Hanno Soth

Hanno Soth, C151
Hanno Soth is the man – and the inspiration – behind Bali’s newest luxury development, C151 Resort Seminyak, which opens this weekend and which is sponsoring this edition of The Bali Times. The Canadian native spoke to The Times this week about the 21-villa development, and plans to construct another 30 as well as a beach club.

What’s the concept behind the C151 Resort Seminyak?
A new level of luxury that allows guests to leave Bali at the door – enjoying all the comforts technology has to offer.

You designed the villas yourself – where did you draw your inspiration from?
The inspiration came from years of living in Bali – knowing what works and what doesn’t. Gone are the days of open-style villas that become soaked during the rainy season and are to hot to enjoy the rest of the year.

The villas are very high-tech – how important is that to your clients, both in terms of entertainment systems and connectivity with the internet?
Our guests come to Bali on holiday to get away from it all. Stereo speakers throughout the entire villa, including inside the swimming pool, a home theatre and high-speed wireless internet allow people to relax yet stay in touch.

Is there anything currently comparable in Bali to the C151 Resort Seminyak?
Not that we know of.

What kind of people have bought into the resort?
Successful individuals with taste – who share the new vision of luxury living in Bali

How does the resort contribute to or change fast-developing Seminyak?
C151 offers a new level of luxury to those who are not satisfied staying in traditional accommodation.

Do you see a changing dynamic in the type of people who are vacationing in Bali, particularly in the Seminyak area, in recent years?
Absolutely. Bali will continue to move away from the backpacker haven that it was years ago to a premier destination for the rich and famous.

Do you have to be mega-wealthy to purchase villas in Bali? Or are there schemes under which ordinary expatriates or foreign nationals living elsewhere can own such property?
We have both types. The mega–wealthy are purchasing our Cliff Villas, which start at US$2 million.

How do you see the villa landscape in Bali these days? How is it changing?

The Bali villa landscape seems to be forever evolving – especially architecturally. This is what continues to make Bali so appealing for villa investment. There just is not other place like it in the world.
With the expansion of the airport and a new land registry in the works, Bali is poised to be tops for villa investment.

In your view, are vacationers moving more away from hotels and instead opting to stay at private villas? If so, what’s driving this?

Yes, there has been a movement away from hotels to private villas – which provide greater privacy, many of the same five-star services of a hotel, comparable prices, their own swimming pool and an ideal setting for couples and families to enjoy.

After recent disturbances in Bali, how do you see the current state of the economy, and what’s your prediction for the future?
There’s no doubt that Bali is back. These lulls always seem to give businesses time to revamp, expand and renovate.
Each time Bali comes back better than it was before. The class of tourist continually improves. Hotel rates and property values continue to soar and Bali will more and more become the playground for the rich and famous.

Do you think tourism still has a bright future in Bali, and if so, why?
Absolutely. The government has a campaign out at the moment to make Bali the number-one destination in the world by 2011. It may seem like a tall order on the face of it – but with a few key improvements, anyone who travels will agree that Bali is poised to compete with any destination in the world.

Your company, PT Hanno Bali, is also working on other developments in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. What can you tell us about them?
Yes, we have a number of new projects slated to begin in the next few months in Bali. Most of them in the Bukit and on stunning cliff-front properties. At the moment we have licenses for an 18-hole golf course, beach club, marina and hotel villa developments.
We just had the government of Riau province – the area across from Singapore – come to visit Bali and present our company with our latest permits. PT. Hanno Bali owns numerous islands across from Singapore which we are developing for luxury tourism.

In your experience, how have you found investing in Bali and dealing with the authorities to get the necessary permits and licenses?
Well, we have been at it a long time. The trick, I believe, is to follow the regulations for acquiring permits and foreign investment. The process can be a protracted one – I believe it’s improving. However, for our clients it’s all done for by our company. All they have to do is show up to their new villa.

How are the authorities doing here?
Bali, in my estimation, has a very bright future. In the past year, under the new government initiative, we are seeing a lot of improvements. Sewage controls, airport expansion, cleaning up police corruption, putting initiatives into place which support real foreign investment, improving the international image of Bali – and most important, listening to foreign investors, who are driving growth and development into the 21st century.

What’s your prediction of where Bali will be in, say, five years’ time, both in terms of development and tourism?

We have no doubt that Bali will be a premier destination and top choice for real-estate investment. As the rest of Asia chokes on industrial smog, the skies in Bali continue to be blue, sunny and warm. With high-speed internet connections, it will be commonplace for successful individuals to work from the comfort of a villa in Bali – while continuing to be able to manage their business affairs real-time. Remember Bali is in the same time zone as Hong Kong, Singapore etc. We recently had a client who has installed internet cameras in his factory in China and spends his time in Bali watching his business real-time over the net.
It is this technology that will change Bali over the next five years and why our company has developed SMART VILLASâ„¢.

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