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Ocean Villas Group specialise in luxury overseas ocean view property. We have a superb and extensive portfolio of luxury property, available in breathtaking locations throughout the world, including new property, resale property and land.



 



Trump loses US$4.5 million on LA property, sues local council for US$100 million

Fri, 28 Oct 2011 00:00:00 EST

Real estate mogul Donald Trump has sold his property at the Los Angeles Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes for a reported US$7.5 million. Trump first put the mansion on the market in early 2010 for US$12 million. But it failed to attract any buyers. The Apprentice star finally accepted an offer this month from a shipping director, US$4.5 million below his asking price. The five bedroom, nine bathroom, palatial home was designed by architect Luis de Moraes of Envirotechno Architecture. The impressive property sits on a plot of 1,022m2. Its U-shaped design means almost every room has views of either the Pacific Ocean or the golf course. The new owner will be able to indulge in some of Donald Trump’s personal luxuries such as the infinity edge swimming pool, games room and floor to ceiling glass wine cellar. There’s even a 93m2 gourmet kitchen with twin Sub-Zero refrigerators and a copper-hooded Wolf range. The property also features a full size bar and marble flooring throughout. Trump bought the three hundred acre site for the Los Angeles Trump National Golf Club in 2002 for US$27 million. It was his first foray into real estate investment on the West Coast of the USA. The property was built as a private residence for his family within the golf club’s grounds. At first the Rancho Palos Verdes locals welcomed Trump’s investment. But relations soon turned sour after he reportedly asked for a local highway to be renamed to Trump National Drive. Now the local council have rejected planning permission for an additional twenty homes to be built on the site as landslides have been a problem in the past. This has led Trump to file a US$100 million law suit which alleges that the town council is forcing him to spend “millions of dollars on unnecessary, repetitive, unreasonable and unlawful geologic surveys”. Lawyers for Rancho Palos Verdes have responded by saying they will defend the accusations “vigorously”. The case continues.



Vera Wang bags Steve Hermann property in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles

Fri, 09 Sep 2011 00:00:00 EST

Celebrity New York fashion designer Vera Wang has splashed out US$9.2 million on a Steve Hermann designed property in Coldwater Canyon, Beverley Hills, Los Angeles. Hermann bought the 408m2 house in June 2008 for US$5 million. He spent the next two years completely redesigning and renovating the 1967 built property at a cost of US$3 million. Two new bedrooms were added. The ceilings were raised to a height of 3.6 metres. The original swimming pool was removed and replaced with a sunken, infinity-edge pool and Jacuzzi. And a tiered, thirty seat movie theatre was built. “It was a mid-century modern [property] with good bones, but it hadn't been touched in decades,” Hermann commented. The house has been dubbed “The Glass Mansion” because it features floor to ceiling glass walls to creating a feeling of open space. In fact, from the rear entrance it is possible to see right through the property and take in the view of the Los Angeles basin below. Hermann, who renovates homes for A-list celebrities, put the property back on the market in March 2011, with an asking price of US$10.9 million. Vera Wang is one of America’s best known fashion designers. She is of Chinese descent but was born and raised in New York City. Her parents are from Shanghai, China and migrated to the USA in the 1940s. Originally trained as a figure skater, Wang competed in the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships but failed to make the U.S. Olympic Team. Wang started her fashion career in 1972 as designer for Vogue where she spent the next sixteen years. She then worked with Ralph Lauren for two years, before opening her own design studio at the Carlyle Hotel, New York in 1990. The designer has since made wedding gowns for Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka Trump, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey and Victoria Beckham. Wang’s dresses have also been featured in US television shows ‘Sex in the City’ and ‘The West Wing’. In 2010 Wang was presented with the Leadership in the Arts Award by Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association, for her contribution to costume and fashion design. She has now expanded her brand to include handbags, perfume, jewellery, eyewear, shoes and house-wares.



Burt Reynolds set to lose Florida property

Tue, 06 Sep 2011 00:00:00 EST

Burt Reynolds was once one of Hollywood’s highest paid and well-known actors. But now, at the age of seventy five, the “Deliverance” star faces losing his Florida home as his debts continue to grow. On the 1st September 2011 Merrill Lynch Credit Corporation filed a foreclosure lawsuit in Martin County against the “Smokey and the Bandit” star. The suit claims that mortgage payments have not been paid on his 1,115 m2 property in Hobe Sound, Florida since 1st September 2010. "The Plaintiff [Merrill Lynch Credit Corporation] must be paid US$1,193,808 in principal on the mortgage note and mortgage, together with interest from August 1st 2010 and all costs and reasonable attorney's fees," noted the writ. Reynolds and his former wife Loni Anderson signed up for a US$1.5 million mortgage on the five bedroom property in May 1994. The mortgage was due to be paid off in 2019. In 2009 a local US newspaper reported that Reynolds had put the five bedroom, waterfront property, which he nicknamed “Valhalla”, on the market for US$8.9 million. Although it boasts a swimming pool, a gym, a wine room, a hair salon, seven bathrooms, a boat dock and a helipad, the property failed to sell. Reynolds blamed the US economy and the property market crash as the main reasons. But a recent assessment, carried out by Merrill Lynch, valued the property at just US$2.4 million. However, the actor is hoping to get back on track and is staying positive amid allegations surrounding his current finances. "I am as surprised as everyone. I thought my career and my life could not be going better. To all of the people who have had such faith in me and stuck by me through thick and thin, thank you. I know it is not the end of the world. There are a hell of a lot of other people worse off than I am, and my heart goes out to them. I will do like I've always done, keep my head up high and continue to move on down the road" Reynolds said in a recent interview with ABC News. Recently Reynolds began filming a new made-for-television movie “Reel Love” starring country singer LeAnn Rimes and Shawn Robert in Toronto, Canada. The straight to television film is due to premiere on US channel Country Music Television (CMT) later this month.



Asia Pacific worlds cheapest for building property

Fri, 02 Sep 2011 00:00:00 EST

The Annual Construction Cost Comparison Report by EC Harris Research has revealed that countries throughout the Asia Pacific region have significantly lower building costs than their counterparts in The West, despite experiencing substantial economic growth. Now in its seventh year, the report compares building costs per square metre in fifty six countries worldwide against construction costs in the South of England. India and Sri Lanka have the lowest construction costs in the Asia Pacific region; 70% less than in the UK. China comes in next with building costs 55% lower than those in Britain. And despite property prices booming in Hong Kong and Singapore over the last year, the two islands maintained their costs at 2010 levels; around 10% below those in the UK. Currently Japan has the highest costs in the Asia Pacific region; 24% higher than in England. However, the report was completed before the March Tsunami which would obviously have had a profound effect on the results as the country rebuilds. Construction costs for Thailand were low when compared to Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore; ranking 35% lower than the UK. And the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam were amongst the cheapest in the region; averaging 54% below English costs. Looking forward, Simon Rawlinson, Head of Strategic Research and Insight at EC Harris in London opined: “Growth in Asia will be broadly based; markets in Europe and the USA will underperform in comparison.” During the last eighteen months, prices for construction materials such as steel, copper and oil have been close to their all-time highs. This has pushed up building costs globally. However, recent signs indicate that the prices of basic materials have largely stabilised. Oil has already fallen 10% from its peak price and experts believe that this will lead to price drops in many different materials throughout 2012 and 2013. “It is evident that as the economies in the Asia Pacific region continue to grow and their European peers struggle to recover, the region is becoming more and more attractive to property investors. Lower costs and a propensity for growth equals much higher potential returns than alternatives in Europe and the USA. “Whilst prime locations such as London and New York remain in high demand, we have already seen a significant number of mid-level investors moving their money out of Europe and the USA into emerging South East Asian economies.” commented Adam Smith, Market Analyst for Ocean Villas Group in Singapore. EC Harris is an international consultancy based in London, UK. Founded in 1911 the company provides services in strategic planning including asset and investment risk management to a wide range of industries such as energy, manufacturing, oil, gas, chemicals, property, public transportation and utilities. The company has offices in the United Kingdom, China, India, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Croatia, Czech Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa and Georgia in the USA.



Jade Jagger puts Spanish property up for sale

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 00:00:00 EST

The daughter of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, Jade Jagger, has put her Spanish property up for sale. The seventeenth century farmhouse is located on the North West Coast of the Balearic Island of Ibiza near the village of Sant Joan de Labritja. Dubbed by Jagger as her own “private paradise”, the Spanish property sits on top of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. And from its secluded location it’s hard to imagine that it is only thirty minutes away from Ibiza’s famous club scene. But that is one of the reason’s Jade bought the 500 year old farmhouse. Inside, the centre-piece of the en-suite master bedroom is a giant Japanese bathtub. Artwork by Andy Warhol (her God father) and Guy Bourdin hangs on the walls. Outside, guest accommodation is provided in individual white tepees scattered throughout the grounds. A private swimming pool with a bar and canopied daybeds completes the picture. Once the property is sold, Jagger will divide her time between her beach house in Goa, Southern India and the North West London penthouse she shares with boyfriend, DJ Dan Williams. Jade Jagger is the daughter of Mick Jagger and his first wife, Bianca Perez Morena de Macias. Bianca met the Rolling Stone after a concert in September 1970, France. Less than a year later Bianca fell pregnant with Jade and the couple married at a ceremony in Saint Tropez Town Hall on May 12th 1971. But only eight years later Bianca filed for divorce on grounds of adultery due to Jagger’s affair with American supermodel Jerry Hall. In 1996, aged 24, Jade launched her designer jewellery and fashion label, Jade Inc. Four years later she was hired by high-end British jewellers Garrard & Co. as their creative director. She left the position in 2006. More recently, Jade launched her music and lifestyle label, Jezebel. She is currently working with French designer Phillip Starck on Lodha Fiorenza, a 452 apartment development in Mumbai, India. The luxury, four tower complex is due to be completed in 2013.



Spain cuts new property tax in half to lift Spanish real estate industry

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 00:00:00 EST

Madrid, Spain: The Spanish Government has cut value added tax on new property in Spain by 50 per cent with immediate effect. The reduction in VAT (Spanish - IVA) from eight per cent four per cent on new build Spanish properties came into force on August 19th and will continue until the end of the year. Announcing the decision Jose Blanco, Minister of Development for Spain, said he hoped the new measures will "revive the construction sector" and "contribute to create employment in the sector most affected by the recession”. The move comes at a time when the Spanish real estate market is close to rock bottom. Prices are down to around 2005 levels and many banks are offering one hundred per cent mortgages in an effort to attract buyers. The VAT reduction will mean a saving of up to 8,000 Euros (US$ 11,500) on a 200,000 Euro (US$ 288,420) property. Some Spanish property developers are going even further, pledging, "No VAT at all" until the end of the year - reducing VAT payments on new property transactions effectively to zero. The real estate and construction industry in Spain reacted positively to the news: "This should provide a much needed lift for the Spanish property industry, which has been grappling with massive over-supply in certain areas. Although prime locations such as Marbella, Malaga and Majorca have seen strong demand from northern European buyers and an increase in sales volume over the past twelve months, in many less desirable areas the market continues to struggle. "Buyers should see this as a positive step by the Spanish Government to get the property market moving again. We have already seen a significant increase in enquiries for Spanish property and we anticipate strong sales over the coming months as buyers hurry to complete on purchases before the end of the year. “It remains to be seen just how much impact the tax cut will have in less popular areas. However, buyers who have been considering taking the plunge in more popular locations will likely look on this as an opportunity to get an even better deal on their investment.” commented Adam Smith, market analyst for Ocean Villas Group.



Luxury property in Chelsea upstages Knightsbridge's One Hyde Park

Wed, 10 Aug 2011 00:00:00 EST

London, UK: Properties at the much anticipated The Glebe in Chelsea, London have finally been released for sale. Industry experts say The Glebe will rival the Candy brother’s £1.25 billion (US$2 billion) One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge for sheer luxury in the UK capital. One Hyde Park is currently the most expensive place to live in London, with a single apartment recently selling for over £40 million (US$65 million). The £300 million (US$490 million) project in Chelsea will consist of six apartments with ceilings up to five metres high, a two floor penthouse with a roof terrace and two detached villas. Every property will have its own swimming pool, a games room and will be served by a private elevator. The Glebe has a pretty unique location too; a one acre plot close to the River Thames and a one minute walk to Chelsea’s fashionable Kings Road. "It is very different…it is so rare that you get an acre in Chelsea. It is a rarity" commented Aref Lahham, a spokesman for the developers. The Glebe was initially granted planning permission by The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 2009. It was designed by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, one of Britain’s most prolific architects. Foster’s previous work includes; Hong Kong International Airport; the Reichstag restoration in Berlin; and the Swiss Reinsurance UK company headquarters in London. In 2007 Foster collaborated with French designer Philippe Starck and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson on the Virgin Galactic terminal building in the New Mexico desert. It has been suggested that all the properties at The Glebe could be bought by a super rich family, who may want to live together but in their own homes. Prices are on application only but are rumoured to be between £25 million (US$40.6 million) and £35 million (US$56.9 million) for the detached villas. The two storey penthouse is expected to sell for around £35 million (US$56.9 million).



What do Posh and Becks and Robbie Williams have in common?

Fri, 29 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EST

Answer: They own homes on Koh Samui in Thailand. The Beckham’s villa cost over 200,000,000 Baht (US$6,675,600) to build. Here's a photo... Why did they choose Samui? Maybe because it’s quieter than Phuket? Perhaps for the unspoilt beaches? Or because beachfront land is easier to find? Whatever their reasons, if you fancy Posh and Becks as your neighbours - you have lots to choose from. If you want privacy - take a look at these... They are hidden in the rainforest a few metres above Laem Yai Beach. These villas are part of the Four Seasons resort - so the service is top-notch. You even get your own private chef, butler and maids. But there are only a few left for sale. Prices start at US$3,355,610. http://www.oceanvillasgroup.com/propertydetail.asp?PropertyID=730 Whatever you want, whenever you want it... That is what W Retreat and Residences promise their owners. These villas are fully managed by ‘W’ (don’t worry that’s the resort operator not the ex-president). You get access to private chefs, butlers, a concierge and chauffeurs. And these are the only villas on Samui where you get sunrise AND sunset views. Three bed villas start at US$2,345,765 - including furniture. http://www.oceanvillasgroup.com/propertydetail.asp?PropertyID=750 This place is just around the corner from Posh and Becks... And it comes with 270 degree ocean views and two kitchens. Why two kitchens? One is for show. The other is in a separate room, for your chef. Let’s face it - you don't want to put up with cooking smells and kitchen noise when you're relaxing. You can have the Beckhams as your neighbours for US$1,991,126. http://www.oceanvillasgroup.com/propertydetail.asp?PropertyID=1248 On a clear day you can almost see Cambodia from here... Sorry. I’m exaggerating. But you can see the East Coast of Samui and Koh Phangan. This villa is in one of the best 5-star resorts on Samui. And you won't need to lift a finger when you stay. You can order room service, a massage in your villa - even your own fireworks display! But if you like it - be quick - it's the only one for sale at the resort. The price is US$1,850,000. http://www.oceanvillasgroup.com/propertydetail.asp?PropertyID=1165 You can't get closer to the beach than this... The Balinese-style villa has steps directly onto the sands at Bophut. You can even moor your boat just off-shore in the high season. The price for your own piece of beachfront is US$1,161,490. http://www.oceanvillasgroup.com/propertydetail.asp?PropertyID=1257 The good news is, recently it's got a lot easier to get to Samui. You can now fly direct from Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and most of Thailand. So if you’d like to know more about these properties drop me a line. And if they don't suit your lifestyle or your budget you can find lots more here: http://www.oceanvillasgroup.com/property.asp?country=3&cname=thailand You can also get lots of interesting info about Koh Samui in my book... ‘The Definitive Guide to buying property in Thailand' If you still haven't got your Free copy you can get yours here. Best, Rebecca



Jerry Seinfeld selling Colorado property for US$18.25 million

Thu, 28 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EST

Jerry Seinfeld, the star and co-creator of hit US television show ‘Seinfeld’, has put his Colorado estate on the property market for US$18.25 million. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains and described as “an evolving series of Western ranch structures”, the twenty six acre property boasts eleven bedrooms and fourteen bathrooms. After he bought the estate, Seinfeld ordered a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of the property. It now has a separate guest house, a hot tub, a steam shower and a four car heated garage. A large patio at the rear overlooks Sunshine and Wilson Peaks, which were made famous in the Coors Brewing Company television advertisements. The area is no stranger to celebrities as the nearby town and ski resort of Telluride is popular with the rich and famous. Other high profile property owners in the locale include billionaire fashion designer Ralph Lauren and Hollywood couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Jerry Seinfeld rose to fame during the 1990’s when he starred in the comedy series ‘Seinfeld’. Co-written by Larry David, the show aired on NBC between July 1989 and May 1998. It ran for nine seasons and one hundred and eighty episodes. The show is set in a fictional apartment block in Manhattan and features Seinfeld’s friends; George Costanza (Jason Alexander); ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus); and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards). The show was so successful that the final episode was watched by over seventy six million viewers. This made it the third most watched finale in television history after M.A.S.H and Cheers. According to Forbes magazine, Seinfeld’s earnings from the show in 2004 were US$267 million, making him the highest earning celebrity that year. The comedy received numerous awards including; the Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’ in 1993; the Golden Globe Award for ‘Best TV Series Comedy’ in 1994; and the Screen Actors Guild Award for ‘Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series’ in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Due to its high viewing figures, the show became the first TV series to command over US$1 million a minute for advertising. The show still generates revenue through syndication and DVD sales. Seinfeld has been repeatedly offered as much as US$5 million per episode to film a tenth series but he has always refused. More recently Seinfeld co-wrote the computer animated film ‘Bee Movie’. Jerry also provides the voice for the lead character, Barry B. Benson, alongside Renee Zellweger, John Goodman and Chris Rock.



Ecclestone buys Aaron Spelling property in Los Angeles for US$85 million

Fri, 22 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EST

Petra Ecclestone, the daughter of F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone, has bought the Los Angeles home of Amercian film and television producer, Aaron Spelling. The twenty two year old fashion designer paid a reported US$85 million for the US property. Spelling bought the house from singer and actor Bing Crosby in 1983. The ‘Starsky and Hutch’ producer then demolished Crosby’s home and built his 5,300m2 mansion in its place. The property, known as The Manor, is located in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles and is the largest single family home in California. The Manor is set on six acres of land and has a total of fourteen bedrooms and twenty seven bathrooms. The property boasts a bowling alley, a gym, a movie theatre and parking space for one hundred cars. Outside, there is a tennis court, a koi pond and a heated swimming pool complete with a pool house, a kitchen and a bar. The mansion also has several rooms dedicated to specific activities such as; a wrapping room; a silverware storage room; a flower cutting room; and a beauty salon. There is even a ‘Prince Charles Room’ where the heir to the UK throne once spent the night. The service wing has five staff bedrooms along with two butler’s suites. Aaron’s wife, Candy Spelling, put the property on the market with an initial asking price of US$150 million in 2009; three years after the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ producers death. This made it the most expensive residential listing in the USA. Although Petra bought the estate at a discount, she is rumoured to have borrowed US$82.4 million from her mother, Salvica. Bernie Ecclestone and Salvica divorced in 2009. Their divorce settlement left Salvica with an estimated fortune of US$1 billion. However, this is not Petra’s first big money property purchase with parental assistance. At the end last year her father bought her a US$91 million, six-storey Grade II listed property in Chelsea, London. Petra is set to marry her finance James Stunt in August.



