From a sleepy island in the Riau archipelago of Indonesia, Bintan is heating up as Southeast Asia’s newest waterfront playground for the wealthy. One of the newest developments set to transform the island, the soon-to-be-opened Treasure Bay Bintan brings with it the promise of unprecedented thrills and spills for all ages, with a sharp focus on wellness and happiness. Apart from the region’s first crystal lagoon, there will be a string of internationally-renowned wellness resort operators, water sports galore, as well as food and beverage and retail strips.
But will this Isle of Plenty bring the same promise for property investors? Singapore Tatler speaks to Paul Leong, Chief Operating Officer of Treasure Bay Bintan, about the region’s property outlook.
Paul Leong, COO of Treasure Bay Bintan
1. What's the property investment outlook for Southeast Asia over the next five years?
Given that a number of countries in the region have introduced general “cooling” measures to control escalating prices of real estate, traditional property investment will consolidate in the short term. However, as Southeast Asia is still a dynamic economic force globally, property investment is still regarded as a safe haven for investors. These investors will be more selective, they will look for trends and hot spots. Developers, in turn, will be challenged to offer unique propositions to enhance sales, and will also be looking at a regional clientele rather than domestic buyers.
2. Can Bintan really be Asia’s next property investment corridor after being quiet for so long?
I'm personally very upbeat about Bintan. Its proximity to Singapore and natural attributes make it unique and attractive. There's now a concerted effort by the authorities and other stakeholders to put Bintan on the tourism and property investment map. The island is already seeing more investment activity compared to three to five years ago, and this trend will become more evident over the next two to three years. Established hotel brands are coming in and this will boost market confidence greatly.
Aerial view of works preparation for the crystal lagoon ©Treasure Bay Bintan
3. What are the investment opportunities offered on Treasure Bay Bintan?
We'll be launching serviced residences soon in the form of specific-purpose villas, and apartments and suites. For developers, we're offering choice land plots, as well as opportunities in retail and F&B.
4. What makes these more attractive propositions than other investment opportunities in the region?
Treasure Bay Bintan is the new frontier, and with that a ground floor opportunity where land prices are concerned. Besides land prices, we have numerous catalysts that will attract visitors. We've analysed the strengths and weaknesses of Bintan, and we believe that we've put in place aspects of development that will drive visitorship.
5. Who is your target market? Do Singaporeans form a big proportion?
Singaporeans do form a significant target market as well as Indonesians. Being the savvy investors they are, we believe Singaporeans will appreciate a unique opportunity when they see one. Bintan, being so close to home, will certainly appeal to those who like yield and also a holiday home.
6. Singapore and Bintan are geographically close, but what other infrastructure or measures need to be put into place to facilitate greater flow of investors and visitors from Singapore into Bintan?
The logistics at the moment are adequate, where one can take a leisurely and comfortable 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore to Bintan. However, we're also looking at sea-planes and fast luxury yachts to provide efficiency and comfort. Of course, an expansion of ferry schedules and fleet is a way forward.
7. What does your investment portfolio look like and how would you like to grow it?
We have 338 hectares of land in Bintan. Besides being the land owner, we'll also have our own resorts and hotels. We cannot develop all of the land ourselves and thus we are looking for strategic joint venture partners.
The model we're using is seeing some positive results and everyone is excited about the prospects of Treasure Bay. In future, we may replicate this model in other locations in the region.
We look at unique natural attributes or compelling features that are hard to ignore. Locations with history, geographic or cultural aspects are always top of our list. We invest in a location that can be developed into a destination.
Photography: Lionel Lai/AcePix
Grooming: Benedict Choo
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