For Bali’s Property Sector, Business is Booming

SEMINYAK ~ Developers of high-end properties in Bali are experiencing a marked upturn in business, analysts say, as more people become aware of the solid investment-return potential in what one industry player calls resilient market.

By William J. Furney
Managing Editor
The Bali Times
With staff reporters

The rise in the island’s tourism fortunes, in which foreign arrivals are at record levels, is fueling the boom, developers said.

This year alone has seen a slew of luxury properties opening in southern areas of Bali, notably in chic Seminyak – from resorts to villa developments and hotels.

Developers said there was strong interest in luxury Bali properties in such markets as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and other similarly affluent nations in the Southeast Asian region.

Indeed, analysts point to the current, ongoing troubles besetting military-ruled Thailand – long since a favorite with tourists from Western countries  in which political uncertainty lingers following last years coup and a bloody insurgency in the south rages as beneficial, however unwarranted, to Bali’s tourism industry and investment potential.

For one developer here, Ric Shreves of Elite Havens, Balis luxury property sector can weather almost any storm including the crippling pan-Asian financial crisis that struck in 1997 and brought many countries in the region, including Indonesia, to their knees.

The luxury market is a very resilient one Shreves told The Bali Times.

Elite Havens is developing a villa resort in the ricefield-speckled Umalas area of North Kuta. Named Wabi, its name derives from the principles of Taoism and Zen Buddhism, meaning contentment with nature, and was conceived “from a desire to create a villa environment that would distinguish itself architecturally as well as being attractive as an investment,” Shreves, an American citizen, said.

Elite’s villas average around half a million US dollars but can rise close to $2 million, according to sales information posted on the company’s website (www.elitehavensbali.com). But while those prices are steep, developers point out, for similar-size properties elsewhere in the world, prices are many times higher.

Hanno Soth, CEO of C151 Resorts and development firm PT. Hanno Bali, agrees with the resilience of the property sector here.

Since the Asian economic crisis, which had very little effect on high-end luxury resorts, the market has been steadily moving upward,” he said in an interview with The Times.

Soth, a Canadian of German lineage, said his company was having a “good year” and among plans for 2007 were the construction of a luxury beach club and a marina, both in prime areas of Bali. In addition, the company has purchased a number of Indonesian islands off Singapore and is developing them into Maldives-style private sanctuaries as well as what’s billed as the world’s first anti-aging island, where the latest in that medical field will be employed to provide wellness treatments for vacationing clients.

Anti-aging is a growing field, according to Soth, who said, People with means want more than a spa and massage experience when they visit an upscale resort. Anti-aging has moved from being seen as hocus pocus into being mainstream preventative medicine. Anti-aging gives our clients another reason to stay at our resorts.

PT. Hanno Bali opened its ultra-modern C151 Resort Seminyak in April trademark SMART VILLAS that form what the firm calls “the most hi-tech luxury villa resort in Bali- and is also developing elite cliff and hilltop residences in the stunning Dreamland area on the southern tip of Bali.

These days Bali is undergoing a paradigm shift in terms of the people who visit the island, with larger arrivals from countries other than the traditional Western market, Soth says.

Right now we are experiencing an increase in the markets from Russia, Korea, Japan and more recently India he said.

We’re starting to see more Indian nationals traveling to Bali for special events such as weddings, added Soth.

And while foreign investors may be wary of red tape, regulations and infrastructure in Bali, the local government says it is working to alleviate such concerns to attract more investment and assure foreigners that their investments are safeguarded.

Meanwhile, into the second quarter of 2007, Elite Havens says it is having a bumper year thus far.

We are expecting to have a banner year, said managing director Shreves. Already we have done two-thirds of our sales from last year.

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