Steve Coogan swaps Travel Tavern for £2.45 million UK property

Tue, 19 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EST

British comedian and Hollywood actor Steve Coogan won’t need to stay at the local Travel Tavern like his comedy alter-ego ‘Alan Partridge’. He is now the proud new owner of Ovingdean Grange near Brighton in West Sussex, United Kingdom. Coogan paid a reported £2.45 million (US$3.95 million) for the property. The sixteenth century Grade II listed building has six bedrooms a billiard room, a cinema and is surrounded by walled gardens. The property was immortalised in the 1857 novel ‘Ovingdean Grange: A Tale of the South Downs’ by William Harrison Ainsworth. The book is set in England in 1651. It tells the tale of how King Charles II escaped his enemies by hiding in an oak tree in the grounds of the house before he fled to France at the end of the English Civil War. Charles is also thought to have spent an uncomfortable night hiding from The Roundheads in the chimney breast of the master bedroom. And, despite spending just twenty four hours at the house, he is said to have fathered a child in the process. In reality, the defeated king took refuge at Boscobel House in Brewood, Staffordshire. Ainsworth also revealed that his inspiration for the manor house in his most famous work ‘Rookwood’ came from his memories of Ovingdean Grange. Published in 1834, the book popularised the story of highwayman Dick Turpin. Steve Coogan is probably best known for his character ‘Alan Partridge’; a socially inept local radio presenter from Norwich. He has also appeared in several Hollywood films such as; ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, ‘Night at the Museum’, ‘Tropic Thunder’, ‘Hamlet 2’ and ‘The Other Guys’.



Katharine Hepburn Connecticut property on sale for US$28 million

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EST

The former home of legendary film star Katharine Hepburn has been put on the property market for a staggering US$28 million. The estate was owned by the Hepburn family from 1913 until it was sold in 2004 following Katharine’s death in 2003 at the age of 96. Current owners Frank and Barbara Sciame bought the property for US$6 million. So they stand to make a tidy profit if the asking price is met. The colonial style building is located in the borough of Fenwick in the town of Old Saybrook, Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States. The main house has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. It stands on a 3.45 acre (13961sqm) plot and has views across Long Island Sound, with a private beach and a small lake at the rear. The house featured in the 2004 film ‘The Aviator’; a biography of Hollywood director and aviator Howard Hughes with whom Hepburn had a four year love affair. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes and Kate Blanchet as Katharine Hepburn. In 1938, shortly after Hughes and Hepburn had separated, a hurricane completely destroyed the original house. The building is said to have literally floated down Long Island Sound, leaving only rubble and its foundations behind. In fact, the only thing left intact was a single bath tub. However, the Hepburn family were undeterred and decided to rebuild the estate. Born in 1907, Katharine Hepburn was raised in Fenwick and spent most of her childhood at the family home. She was educated at Oxford School, now Kingswood Oxford School, in West Hartford, Connecticut. She then enrolled at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1928. During her time at Bryn Mawr Hepburn developed her acting skills and met Eddie Knopf, a young producer. Knopf cast her in two plays ‘The Czarina’ and ‘The Cradle Snatchers’. In 1932 the actress landed the role of ‘Antiope the Amazon Princess’ in the Broadway play ‘The Warrior’s Husband’. She received excellent reviews. In fact, one RKO scout, Leland Hayward, was so impressed with her performance he asked her to do a screen test for the movie ‘A Bill of Divorcement’. After seeing the screen test, RKO agreed to cast her in the leading role. The following year Hepburn won her first Oscar for her role in ‘Morning Glory’. Hepburn’s career spanned six decades. She co-starred with many silver-screen legends including Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Laurence Olivier and Henry Fonda. She won four Academy Awards for Best Actress; ‘Morning Glory’ (1933); ‘Guess Who's Coming to Dinner’ (1967); ‘The Lion in Winter’ (1968); and ‘On Golden Pond’ (1981). She also won an Emmy Award for her lead role in ‘Love Among the Ruins’ in 1976. In total Katharine Hepburn has appeared in more than fifty films. But it was her role as ‘Rose Sayer’ in the 1951 film ‘The African Queen’ alongside Humphrey Bogart which earned her iconic status. Her first book ‘The Making of The African Queen’ made her a best-selling author at the age of 77.



Singapore property developer to invest billions in Thailand condominiums

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EST

Bangkok, Thailand: Singapore based property developer, Dalvey Developments Limited, has announced plans to invest one billion baht (US$33 million) into building condominiums in Thailand over the next twelve months. Going forward, the company intends to develop a new real estate project in Thailand every two years. Over the past six years the Singaporean property developer has completed three condominium projects in Bangkok; Haus 23 Ratchada-Lat Phrao, a two hundred and thirty six apartment project in Lat Phrao costing 900 million baht; DLV Thonglor 20, a low rise project with seventy nine units in Thonglor district; and Click Condo, another low rise condominium with seventy nine units in the Sukhumvit area of the Thai capital. “The company is shrugging off political uncertainties, noting that Thailand is a very attractive market with high growth potential. Moreover, property prices remain low when compared to neighbouring countries,” commented Dalvey’s business development manager, Noel Goh. The property developer is also looking to diversify into hotel and management services in Bangkok and other provinces of Thailand. However, according to Noel Goh, the short term focus for Dalvey Developments is the condominium market in Thailand: “If we can find good deals, we are willing to allocate another budget up to one billion baht for acquisitions. These investments would be for the long term,” he continued. The company is also looking to invest in other countries throughout Asia, with Malaysia and China already being earmarked as locations for future real estate projects. Dalvey was founded in 2004 and is owned by Heeton Holdings, a Singapore based public listed company. Heeton Holdings was established in 1976. Since then it has developed retail outlets as well as small to medium size property projects throughout Singapore. The company is also one of the largest private operators of wet markets in Singapore. It collectively manages over two hundred market stalls in Tampines, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Serangoon and Fajar.



The Definitive Guide to buying property in Thailand – new 2011 edition

Mon, 04 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EST

If you are considering buying property in Thailand you will probably be interested in this free guide. It should help you to avoid the most common pitfalls and scams. It was written by Rebecca Smith who has lived and worked in Thailand for over 7 years. And it’s not the standard stuff you’d expect from most real estate agents and developers. ‘The Definitive Guide to buying property in Thailand’ tells you in simple language what you need to know from a buyer’s perspective - warts and all. The new 2011 edition has just been released and is completely revised and updated. You’ll find Rebecca’s engaging, no-nonsense style a refreshing change from the usual hype you come across when you are looking for a property. And it includes a huge 41-page directory of useful contacts in Thailand and a 38-point checklist you can use when you buy your property in Thailand. ‘The Definitive Guide to buying property in Thailand’ looks at property in Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, Koh Lanta, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. Inside Rebecca tells you: • Which land titles are not really land titles at all • The best areas for investment (and the ones to avoid) • How you can own a freehold property in your own name • Some of the tricks estate agents and developers will try to play on you • And much more - some might shock you, but others will show you simple ways to get far more for your money Rebecca commented; “Buying real estate in Thailand is confusing at the best of times. When I wrote this I tried my best to simplify it as much as possible so readers could understand all their options and the processes involved. It has long sickened me to see the misinformation other agents and property developers use when they sell their properties. So I wanted to expose some of these lies and half-truths for what they are because often this can mean people’s dream homes turn into real nightmares.” To sum up, this essential guide cuts through the hype and gives you the hard facts about buying property in Thailand - in language you can understand. You can get your Free copy by visiting the link below: http://blog.oceanvillasgroup.com/the-definitive-guide-to-buying-property-in-thailand/



London property: BBC Television Centre up for grabs

Fri, 24 Jun 2011 00:00:00 EST

London, UK: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has finally put its London Television Centre up for sale. BBC Television Centre officially opened on 29th June 1960. It was one of the first buildings in the world designed exclusively for making television programmes. The London landmark is currently home to five thousand BBC employees. But plans to relocate to other BBC offices, such as MediaCity in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester and Broadcasting House in Portland Place, Marylebone, Central London by 2015 mean the Grade II Listed building will be surplus to requirements. The fourteen acre site at White City in West London is rumoured to be on the market for £300 million (US$492 million) but it appears that all offers are being considered: “The BBC is seeking expressions of interest from the market for either a conventional, freehold property sale or alternative proposals possibly based around a joint venture partnership.” said a BBC spokesman. Known to BBC employees as ‘The Doughnut’, it was suggested that the large round building could be converted into a BBC museum. However, the proposal was quickly dismissed. Studios at ‘The Doughnut’ have been the birth place for many popular BBC TV shows, such as Fawlty Towers, Doctor Who and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It is also home to Radio 5 Live and the majority of the UK’s national TV and radio news programmes. One of the longest running children’s television shows in history, Blue Peter, has its famous garden at the back of the studios. But if you are a fan don’t worry; the Blue Peter Garden will be relocated to the roof of the MediaCity building in Manchester. “Television Centre has played an extraordinary and central role in the history of the BBC, which will not be forgotten. Our primary aim of the sale is to maximise the value to the BBC and licence fee-payer whilst ensuring the teams and operations based there are successfully relocated,” commented Richard Deverell, programme director at BBC Television Centre. The BBC owns a total of 585,000 square metres of property in 483 locations throughout the UK. The broadcaster has plans to reduce this by thirty per cent over the next few years.



Ellen DeGeneres selling Beverley Hills property for $60 million

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 00:00:00 EST

Gay comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, Australian actress Portia de Rossi-DeGeneres, are selling their Beverley Hills property for a cool US$60 million. The couple bought the 1115m2 estate in 2007 for US$29 million from Max Mutchnick, co-creator of the US TV show ‘Will & Grace’. A year later Ellen and Portia spent a further US$19 million to buy three adjacent properties. They demolished one house completely to make way for a private park. The two which remain are now used as guest houses. The DeGeneres estate is located on its own private street. The main house has three bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a swimming pool and gym. All three properties have views across the Los Angeles Basin. DeGeneres, fifty three, and de Rossi, thirty eight, have been together since 2004. They married on August 16th 2008, the same year that gay marriages became legal in the State of California. The ceremony took place at their Beverley Hills home. Ellen DeGeneres was born and raised in Metairie, Louisiana, the daughter of a speech therapist and an insurance agent. She has a brother, Vance DeGeneres, who is a musician and producer. DeGeneres began her career performing at comedy clubs during the 1970s. By the 1980s her stand-up show had gained such popularity that she took it on tour throughout the United States. And in 1982 she was named as Showtime’s Funniest Person in America. DeGeneres’ stand-up material became the basis of her popular sitcom ‘Ellen’. The show was produced by ABC and aired from 1994 to 1998. Its popularity reached a peak in 1997 when Ellen publically announced her homosexuality on The Oprah Winfrey Show. As her TV character involved playing herself, she then ‘came out’ in an episode of ‘Ellen’. However, declining ratings led to the show being cancelled in 1998. Her character ‘Ellen’ was revived in a 2001 series titled ‘The Ellen Show’ which ran for eighteen episodes. In 2003 DeGeneres was given the chance to host her own live chat show on CBS called ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’. The show is still running today. She has also appeared as a judge on season nine of Simon Cowell’s American Idol in 2010. Ellen DeGeneres has won a total of eleven Daytime Emmy Awards and eleven People’s Choice Awards for her work on ‘Ellen’ and later ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’. She also won the Kid’s Choice Award for favourite female voice in the animated movie ‘Finding Nemo’. Ellen’s wife Portia de Rossi played Nelly Porter in the US legal comedy drama ‘Ally McBeal’. She also starred as Lindsay Bluth Funke in the Emmy Award winning US TV series ‘Arrested Development’. De Rossi is due to bring back her role as Bluth Funke for a movie adaptation of the show next year.



Lots more property in Spain for Travelodge

Wed, 25 May 2011 00:00:00 EST

Madrid, Spain: Budget hotel chain Travelodge and their property development partners Citygrove have announced the start of their expansion in Spain. Travelodge already operate three hotels in the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona and have revealed plans to open a further fifty properties in Spain over the next ten years. “Our existing three hotels have been trading well. When a country has economic concerns it is the time consumers choose a low-cost model," said Paul Harvey, the managing director of Travelodge. "Budget is now understood by the Spanish. They travel on EasyJet and understand the concept. At present there are very few budget hotels - in Spain the hotel sector is predominantly expensive mid-market hotels that are underinvested. We have also been helped by the fact that the Spanish's use of the internet has grown so online booking is up," Harvey added. Standard Life Investments has already agreed to finance the building of a new two hundred and fifty room Travelodge in central Barcelona at a cost of US$45.5 million. Once complete, Travelodge will operate the hotel on behalf of Standard Life Investments. Spanish bank BBVA will also fund a one hundred and sixteen room property in Valencia. Citygrove is now looking for investors to back a new two hundred room hotel in Seville. Travelodge are also keen to open additional properties in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Bilbao and Granada. "Spanish banks such as BBVA or Santander will still lend on property, but only for certain deals such as development where there is a pre-let to a tenant. Like in the UK many of the banks have an overhang of debt and they need to clear this”, Citygrove chairman Toby Baines commented. Travelodge was founded by Scott King in 1939. The company’s first motel opened the same year in Southern California, USA. In North America Travelodge is franchised to Wyndham Worldwide; the world’s largest hotel chain. In the UK the brand was purchased by Lord Forte in the 1980s and marketed as Forte Travelodge. Now known as Travelodge UK, the brand has over three hundred hotels throughout Britain with a total of over twenty thousand rooms. This makes the company the third largest hotel chain in the United Kingdom. Travelodge has always promoted itself as a budget hotel chain; offering its guests basic lodging whilst travelling. The company’s properties are often located near motorways and airports. However, not all Travelodge’s guests are on the move. In fact, the Guinness World Record holders for the ‘longest time spent in a hotel’ spent all of it at a Travelodge. David and Jean Davidson, a retired couple originally from Sheffield, arrived at the Newark Travelodge in 1985. They relocated to the Workshop Travelodge and then to the Grantham Travelodge. The elderly couple stayed a total of twenty two years before they left. In their honour the Newark Travelodge named their old room ‘The Davidson Suite’. "I really like living here as it's so convenient and our room is on the ground floor so there are no stairs or lifts to deal with. I don't have this kind of room in our flat in Sheffield. It's spacious and makes things easier for us. We don't get hit with huge heating bills over the winter and it's safer than a lot of places these days. For us it's a better and cheaper option than an old people's home and we're well looked after," said David Davidson. The question is; are we about to see a Spanish challenge to the Davidson’s world record?



Katy Perry Russell Brand sell LA property, New York apartment likely new home?

Tue, 17 May 2011 00:00:00 EST

Celebrity couple Katy Perry and Russell Brand have decided to sell their luxury Los Angeles home after living in the property for just two years. The couple, who married in October last year, have put their 1922 Mediterranean style property on the market for US$3.395 million. The house comes complete with a three car garage, four bedrooms, a swimming pool and views over Los Angeles. However, Perry and Brand are taking a few things with them such as the twenty five foot high ‘love tepee’ Russell had installed and the retro look, pink refrigerator Katy bought for the kitchen. Rumours suggest that the couple have decided to make their US$2.7 million New York apartment their permanent home. "My husband is my number one priority. We have an amazing relationship. It's important that I'm not always rushing around everywhere too much. I have to take the time to live life and have experiences,” said the twenty six year old pop singer. Katy Perry is an American pop star who grew up listening to gospel music and singing at her local church. Born as Katy Hudson in 1984, she released her first album under this name in 2001 but the gospel album was a flop. Following several attempts to break into the big time she signed with Capitol Music in 2007 and took on the stage name Katy Perry. She finally found fame in 2008 with her single ‘I Kissed a Girl’, which topped the international music charts. But the song brought criticism from religious groups and the gay community. Bizarrely the former accused Perry of “needlessly promoting homosexuality” and the latter labelled the song as “homophobic”. In November of the same year Perry released her first studio album ‘Ur So Gay’ which brought her lots of public attention but failed to reach the charts. Since then, her singles ‘Hot n Cold’, ‘California Girls’, ‘Teenage Dream’, ‘Firework’ and ‘E.T.’ have all topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the USA. She has also appeared on Simon Cowell’s UK TV show, ‘The X Factor’, as a celebrity judge. Produced her own perfume called Purr. And she’s the voice of ‘Smurfette’ in the 2011 animated film ‘The Smurfs’. Russell Brand started his career as a stand-up comedian. In 2000 he made it to the final of the ‘Hackney Empire New Act of the Year’ in London. Although he only finished fourth, his performance attracted the attention of agent Nigel Klarfeld of Gagged and Bound Comedy Limited. His first TV presenting job came in 2000 when he worked for MTV on their ‘Dancefloor Chart’ in which he toured nightclubs throughout Britain and Ibiza. On 12th September 2001 Brand presented the show dressed as Osama Bin Laden; only a day after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. He was immediately fired by MTV. Brand is also infamous for his use of illegal drugs. In fact, at the height of his addiction he introduced his drug dealer to Kylie Minogue whilst interviewing her on MTV. However, the TV presenter claims he has not taken drugs since 2002 and he is now the patron of the addiction charity Focus 12. Brand’s radio career began in 2002 at London’s Indie rock station Xfm. But shortly after being hired he was sacked for reading pornographic material live on air. In 2004 Brand took his stand up show ‘Better Now’ to the Edinburgh Festival, the largest comedy festival in the world. The show provided a humorous account of his years using illicit drugs. In 2005 he auditioned for the role of Super Hans in the hit Channel 4 TV sitcom Peep Show but was rejected by writers Jesse Ar[...]



Don King selling heavyweight property in Florida, USA - again

Thu, 12 May 2011 00:00:00 EST

Florida, USA: Legendary boxing promoter Don King has re-listed his Florida property for US$20 million, after removing the house from sale back in June 2010. The three acre, luxury ocean front estate in Manalapan, Florida, USA was first put on sale in 2009 for US$27.5 million. However King received little interest and decided to delist the property in summer last year. The luxury property features two houses; a nine bedroom, 1,672 square metres (18,000 square feet) mansion and a smaller five bedroom guest property of 631 square metres (6,800 square feet). Both properties have their own swimming pools. At the rear of the estate a replica Statue of Liberty overlooks the ninety one metres (300 feet) of beach frontage. King bought the house in 1999 for US$7.8 million and later the same year purchased the adjacent five bedroom house for US$6.5 million. When King first listed the property in 2009 he told the Wall Street Journal; “I need to downsize”, as it had become increasingly difficult for the seventy nine year old to walk from one house to the other. "I'm going to move to wherever I can find a nice little cosy, US$10 million to US$5 million house,” he added. Don King was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1931. His father Clarence was a steelworker and his mother Hattie a baker. His first enterprise was an illegal bookmaking business based in his home town. In fact, by the time he was twenty years old King was making so much money from ‘running numbers’ he decided to drop out of Case Western Reserve University. In 1954 King was charged with killing Hillary Brown after he shot him in the back whilst he was trying to rob one of King’s gambling houses. He was later acquitted on the grounds of justifiable homicide. As King’s business flourished in the late 1950’s he bought shares in a popular Cleveland supper club. And in 1960 he met a young Olympic boxing champion called Cassius Clay at the club. The pair became friends and King started to follow the fighter all around the USA to attend his fights. Then in 1966 King got involved in an argument with Sam Garrett, an employee, over a US$600 debt King felt Garrett owed him. The row became physical and in the course of the scuffle Garrett's head hit the floor. He later died from his injuries. Some witnesses said King had beaten Garrett mercilessly, but King claimed Garrett attacked him first and he was defending himself. At the subsequent trial in 1967, King was convicted of manslaughter and sent to the Marion Correctional Institution in Ohio. After serving just four years of his jail his sentence, King was paroled in September 1971. He was eventually granted a full pardon by Ohio Governor James Rhodes in 1983. King had used his time inside to educate himself in philosophy and classic literature. He was now determined to leave the numbers game behind, so he began looking for legitimate business opportunities. King first cut his teeth as a boxing promoter in 1972, when he organized a benefit to try and keep Cleveland's only black hospital, Forest City Hospital, from closing down. He managed to persuade Muhammad Ali (the former Cassius Clay) to fight a ten-round exhibition match against four different opponents. The event was a huge success and raised over US$80,000 for the hospital. It also convinced King that there was money to be made as a boxing promoter. King's big breakthrough as a promoter came in 1974, when he set up Don King Productions and masterminded the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" heavyweight title fight between Ali and George F[...]



