearby Prey Nob is one such spot and the destination for developer 5LH Lorn City’s latest ‘borey’ (housing development).

Borey Lorn City Lotussea is a compact township covering more than 320,000 square metres. The first phase, already under construction and slated for completion in late 2023, features five unit types, ranging from shophouses to link villas and detached townhouses. Upon completion, the wider 58-hectare project will feature commercial buildings, supermarkets, coffee shops, leisure parks, a reservoir waterfront, gyms, and playgrounds. There is even talk of incorporating a resort property at a later stage, too.

Park Hyatt Phu Quoc Residences by BIM Land

It feels like Phu Quoc’s evolution happened almost overnight. Once a sleepy backwater, the Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia is now deemed a must-visit destination. Amidst the tourism boom, an array of high-end branded residences have also emerged. The latest, Park Hyatt Phu Quoc Residences, spans 160 acres of beachfront on the southwestern tip—half of which sits in the national park and Unesco World Heritage-designated Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve.

Within this unique setting—a 30-minute drive from Phu Quoc International Airport and 40 minutes from the island’s main town, Duong Dong—the 65 pool villas are spread over a natural slope, affording residents ocean and hilltop vistas. They also have access to the resort’s world-class amenities including restaurants, bar and a poolside barbecue, two swimming pools, a lakeside spa, a gym house with lap pool and the Camp Hyatt kids’ village.

Teratai Villas Canggu by PT Teratai Agung Kencana

Occupying a lively corner of Bali’s south coast, Teratai Villas Canggu blends the usual touches of Balinese luxury with a Japanese contemporary design. Privacy, meanwhile, is paramount here with only 17 pool villas, ranging from one- to three-bedroom layouts. Each features the usual island villa essentials: floor-to-ceiling windows, oversized bathtubs, plush furnishings, and spacious pool decks. The highlight is undoubtedly the Sakura Villa, complete with three master bedrooms, a spacious study area and open-plan kitchen.

Access to nearby Canggu is a breeze. Popular with the boho crowd and long-term expats, the laid-back village is brimming with fashionable boutiques, bars and restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. The neighbourhood is also home to Batu Bolong, ground zero of Bali’s surfing scene. Canggu’s most frequented beach has it all: great surf, chilled hangouts, a convenient location, family friendliness, and glorious sunsets.

The Valley by Botanica Luxury Villas

Phuket-based developer Botanica continues to go from strength to strength. Its seventh property Botanica The Valley, located on the slopes of the island’s west coast, takes its design cues from another of Asia’s top resort destinations. Here, Balinese touches seamlessly blend with a mid-century facade that maximises the views and surrounding nature. With only 14 villas available, the project is Botanica’s most exclusive to date. The five property configurations range in size from 800 to 1,778 square metres and come with a private swimming pool and landscaped gardens, whilst an additional sixth six-bedroom unit is set to be launched this year.

With its secluded location, shallow bay and shaded beach, nearby Layan is arguably one of the Andaman’s most picturesque stretches of sand. Still, the beach is connected to a host of world-class attractions, including Laguna Phuket and international schools, and has easy access to Phuket International Airport.

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