The rise of urban resort residences in Asia

In recent times resort residence developers in Southeast Asia have moved their focus from beach destinations to the region’s urban hubs

The clubhouse at Parc Clematis, a mega-scale residential development beside the Sungei Pandan Park Connector in Singapore’s West Coast, boasts a resort-style ambience

A little over a decade ago, the resort residences concept was largely maligned by savvy real estate investors. From Mallorca to Miami to Millionaire’s Mile on Phuket, resort residences were often associated with capricious sales agents infamous for trawling beaches, promising holiday-makers the chance to “live the dream”, “own a slice of paradise”, and other similarly tired pitches for opaque timeshare (and later, fractional ownership) investment schemes.

As the new decade dawns, however, the industry has transformed beyond recognition into one of the most attractive and innovative segments of the global property market—buoyed in part by the rise of urban resort residences bearing the branding of global hospitality titans.

Asia is the continent of opportunity: there’s a growing market and rapid urbanisation

The trend for branded resort residences may have begun in the US, but Asia-Pacific is now leading the pack. According to a recent report by global property consultancy Savills, the region is home to 23 percent of the approximately 430 branded projects currently under construction worldwide. And while these were traditionally located in coveted resort destinations like Phuket and Bali, brand-backed developers are now eschewing tropical coastlines in favour of urban skylines.

“Asia is the continent of opportunity: there’s a growing market and rapid urbanisation,” says Muriel Muirden, executive vice president at the WATG, the architectural firm behind St. Regis Hotel and Residences Singapore.

With its mix of urban zones, green space and coastlines, the island city is fertile ground for luxury resort residences. Mega-scale projects like Sentosa Bay and Marina Bay Sands helped redefine the concept, and a slew of developments—including PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Singapore) 2019 winners Parc Clematis and Watercove—continue to follow suit across the region. And yet it is another of the region’s major metropolises that have welcomed two of 2019’s most anticipated urban resort residences.

The lap pool at Watercove, a high-end freehold housing development in Singapore that features breezy seafront homes with expansive views towards the Johor Straits

Located on opposing sides of Bangkok’s snaking Chao Phraya River, the Four Seasons Private Residences and 146-unit The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok—the first of its kind in Asia—have set a new benchmark for luxury in the Thai capital. Alongside other notable launches in recent years, including Magnolias Waterfront Residences and Banyan Tree Residences Riverside, the projects have refocused affluent investor attention on what is, after decades of neglect, again one of the city’s most in-demand locales. Naturally, they command some of the highest prices in the Thai capital. Larger units at both average about THB400,000 (USD13,200) per square metre, according to Marciano Birjmohun, former managing director and co-founder of Thailand-based property consultancy firm DMRD and longstanding Thailand Property Awards judge.

More: 7 of Asia’s best resort residences

“Investors see the brand and are immediately assured that the quality of the amenities, fittings and design will be world-class,” says Birjmohun. “It also helps that architecturally these projects stand above the crowd. With some of the biggest hospitality brands now operating in the residential space, we expect to see branded services becomes an essential part of daily life for affluent buyers.”

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, recently completed projects in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur are putting the Indonesian and Malaysian capitals on the urban branded residence radar. The Langham, Jakarta, located in the prestigious District 8 at Sudirman Central Business District, and Crowne Plaza Jakarta Residences in Mangkuluhur City will feature resort-style amenities ranging from private lift access to an exclusive fitness centre, and direct access to a host of veritable lifestyle facilities within the mixed-use developments.

With the rapid pace of urbanisation in Asia and the growing demand for brand-backed resort residences in cities, these developments will soon take over the region.

This article is the first of a three-part series on ‘Paradise in different packages’. It originally appeared in Issue No. 158 of PropertyGuru Property Report Magazine. Read the second, third parts here