Bulgari to open new property in London Knightsbridge for 2012 Olympics

Mon, 02 May 2011 00:00:00 EST

Luxury Italian brand Bulgari has just received approval for a new luxury hotel in London’s exclusive Knightsbridge area. The Bulgari Hotel and Residences are due to be completed in May 2012, just before the start of the 2012 London Olympics. The new luxury hotel will have seventy eight rooms and five apartments, with six apartments and a penthouse available for sale to private investors. CEO of Bulgari Group, Francesco Trapani, commented; “We are extremely proud to be able to open a Bulgari Hotel in the heart of London, something that we have wanted to do for a long time. This hotel - the first new build luxury hotel in London for over 40 years - will be another important element in the Bulgari Hotels & Resorts project. I’m convinced that it will be a further statement of our brand in the UK, which is a strategic market for luxury goods.” The Bulgari Hotel and Residences will replace the Normandie Hotel which was demolished to make way for the new building. The original building was constructed in 1911 and became the Knightsbridge Palace Hotel. It was renamed the Normandie Hotel in 1937. The Normandie Hotel finally closed its doors in 1977 when the upper floors were converted to apartments for holiday lets. Since 1987 the building has been awaiting redevelopment and several proposals have been submitted for a new hotel. The most recent was in 2006 when Waterloo Real Estate were given permission to build a 155 room hotel. The company sold the project to three investors in 2007. The Bulgari Hotel and Residences will be designed by Italian architect Antonio Citterio, who also designed Bulgari’s other two hotels in Bali and Milan. “Constructing a new building in this part of London is an extraordinary achievement because the city tends to be extremely conservative due to its consolidated urban plan. The architectural style of the project reflects the rigour of the Bulgari Hotel in Milan: its classic, solid, contemporary style will consolidate the urban landscape in an area of London that is undergoing a profound transformation. In this sense, the use of Portland stone and bronze, which are typical materials of the architectural style of public buildings in London, and the meticulous façade design reveal a rigorous, modern approach to the theme.” opined Citterio. The site is close to the London landmarks of Harrods, Harvey Nichols, The Royal Albert Hall, The Natural History Museum and Hyde Park. Bulgari originally started as an Italian jeweller and luxury goods retailer run by its Greek founder Sotirio Voulgaris. Voulgaris began his career as a jeweller in his home village of Paramythia in Epirus, Greece. His original shop is still there today. In 1881 Voulgaris moved to Rome and in 1884 he founded Bulgari, opening his second shop on the Via Sistina in the Italian Capital. The company’s flagship store on the Via Dei Condotti in Rome opened in 1905. It quickly became the place for the world’s rich and famous to buy unique, high quality jewellery designs which combined Roman and Greek art. During the 1970’s Bulgari opened its first international stores in New York, Geneva and Monte Carlo, along with a showroom at the New York Pierre Hotel. Today Bulgari has two hundred and thirty retail outlets worldwide. Bulgari moved into the hotel market in 2001 when they signed a joint venture with Mariott International, the American hotel operator. The plan was to invest US$140 million over five years to develop hotels in London, Paris, New York, Miami and Sou[...]



Thailand property developer invests US$300 million in India real estate

Sat, 30 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

Bangkok, Thailand: Leading Thailand property developer, Pruksa Real Estate PLC, has unveiled ambitious plans to invest US$300 million in the Indian property market over the next five years. The Thai developer is set to build property in major Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore under the company’s flag ship Indian brand, Pruksa India Construction Pvt. Ltd. The news follows the success of the real estate developer’s first project in India, Pruska Silvana in Bangalore. The twenty six acre project, made up of 438 terraced houses and 321 villas, broke ground in 2009 and is scheduled for completion in May this year. The company already own twenty five acres of land in Mumbai and it is likely this will be the site for their next property development in India. “Demand for housing in India is strong and we think it’s a good investment for us. We want to bring in luxury living at affordable prices in India. Pruksa’s entry into India is a major milestone for us, as it has always been our dream to be a part of this country,” commented Pruska’s founder and chief executive officer, Thongma Vijitpongpun. “Bangalore has a forward looking attitude, a population of various demographics and, most importantly, more than half the world trusts Bangalore for its software and the presence of some widely travelled people who will recognise quality when they see one,” he added. The Thai real estate developer has also invested in Mumbai in a joint venture with Soham Developers and is building another project in Chennai with Mohan Mutha Infrastructures. Pruksa is also considering new projects in Chennai, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Haryana. “Our mission is to be the leading property developer in Asia and across the globe and at the same time, deliver superbly designed and perfectly executed living spaces at amazingly affordable prices. We intend to be intensely aware of the pulse of our customers and exceed their expectations every time,” Vijitpongpun concluded. Pruska is keen to expand throughout Asia and already have an affordable housing project under construction in the Maldives. In addition the company is exploring opportunities in Vietnam and China. Founded in 1993 Pruksa Real Estate PLC builds town homes, single detached houses and condominiums in city centre suburbs and surrounding areas.



Die Hard star Bruce Willis loses $310,000 on property in New York, USA

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

According to news reports, Hollywood A-Lister Bruce Willis has sold his property at Trump Place, New York, making a US$310,000 loss in the process. The star of the 20th Century Fox series of Die Hard movies bought the apartment in 2007 for a reported US$4.26 million but apparently he was so keen to sell the apartment he accepted an offer of just US$3.95 million. The 2,318 square foot property is located on the twentieth floor of Trump Place and has three bedrooms and three bathrooms with views of New York’s Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge. The sale appears to be setting a trend for Willis as, in September 2010, he accepted an offer of US$6 million for his nightclub The Mint in Hailey, Idaho, which he bought with his former wife Demi Moore in 1990. The night club had ceased trading a year earlier, although Demi still owns the recently remodelled Old Drug Store Building just across the street. After his first child Rumer was born Willis decided to ditch the Hollywood lifestyle and go in search of a place where his family could lead a normal life. After an unsuccessful few years trying to settle in Ketchum, Idaho, he eventually found the town of Hailey where he bought the 18,000 acre Flying Heart Ranch for US$7 million, just outside the town. In fact, Willis has been buying property in Hailey for the past twenty years and once said it was like “living in the 1950s”. He hoped his efforts would bring prosperity to the small town. And, even though the Armageddon star has been pruning his property portfolio he does still own plenty of properties which he can fall back on, such as; a home in Malibu, California; a ranch in Montana; a beach house in Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands; and the Liberty Theatre in Hailey, Idaho. Willis is also a co-founder of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, along with fellow actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Trump Place, also known as Riverside South, is a US$3 billion development set on fifty six acres between New York City’s 59th street and 72nd street. It is the largest privately developed project to be built in New York City to date.



Thailand property developer Sansiri target properties in London and New York

Mon, 25 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

Bangkok, Thailand: Leading Thai property developer Sansiri Group PLC has announced that over the next few years the company will focus on overseas property development. The group said they would be concentrating on London and New York where supply is low and demand for property is high. The company’s first London project is due to be officially launched in May. Just six units will be available at the US$19.8 million property in South Kensington, which features Thai style interiors. “We are focusing on Thais who need an investment or want to buy a residence in London or New York, generating an average yield of four or five percent a year,” commented Srettha Thavisin, Sansiri Group president. “The property markets in London and New York have shown good signs of recovery since the second half of last year, with banks in both markets starting to provide mortgages to home-buyers, and where the rental sector is also recovering. New York has a vacancy rate of only 2 per cent, which demonstrates strong demand for residences in the city. This is the first overseas project for the company,” he added. The project is expected to achieve a net profit of at least fifteen percent and account for three percent of the company’s overall revenue target of 22 billion baht (US$735 million) for this financial year. The company also announced it is considering expanding into other locations such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya in Thailand. “We are optimistic about the demand for residential projects this year, in the current absence of business risks that will impact the market. We are concerned only about the domino effect from the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa, which will affect oil prices. However, it is not possible to estimate the business effect from this risk.” Thavisin concluded. Sansiri are due to start construction of a luxury condominium called Centre Point on Bangkok’s Wireless Road later this year. The property is due for completion in three years and when units go on sale prices are expected to be around US$13,400 per square metre; making it the most expensive condominium in Thailand. Founded in 1984 Sansiri Group is one of the largest property developers in Thailand and the third Thai developer to invest in overseas projects recently. The other two are; Land & Houses with projects in the Philippines and Indonesia; and Pruksa Real Estate which has invested in the Maldives, India and Vietnam. The group are also the only property developer in South East Asia to win a Commendation for Excellence at the Asia Pacific Real Estate Awards.



London, UK: One Hyde Park property sells for US$225 million to World’s 4th richest man

Sat, 23 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

London, UK: The Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, has bought what is set to become Britain’s most expensive apartment. According to reports he paid £136 million ($US225 million) for the property at One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge, London. Although it’s unlikely the forty-four year old self-made billionaire was concerned about the price tag as he’s listed as the worlds’ fourth richest man in the Forbes Rich List 2011. Forbes estimate his total wealth at around £9.7 billion (US$16 billion). In fact, Akhmetov bought two adjoining properties at One Hyde Park and is having them knocked together to make a single three storey penthouse. He’s also ordered a £60 million (US$100 million) refit. The sale of the London property makes One Hyde Park potentially the world’s most expensive apartment block. According to a report by the Financial Times the property was bought in the name of Akhmetov’s holding company System Capital Management. The son of a former coal miner, Akhmetov made his first million trading coal and coke during the 1990s. During this period he forged a strong relationship with the Prime Minister of the time, Viktor Yanukovych. He now serves as a member of parliament representing Yanukovych’s party. In 2000 the Ukrainian business magnate founded conglomerate System Capital Management which has grown into one of the Ukraine's leading financial and industrial companies. He is also the owner of FC Shakhtar Donetsk and recently spent US$4 billion building the club a new stadium. The 50,000 seater Donbass Arena will host games during the 2012 European Football Championship. One Hyde Park is located in London’s trendy Knightsbridge district and was designed by Lord Rogers. The acclaimed architect is famous for his work on the Pompidou Centre in Paris, France; the Lloyd's Building and Millennium Dome in London; and the European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg, France. Unsurprisingly the owners list at One Hyde Park reads like a who’s who of celebrities and business tycoons, although many of their identities are a closely guarded secret due to confidentiality agreements. I few I can tell you about are; Mohammed Sultan Al Qasimi, head of finance for the government of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates; Vladmir Kim, a billionaire from Kazakhstan; Ray Grehan, the founder of Irish residential developer Glenkerrin. However, the most famous buyer revealed to date is Kylie Minogue, who recently purchased a property at One Hyde Park for £15.7 million (US$26 million). If you are interested, you can read more about that here... Properties at One Hyde Park start at £6.75 million (US$11.2 million), although the majority of the apartments cost between £27 million (US$44.6 million) and £33 million (US$54.5 million).



Profumo Affair property in UK up for grabs?

Fri, 22 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

The holding company of Von Essen Hotels, Von Essen Group, has been placed in the hands of administrators Ernst & Young as it struggles to pay off debts of £250 million (US$383 million). Ernst & Young were appointed as administrators by Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group after the holding company failed to make interest payments on their £250 million debt. Ernst & Young confirmed the administration only affected the holding company Von Essen Group and that its twenty eight hotels throughout the UK and France would be operating normally. “It is business as usual for the hotels and customers of Von Essen Hotels can continue to enjoy their stay," commented Angela Swarbrick, joint administrator. Founded in 1996 by Chairman Andrew Davies, Von Essen Group are expected to sell off assets including luxury houses and castles, such as Amberley Castle; a nine hundred year old citadel in West Sussex, United Kingdom. Experts have speculated that the company’s collapse is a consequence of Davies’ attempts to attract outside investors to reduce the Von Essen Group’s debts. Industry insiders claim that Barclays has become increasingly worried at the accuracy of Davies’s property valuations. In his last financial report Davies claimed the group’s assets were worth £430 million (US$711 million), far higher than the £250 million (US$383 million) of debt and additional liabilities of £34 million (US$56 million). In fact, the group’s 2010 accounts show an operating profit of £25 million (US$41 million) from a turnover of £74.2 million (US$122.5 million). The annual report shows a retained net profit of £1.94 million (US$3.2 million). But it is expected that when the full accounts are filed they will show a loss. So far Andrew Davies has been unavailable for comment. Von Essen Group were selected as the World's Leading Boutique Hotel Group at the 2010 World Travel Awards. The awards were introduced 18 years ago and reward organisations who have made a consistent and significant impact on customer service within the travel and tourism industry. Property experts are predicting that there could well be a bidding frenzy for Von Essen Group’s properties when they go under the hammer. One of England’s most famous country houses, Cliveden House, situated on the banks of the river Thames in Berkshire, is likely to be up for sale. The property is best known from the notorious Profumo Affair, a British polital sex scandal involving John Profumo and Christine Keeler in the 1960’s. John Profumo was the Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's government. Cliveden House was previously home to the First Earl of Orkney; Frederick Lewis a former Prince of Wales; the Duke of Sutherland and the Duke of Westminster.



Jack Nicholson selling $4.25 million property in Malibu, California

Thu, 21 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson has put his property in Malibu, California up for sale for US$4.25 million. The ranch style property was built in 1966 on a twenty eight acre plot and includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a separate guest house, a tennis court, a cabana, a putting green, a swimming pool and a spa. The seventy nine year old actor bought the property in 1977 and has now decided it’s time for a change. Located in a secluded mountainous area of California, the property features mountain views to the north and views of the Pacific Ocean at the rear. The interiors have a rustic theme with exposed beams, wood panelled ceilings and two hundred and fourteen square metres of living space. In fact, the property is very modest for such a high profile, A-list celebrity, having been described as “bland at best” by some. It is not clear where Nicholson will move next but, given his extensive property portfolio, he won’t be short of choice. Nicholson owns a four lot compound in Beverley Hills, a two bedroom home in Cahuenga Pass, Los Angeles, three properties in Aspen, Colorado and a five bedroom home in Kailua, Hawaii. The veteran actor’s career spans five decades during which he has received a total of twelve nominations for Oscars; eight for Best Actor and four for Best Supporting Actor. He is to date the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history, winning the Best Actor category for his roles in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ in 1975 and ‘As Good As It Gets’ in 1997. Although who can forget his deranged character Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s The Shining in 1980? Only Nicholson and British actor Michael Caine have been nominated for acting role Oscars in five different decades. Despite his age it seems the Hollywood star has no intention of retiring; he has just finished filming his latest movie ‘Americana’ which is set in the 1860s in America’s Confederate South. The movie tells the story of a farmer and a slave owner who flee the American Civil War for Brazil. Nicholson plays the lead Edgar Johnson.



Hollywood comes to Murcia, Spain - Property enquiries surge

Tue, 19 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

Murcia, Spain: On 25th March 2011 Paramount Pictures made the official announcement that they have selected Murcia in Spain for the site of the largest theme park in Europe. Interestingly this resulted in the highest number of weekend enquiries for Spanish property in five years. Paramount are aiming to compete with Disneyland, Paris. Is this possible? Murcian Councillor for Culture Pedro Alberto Cruz seems to think so, commenting; "the region of Murcia will become the “Leisure Centre of Spain”, with a 2.5km² complex with 15,000 beds in hotels, creating 20,000 jobs and attracting 3 million tourists [per year] to Spain." The president of the Paramount Murcia project was even more optimistic, saying that he expects Paramount to bring over 5,000,000 tourists to the Murcia region by the year 2020. The theme park will be set on 158 hectares of land and will feature themed zones inspired by Paramount films such as Star Trek, Titanic and Mission Impossible. There will also be a large 'Lifestyle Centre' with three, four and five star hotels, themed shopping malls, restaurants, bars and clubs. Alongside this will be a conference centre with the largest meeting room capacity in Murcia (over 3,000 seats) and an open-air auditorium which will hold 15,000 people. As well as the theme park, Paramount will be centralising all their European film production at the site which will create thousands of new jobs in the Murcia region. The Paramount Theme Park will be just 20 minutes from the new Murcia International Airport which is due to open later this year. It's also only 20 minutes from the beaches of Mar Menor - a tourist hot spot where English Premiership football clubs regularly hold training camps. The project is scheduled to be operational by 2015. Despite the doom and gloom reported by the media, Spain continues to be one of the most popular places in Europe to buy property. Spain is the third most visited country in the world and attracts more than 59 million tourists per year.



London Property Canary Wharf Citigroup Tower on sale for US$1.6 billion - China set to buy

Mon, 18 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

London, United Kingdom: The Citigroup Tower in London Docklands’ Canary Wharf has been put on the property market for £1 billion (US$1.6 billion). The property was sold to Gardenprime Ltd. in July 2007 for £1 billion (US$1.6 billion) as part of a joint venture between Glenn Maud and Derek Quinlan. The forty two storey Citigroup Tower is Britain’s third tallest building and acts as Citigroup’s worldwide headquarters. After the two Irish entrepreneurs bought the tower in 2007 commercial property values in London nose-dived as a result of the global recession. In fact, between 2007 and 2009 prices in London plummeted by as much as forty four percent. Sole tenant Citigroup still have twenty four years left to run on their lease, with the current rental income being £47.50 (US$77.3) per square foot. This provides a total income of £57.6 million (US$93.7 million) per annum for the current owners. “The buyer can expect the annual income return on the initial investment for the 1.22 million square foot office tower to hit near £70 million (US$114 million) within 10 years and over £100 million (US$163 million) within 20 years,” commented a spokesman for real estate agent Jones Lang LaSalle. According to recent reports, the Citigroup Tower could soon be in the hands of the Chinese. On the 16th April 2011 China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation, announced that it has opened negotiations to buy the tower. In 2009 China’s sovereign wealth fund, in partnership with the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar and several small investors, paid off a £880 million (US$1.4 billion) loan in return for shares in Songbird Estates, which currently owns sixty nine percent of Canary Wharf. If the sale goes ahead Maud and Quinlan hope it will set a new record for London Docklands by surpassing the £772.5 million (US$1.2 billion) paid by the South Korean National Pension Service to buy HSBC’s Canary Wharf headquarters two years ago. HSBC will pay the new owners £46 million (US$ 74.7 million) per year in rent for the remaining seventeen and a half years of their lease. No wonder our bank charges are so outrageously high.



China bans overseas investment in villa projects

Sat, 16 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

Beijing, China: In further efforts to slow record high property prices and control inflation in China, the Chinese government has banned all foreign investment in the construction and management of villas. The change to the ‘Catalogue Guiding Foreign Investment in Industry’ guidelines, last revised in 2007, now lists foreign investment in the construction and management of villas in the ‘prohibited’ category. Previously this was listed as ‘restricted’. The state planning National Development and Research Commission and the Ministry of Commerce announced the revisions, which are designed to gauge public opinion before the end of April. "This is just a gesture you see from time to time. Supposedly if you want to cool the market, you should increase the supply. It is counter-intuitive to try and limit money going into the sector, commented David Ng an analyst at the Royal Bank of Scotland. "There will be some impact, but it will not be very big. Foreign exchange curbs and difficulties in acquiring land already limited some foreign investment in villas,” said Albert Lau, managing director of Savills Shanghai. Most real estate experts have reacted to the new rules by stating that foreign investors are undeterred by China's policy tightening spree. However, before the ‘restricted’ regulation came into force in 2007 foreign investment from outside Asia accounted for thirty three per cent of property investment in China. In 2008, that more than halved to twelve per cent, before dropping to just two per cent in 2009. This only improved slightly in 2010 when overseas investment rose to seven per cent. Recently, the U.S. based China Business Council recommended that the secondary property market in China should be moved to the ‘encouraged’ category to open up the market to property developments controlled by foreign businesses. But, as property prices remain high, there is no indication China will relax any of its real estate regulations for foreign investors any time soon.



