A new era of brand mania is currently sweeping the Phuket property market in the form of "lifestyle investment".
Mixed-use hotel and residential projects are not only grabbing headlines here, but are becoming a global phenomenon.
What's driving this emerging trend and how does it differ from traditional real-estate investing?
In the beginning, or say in the early 1990s, came Phuket's first brand-managed product: the villas at Amanpuri.
For the first time luxury and resort pampering could be enjoyed not only in a hotel but in your own private residence. Following this came the Sheraton Island Villas and then the Banyan Tree, which was one of the earliest proponents of the private pool villa.
As the resort market in the post-1997 economic doldrums in the region suffered, so did the entry of new products to the marketplace.
Fast forward to 2002 onward, and the cusp of a property boom on the island with new resorts coming on line, and the stage was set to take off from what the Amanpuri had started.
The Banyan Tree brought new products to market, the Sheraton assumed management of the Laguna Golf Villas, and eventually Trisara created a similar hotel and villa synergy to that of the Amanpuri.Moving on to present day and a variety of locations and products are now poised to push into the marketplace.
From Jumeirah's Private Island Resort and Cape Yamu on the east coast, to the Moevenpick Residence down south in Karon; Dusit Laguna's new pool villas and the Raffles Resort and Residences in Phang Nga, "mixed-use resort" is becoming a common term.
One of this year's most eagerly awaited projects is Bang Tao Bay 's Shangri La Resort and Residences, which was launched recently in Hong Kong and has created a buzz throughout the region. With prices in the range of 40 to 60 million baht and strong early reservations, certainly the brand fascination is bringing new buyers to the shores of Phuket.
So what makes hotel developers diversify their investment strategy and mix hotel and residential products into one?
Certainly one of the most obvious is to capitalize on a hot property market, being able to turn superior bottom-line development profit from sales and at the