BARAMA BAY, THAILAND
At some point in our lives we have all imagined living on an island idyll, surrounded by turquoise waters and edged with soft, white sand beaches. Rather than an uninhabited desert island, in my dreams such an island is serviced by a six-star hotel, and my home is a state-of-the-art property built to my own exacting plans on a capacious plot. Obviously, my megayacht is moored nearby at the island’s own Marina, and my neighbours are some of the world’s most elite – hugely successful business owners and celebrities, keen to live their life away from prying Paparazzi lenses. A world-renowned spa is just minutes from my infinity pool, and my family fly in on a private helicopter to visit me on days when I allow company to disturb my bliss.
Having travelled the world, in the name of property research – both for my own portfolio, and for my clients – I never believed that such a place existed. While one could, of course, purchase one’s own island paradise, the investment on such a piece of land would be considerable. Thanks to insider contacts, I was given the opportunity to visit a new island development in the Andaman Sea, just off the eastern shores of Phuket in Thailand, which was unaffected by the Tsunami thanks to its permanently protected position.
As I made my way from the mainland to this Xanadu, called Barama Bay, I took in the truly stunning views of Phuket’s verdant mainland and the hundreds of limestone islands that appear to float in the crystal clear waters. Having heard enough hyperbole to fill an encyclopedia during my many years of reporting on property, I have to admit that I approached my meeting with the island’s developers with more than a little skepticism. ‘The biggest’, ‘the best’, ‘the most expensive’, ‘the most exclusive’, ‘the most luxurious’ – I have, sadly, heard it all before. I’d obviously done my research before arriving in Thailand, and the literature which the team behind the project had sent me was suitably impressive – it invariably is – and included some rather tasty news items that Resource’s editor would pull from my text to highlight just how amazing this new development was going to be: a private deep-water marina, a six-star boutique hotel, yacht club, spa and wellness centre and luxury estate homes – they certainly had all of my boxes ticked. However, despite the slick packaging, beautiful design and alluring photographs, nothing had quite prepared me for the sheer beauty of the island itself.
Let me give you some background, so you can understand why my skepticism was beginning to melt away under the Thai sun. Barama Bay is just a five-minute helicopter ride from Phuket International airport. If you prefer, estate owners can take a 15-minute chauffeur-driven limousine journey to the coast, and then be whisked to their rather generous portion of paradise with its own jetty on a private launch. This limited journey time is a priceless bonus for executives wanting to escape the day-to-day as quickly as possible – something that endless internal flights and long car journeys can only mar.
What really impressed when I studied, in-depth, the developers’ project was the way that they had planned, in great detail, every aspect as to how the island will be developed, and as well as the headline-grabbing amenities, it was clear to see that the island would also be of low density and environmentally friendly. On more of an aesthetic bent, in order to avoid a clash of architectural styles, the developers have already confirmed that the hotel, spa, yacht club and residential estates will all have an Asian theme throughout, with substantial use of local teak, granite and stone, utilising the skills of local craftsmen for wood and stone carving, which will feature strongly in the designs.
The island’s hotel is, in fact, a series of individual villas, each with their own pool and is based around the contours of the land and the existing vegetation. The administration centre of the hotel will be located on the mainland, so guests will benefit from the maximum of recreation areas on the island. All villas will have a dedicated butler service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the list of amenities that will be available for hotel guests is seriously impressive: a 1500 square metre spa and wellness centre, three themed restaurants and two bars, a state-of-the-art beauty centre, tennis courts, gym and fitness centre with personal trainers, yacht charter and accredited dive centre. Plus, the island will be an affiliated member of the Blue Canyon Golf and Country Club, consistently voted number one course in Asia, which will include complimentary transfers and clubs. Jumeirah have taken on the management of the hotel and estate houses on behalf of the owners, and will provide them with hotel service 24/7, including in-house dining. The hotel’s construction will be completed by the beginning of 2009, when the resort officially opens.
Adjoining the marina will be a yacht club, which will have outstanding facilities and where membership will be by invitation only. The Yacht Club will feature a roof-top restaurant with 360 degree views of the surrounding islands. Within the Marina environs, a village will be created, where residents can buy their staples (fresh fruit, meat and vegetables and freshly-baked bread) and order items from the mainland (which will be delivered directly to their door), or even partake in a daily international newspaper over a croissant and latte at the village café. Its Marina is being built within a natural lagoon, with a total commitment to preserve the established mangrove and other flora and fauna, which form a lush backdrop – all work being undertaken will be to the highest environmental standards. Situated adjacent to an existing deep-water channel, the Marina will allow even the largest yachts to have access at all states of the tide, and boats up to 150-feet can be accommodated. Anyone familiar with this part of the world will know that accessible deep-water marinas are extremely rare in Thailand, unless they are commercial ports – I certainly do not know of a marina that can take these superyachts and offer all of the facilities that Barama Bay offers. The developers say – and I have to agree – that it will set new standards across Asia. Just remind your accountant, after you’ve placed your order at Sunseeker, that moorings, tax and fuel prices are significantly cheaper here, than in Europe, the US or Australasia.
The Residential Estate
Those building estate houses will be an exclusive breed, as a very limited number of estate homes are planned on plots ranging in size from over one to five acres, many with direct frontage to the beach and all with stunning sea and island views. As one can imagine, estate owners will have many exclusive privileges, and their homes will be benefit from their positioning in a gated community with 24-hour security and their own private jetty. Furthermore, included in their purchase will be preferential mooring rights in the Marina, together with lifetime family membership to the Blue Canyon Golf and Country Club and membership of the exclusive Barama Bay Yacht Club, as well as full access to the hotel and spa services.
The latest fibre-optic and satellite technology will ensure a complete communications system so that homeowners can view and monitor their property in real-time from anywhere in the world. Privacy and security will be an important factor with access to the island only possible by helicopter or the island’s launches, and all estate owners and yacht club members will have their own biometric identification, whilst hotel guests will be issued with ID passes incorporated within their room keys. The residential estates have already been plotted for potential buyers – of which there are already many.
Having waded through the literature, and walked the island with the developers, I became more and more impressed with the concept and vision that has created this idyllic package. As well as the glossy brochures, the developers have put together a management structure that includes one of the largest construction companies in
Asia, K-Tech, and a world-renowned project management team, Jones Lang LaSalle. Added to that, its Board of Directors boasts international property developers who, between them, have over 120 years of experience. Having already searched for a succession of clients, I can safely say that I know of nowhere else in the world that compares to what the team at Barama Bay are putting together. Show me another development where you can arrive at an international airport in the Tropics and after just
a five-minute helicopter ride be at your beachfront estate home, with your yacht waiting for you in the adjoining marina and a wealth of high-end amenities on your doorstep. It’s a perfect and highly exclusive mix and although not cheap, the prices quoted for a piece of this paradise are very competitive compared to similar developments underway around the world, which lack Barama’s enviable location, quality infrastructure, luxurious amenities and proximity to international links.
I think my portfolio has found itself the most enviable addition of all.
For more information on this project, and to enquire about residential plots, please contact Anthony Franklin at TGR Marketing in Phuket, Thailand on:
Tel: +66 (0) 19 685 352
Mobile: +66 (0) 19 685 352