Movenpick Resort & Spa, Cebu opens on Mactan Island, Philippines

Wed, 13 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

Manila, Philippines: The Swiss based hotel chain Movenpick Hotels and Resorts has officially taken over the management of the Hilton Cebu Hotel and Resort on Mactan Island, Philippines. The Movenpick Resort and Spa Cebu is Movenpick’s first venture in the Philippines and marks the first step in its’ aggressive expansion plans for Asia. The resort consists of two hundred and forty six rooms, including seventy four spa suites and is owned by Oikonomos International Resources Corporation. Their previous management agreement with Hilton Worldwide started in 2005. “We are very excited about our arrival in the Philippines. It is a significant milestone for Movenpick Hotels and Resorts as it marks our 15th signed hotel in Asia,” Jean Gabriel Peres, president and CEO of Movenpick Hotels and Resorts, commented. “Movenpick plans to make an immediate impact on the market by offering visitors a new type of service with genuine caring for guests and clients at its core,” added Helmut Gaisberger, Movenpick director for business development and temporary general manager of Movenpick Resort and Spa Cebu, although he gave no further details about the new type of service. The five star hotel chain currently manage ninety hotels in twenty six countries and serve six million guests each year. The World Travel Market in London named Movenpick Hotels and Resorts as the "fastest growing hotel chain in the Middle East" in 2003. In October 2010 Movenpick announced plans for three new projects in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui, Thailand, with two additional projects earmarked for Thailand by 2014. In October last year the company also announced the development of the Movenpick Shanghai China with King Land Real Estate Ltd. This three hundred room hotel will be the first of several resort developments planned by Movenpick for mainland China.



Kylie Minogue buys property in Knightsbridge, London for $26 million

Fri, 08 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

According to reports, ‘pop princess’ Kylie Minogue has just bought a new apartment in London’s most expensive apartment block, One Hyde Park, for £16 million (US$26 million). Kylie, who started her five night Aphrodite show at London's O2 Concert Arena on 7th April, has apparently been looking for a home in which she can settle down with her Spanish boyfriend Andres Velencoso and perhaps start a family. When interviewed, the forty year old admitted that she would "love" to become a mother and would "absolutely" look into adoption "because children and family are very important" to her. Kylie’s new three bedroom apartment comes complete with a private cinema, a twenty-one metre swimming pool, a private sauna, a gym, a golf simulator, a wine cellar and a squash court. It even comes complete with a private butler and room service is provided by the nearby Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Asked if she was considering retirement anytime soon Kylie responded by saying; “Absolutely. I say that at the end of every tour. And then something happens a few months down the line and I start thinking of songs and getting that itch. What can I say? I'm addicted.” Kylie spends most of her time in London and usually returns to her native Australia at Christmas to visit family and friends. One Hyde Park is a mixed use development made up of residential and retail outlets including, Rolex and McLaren Automotive. The building is owned by Project Grande Limited and stands next to Hyde Park and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The architecture of the building is enhanced by the natural surroundings of Hyde Park and apartments have views across the Park to the capital. Some of the finest shops in London are also on the doorstep such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Prada. One Hyde Park is a joint venture between brothers Christian and Nick Candy's CPC Group and Sheikh Hamad, the Prime Minister of Qatar. The previous building on the site was demolished in 2006 and construction of One Hyde Park began in 2007. The Candy Brothers were mocked four years ago for beginning the extravagant project but, despite the economic downturn, fifty of the eighty-six apartments have been sold. The official opening of One Hyde Park was celebrated with a party held at the neighbouring Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The event attracted celebrities from all over the world including Bernie Ecclestone, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, ‘Dragon’ James Caan and BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker, together with a long list of Eastern European business tycoons, Middle Eastern sheiks and entrepreneurs from mainland China. If you are interested, prices at the property in Knightsbridge, London start from £6.5 million (US$10.6 million) for a one bedroom apartment and cost an average of £6,000 (US$9,800) per square foot.



Kate and William Royal Wedding views hot property in London, UK

Mon, 04 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST

Excitement surrounding the UK Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29th has reached fever pitch, with prime vantage points for the wedding procession selling for up to £100,000 (US$ 160,000). Owners of property between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace are cashing in on the event by selling space on rooftops, balconies, in banqueting suites and offices, where onlookers can watch Kate and William’s horse drawn carriage leading the procession. Religious groups, charities and Government departments are all attempting to bolster their coffers by offering viewing spots along the route. Amongst the top spots is Sanctuary House Hotel which is located close to Westminster Abbey on Victoria Street and has a bird’s eye view of the Abbey’s west entrance. A room at the nine bedroom, four balcony, nineteenth century gothic building will set you back a mere £100,000 (US$ 160,000). Also getting in on the act is the British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce on Westminster’s Victoria Street; the Chamber are renting out two of their offices on the second and third floors with rooftop views of Westminster Abbey for £100,000 (US$ 160,000) per office. Probably the best value available is at the windowless Methodist Central Hall, which will cost you £60 (US$ 100) including a champagne breakfast. The attraction; the roof overlooks Westminster Abbey’s west entrance. The Abbey’s Great Hall will also hold 1,000 people free of charge, but you’ll be lucky to get in unless you camp outside. Plans to erect a twenty foot high scaffold on Victoria Street, next to Westminster Abbey, are almost complete. The platform will hold thirty three TV and Radio staff and paparazzi from around the world. Once complete, the twenty four tonne steel scaffold, covered in plywood and painted with a Cumberland stone finish to match surrounding buildings, will broadcast the event to an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide. An even larger structure is being built near Buckingham Palace. Cities across the UK will be televising the event outdoors on large screens and many street parties are planned; a British tradition during a royal event. In fact, Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife, Samantha Cameron, will be holding one in Downing Street. Just as long as her Government application to hold a street party is approved!



Spanish property of General Francisco Franco opens to public

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

Spain: The former summer palace of Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco has finally been opened to the public. The Palace of Pazo de Meirás in Northwest Spain has been the subject of a dispute between Franco’s family and the Spanish Government since his death in 1975. Following his death it passed to his daughter, Carmen, who became the first Duchess of Franco. For many years there has been growing pressure on Carmen to open the house to the public. In 2007 a petition signed by residents of Galicia and approved by local authorities declared the property a listed building. This meant the family had to open the house to the public four times a month and also required them to take proper care of it, due to its historical and cultural value. However, the family refused to open the palace and would not allow local government officials to inspect the building to make sure it was being well maintained. A court order eventually forced them open the doors to the inspectors. At the time, campaigners were demanding that the palace be taken from the Franco family without compensation. A legal challenge brought by the Spanish Government in 2008 eventually led to a court ruling in October 2010 which classified the property as a national monument and ordered that it was opened to the public. Following the ruling, town councillors in Sada announced that the 19th Century palace must open for “public use”. "This town hall is working to make sure the Pazo de Meirás can become public property in the shortest possible time," said Sada's mayor, Abel López. The palace was owned by novelist Emilia Pardo Baza until 1921 when it was bought with public funds. The property was signed over to Franco in 1939, the year the civil war finished and his thirty six year dictatorship began. The palace of Pazo de Meirá stands on six hectares of land amid the ruins of an ancient fort. It was used by Franco as a retreat during the summer holidays, when he would return to his native Galicia to fish and hunt. Franco’s rise to power: When the left-wing Popular Front Party (El Frente Popular) won the general elections in Spain in 1936, an army rebellion followed. The conservative army generals, led by General Francisco Franco, attempted a military coup to depose the elected government in July 1936. The coup ultimately failed and led to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. In September 1936, Franco became General dél Ejercito Nacionalista (General of the Nationalist Army) and in October 1936 he rose to the position of Head of State (Jefe del Estado). In November 1936, Nazi Germany and Fascist Spain recognised Franco as the legitimate ruler of Spain. Franco’s government was recognised as legitimate by the French and the British in February 1939. In April 1939, America also recognised Franco as head of Spain. Franco’s right-wing regime remained in control of Spain using censorship, coercion and intimidation; including the imprisonment of people opposed to his ideologies in concentration camps. In July 1947, a law was passed that made Franco head of state for life. After he died in November 1975 Spain moved into a democratic tran[...]



Chelsea FC's Roman Abramovich buys £25 million stop gap London property

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

Roman Abramovich, the fifteenth richest man in the world, has splashed out £25 million (US$40.5 million) on a ‘stop gap’ home for him and his girlfriend, Dasha Zhukova, in one of London’s most up-market areas. The Grade 2 Listed building overlooks the River Thames near Battersea Bridge and is situated on Chelsea’s Cheyne Walk. The property features a fifty-foot long drawing room with high ceilings, nine bedrooms, ten bathrooms, a music room and parking for eight cars. The house was previously owned by the painter James Whistler, Nancy Mitford’s sister, Diana, and the late Tory minister, Paul Channon. Former guests include; Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who celebrated the Duke of Kent’s 70th birthday at the property, The Queen and Mick Jagger. In fact, The Rolling Stones frontman once shared a home in Cheyne Walk with Marianne Faithfull and has recently moved back. However, there is one small drawback for the notoriously private Abramovich. The property was once part of Chelsea Manor House stands on the site of Sir Thomas Moore’s garden which is now owned by the National Trust. As a requirement of owning such an important building, Abramovich will have to forego his privacy because the National Trust regularly opens the entrance and its gardens to the public. One such occasion will be Open House London Day between 17th to 18th September when thousands of visitors are allowed access to historically significant properties throughout England. Visitors to Sir Thomas Moore’s garden will be able to easily look across at Abramovich’s private gardens and perhaps get a glimpse of his interior designs. The Russian billionaire, who is worth a reported £14 billion (US$22.6 billion), surprised estate agents by buying a home with so little privacy as Abramovich is clearly obsessed with security: his largest yacht, the 536 foot ‘Eclipse’, has a military grade missile defence system, bullet proof windows and armour plating around the master bedroom. Although it’s unlikely Abramovich will need to take such extreme measures in his new residence. The Chelsea Football Club owner bought the property to live in whilst his main home in Lowndes Square, London undergoes construction work. Such is the extent of the work, Abramovich will be living in his temporary home for at least three years. When the renovation work is complete, the eight bedroom mansion, which is spread across two stucco-fronted properties, will be one of the most expensive houses in Britain; worth an estimated £150 million (US$ 242.5 million). Other properties owned by the billionaire include; a chateau in Cap d'Antibes, on the French Rivera, two homes in an Aspen ski resort, Colorado, two villas on the Caribbean Island of St Barts and two mansions near Moscow, Russia.



Former Beckingham Palace owner puts Footballers' Wives property on sale for £3.5 million

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

Elsenham House, the property used in the UK TV drama ‘Footballers Wives’, has been put on the market by its owner Richard Maher. The property is located on the border between Essex and Hertfordshire and is only two miles from Stansted Airport. The main house has a total living area of 1,300 Square metres (14,000 square feet) which is about the same as ten, three bedroom, semi-detached houses in the UK. The property features six en-suite bedrooms, four reception rooms, a gym, an indoor heated swimming pool, a games room, stables and a garage block with four garages. Footballers Wives was filmed at Elsenham House for a year, during which time Maher and his wife shared their home with forty cast members and crew. They were paid £3,000 (US$5,000) per day for use of the property and enjoyed watching the filming, although they would escape to their villa in La Manga, Spain whenever they could. Maher’s wife Shenda is not unused to being around celebrities as she grew up with Spice Girl Emma Bunton and attended stage school with Denise Van Outen. She also appeared in the 1980’s UK sitcom ‘Me and My Girl’. Maher himself seems to have an affinity with famous properties as his previous home, Rowneybury House in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, is now owned by David Beckham and his wife Victoria. The property, now commonly referred to as ‘Beckingham Palace’, was a former children’s home which Maher remodelled. After selling the property to David Beckham for £2.5 million (US$4 million) in 1999, Maher bought Elsenham House from adult filmmaker David Sullivan. The house had been built to resemble the Southfork Ranch from the US TV show Dallas and it appealed to Maher as the stables and 160 acres of land were perfect for his show-jumping son, Ben. However, Maher later realised the ceilings were too low and tore it down. He rebuilt Elsenham House at a cost of £1 million (US$1.6 million) after studying old photographs and books to gain some architectural inspiration. The house was originally part of Elsenham Stud and home to a number of racehorses including the famous Golden Miller, but now the house has been separated, with 150 acres of land being allocated to the stud farm. Maher and his wife now feel the property is too big for them and are looking for a smaller house in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. Elsenham House is currently on the market, complete with ten acres of land, for £3.5 million (US$5.6 million).



Is confidence returning to the property market in Dubai?

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) has confirmed that Dubai will move ahead with 220 residential property projects this year. “We have 220 projects that are going on. We have evaluated projects and those are moving forward,” confirmed Marwan Bin Ghalaita, the chief executive of RERA. In 2010 RERA cancelled 202 projects, but this year there have already been a total of 115 new property developments launched in Dubai and more are expected, although RERA stated that only ten of the previously cancelled projects had begun construction. “Any project that is not good for investors will not go on. We are evaluating all the projects now,” Bin Ghalaita added. In May 2007 Sultan Butti Bin Mejrin, Director General of the Dubai Land Department, set up RERA to regulate property developers and estate agents in Dubai. Until then there was no protection for investors even in cases where construction hadn’t even started. “In the last six years, we have introduced ten laws and by-laws. Dubai is still leading the Middle East countries and the department is working to improve Dubai‘s position globally,” Sultan Butti Bin Mejrin commented. RERA has also been tasked with restoring confidence to the property market in Dubai, where the economic downturn caused property prices to plummet by as much as fifty percent. However, confidence does seem to be returning to Dubai as there have already been 1,647 real estate transactions recorded this year. Feedback from real estate agents operating in the emirate has also been positive in recent months. “It will be interesting to see whether Dubai’s property market will continue to recover in the short term. We may find that confidence will be affected by the cancellation of high profile projects such as the Tiger Woods Dubai and Nakheel Tower [a one kilometre-high skyscraper project] which continue to hit the headlines” added Adam Smith, market analyst for Ocean Villas Group.



Niseko Japan to be the ‘Aspen of the East’

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

Richard Li, the son of China’s richest man Li Ka-Shing, and Francis Yeoh, the son of billionaire Seri Yeoh, are planning to turn the Japanese village of Niseko into Asia’s equivalent of Aspen in Colorado. Pacific Century Premium Developments, owned by Richard Li, is investing US$1.2 billion into two hotels and a resort with three thousand luxury condominiums in Niseko’s Hanazono area. Francis Yeoh, the founder of Malaysian construction company YTL, has spent $10 million renovating the Green Leaf Hotel in Niseko. He has also bought land, at a cost of US$66 million, for a residential project named Hinode Hill, which includes penthouses with private, traditional Japanese baths. “We aim to establish Niseko village as the ‘Aspen of the East,’ commented Yeoh. The small village of Niseko, whose population is just 4,600, is located on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. The ski resort benefits from an average snow fall of eleven feet during the month of February, second only to Mount Baker in Washington, USA. Australian tourists seeking snow have largely shaped the area over the last decade as Australia has a similar time zone to Japan meaning there is little jet lag. With the arrival of the Aussies came Irish themed pubs, Tex-Mex eateries and pizza joints. However, recently wealthy visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore have started taking to the slopes and it seems that the pubs and fast food outlets could be replaced with five star restaurants and designer boutiques, as happened in Aspen, Colorado. “Aspen grew organically…not because there is a collection of world class shopping and dining, that came later,” said Jeff Hanle, a spokesman at Aspen Skiing Company. “I don’t know that it is possible to recreate,” he added. Still, Francis Yeoh thinks it is. He is planning to include shopping streets with luxury businesses such as Moet, Hennessy and Louis Vuitton. “We’re working on serving the affluent through retail, residential, and restaurants,” commented James McBride president of YTL’s hotel division. The next surge in visitors to Niseko is likely to come from mainland China after Japan eased visa restrictions for Chinese tourists last year. China Eastern Air along with Air China have also added direct flights from Shanghai and Beijing to Sappro’s Chitose Airport which is about ninety minutes’ drive from Niseko. The local government has also responded hiring Wenxuan Han, a 33 year old from Dalian in China who studied at Hokkaido’s Otaru University of Commerce, to handle translation work and promote tourism. “Chinese are keen to learn about Japan, and especially Niseko,” she said. “There really is no place like it in the region where you can enjoy wild landscape all year round.”



Kate Moss set to lose £1m in UK property crash

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

It seems that Kate Moss may become the latest victim of the UK property crash; the thirty seven year old model is franticly trying to sell her five bedroom, Victorian home in Melina Place, London - even if it means she makes a £1 million (US$1.6 million) loss. Moss bought the property in 2007, when prices in London were approaching their peak, for £8 million (US$ 13 million). According to reports, she has had little interest from buyers since putting it on the market for the same price, so the asking price has been slashed to £7 million (US$11.2 million). Since she bought the London property, the UK model has redesigned the interior in her own distinctive style, including a neon-lit party area and a jungle themed living room; features which may deter the more conservative buyer. However Marcus Parfitt, an up-market London estate agent, thinks that the problem "might simply be that the Victorian house is not in a fashionable postcode. There have been no offers as yet. The problem with this one is that you’re not in one of the chosen roads in the area." "It’s a little bit on the periphery and from a snobbery point of view some people have not gone for it because it’s in the wrong district. As a house goes, though, it’s lovely. If it were a few streets away, it would be much more expensive," he added. Moss bought the home after splitting with partner and Baby Shambles singer Pete Doherty, but has not had much luck with the property since moving in. In fact, she’s even gone so far as suggesting her house is "jinxed". Last year the model’s home was flooded with sewage which caused £100,000 worth of damage to furniture, her shoe collection and photographs by Mario Testino. However, Kate’s long suffering neighbours will be keen for her to make a quick sale, having frequently complained about her party lifestyle. In 2007 the police and local council were called in due to alleged anti-social behaviour and there have been frequent complaints ever since. If Kate does manage to sell her “jinxed” London property she is hoping to move into a new house in Highgate, North London which has nine bedrooms, two wine cellars and staff quarters. This new property is currently on the market for £8 million (US$ 13 million) and is the former home of well-known romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge whose works include the famous poem Kubla Khan. When she does finally sell, Kate will be near to her close friends Jude Law and Sienna Miller who have both been encouraging her to move to the area.



Tiger Woods new US$60 million property with golf course

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

Tiger Woods, the former golf world number one, has revealed that he is moving to a new home on Jupiter Island in Florida, USA. The golfer’s new mansion, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, is worth a reported US$60 million and comes complete with a running track and a four-hole golf course. Tiger Woods, whose marriage to former swimwear model Elin Nordegren ended in divorce last year, posted photos on his blog, saying “I'm excited about it and even more excited about my new practice facility. It's phenomenal." Woods and Nordegren bought the land for the property in 2006 and spent years planning every detail of the ten thousand square foot property on the exclusive Jupiter Island. However, after Woods admitted to cheating on his wife in a string of affairs, Nordegren filed for divorce. The settlement eventually cost the golfer a reported U$100 million. When Tiger Woods ultimately took control of planning the property himself, he designed the mansion to be the ultimate bachelor pad. According to the architectural plans, the property boasts huge windows to maximise the sea view, a glass fronted lift, four en-suite bedrooms, a wine cellar, what looks like a home cinema and a games area for his children. If that wasn’t enough, an additional four buildings adjoin the main house which include; a boathouse, a golf training studio, a gym, a detached garage and a large guesthouse. Outdoor facilities include; a tennis court, a diving pool, a lap lane, a one hundred metre running track and a 3.5 acre golf course. In another entry on his blog Woods wrote; “Working with my team, I designed the short-game [golf] facility and oversaw its construction. It features four greens, six bunkers with different depths and kinds of sand, a video centre and a putting studio. If no wind is blowing, the longest club I can hit is a 7-iron. It's also set up so I can hit shots out of my second-storey studio.” At the moment Woods needs all the help he can get with his game; not having won a tournament since returning to professional golf after a five month break to work on his swing with coach Sean Foley. Woods will have a chance to end his recent trophy drought at the World Golf Championships being held at Dural this week.



Jennifer Aniston selling US$42 million Beverly Hills property

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

According to recent reports, Jennifer Aniston has decided to sell her US$42 million Beverley Hills home in an attempt to “simplify her life”. The former Friends actress, turned movie star, has just celebrated her forty-second birthday and described having an epiphany whilst on a recent trip to London. “My life felt really cluttered. I couldn’t sleep and I sort of had one of those moments where I went, ‘I really need to simplify, my life needs to be simplified’… And along with that thought came, ‘I should sell my house. I had the realisation that this is just too much for me. I’m not this person.” Jennifer Aniston bought the Zen influenced property in 2006 for US$13.5 million and spent nearly two years renovating the house; moving in shortly before her fortieth birthday in 2009. Originally designed by architect Hal Levitt in the 1970’s, the 10,000 square foot property was remodelled for Aniston by highly acclaimed architect, Stephen Shadley. The movie star affectionately named her home Ohana, from the Hawaiian meaning family. Ohana is set on a hillside with panoramic views of Los Angeles. The Balinese style property boasts a master bedroom with two bathrooms, a spa, and steam showers, four further en-suite bedrooms, a family room, formal and informal living rooms, a gourmet chef and a catering kitchen. Although not officially listed by real estate agents, serious potential buyers will have access to the grounds to view the property. Aniston also owns a much smaller home in Los Angeles but she is considering buying a property in her native New York and moving back home. "I don't know, I'm looking for little spots in New York City to go back home. There are all sorts of things that are going to be happening in the near future so I'm excited. I don't know what they are, but that's the fun part," she commented. Aniston’s recent Adam Sandler movie “Just Go With It” topped last month’s box office takings in the US netting US$30.5 million. In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, the actress revealed she turned down an invitation to join Saturday Night Live for her part in Friends which ultimately made her a star.



Sands to build mini Las Vegas in Spain

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

Las Vegas Sands, the Nevada based casino resort operator, has announced plans to build a $20.3 billion Las Vegas style strip in Spain. Representatives from Las Vegas Sands are currently in talks with local Spanish officials from Barcelona and Madrid; the two favourite locations for the mega project. Additional locations under consideration are Valencia and the Costa del Sol, with officials from both these areas expressing an interest. Las Vegas Sands was founded in 1988 and was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2008, as the financial crisis hit the gaming industry hard. A personal loan from CEO Sheldon Adelson of $475 million helped rescue the company and enabled them to complete the highly successful Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, which opened last year. Now in a strong financial position, Las Vegas Sands is looking to expand. "We considered it seriously before the recession but we postponed that till the recession was over. Now we are very actively pursuing it," commented Adelson whilst talking to reporters in Singapore. "I want to do a mini Las Vegas ... I want to build 20,000 plus rooms and millions of square feet of shopping and exhibition space, and we have a study that says we can create as many as 180,000 jobs," he added. Las Vegas Sands has also asked the Singapore Government for more land so they can expand their $6 billion Marina Bay Sands property. The Singapore casino has already attracted over eleven million visitors since it opened in April last year. "We need all the land we can get. We are burdened by our own success." Adelson concluded. Las Vegas Sands Singapore casino declared earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $306 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. Marina Bay Sands Singapore is now the world’s second most valuable casino development, after MGM’s Mirage CityCenter property in Las Vegas. The huge sixty eight acre complex in the US, which opened in 2009, is worth an estimated $9 billion. Las Vegas Sands also own the Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip as well as the Shangri-La, Traders and Sheraton Hotels in Macao, which are due to open in the third quarter of 2011.



Thailand property developer, Supalai, announces 16 new projects

Thu, 03 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST

Thailand property developer, Supalai PLC, has announced the launch of sixteen new projects with a combined value of twenty billion baht (US$656 million). The new projects are all located in Bangkok city centre and are aimed at providing affordable housing for buyers who currently live in the suburbs but are concerned with rising transport costs and travel times. Supalai predict that a total of 17 billion baht (US$ 557 million) in sales and thirteen billion baht (US$ 426 million) in future revenue will be generated from the new property developments. The company also intends to develop further projects throughout Thailand in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Phuket, Hat Yai and two more, yet to be announced. This year Supalai have already reported 1.3 billion baht (US$ 42.6 million) of property sales, an increase of two hundred percent year-on-year. Currently the property developer has a total of 15.09 billion baht (US$ 495 million) worth of unsold inventory across a number of projects. However, Supalai are continuing to look towards future expansion and have announced their intention to invest a further 4.5 billion baht (US$148 million) in land for future projects. "We're looking for an overseas investment in the region but have no plan in the short term," commented executive director, Tritecha Tangmatitham. "We remain focused on the Thai market as property margins are the highest in the region and there are barriers to entry to foreign investors." he added. Supalai PLC operate a number of subsidiaries under the following names; Supalai Property Management Co., Ltd., Hatyai Nakharin Co., Ltd., Supalai Isan Co., Ltd. and Phuket Estate Co., Ltd. Supalai PLC shares trade on the Thailand Stock Exchange.



Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich opens the books on his billions

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

Chelsea Football Club owner, Roman Abramovich, has recently had to make a declaration of just how wealthy he actually is. Russia’s fifth richest man has announced he will run for re-election as a member of parliament for Chukota, Russi



Michael Jackson's dad Joe invests in property in Vietnam

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

News has emerged that Joe Jackson, father of the late king of pop Michael Jackson, has invested in a US$2 billion hotel and amusement park in Vietnam. The project, called “Happy Land”, is set on a fifteen-hectare plot in Ben Luc District, Long An province in Vietnam, twenty minutes outside Ho Chi Minh City. Scheduled for completion in May 2014, Happy Land will include a leisure park, a large-scale commercial centre, 3 to 5 star hotels, water parks, studio parks, discotheques, indoor and outdoor theatres, restaurants, shopping centres and a Vietnamese cultural centre. Designed by architects Steelman Partners from Las Vegas, USA, Happy Land has an investment fund of US$2 billion, US$600 million of which has been reserved for the theme park. Once complete, the complex will be the largest entertainment centre in Vietnam and the whole of South East Asia. Investors in the project are hoping to attract fourteen million tourists each year. Whilst in Vietnam last week for the ground breaking ceremony Joe Jackson commented; “I like discovering different cultures in the world, I like this project the most because it is located in a beautiful cultural and natural space." Eighty two year old Joe Jackson was the producer for the famous Jackson 5 band which was made up of his five sons. The youngest of them, Michael Jackson, went on to become the most successful pop singer in history. Michael Jackson died in 2009, at the age of 50, from an overdose of the powerful anaesthetic Propofol and other sedatives.



Madonna ex, Guy Ritchie, evicts squatters from property in London

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

The group of squatters who have taken over Guy Ritchie’s £6 million (US$9 million) London property have been ordered to leave. The group, who call themselves “The Really Free School”, were represented in court by first-year law student Tom Brianmurray, who claimed the eviction notice had not been properly placed and requested further time to prepare a defence. However, district Judge Marc Dight, on hearing the defence lawyer was in fact a law student, rejected all legal arguments saying; “You could have told me that to begin with." Judge Dight then granted an interim eviction order with a full hearing set for next Friday. The property is located in London’s Fitzrovia in the borough of Camden. The Grade I listed building, which was built in the 1790’s, saw the squatters move in last week. Guy Ritchie, ex-husband of pop icon Madonna, bought the former language school in May last year after it had stood empty for three years. He was in the process of converting it into two separate homes. It is still unknown whether the squatters knew the property belonged to the Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director before they moved in. When Ritchie finally moves in, his new neighbours will include Gary Kemp, from 80’s band Spandau Ballet and comedian Griff Rhys-Jones. Some residents in the property’s exclusive neighbourhood have been angered by the occupation of the squatters; one woman even chased two of them down the street and demanded to know how long they intended staying. “I don’t like it at all. There is no substance to their ridiculous cause. They don’t own the building, why should they live in it?” another resident commented. Renovations have all but stopped for the time being, with building contractors now unable to gain access to the building. “It’s a real cheek, this property has not been empty. We have had workmen in there as recently as Friday. Our scaffolding is in there. It’s not safe to be in at all,” said a spokesman for the building contractors who were working on Ritchie’s house at the time the squatters moved in. One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "The police said we were lucky they were not the bad sort of squatters, but they said they will be moving in in force and will be bringing a grand piano." Recent reports and the squatter’s Twitter page suggest that, following the interim court order, most of them have already left the house without waiting for Friday’s full hearing. Apparently they have moved on to their next target, the Black Horse pub at 6 Rathbone Place, just off Oxford Street, London.



UK rental property in short supply

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

A report by leading UK letting agent Countrywide, shows that private rental properties in the UK are being snapped up just fifteen days after the property first appears on the market. This is five days less than last year’s average. The report also showed that, on average, there are 4.4 tenants looking to rent for each available property; the highest demand being in the South West of England. In fact, the total number of new tenants registering for rental accommodation exceeded 2009’s figure of 200,000, with new tenant registrations rising by thirty seven percent in 2010. The recent economic downturn has led to an increasing number of professionals turning to rental property rather than buying, as often they are unable to sell their current property or struggle to raise enough capital to buy a new house. The report also revealed that the number of three and four bedroom properties available on the rental market in the UK has grown consistently since 2009; rising by three percent in the final quarter of 2010. Two bedroom properties, however, remain in short supply. "The rental market has seen record levels of demand in 2010. In the final quarter, whilst we experienced the traditional slowdown, the continuing demand is seeing many properties in prime locations having new tenants secured within hours of coming onto the market,” commented John Hards, Co-Managing Director of Countrywide Residential Lettings. "These wider economic issues are reflected in our rental stock, with a growing number of three and four bedroom family homes entering the market but the greatest demand is for 2 bedroom apartments and houses which are still in short supply,” Hards concluded.



Banyan Tree expand into China and Vietnam

Mon, 14 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

Well-known hospitality group Banyan Tree Holdings Limited, have announced that they have raised US$214 million through their private equity fund, the Banyan Tree China Hospitality Fund. Banyan Tree Holdings have previously stated their intention to develop a number of hospitality projects in China, including one hundred suites or villas in Chengdu and two hundred and fifty in Guangdong. The Banyan Tree China Hospitality Fund was set up to finance these projects in China, under the Banyan Tree and Angsana brands. “The China Fund will further enable us to establish a portfolio of resorts and hotels in the fast developing economy of China, in line with the expansion of our plans for Banyan Tree and Angsana-branded properties into this market. With the five resorts that we currently operate and manage in the country and another 18 in the pipeline, we will be undertaking hospitality projects in the People’s Republic of China that will be operated under the Company’s brands of Banyan Tree and Angsana. Banyan Tree Holdings will invest an amount equivalent to at least five percent of the total capital commitments of the Final Closing,” commented Mr Ho Kwon Ping, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings. “In the next five years we will probably be opening another thirty hotels. So we will roughly have sixty hotels overall and possibly twenty could be in China alone,” he added. Listed on the Singapore stock exchange, Banyan Tree Holdings Limited are a leading developer and operator of five-star resorts, hotels and spas throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The company’s flagship resort is the Laguna Phuket complex in Thailand, which they operate through their subsidiary, Laguna Resorts and Hotels PLC. In 2010, Banyan Tree Holdings stated their intention to reduce, what they considered to be, over exposure in Thailand’s hospitality market. This was followed quickly by the sale of the Dusit Thani Hotel at Laguna Phuket. The sale raised US$68.4 million which was used to reduce debt and provide funds for investment in China and Vietnam. In Vietnam, the Banyan Tree Indochina Hospitality Fund is funding the development of the Laguna Hue resort. Laguna Hue is one of the first, fully integrated, world-class hospitality projects to be developed in Vietnam. The two hundred and eighty hectare beachfront site is located within an hour’s drive of both Danang and Hue international airports. The company expect Laguna Hue in Vietnam to mirror the success of Laguna Phuket in Thailand.



Cold War nuclear bunker for sale in Scotland

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

A Cold War nuclear bunker in Scotland has been put on the property market by its owners, Comrie Development Trust (CDT). The nuclear bunker is located beneath the rolling Scottish hills of the former Cultybraggan Camp, over a mile south of the town of Comrie and within fifty miles of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The former military installation was built in 1939 and played host to some of the most notorious Nazi prisoners of war during the Second World War. At the end of the Second World War the camp was turned into an Army training area, until 1960 when it became the Royal Observer Corps nuclear monitoring post. Originally commissioned by the Scottish Parliament, the huge underground bunker housed over one hundred and fifty staff who worked to protect England and Scotland from nuclear, biological and electromagnetic attacks. It was the most technologically advanced bunker built during the Cold War, complete with a BBC studio, a canteen, a telephone exchange and dormitories. Construction cost in the region of US$48.2 million, which would be around US$144.4 million in today’s money, allowing for inflation. Once the bunker was completed, however, the Cold War quickly came to an end and it was no longer needed. In August 2007 CDT, a non-profit organisation, bought the Cultybraggan Camp site for £350,000 (US$559,000) with the intention of redeveloping it to provide commercial premises for local businesses at competitive rates. Over the last three years CDT has rebuilt the camp and spent a total of US$722,000 on its infrastructure, upgrading the drainage, sewage, electricity, telecoms and water systems. Nine of the camp’s huts and the former mess building have been refurbished and are now being rented to local businesses. Proposals are also underway to equip the camp with a renewable energy system in the future. Since the unusual property was first advertised, the Scottish nuclear bunker has attracted a great deal of interest from all over the world. “Potential purchasers have come from Bermuda, Australia, America, France, Germany, South Africa, Dubai, India, Spain and the UK and we have several interested parties lined up for viewings on the 9th, 10th and 11th February. Possible uses suggested for the bunker have ranged from an antiques or wine store to a residential home to a telecommunications centre. We have even had interest from someone who would use it as a doomsday shelter,” commented Andrew Black, Associate to Carter Jonas who are marketing the property. “This really is a fascinating installation which would suit a variety of uses including high security computer data storage, a disaster recovery facility or even a temperature controlled fine wine store. This is the first step in a historic route as the Trust is [...]



Johnny Depp, The Tourist, buys Palace in Venice, Italy

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

Actor Johnny Depp, whose recent films include The Tourist, has bought the Palazzo Donà Sangiantoffetti Palace in Venice, Italy for a reported US$ 13.8 million. The forty seven year old actor apparently fell in love with Venice last year whilst filming The Tourist with co-star Angelina Jolie. According to local newspaper La Nuova Venezia, the Hollywood star outbid an Arab prince for the empty property. The seventeenth century Palazzo Donà Sangiantoffetti was one of the only properties for sale overlooking the Grand Canal in the highly sought-after Santa Croce area of Venice, close to the Santa Maria Mater Domini Church. Depp’s new pad needs extensive renovation but has lots of original features such as high ceilings, ornate columns and a roof platform. The Palazzo will be a holiday retreat for Johnny Depp and his French girlfriend, singer and actress Vanessa Paradis, and their two children Lily-Rose, eleven and Jack, eight. During the promotional tour for his recent film, The Tourist, Depp spoke of his love for Venice and admitted to walking through the quiet alleyways late at night when the paparazzi had gone home. “My experience of Venice really happened between 10pm and 2am when the streets closed and I was able to walk around and experience the poetry of Venice, the ghosts of Venice, all those wonderful dark alleys,” Depp commented. “For an actor being able to film within the confines of that magical city certainly helps. The city's magic shone through completely,” he concluded. The impressive Palazzo Donà Sangiantoffetti is just one more property in Johnny Depp’s growing real estate portfolio; Depp also owns homes in West Hollywood, USA, Oahu, Hawaii, Somerset, England along with a forty-five acre island in the Bahamas. When taking a break from filming, Depp usually resides at his US$2 million farmhouse in Plan-de-la-Tour, France.



Hong Kong property most expensive in the world

Sat, 05 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

The Global Cities Survey, published by Savills PLC, reported last week that Hong Kong residential property is now the most expensive in the world. In fact, based on the property price index contained in the survey, residential property in Hong Kong is 55 percent more expensive than property in London. The report compared four cities; Hong Kong, New York, London and Moscow. Property in Moscow emerged as being 7.4 percent more expensive than property in London, whereas property in New York was 15 percent cheaper than in the U.K. capital. The report also noted that the price of a typical home of purchased by a company chief executive in Hong Kong has risen by 148 percent over the past five years. Over the same period, this figure in Moscow rose by 110 percent, London by 47 percent and in New York it fell by 7 percent. The Head of Savills Research, Yolande Barnes, commented; “By looking at a basket of properties by occupier type we gain insights into the fluctuating costs of housing - a vital component cost of doing business in a given location." Interestingly, although the cost of buying a new property when relocating has continued to rise, the cost of rental property has remained constant in all four of the capital cities surveyed. Hong Kong is currently experiencing a housing shortage, with a lack of supply and high demand leading to sharp increases in property prices. In an attempt to tackle rising prices, in November last year, the Hong Kong Government introduced a number of measures such as applying stamp duty of up to 15 percent to property transactions and increasing the minimum down-payments for mortgages. To address the housing shortage, Hong Kong Government chief executive Donald Tsang promised to release more land for the development of low cost housing and added that the government should supply land to support the construction of 20,000 new apartments per year, although he said the figure was “not a fixed target.” Although these measures were trumpeted as some of the strongest ever, property prices in Hong Kong have remained resilient since their introduction. As interest rates in Hong Kong continue at near zero levels and with increased demand from investors in mainland China, it would seem that property prices in Hong Kong will not fall anytime soon.



Tiger Woods Dubai golf course shelved

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

The Tiger Woods Dubai, a US$1.1 billion golf course and luxury property development designed by Tiger Woods, has been suspended indefinitely, according to an announcement by the property developer Dubai Properties. The Tiger Woods Dubai was scheduled to open in late 2009 but ran into difficulties when the global financial crisis struck in 2008; property prices in Dubai crashed and, as a result, the opening of the Tiger Woods golf resort was pushed back on several occasions. In November last year it was revealed that construction work on the two hundred and ninety two residential properties had never started and that most of the staff employed by Dubai Properties had been laid off months earlier. In an official report, Dubai Properties released a statement regarding the suspension of the project; “This decision was based on current market conditions that do not support high-end luxury real estate. These conditions will continue to be monitored and a decision will be made in the future when to restart the project". There are, however, strong doubts that The Tiger Woods Dubai will ever be completed, due to the large number of high-end property developments abandoned in Dubai last year. In spite of this, Dubai Properties said it will continue its commercial agreement with Tiger Woods and his organisation. Tiger Woods is reported to have received a US$10 million fee for designing the golf course, as well as receiving royalties on property sales and his choice of mansion on the development, once completed. In an interview with the Associated Press, Tiger Woods commented; "It's been put on hold for right now. A lot of projects are out there. It's still there. We've got six completed holes and a few that were about to be grassed before construction was halted. Everything is on hold." Even by Dubai’s standards the Tiger Woods Dubai was opulent, with mansions and palaces for sale, some priced as high as US$25 million. The project was also to feature a boutique hotel and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Thirty percent of the properties at The Tiger Woods Dubai have already been sold and, at this time, it is not clear whether investors will have their deposits returned. In the fourteen months since his infamous car crash outside his Florida home, Tiger Woods has endured the first season of his golfing career without a win. In the wake of the car crash scandal he lost many of his largest commercial sponsors including American telecoms company AT&T, financial firm Accenture and Gillette. Now it seems the Tiger Woods brand is suffering further setbacks.



Jordan sells Surrey mansion

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

Ex-glamour model Jordan [real name Katie Price] is selling the £3million (US$ 4.85million) mansion she shared with her estranged cage fighter husband, Alex Reid. According to reports, Jordan wants to get rid of the property in Surrey, England fast and she has already instructed her real estate agents to sell as quickly as possible. Jordan met Reid, a mixed martial artist and actor who is often referred to as ‘Rocky’, in 2009 and they married in Las Vegas in February last year. However, In 2009 Jordan revealed that Reid liked to dress up as a woman called ‘Roxanne’ - something which may have contributed to their break-up. Jordan and Reid separated in January of this year, after just eleven months of marriage. When news broke of their split earlier this month, Reid briefly moved out to stay with his parents, but he has now moved back in and is, apparently, refusing to leave. Since the brief stint at his parents, Reid has been staying in a separate part of the Surrey mansion, whilst Jordan is staying with friends in Switzerland. Once the couple’s Surrey mansion has been sold, Jordan is planning to move to a ‘secret country location’ in West Sussex. Jordan’s new £2million (US$ 3.2million) home will have five bedrooms, a drawing room, a dining room, a family room and stables for her horses.



Bangkok, Thailand building China City free trade centre

Mon, 31 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

Bangkok, Thailand: China is building a US$1.5 billion “commercial city” in Bangkok, Thailand to help traders re-export Chinese goods from Thailand by avoiding costly tariffs. The 700,000 square metre site (the equivalent area of one hundred football pitches) will be in the China City Complex on the outskirts of Bangkok City and will have enough space for over 70,000 Chinese traders. Construction began in January of this year and completion is expected by 2013. “Apart from the business opportunities in Thailand, Chinese exporters can also promote their products to developed markets such as the European Union and the United States through this project," commented Yang Fangshu, chairman of the ASEAN-China Economic and Trade Promotion Centre. In January 2010 China signed a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which created the third largest trading zone in the world, after the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Under the terms of the AESAN agreement, tariffs are removed from ninety percent of goods traded between the following countries; China, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. For the remaining ASEAN member countries, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the tariff reductions will come into effect in 2015. In recent years China has seen its export trade boom, reaching levels of US$196.1 billion in 2009 and US$190 billion in 2010. This increase in China’s exports has led many nations to complain about cheap Chinese goods flooding the market. The US and Europe have also criticised China’s exchange rate controls; accusing China of making their exports artificially cheap and giving Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage over their European and American counterparts.



The Ascott backs Europe and Asia

Fri, 28 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

The Ascott, one of the largest serviced residence companies in the world, has announced plans to invest in twelve new properties across Europe and Asia by the end of 2011. The new properties are likely to be located in Shenzhen in China, Chennai in India and Doha in Qatar. The Ascott is also looking to increase its presence in Europe and management are eyeing locations such as Paris, France. They also aim to double their presence in China by 2015. Singapore property developer CapitalLand, the parent company of The Ascott, has reserved a total of US$800 million (S$1 billion) for its expansion plans in 2011. Of this, The Ascott will invest US$54 million (S$70 million) to renovate sixteen residential properties across Europe and Asia. CEO of The Ascott, Lim Ming Yan, commented; "A weak Euro has generated a lot of demand because it has become a lot cheaper for travellers to go to Europe. The exchange rate will obviously affect us but on the other hand the absolute value in the Euro term has gone up, so the two will compensate each other and on the whole, we expect that to be neutralised. All in all, I will say that at this point in time, with the euro devaluing, it gives us a lot more opportunities to look into new opportunities and new projects in Europe". The Ascott are also planning to increase their residential properties in India, from 1,396 currently, to four thousand in the next five years. "Although we have six projects [in India] under various stages of development, we haven't yet got operating properties so that, to me, is a very major untapped market. So we will want to do a lot more in India.” Lim added. This year The Ascott plan to add a total of two to three thousand serviced apartments to their worldwide portfolio. This will increase the total number of serviced apartments under their management to twenty nine thousand.



China still buying up Europe

Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

As the British Pound and Euro remain weak, and with European property prices at levels well below their 2007 highs, Chinese investors are continuing to buy up property in some of the most sought after locations in Europe. China’s rich are buying up a diverse range of prime, luxury real estate which ranges from historic castles in Germany to Chateaus in France and villas on the Spanish Costas. London, however, remains the most desirable location for Chinese buyers. In fact, investors from mainland China and Hong Kong now account for ten percent of all new property purchases in central London. Chinese investors are attracted to London for several reasons; one being, they can buy property and live in the UK for up to ninety days per year without paying UK taxes on their worldwide income. Real estate agents and developers in London have been taking advantage of the surge in the number of Chinese investors by holding exhibitions and seminars in China and hiring Mandarin speaking sales consultants and translators. Several property developers in the UK capital are even seeking the advice of Feng Shui experts and some London apartment blocks are even without a fourth floor, as the number four is considered unlucky in China. Currently the Chinese government limits the transfer of funds out of China to a maximum of £31,700 (US$50,000) per person, per annum. However, many mainland Chinese citizens get around the restrictions by using black-market money changers in southern China. Additionally, as many of London’s Chinese buyers are members of China’s super-rich, they usually have companies in Hong Kong along with both corporate and personal bank accounts. As the financial restrictions do not apply in Hong Kong, they are free to transfer funds overseas in order to buy foreign property. The surprising thing for many real estate agents in London has not been the quantity of real estate bought by the Chinese, but the speed at which the decision to buy has been made and the transaction then completed. Buyers from the UK usually take weeks to decide, whereas buyers from mainland China take just one day on average. People from Hong Kong are even quicker, with most decisions to buy being made around an hour after viewing the property.



F1s Bernie Ecclestone splashes the cash for his ladies

Sat, 22 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Supremo and CEO of Formula One Motorsport, has recently purchased two London properties for his daughters. According to a recent report, Bernie Ecclestone paid a total of £101 million (US$ 161.4 million) to acquire two of Londoon's most expensive properties for his daughters Tamara and Petra. Ecclestone's daughter Petra received a £56 million, grade two listed, eight-bedroom house in Chelsea, named Sloane House. Whilst Ecclestone's other daughter Tamara received a £45 million ($US 72 million) house in Kensington Palace Gardens. Ecclestone is quoted by U.K. paper The Sunday Times saying; "I'm very proud of them. They're good girls. They're not stupid when it comes to money. They are very level headed and that's something I and their mother insisted on. At Christmas we bought them things we thought they needed and would use." "They've both got boyfriends, they travel, and renovating a property will be good work for Tamara. There won't be a housewarming party for a while because there's a lot of work to do, but that's good. It will keep her busy and it will be a good project for her to learn from. I think they will even be able to make a healthy profit when they come to sell," he added. Ecclestone, whose divorce settlement with ex-wife Slavica in 2009 cost him a reported £1 billion (US$1.6 billion), was also asked whether he would be retiring as Formula One CEO at any time soon. "I'm not taking it easy. I can't afford to take it easy. It's business as usual," he said. Perhaps the comments are justified if his recent presents to his daughters are anything to go by.



Trump Tower to be built in Mumbai, India

Fri, 21 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

Trump Organisation, the real estate and entertainment company, privately owned by businessman Donald Trump, has announced plans to enter the Indian property market by building the Trump Tower Mumbai. In what will be Donald Trump’s first real estate venture in India, Trump Organisation will work alongside Indian property developers Rohan Lifescapes to construct the luxury residential project in Mumbai. Rohan Lifescapes will be responsible for building the Trump Tower, which will be officially launched by Donald Trump himself when he arrives in India. The Trump Tower Mumbai will be a 3,000,000 square foot complex with 45 spacious apartments. The building will feature a luxury spa, a gymnasium, a mini-theatre and residents will benefit from a state-of-the-art security system. Donald Trump Junior, executive vice president of Trump Organisation , commented, “The market place [in India] is beginning to understand and appreciate luxury, so there is a great opening for us there, as well as in resorts". The property market in Mumbai was badly affected by the global economic downturn in 2008 and saw new home sales fall by twenty five percent. However, during the last ten years, the number of wealthy Indians has grown rapidly. In fact, the Merrill Lynch-Capgemini World Wealth Report showed that the number of millionaires in India had increased from 84,000 in 2009 to 126,700 in 2010. As the wealth of the Indian population has continued to grow, luxury property developments in India have seen increasing demand. A recent, if extreme, example of this was the construction of Antilla; a twenty seven-storey house in Altamount Road, south Mumbai. Owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, and named after a mythical island in the Atlantic Ocean, it is estimated that Antilla cost Ambani around £44 million (US$70.3 million) to build. Unsurprisingly, according to recent reports, the new Trump Tower will be in south Mumbai; the same location as Antilla.



Facebook Mark Zuckerberg moves house to escape Oprah

Mon, 17 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg moved to a new home this week, but only a few blocks away from his old one. In a move out of character, Zuckerberg, who is well known for staying away from the limelight, invited talk show host Oprah Winfrey inside his former property in September 2010. It seemed that the Facebook CEO had finally come to terms with his celebrity status but, only three months after the show aired, Zuckerberg felt the urge to move. Zuckerberg’s new property has already been the talk of the neighbourhood. However, the installation of banks of security cameras before he moved in show that, contrary to how he made his fortune with Facebook, Zuckerberg is determined to ‘Friend’ as few people as possible. It’s true that Zuckerberg, the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of twenty-six, has been restrained in his real estate investments since his rise to fame. In fact, the new home is only a rental and is in the same Palo Alto neighbourhood as his former four bedroomed house. Although only seven blocks away from his previous abode, his new home will make driving to work a little easier; its location is only streets away from Facebook headquarters, where Zuckerberg is said to spend around sixteen hours a day. Zuckerberg’s new home is only slightly bigger than his former and has five bedrooms as opposed to four. The total plot size is not much bigger either, with around three thousand eight hundred square feet; his old home had two thousand three hundred and fifty square feet. Compared with technology moguls Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the twenty six year old billionaire’s new home is extremely modest. Steve Jobs is currently building himself a new home, valued at US$8.45 million, the single family home will be 4,910 square feet in size, with four bedrooms, a three car garage and a vegetable garden all set on six acres of land. Bill Gates owns a 66,000 square foot mansion overlooking Lake Washington in Medina Washington, valued at US$147.5 million. As you would expect, the impressive property has some state-of-the-art technology built in, such as heated floors and driveways, an estate-wide server system (running a Windows operating system, obviously), guests also get to wear pins that automatically adjust temperature, music and lighting based on the guest's preferences, when they enter a room.



Vietnam real estate ranks fourth in emerging markets

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

Vietnam is enticing more and more international investors lately and, in a recent survey by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE), Vietnam ranked fourth in the world in the emerging global real estate markets category. The AFIRE survey was a poll of a group of investors who hold more than $627 billion of global real estate in assets collectively. The results showed that Brazil, China and India dominate the emerging real estate markets for investment, but Vietnam, unranked in 2010, jumped straight into the world top five, taking fourth position. Among the emerging markets, Brazil took first place from China in second , which ranked top in 2010. India came in third, Vietnam fourth and Mexico ranked fifth, losing last year’s position to Vietnam. Russia, which has been amongst the top five emerging real estate markets for the last two years, dropped to tenth place. Peter Ryder, general director of Indochina Capital, which currently has several real estate projects under construction in Vietnam, commented on the recent rise in investment saying; "This result is due to the rapid growth of Vietnam's real estate market and the open regulations, which allow the participation of foreign investors." Currently Indochina Capital is developing the Indochina Hanoi Plaza, a retail complex worth $160 million, and the Da Nang Hyatt Regency, worth an estimated $130 million. Both projects will be completed by the second half of this year. The group also plans to launch a new development project in Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City called the Saigon South. This project will provide over one thousand apartments for Vietnam’s middle-income earners. Vietnam continues to appear attractive to foreign investors and its economy has recovered well from the global recession. Other factors enticing overseas investors to Vietnam are its strong economic growth, fast rate of urbanisation and the growth of its new middle class.



Mahatma Gandhi South African home named Satyagraha

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

We recently reported that the former South African home of Mahatma Gandhi was up for sale and that Coal India Limited were making their second attempt to buy the property. We have since discovered this information to be incorrect. Read o



Maldives Herathera Island Resort contract goes to Thailand property developer

Thu, 06 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

Herathera Island, Maldives: News has just emerged that the Thai residential property developer, Amari Estates Company, has won the lease management contract for Herathera Island Resort in the south Maldives. The four star resort is surrounded by a lagoon and has long, white, sandy beaches. It is the only resort on the island of Herathera and guests arrive via a twenty minute speedboat ride from Gan International Airport in the Madives. Company president and chief executive officer Yuthachai Charanachitt said refurbishing and rebranding the resort would cost over 100 million baht (US $3.31 million) but he refused to reveal the bid price until the company signs an official agreement on January 15th 2011. "Turnover is expected to exceed ten billion baht (US$331.4 million), from an estimate of about one billion baht (US$33.1 million) currently. We are a mixed-used property developer, including hotels, condominiums, and fully furnished serviced apartments,” commented Yuthachai. The Herathera Island Resort forms part of Amari Estates’ expansion plans in Asia. Future projects include the development of a three star, two hundred room hotel, under the Ozo brand name, in Koh Samui, Thailand. The resort, worth six hundred million baht (US$19.8 million), is due to start construction next year with completion scheduled for 2012. This year, Amari Estates will invest in three other properties in Thailand with a total project value of almost 5 billion baht (US$166 million); Oriental Residence in Bangkok, Amari Residences Hua Hin and Amari Hua Hin.



Mahatma Gandhi South African home up for sale

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

The former Johannesburg home of Mahatma Gandhi is on the market and Coal India Limited, an Indian state controlled company based in Kolkata, are making their second attempt to buy the South African property. Mahatma Gandhi travelled to South Africa in 1893 to handle a legal case in Pretoria and moved to Johannesburg in 1903. After living in rooms behind his office on Rissik Street, Johannesburg for some time, Gandhi moved into the house at 34 Grove Road. Gandhi lived at the house for three years in the early 1900s; the property belonged to Ghandi's business partner, Henry Pollak. Coal India's first attempt to buy the Gandhi property came in August 2009 when company officials realised it was up for sale. Subsequently, the owner decided to sell to another buyer but the sale fell through as the property was not officially registered. Now the Gandhi property is fully registered and back on the market. India's coal union minister, Sriprakash Jaiswal, who also represents Coal India, is scheduled to visit the property in Johannesburg soon to try and secure a deal. "The owner of the house has expressed her willingness to talk to us regarding our proposal to buy Gandhi's house and build a memorial there. I will leave for official work in Mozambique and South Africa on January 4 and will talk to her during my visit to Johannesburg. Hopefully, we should be able to buy the house this time," commented Jaiswal. Officers and employees of Coal India have also offered to sacrifice one day’s pay to raise money for the Gandhi memorabilia they want to display in the property.



China restricts foreign property investments

Sat, 01 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST

According to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC), China will tighten its restrictions on foreign real estate investment. The MOC has asked local authorities to increase supervision on property investment involving foreigners and strengthen risk controls on the real estate sector. The statement stipulates; foreign funded developers will not be allowed to make profits through buying and reselling real estate projects. The MOC also stated that it would strictly monitor all transactions in conjunction with the Ministry of Land and Resources and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. Foreign direct investment into China's property sector rose by forty eight percent to twenty billion US dollars within the first eleven months of this year, 2010. Since the beginning of 2010 China has introduced a number of measures aimed at cracking down on property market speculation, in an attempt to stabilise China’s rapidly rising property prices. The measures have included, prohibiting the issuance of mortgage loans for third home purchases and raising down payments. According to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, property prices in seventy of China’s cities rose by 0.3 percent in November 2010, and by 7.7 percent from the same time in 2009. This shows that although property prices are still on the increase in China, the rate of increase has slowed, and it indicates that the Chinese Government's measures, designed to cool the property market, are working to some degree.



Battersea Power Station project approved by Boris Johnson

Fri, 31 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

London mayor Boris Johnson has approved plans for the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station which will create 16,000 new homes. Battersea Power Station, a grade two listed building, is located on the south bank of the river Thames, in Battersea South London. Although decommissioned in 1983, the coal-fired power station has become one of the world’s best known landmarks due to its iconic four-chimney layout. It was featured in The Beatles 1965 movie Help! and on the cover art for Pink Floyd’s 1977 album, Animals. Since the closure of Battersea Power Station the site has remained unused, as several previous redevelopment projects from successive owners have failed. The central London landmark is now owned by Irish company, Real Estate Opportunities, who purchased it for £400 million (US$620 million) in November 2006. The proposal to redevelop the Battersea Power Station site was approved by Wandsworth city council in November but, due to the significance of the building, it was referred to London mayor, Boris Johnson. The Battersea Power Station project is part of a wider regeneration scheme for the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea area. The redevelopment of Battersea Power Station will create 25,000 jobs, 16,000 new homes and feature a park with leisure and retail facilities. "Battersea Power Station has long been an iconic feature of the capital"s skyline, and these plans will make sure that status is retained for years to come. The building was once a vital motor helping to power the capital. With its future secured through this regeneration, it will once again play a part in driving London’s economy," commented London mayor, Boris Johnson.



George Michael drops 6 million USD on gay Australian love nest

Tue, 28 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

News has emerged that pop singer and gay icon George Michael bought a new home in an exclusive area of Sydney whilst on vacation earlier this year. The forty seven year old British pop star, who rose to fame in the 1980’s as a member of the duo “Wham!”, paid six million US dollars for the property in May this year. George Michael reportedly fell in love with the country when performing sell out shows in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne. His three storey, five bedroom property is located in a secluded plot on the narrow rocky peninsular along Whales Beach, New South Wales. It overlooks the Tasman Sea and is only an hour’s drive from Sydney. The property boasts 3,500 square feet of interior living space, an infinity swimming pool, glass walls and a forty-foot long open living area. The former “Wham!” frontman should find his new home a quiet getaway from the UK and its media attention. George Michael’s recent arrests for drug possession and driving offences have once again thrust the gay singer into the headlines, for all the wrong reasons. It is also difficult to forget that Michael “engaged in a lewd act” in a Beverley Hills Public toilet some years earlier. Currently George shares an $8 million dollar home in Highgate, North London with his long-term gay partner Kenny Goss. Kenny was not in Australia at the time of the purchase. George Michael already owns a number of high-end properties; a 16th century estate outside London, which Oprah Winfrey recently stayed at, and a home in Beverley Hills, California.



Asia splurges on Christmas whilst the West counts the pennies

Mon, 27 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

As European and US economies continue to suffer from the economic downturn; consumers in the West have been cautious and the retail market slower than usual this Christmas. However, global retail brands have seen strong sales in Asia in the run up to the festive season. Singapore’s popular Orchard Road shopping area was busy with foreign tourists during the past two months. Many of these came from Southeast Asia where currencies have risen in value against the US dollar this year. One such tourist, Don Triangga a twenty six year old Indonesian, spent over one thousand Singapore dollars (US $1,150) on a Louis Vuitton belt and Burberry shirt. In fact, economists in Singapore have forecast a fifteen percent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for this year which, if achieved, will make Singapore Asia’s fastest growing economy in 2010. Lee Hae-Kyung, a thirty three year old hospital administrator, said her budget for Christmas gifts this year was forty-four US dollars for each friend - five times more than her budget last year. "It's not like I'm making more money than before, but I just feel like spending more since people around me and the whole atmosphere seem to be far more optimistic," she said. Over in Hong Kong, the retail industry is also booming. In fact, according to government figures, retail sales rose by 18.3 percent to the end of October compared with the same period last year. "The level of income growth remains very strong in China so [Chinese tourists] are likely to keep spending more," commented Aaron Fischer, an analyst at Hong Kong based brokerage and investment group, CLSA. Thailand has also seen retail sales improve, largely due to an improved political situation attracting more tourists along with an easing of concerns over the strong Baht. The picture in Australia, however, is completely different. The strength of the Australian dollar is affecting local businesses and consumers are increasingly shopping online for offshore bargains. Recent interest rate rises have also weakened consumer confidence and many Australians have cut back their spending this year. "Consumers are already showing signs they are watching their pennies this festive season with almost thirty three percent saying they are planning on spending less this [...]



A tale of four christmas trees...

Wed, 22 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

It seems the humble Christmas tree is now a symbol of prosperity and this year the race is on for the title of "The most expensive tree in the world." The town of Milan, Italy was the first to claim the prize with the unveiling of a 450,000 USD tree in the Piazzo Duomo. The spectacular tree was donated by Tiffany & Co. and has over one hundred thousand white lights and decorations all specially created by the renowned American jeweller. The Italian church questioned Tiffany's generosity when the well-known store opened a shop beneath the tree to sell its jewellery over the festive season - but in true Christmas spirit, and to keep the church happy, Tiffany will donate 9% of all sales to a local charity. The Milan tree held the title of "The most expensive tree in the world" for only a few days until it lost out to another jewellery store - this time in Japan... When this stunning 24-carat gold tree went on display at the Ginza Tanaka store in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. The tree weighs 21 kilograms and is decorated with over 240 jewels, including diamond baubles and strings of pearls. It has a price tag of 150,000,000 Yen (around 1,800,000 USD) The store official felt the cost was justified despite the current economic situation, saying, "Economic sentiment is sluggish. But, at least in this store, we want people to feel a gorgeous atmosphere." Yet, within just a few days, the 24-carat tree was surpassed by an even flashier number... This year the titleholders of the "The most expensive tree in the world", are the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The thirteen-metre high tree, which sits in the hotel's lobby, has been valued at over 11,000,000 USD - making the Tiffany and Ginza Tanaka trees look like poor relations. In fact, the tree’s branches are adorned with watches, necklaces and bracelets, which between them contain 181 diamonds, sapphires, pearls and emeralds. The Emirates Palace has asked the Guinness Book of Records to certify the tree as the worlds' most expensive and a twenty-four hour surveillance team is in place to protect the precious decorations. The Abu Dhabi tree is officially "The most expensive tree in the world". But s[...]



Vietnam sets sights on high-end tourists

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

In Vietnam tourism authorities have outlined details of a ten-year plan which aims to attract more high-end tourists to its beaches. Currently, more than seventy percent of the country’s tourists visit Vietnam’s coastal provinces but, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the country has failed to tap into this lucrative market. VNAT deputy head, Nguyen Manh Cuong commented; "Getting ten customers who are willing to pay for luxury tours will bring us an income higher than one hundred customers who pay for regular tours.” Cuong added that the plan is to build luxury beach villages with villas, hotels and resorts capable of attracting high-end tourists. Nguyen Thanh Huong, deputy head of VNAT's Marketing Department, said the number of tourists would be exactly the same but the numbers of high spenders would boost income from high quality tourism services and products. Deputy head of the Vietnam Institute for Tourism Development Research, Pham Trung Luong, said that brand building had been given little attention in the past and would be of high priority: “We will focus on products that are distinct from other countries in the region. The first step in brand building will be to create a logo and slogan for coastal and beach tourism. To allay fears about the adverse impacts of tourism on coastal ecology, plans will be well designed.” During the ten-year development plan, VNAT will discuss the benefits for local Vietnamese people with their local authorities. Tourism authorities will also discuss ways to manage the sewage and wastewater issues in coastal provinces throughout Vietnam. Key coastal areas to receive attention will be Long-Cat Ba in the north, Phong Nha-Ke Bang in central Quang Binh province and southern central Nha Trang, Binh Thuan and Phu Yen provinces. The pristine Phu Quoc Island in the southern Kien Giang province of Vietnam will also be targeted.



Luxury Koh Samui resort to be managed by Outrigger

Mon, 20 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

Koh Samui, Thailand: Outrigger Enterprises Inc., the fast growing Hawaii headquartered hotel chain, has just signed an agreement to manage a luxury hotel in Bhoput on the island of Koh Samui in the South of Thailand. The eighty-one key resort is to be re-named the Outrigger Koh Samui Resort and Spa. It is currently operating as the Destination Beach Resort and Spa. The five star resort consists of luxury villas, with private pools, and suites. It also has a beachside restaurant, a Navasana Wellness Centre, a fitness centre, three swimming pools (including one absolute beachfront pool), two bars and a Kids Club. Outrigger are due to commence their management of the resort on 1st February 2011. Earlier this year, Outrigger opened their regional operating headquarters in Phuket so the deal is a logical step to increase the hotel operator’s presence in Thailand. Darren Edmonstone, Outrigger Asia’s senior vice president commented; “The chain is expecting 2011 to be a banner year for expansion given a growing critical mass of hotels and resorts under the brand.” Currently Outrigger Enterprises Inc. operates, or has under development, 47 properties worldwide, with a total of nearly 12,000 rooms, located in Hawaii, Australia, Guam, Fiji, Bali, Phuket, Thailand and Hainan, China.



Vietnam to see thirty more Accor hotels by 2013

Fri, 17 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

Accor, the world's leading hotel manager and market leader in Europe, have set an ambitious goal of operating thirty additional hotels in Vietnam by 2013. Accor already operates hotels in ninety countries and employs more than one hundred and forty five thousand people. Should Accor achieve their goal in Vietnam, they will have almost three times as many hotels under their management in the country. Patrick Bassett, Accor’s Vice President of operations for Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea made the announcement at a press conference this week stating; “Our first realistic objective is to have 30 hotels and we think we shall be able to have this network of hotels already open by the end of 2013”. Accor currently manage several different hotel brands in Vietnam including Sofitel, Pullman, Mercure, Novotel and Ibis. Bassett told reporters Accor has just signed contracts to manage two more Pullman hotels, bringing the total to five. All five Pullman hotels will be in service by 2013 including the Pullman Haiphong Flamboyant Island Resort and Pullman Danang Beach. The Pullman Haiphong is the most recent project from hotel brand Pullman. Situated on Flamboyant Island in Do Son District, the three hundred room hotel will cater to an increasing number of visitors to the northern industrial and seaport hubs of Vietnam. The luxury hotel will feature a ballroom, meeting rooms, three restaurants, two bars, swimming pools, an entertainment centre, spa and an amphitheatre. The Pullman Danang Beach, due to open in mid-2011, will have 207 guest rooms, four restaurants and three swimming pools. Additional Pullman hotels are scheduled to open next year in the southern city of Vung Tau and the capital Hanoi. The 360 room Pullman Vung Tau, which will be the first Pullman hotel to open in Vietnam, will have five hundred rooms but only limited function rooms and leisure facilities. Currently the Pullman Hanoi Horison is under renovation; when re-opened it will be able to accommodate over one thousand guests. “With sustained economic growth and significant investment in infrastructure leading to increased volumes for business travel and continued [...]



China continues to buy up London property

Thu, 16 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

The recent opening of the Bank of China in the heart of London demonstrates just how much of a stake China has in the U.K. and sends a clear signal to Chinese investors. In fact, the Bank of China is already funding a £100 million (US$ 157 million) hotel at Queen Anne’s Chambers, near New Scotland Yard. The Chinese bank is also financing the purchase of a £32 million (US$ 50 million) office block in the City of London. Just last week, representatives from the Bank of China, along with solicitors from law firm DLA Piper and property agents from Jones Lang LaSalle, took part in a series of presentations to Chinese investors in Beijing and Shanghai. Their aim was to advise Chinese nationals who are interested in property in London. James Thomas, head of residential sales at Jones Lang LaSalle, commented; "The invited audiences were clients of the Bank of China, so a pretty select bunch. We told them what is driving the London market. DLA Piper talked through the legal issues and the Bank of China indicated how much they could borrow and remit." The super-rich Chinese have been buying property in London for several years, as most made their money from manufacturing outside of China and were free to move their money around. However, current legislation means it is now possible for all Chinese nationals to own property abroad. Individuals holding Renminbi (the official currency of China) can send approximately £30,000 (US$ 47,000) out of China each year. Whilst as individuals, this is not nearly enough to buy property in London, family members often join funds together to enable them to buy. The Bank of China in the UK can also grant mortgages to Chinese nationals in a very short time, making it possible for them to put together the asking price. As a result, there are now new groups of Chinese investors buying up London property. If Chinese fiscal policy remains the same, the numbers of Chinese buying property in London looks set to increase.



Spanish property sales continue to grow

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

The latest figures released by the Spanish property registry have revealed that residential sales in Spain increased by thirteen percent in the third quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2009. The number of residential property transactions in Spain for Q3 was 124,593. Resale and new build property sales also increased year on year, registering nine and seventeen percent rises respectively. "On a rolling 12-month basis, there were 454,283 sales over 12 months to the end of Q3, up an annualised four per cent and a quarterly three per cent. Even if a percentage of these sales were banks swapping debt for property, I think the market has found its floor at around 400,000 transactions per year," said Mark Stucklin, author of the Spanish Property Doctor column in the Sunday Times. Rebecca Smith, sales director at Ocean Villas Group, commented; "Prices are now at their lowest since 2005 and it seems unlikely that they will fall further. In key areas such as Malaga and Mallorca, a lack of new building over the last few years, has led to a shortage of good quality property and prices in these areas have started to rise." “Savvy investors who buy now, at the bottom of the market, should see excellent capital gains over the next few years.” she added.



Asia Pacific favoured by British overseas property investors

Mon, 13 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

According to new research by Aviva Investors, British buyers of overseas property currently favour investments in the Asia Pacific region. The survey revealed that seventy-four percent of British investors expect to buy real estate overseas within the next three years, with the Asia Pacific region being widely regarded as the best area for potential return on investment. In total, sixty percent of investors who took part in the survey said they were looking to buy in the Asia Pacific region. Twenty percent of the participants said they intended to buy in the UK. Just ten percent were looking to buy in continental Europe, with the US was favoured by eleven percent. Key reasons for British investors being attracted to the Asia Pacific region were, Asia’s recovery from the global recession and the growing importance of Asian economies on the world financial stage. Ian Hally, chief executive for Aviva Investors, commented; "Real estate is a key asset class for long-term investors, but questions have been asked recently about whether there is any value left following this year's rally in the UK." "Asian economies look to be much better placed for recovery than their western counterparts, making real estate investments in the region particularly compelling, which has been less reliant on debt over the past decade at a government, corporate and personal level. This should lead to stronger investor and occupier demand," he added. Frank Khoo, global head of Asia investment company AXA REIM, said; "There is no doubt that investors are now recognising that the pace of growth in the Asian property market is likely to outpace that of both the US and Europe. As such, they are increasingly prepared to consider exposure to the region when building up a balanced global strategy." According to Singapore based property brokerage Ocean Villas Group, during the first three quarters of 2010 direct real estate investments in Asia totalled US$46 billion; double the amount for the same period last year.



Singapore first to get multi-millionaire credit card

Mon, 06 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST

Citibank Singapore has launched a brand new credit card aimed only at Singapore’s rich. The new Ultima card is by invitation only and members must have at least $5 million SGD in assets. The card will replace the old Ultima card which, when introduced in 2003, was offered to clients with a minimum annual salary of $350,000 SGD. Due to Singapore’s large number of wealthy people (nearly one in ten are millionaires) it is the first country in Asia to offer the new card. According to this year’s wealth report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini World, the number of Singapore millionaire households grew by a massive thirty-five percent last year alone.



China has more billionaires than the US

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

According to the Hurun Rich List 2010, China now has many more billionaires than the US. The Hurun Rich List ranks 1,363 individuals across the globe who have personal wealth of over one hundred and fifty million dollars. Established as a research institute in 1999 by British accountant Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report Inc. has grown into a leading publishing group in Shanghai, China, targeting China's entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals. What’s even more interesting is eleven of the top twenty, self-made female billionaires are also Chinese. Zhang Yin, founder and chairwoman of Nine Dragons Paper, is top of the list with an estimated fortune of 5.6 billion US dollars. Nine Dragons Paper, established in 1995, is a recycling company and the largest producer of containerboard products in China. Wu Yajun, chairwoman of Longfor Properties Co. Ltd., ranks second with a four billion dollar fortune. Founded in 1994, Longfor properties is a real estate company and has ten real estate developments throughout China. Chan Laiwa of Fu Wah International, a well-known Hong Kong registered multinational firm, ranked third with 1.1 billion dollars. In comparison, US talk show host Oprah Winfrey ranked ninth on the list with 2.3 billion dollars in assets. The British author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling, ranked twentieth with assets of one billion dollars. Rupert Hoogewerf, compiler of the Hurun Rich List commented; "There are 189 US Dollar billionaires that we know of, suggesting that China today has more billionaires than anywhere else in the world, four hundred to five hundred billionaires, surpassing even the U.S.” This is in contrast to the Forbes Magazine 2010 Billionaire List which counted only sixty-four Chinese billionaires. “China is clearly the leader for women in business,” Hoogwerf added. "Not only is 2010 the first time in ten years a property tycoon has not made the top five, but it is also the first year that a construction equipment manufactur[...]



Richest man in India completes his $1 billion dollar home

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India and the third richest man in the world, is celebrating the completion of his new home in Mumbai. The party will be like no other if his 1 billion USD, twenty-seven storey, one hundred and seventy three metres high home is anything to go by. The lucky ones to have received a house warming invitation are even able to choose their own means of transport. To avoid Mumbai’s busy roads Mr Ambani has conveniently provided three helipads. If guests prefer to travel by car it won’t be a problem finding a parking space in his one hundred and sixty-space car park on the building’s lower levels. Once inside there are nine lifts to take guests to the upper floors where the party is. The building, named Antilla after a mythical Island, will be the home to Mr Ambani, his wife and his three children. With 37,000 square metres of space, there will be plenty of room…even more, in fact, than the palace of Versailles in France! The house features a health club, gym, dance studio, a swimming pool, ballroom, guestrooms, several themed lounges and a fifty-seat cinema room. There are a total of six hundred staff on hand to ensure that Mr Ambani and his family are well looked after and the house is well maintained. The cost of building the house is estimated at 71 million USD but, due to Mumbai’s sky-high land prices, it is valued at over fifteen times that amount - 1 billion USD. A local businessman who recently visited Mr Ambani’s home commented; “Antilia is marvellous, I remember seeing a Picasso painting in there, it was one of its kind - stunning.” According to Forbes magazine Mr Ambani, who owns most of Reliance Industries, is worth 29 billion USD. He ran the oil, retail and biotechnology conglomerate with his brother Anil until their fall out several years ago. Ambani has always been considered as the quieter of the two super rich brothers so it has come as quite a surprise to the Indian people that he has[...]



Cambodia makes freehold foreign property ownership possible

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

As property prices increasingly come under pressure across Asia, the recent deregulation of ownership laws in Cambodia now make it one of the most foreigner friendly places to buy property in Southeast Asia. The new foreign ownership laws were passed by King Norodom Sihamoni on May 24th of this year, after being passed by the National Assembly and the Senate. The changes to the Cambodian property regulations now mean that investors are able to own property freehold provided it is above the ground floor of the building and not within thirty kilometres of the country’s borders. Bretton Sciaroni, a legal adviser to the Cambodian government, said; “We are more open and more liberal than Thailand.” Restrictions on foreign ownership within Southeast Asia are all too common. In Thailand, foreigners are able to purchase a freehold condominium as long as the total foreign ownership of the complex is not more than forty-nine percent. Foreign investors buying property in Laos or Vietnam can currently only purchase property as leasehold.



Shangri-La hotels committed to Thailand

Mon, 22 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

The Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok has built a strong reputation for discreet luxury and is currently undergoing one of its most extensive renovations. All the restaurants have been renovated, from the famous Salathip Pavilion, which now serve guests an exquisite contemporary Thai cuisine. Two new outlets have also been introduced; the Long Bar for creative drinks and snacks and the irresistible Chocolate Boutique. In November, the hotel completed the renovation of the upper guest rooms. Thierry Douin, Vice President of Shangri-La for Thailand and Indonesia, said he expects the hotel to receive better occupancy rates with the coming high season as Thailand’s situation continues to remain stable. “The kingdom retains its reputation as an exotic quality destination offering great value and unmatched service. We remain committed to growth in this country,” Mr Douin commented. In fact, Shangri-La are still looking for new locations in Bangkok with intentions to open the first Traders Hotel, Shangri-La’s four-star brand, in Thailand. “We are open to any possibility. We could take over an existing property or manage a brand new one. We look basically for a presence in Bangkok’s central districts around Sathorn, Silom, and Sukhumvit areas,” Mr Douin explained. Two years ago Shangri-La announced plans to build a hotel in Phuket but the project was subsequently cancelled. Nevertheless Shangri-La does remain interested in southern Thailand. “We are continuously looking at opportunities not only in Phuket but also in Koh Samui and eventually Krabi. We are looking for example to a property in Bali, to eventually add a Traders in Jakarta. We also monitor closely developments in Vietnam, but this remains a difficult market to enter. However, we see there a lot of potential,” Douin concluded.



Eaton Hotels plan hotel in Thailand

Mon, 22 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

Eaton Hotels International, the affiliate four-star brand of Langham Hotels International, plan to open their first hotel in Thailand in the near future, although no details have been given on the time scale or location. John Dick, Eaton Hotels International vice president, commented; “We are talking with developers and hope we can conclude deals shortly. This is all I can say right now.” However, he did add that Eaton was interested in having properties in prime resort locations. Eaton will be competing with established brands such as the Holiday Inn and Novatel. Novatel has already opened the Novotel Fenix Silom with the Novotel Bangkok Fenix Pleonchit due to follow in December. Also opening soon are the Novotel Bangkok Impact, Muang Thong Thani and Novotel Bangkok Platinum. “We believe in the potential of Thailand. It is in a strategic location, hotels are a long-term investment. It takes three to four years to establish a market and it is obvious that Thailand can bounce back quickly from crises,” added Mr Dick. Eaton Hotels market themselves as an Asian brand focussed on understanding the needs of Asian travellers. The Eaton brand is divided into three parts; Eaton Luxe, Eaton Smart and Eaton House. Currently, there are five Eaton properties - three Eaton Houses in Hong Kong, one Eaton Smart in Hong Kong and one Eaton Luxe in Shanghai. Eaton already has plans for two new properties in China (Eaton Luxe Xinqiao in Shanghai and Eaton Smart Nanchang in Jiangxi), one in Hong Kong (Eaton Smart Suites) and one in India (Eaton Smart Delhi International Airport). Its sister brand, Langham, has three properties underway in Thailand; two in Bangkok (at Nana and Phayathai BTS stations) and one in Phuket (Langham Place Miora Resort and Spa, Kalim Bay). Langham also recently opened the Langham Place in Samui.



Chinese invest heavily in London property

Sat, 20 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

Buyers from mainland China and Hong Kong are ignoring the cooling of London’s property market as they continue to invest heavily in luxury real estate in Britain’s capital. Chinese real estate investors are snapping up luxury property in areas such as London’s fashionable Knightsbridge and Canary Wharfe. Naomi Minegishi, a twenty one year old Japanese woman, who lived in China for ten years, is a property broker in London. When she was hired, Naomi had no previous real estate experience and was recruited because of her fluency in Mandarin. Recently, she has sold four, three-bedroom apartments in a new development for £320,000 ($500,000 USD) per unit – all of them to different Chinese investors. “Chinese clients are a dream. They are wealthy, they pay in cash, and they’re looking for good value” she was quoted as saying. In several up-market areas of London, Chinese investors have already become the main buyers of luxury property; replacing buyers from Russia and the Middle East. In fact, the Chinese now account for five percent of all London property purchased by foreigners valued between £500,000 ($804,500 USD) and £1 million ($1.6 million USD). British government figures also show that there were 115,000 Chinese people living in London by 2007, compared to only 80,000 in 2001. The Chinese, unlike their Russian and Middle Eastern counterparts, are not buying London real estate to live in - most are looking for investments in a market they consider far more stable than their own. This shift in nationality of buyers has resulted in brokers being eager to hire Mandarin and Cantonese speakers – some property developers have even omitted the number four from their numbering schemes, as it is considered unlucky in Chinese culture. Mathhew Tack, director at Hampton’s London real estate agency commented; “Most developers in London are including China in their marketin[...]



Thailand best expat lifestyle in the World, survey says

Thu, 18 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

The world’s largest expat lifestyle survey, The Expat Explorer, has provided further insight into why many people choose to live in Phuket, Thailand. Thailand was voted the top country by expats for overall experience and lifestyle. Commissioned by HSBC Bank International, the Expat Explorer is the world’s largest and most comprehensive global survey of expats. The Expat Experience is the second of the three reports which document the results of The Expat Explorer survey. The Expat Experience focuses on people’s experiences when moving to their new country, integrating with the local society, their quality of lifestyle and a comparison with where they previously lived. This year was the surveys third year and saw more than four thousand expats taking part. One of the main sections of the report deals with ‘quality of lifestyle’, where participants rated accommodation, food, entertainment, healthcare, work, life balance, social life, commuting to work and opportunities for sport and travel. The 4,127 people who took part in the survey ranked Thailand first, as the best overall expat experience. Other countries scoring well in the survey were; South Africa which was voted the best country to start and set up a new life abroad and Spain which took the number one spot for the best country to integrate into. At the other end of the scale, India received the lowest number of votes and ranked bottom in the three categories; overall experience, setting up and quality of life. Qatar was voted the worst country for overall integration.



Phuket airport landing fees cut to bring in more tourists

Wed, 17 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

As the high season in Phuket approaches, the Airport of Thailand Authority (AOT) has introduced new incentives for airlines who begin new services to Phuket international airport. The new scheme was launched on the 1st November and offers a ninety-five percent reduction on landing fees to airlines who introduce services on new routes to Phuket. Any scheduled flights landing within off-peak times; from 1am to 8:59am and 10pm to midnight, will receive seventy baht per passenger. Additional flights added to existing routes will not be able to benefit from the new scheme. However, they will receive sixty baht per passenger if landing within off peak hours and forty baht per passenger when landing at peak times. Charter flights bringing passengers from new destinations will also be entitled to the ninety-five percent discount but will only receive thirty-five baht per passenger at off-peak times. Charter flights from existing destinations will receive thirty baht per passenger off peak and twenty baht at peak times. The scheme is open to all international airlines as long as they show a clean record and have no outstanding debts with AOT. Air Asia is one Airline that will benefit from the new scheme following their recent announcement of new direct flights between Depansar, Bali and Phuket.



Chinese property Investment in U.S. greater than figures show

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

Chinese investment in the US property market is likely to be far greater than figures suggest. This is because Chinese investors who are also US citizens, such as David Liu who is one of the largest buyers of rental apartment buildings in the US, are still not accounted for in official figures. Currently market analysis companies, such as Real Capital Analytics, only count Chinese investors who are based in China, whilst other sources of Chinese investment clearly exist. Real Capital Analytics will does not count David Liu’s transactions because his company, Standard Portfolios, is located in the US. With China's economy generating billions of dollars of surplus cash each year, the number of Chinese investors looking for opportunities in the US are rising. Additionally, China's Sovereign Wealth Fund and companies such as the China Investment Corporation have been looking to buy stakes in US focused real estate funds. However, if these investments are made they will not be recorded by Real Capital Analytics as Chinese investment because the companies will not own the property directly. There are many Chinese investors who currently operate 'under the radar', buying up thousands of distressed properties that have come onto the market due to the economic downturn. Until real statistical analysis of these 'underground' property investments is made, the true figures will remain unknown.



Li Ka-Shing invests $979 million in Hong Kong property

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

The richest man in Hong Kong, Li Ka-Shing, has shown confidence in the real estate market by buying two residential sites at auction for more than the estimated price. The news comes just four days after the Hong Kong government tightened restrictions on loans to prevent an increase in property prices. Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd., operated by Li Ka-Shing bought the plots in Ho Man Tin District for $4.1 billion HKD ($530 million USD) and in Hung Hom District for $3.51 billion HKD ($451 million USD). The auction followed a decision by the Hong Kong government to raise down payment ratios and further increase land supply to slow the dramatic prices increases seen since 2009. Buggle Lau, chief analyst at Midland Holdings Ltd., Hong Kong’s largest publically traded real estate broker commented; “The prices reached show that the developer has a very high level of confidence in the residential market, particularly in sites in urban areas.” Four of the seven analysts who surveyed the two plots cut their forecasts after the new government measures. Estimates for the 394,000 square foot Ho Man Tin site ranged from HK$3.55 billion ($457 million USD) to HK$3.94 billion ($507 million USD). The Hung Hom district with buildable area of 366,000 square feet was estimated to be sold for HK$2.2 billion ($283 million USD) to HK$2.9 billion ($373 million USD). Victor Li, deputy chairman of Cheung Kong Holding Ltd., said; “The estimates didn’t take into account the views both sites offer, it’s extremely dangerous to use what we paid for the sites as an indicator of where property prices are going.” The auction is the Hong Kong Governments fifth this financial year (starting from April 1st). Further auctions are planned in a bid to slow increasing house prices with residential sites in the[...]



Langham to expand into China and add to Thailand properties

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

Langham Hotels International, a European hotel management company, are aiming to add between ten and twenty new hotels to their portfolio in China by 2015. The management are confident that their European brand will be well received by the Chinese. They also believe that their expansion into China will support their properties in Thailand. Established in 1963 and owned by Great Eagle Holdings, Langham Hotel International has three brands; European Langham Hotels and Resorts, Langham Place and the Eaton. Bob van den Oord, Langham’s vice president for sales and marketing, commented, "We can see people lining up to buy Louis Vuitton or Prada bags in China. Its economy has been growing rapidly. Therefore, a dramatic number of Chinese tourists will travel abroad and one of their preferred destinations is Thailand." The company currently operate the Langham Place Samui, located on Lamai Beach in Koh Samui, which is the only hotel in Thailand under their management. They plan to open another three hotels by 2013; a four hundred room hotel in Phayathai, Bangkok; a seventy eight villa Resort and Spa called Langham Place Miora in Kalim Bay, Phuket; and the 230-room Langham Place Sukhumvit, Bangkok. The company estimates that around fifteen percent of its guests at each hotel will be Chinese tourists. Mr van den Oord said he felt optimistic about the Thai economy and that its GDP would show positive growth this year. The company believes Thailand is always a popular destination among foreigners and is confident that tourism will pick up next year.



Property in India booming

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

Property in India has become increasingly popular with investors as its economy continues to expand and demand for homes increases. Increases in the number of companies outsourcing to India’s IT and manufacturing industries have produced a surge in employment and resulted in increased wealth amongst its population. This has led to a property boom - especially in areas such as Chennai and Bangalore where most of India’s IT and manufacturing industry is based. Mr. Babu, president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI) commented; "India's residential and commercial property markets in urban cities are expected to grow sixteen percent on-year in the next 10 years. Now may be a good opportunity to buy Indian properties as the market is picking up and more [property] developers are launching projects." Some cities have already seen a rise in property prices of between ten and fifteen percent in the last year alone. This year the Indian Property Fair held at the Singapore exhibition centre welcomed over 1,500 visitors. Exhibitors said that they had seen interest in areas such as Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad and also received enquiries for second tier cities such as Coimbatore, Maduri and Tiruchy. "Apart from the Indian residents in Singapore, there are also a growing number of Indian expatriates from the Middle East who are settling here." said Mr R Narayanamohan, chairman of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "What attracts these buyers is the need to maintain their roots in the regions where they hail from", he added. Although, due to Indian property ownership laws, foreigners are unable to buy an apartment or landed property, they can invest in large develop[...]



Ryan Air adds 400 low cost flights from new Barcelona base

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

Ryan Air, the popular U.K. low cost airline, has opened a new base in El Prat, Barcelona, Spain. Ryan Air will operate more than 400 weekly low fare flights to and from Barcelona and are investing over $550 million into the project. El Prat Airport saw a decline of three million passengers last year. The move by Ryan Air is expected to increase passenger numbers by over 2.5 million across twenty three routes. A total of 2,500 local jobs will also be created and an additional 400 jobs within Ryan Air for pilots, cabin crew and engineers. Michael O’Leary, Ryan Air’s Chief Executive, issued a formal statement saying, “Ryanair is pleased to officially open its 42nd base at Barcelona El Prat with 23 new routes and 2.5m passengers per annum which will allow El Prat airport to tap into the low fares market, which is the only market which continues to grow, thanks to Ryanair’s low fares, for the first time. Barcelona consumers and visitors can beat the recession by choosing Ryanair’s low fares on 23 exciting routes from El Prat to destinations all over Europe including France, Italy and Germany among others.”



Hong Kong suspends property from investment residency plan

Tue, 02 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang has announced that the government will suspend investment in property as a way of gaining residency within the city and will introduce a 'rent to buy' housing plan as it takes further measures to cool its property market. The residency scheme was originally set up to stimulate investment by foreigners in the city. Under the original guidelines, non-Hong Kong residents could obtain residency by investing in local assets including real estate. "Despite the fact that real estate investments under the scheme in recent years have only represented about one percent of the total market turnover, the government, in view of public concern, has decided to temporarily remove real estate from the investment asset classes under the scheme," Tsang told law makers. The announcement follows a series of measures introduced over the past year in an attempt to slow house price inflation - property prices in Hong Kong have risen by fifty percent since 2009. The previous changes were introduced on August 13th 2010 and included raising down payments for mortgages on luxury and investment properties due to record low mortgage rates prompting a surge in the number of mainland Chinese investors. The Hong Kong government also plans to increase its land supply to encourage over 61,000 new units to come to market over the next three to four years. Tsang's policy speech comes at a time when the city's property prices are close to the levels seen before the 1997 Asian financial crisis, with average home prices up fifteen percent so far this year, on the back of a thirty percent increase in 2009.



China's new status symbol is a 6,000 USD toilet

Sat, 30 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

As the property boom in China looks set to continue, there have been some interesting knock-on effects for other industries. You may be surprised to learn that one such industry is in futuristic, state-of-the-art toilets. In fact, new property buyers are leaving their old style toilets behind in droves and trading up to new high tech alternatives laden with the latest in toilet technologies. In plush high-end showrooms, where you would expect to shop for the latest in fashionable clothes and designer gadgets, the Chinese are test-driving new commodes. Dong Yu, who recently purchased a 2,200 square foot apartment in Beijing, is one such punter in the market for a sporty little number. He was prepared to pay anything up to $400 USD for a pair of new toilets. The model he finally chose has a slim tank and ultra-quiet flush – essential for those late night bathroom visits! "Today, Chinese people like to focus on the kitchen and the bathroom in their new apartments; it's a big difference from when I was a kid. We had to share public bathrooms, which only had squat toilets." said Dong. As the Chinese strive for a better standard of living, the property boom has led to a surge in the plumbing and specifically toilet manufacturing industries. Nineteen million commodes are sold in China each year - almost double the number sold in the U.S. "China is the most competitive market in the world," said Larry Yuen, president of Kohler Asia, which has eleven factories in China. "There are brands from Japan, Europe and America all fighting for market share." "Over a decade ago China's government started to allow private property development. Since then, the amo[...]



Asian investors bullish on Australian property

Sat, 16 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

Over the last eight years British investors have been the main overseas buyers of real estate in Queensland, Australia. However, according to new figures from the Foreign Ownership of Land Register, the majority of buyers are now South Korean, Singaporean and Chinese. British investment in the popular expat area has fallen sharply from $466 million USD in 2008 to $112 million USD last year. The figures reveal that the top investors in the area are South Koreans who bought $217 million USD of property, with Singaporeans accounting for $213 million USD and Chinese investing $150 million USD. The statistics show that the majority of Asian investors are buying residential property with a small number investing in commercial real estate and agricultural land. Chris Eves, Professor of property economics at the Queensland University of Technology commented; “the global financial crisis has thwarted investment from Britain, the US and New Zealand. These countries that had been steadily increasing investment in Queensland in the 2000s have stopped buying due to the economic meltdown.” “If you took out South East Asia, those new players coming in, foreign investment would have been dismal,” he added. He added that British companies continue to buy up agricultural land whereas South Korean and Singaporean companies tended to invest in property. However, the British still remain the largest owners of foreign land at 2.03 million hectares, almost half the total of 4.44 million hectares owned by overseas investors in Queensland.



Thailand international arrivals continue to grow

Sat, 16 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

The Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT) have announced figures which show healthy increases in year on year arrivals at both Bangkok and Phuket airports. Bangkok airports Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang received a total of 1,259,584 international arrivals in August this year - an increase of seven percent over the same month last year. Phuket International Airport benefitted from the largest increase with a surge in International arrivals from 86,829 in August 2009 to 121,666 this year - an increase of over forty percent.



Malaiwana announces new luxury apartments and beach club

Sat, 16 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

Luxury property developers Malaiwana have announced the launch of a new project, The Malaiwana Residences. Located in Nai Thon, Phuket, the new project will feature twelve luxury apartments each with over six hundred square metres of living space and eighteen metre private swimming pools. There will be a total of eight duplex units and four penthouses available. Prices will start from eighty five million baht for a duplex and ninety five million for the penthouses. The official launch date has been set for mid November with construction starting in January next year and completion due within two years. All units will have ocean views. Following the announcement Malaiwana has also started construction of a beach club, aptly named ‘The Malaiwana Beach Club’, which will provide bar and restaurant facilities to the estate as well as a venue for upmarket events and showbiz parties. The beach club is expected to be finished early next year and will be open to everyone to enjoy its ocean front views.



Bangkok Airways announces new Phuket to Samui and Trat service

Sat, 16 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

Bangkok Airways have announced the launch of a new flight service from Phuket to Koh Samui and Trat. The service, which will start on the 2nd of December, is intended to serve visitors travelling to the resort island of Koh Chang and Cambodia directly from Phuket. Trat, an eastern province of Thailand, is popular with visitors due to its quiet beaches and close proximity to Cambodia. Previously visitors who wished to visit the various beach destinations in Trat were unable to do so without passing through Bangkok. “We believe connecting Thailand's popular seaside destinations through Samui will benefit tourists and stimulate tourism flow across the country” said Nandhika Varavarn, Bangkok Airways, Vice President. Round trips flights will operate four times weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Outbound flights depart Phuket at 12:55 and arrive in Trat at 15:40. Inbound flights depart Trat at 16:15 and arrive in Phuket at 19:10.



Retiring to Phuket

Fri, 15 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

If you've considered retiring recently then you've probably thought about where to retire to....for many people that's a place where life is just a little bit slower paced and you can find time to relax...enjoy time with family and friends...soak up some sun and still enjoy all the things you did back home. But why wait until you retire to start enjoying that lifestyle.....investing in a retirement home several years before you retire gives you the opportunity to spend holidays and weekends at your new home.....get to know your neighbours and develop a social network.....it also gives you the chance to experience the culture...the food...and the area......so when you finally come to retire you'll settle in straight away. Life in Phuket is certainly very different from living in Hong Kong or even Singapore....for a start you don't have the heavy traffic to contend with....queues....and small apartments....the amount of open space is very appealing....there are beautiful beaches.....the food is great and the cost of living is low. In fact...if you wrote a list of all the things you'd like to have access to when you retire, Phuket would probably feature somewhere near the top of that list: 1. A short distance from home... Phuket's a short direct flight from Hong Kong (3.5 hours) and Singapore (1.5 hours) and it's also an international hub which means you can get to just about anywhere in the world from Phuket. There are several daily flights from Hong Kong and Singapore to Phuket...which means that hopping over for t[...]



Discover the secrets of Phuket's east coast

Fri, 15 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

It wasn't long ago that the east coast of Phuket didn't even get a second glance. It was considered by many to be too remote, too dull and too boring. However, recently it has been discovered by property buyers who would rather it remained a secret. The west coast has always been the preferred destination in Phuket with its idyllic sandy beaches, quaint seaside towns and villages and a good mix of top quality restaurants. Since the late eighties, when the island started to develop as a tourist destination, luxury hotels, boutique resorts and plenty of apartments and villas have sprung up on the west coast. Making it popular but perhaps a little over-crowded. Towns such as Patong and Kata have become so popular that in high season you can't walk down the street without being asked to buy a suit, stroke an Iguana or buy some sort of crazy gadget. Beaches are littered with sun-loungers as tourist clamber to catch enough rays before they go home. If you like that sort of thing then the west coast is for you – but if you seek peace and quiet away from your busy day-to-day life you should take a look at the east coast. For a start it's less crowded - in fact it's hardly crowded at all. With only a handful of hotels and resorts, the east coast hosts far less holidaymakers. East coast resorts favour spa breaks, wellness retreats and relaxation; discos, jet skis and tailors shops would most definitely be out of place here. What’s more, the east coast boasts the best views on Phuket. [...]



Ocean Villas Group at the iProperty Expo Singapore

Thu, 14 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

Ocean Villas Group will be exhibiting in Singapore later this month at the iProperty.com Expo- International Collection. The event is the first property exhibition at the newly opened Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre.It istaking place on the 23rd and 24th October from 10am to 8pm. Ocean Villas Group will be showcasing a range of property from around the world including Thailand, Spain, Australia and Bali. Sales director Rebecca Smith will also be givinga seminar titled: “Is the time right to invest in Spanish property?” - Saturday 23rd at 1pm. You can meet Rebecca and her team at stand N61. There is also a luxury holiday in Phuket up for grabs – simply visit their stand for your chance to win. Event: iProperty.com Expo - International Collection Venue: Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre Date: 23rd and 24th October Time: 10am to 8pm



Asia's top ten luxury properties

Thu, 14 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

Asia’s top ten super luxury properties were unveiled at the World Executive Summit in Hong Kong on 27th September 2010. Unsurprisingly Antilla, a two billion US dollar property, located in Bombay and owned by India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, ranked first. The twenty seven floor, one hundred and seventy three metre high building is home only to Ambani’s family and their 600 servants! Coming a distant second was No. 10 Big Wave Bay Road on China's Hong Kong Island. The seven hundred million Yuan (one hundred and five million US dollar) villa is owned by business tycoon Julian Hui. Interestingly, seven of the top ten properties were in the Greater China region, again demonstrating the huge spending power of China's wealthy.



Six Senses announces 40 million dollar Sri Lanka project

Thu, 14 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

Six Senses Resorts & Spas have announced a joint venture, with Aitken Spence and the Favourite Group, to build a forty million US Dollar resort in Sri Lanka. Set on a ten acre plot in Ahungalla the project will consist of forty single bedroom villa suites and fourteen two bedroom beach front villas along with full resort facilities and a spa. Six Senses plan to open the resort in 2012 and anticipate that revenues per room will average between four and five hundred US Dollars per night. Six Senses currently operate thirteen high-end resorts branded under the Soneva, Six Senses and Evason brands in the Maldives, Thailand, Vietnam, Oman and Jordan. They also have a number of new resorts under construction in Morocco, China and the Turks and Caicos Islands.



Asia Pacific rich list now bigger than Europe

Sat, 02 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

A recent report by Merrill Lynch shows the number of Australian high net worth individuals (HNWI) has soared by thirty four percent since last year. The Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini fifth Annual Asia-Pacific Wealth report shows that the number of Australian HNWI has grown by thirty four percent to 173,600 with combined wealth being thirty seven percent higher at 519.4 billion USD. HNWI are defined as having investable assets of one million USD or more - excluding their primary residence. The statistics also show that Japan has the largest HNWI population in the Asia Pacific region with China coming in second, with an increase of thirty one percent. The combined wealth of Asia Pacific’s top three countries, Japan, China and Australia, accounted for seventy six percent of the regions HNWI population in 2009 and seventy percent of its wealth. Hong Kong and India also recorded a surge in high net worth population and wealth last year. The report concludes that Australian HNWI were also the largest investors in real estate within the region, with over forty percent of their assets being held in property. "Australian high net worth individuals turned the risk switch off in 2009, with investors perceiving real estate to be less volatile than many other forms of investment. This is a trend that has continued through 2010" comments Peter Opie, Merrill Lynch[...]



Santander will pay your mortgage and your taxes

Sat, 02 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EST

Altamira Santander Real Estate, a division of the Spanish bank Santander, is offering to pay the first year of mortgages for all new customers. In fact they are even offering to pay the value added tax and/or other taxes due on sales for a selected number of their properties. Under the terms of the offer the maximum saving buyers can make on their mortgage payments would be 7,200 Euros (9,845 USD). Santander also offers 100 percent mortgages with terms of up to forty years. As a result of the country’s worst recession in sixty years, Spanish banks repossessed and purchased over sixty billion Euros of property assets with Santander itself buying more than four billion euros worth (5.4 billion USD). The offer from Santander follows new regulations announced in May by the central bank of Spain, Banco de Espana, which restrict the amount of provisions Spanish banks are allowed to set aside for real estate. “Banks should be banks and not real estate companies,” commented The Bank of Spain, Deputy Governor, Javier Ariztegui. To date, Altamira Santander Real Estate has sold 2,700 of the 3,500 homes on its books.