CEO Ben Taechaubol discusses Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok
Developed by Country Group Development, the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River is a premier 73-storey residential tower meant to define luxury waterfront living. The 32 billion baht development with Four Seasons Hotels is the first of its kind in Asia.
Considered as Bangkok’s last remaining waterfront golden site, the Chao Phraya Estate encompasses over 14 acres (35-2-68 rai) of prime land along its majestic namesake river. Strategically positioned at its heart, the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok.
Developed by Country Group Development, the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River is a premier 73-storey residential tower meant to define luxury waterfront living. Compared to comparable “super luxury” Bangkok real estate developments, the Four Seasons Private Residences is the only luxury real estate development with unprecedented accessibility from the main road as well as 350 metres of waterfront real estate. It is currently, the world’s largest Four Seasons Private Residences.
Introducing Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River
Every unit at the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River is a corner unit. Thus, to say it elevates luxury waterfront living to new heights is not hyperbole. The super luxurious condominium not only draws inspiration from its spectacular waterfront locale, every unit also features unobstructed panoramic river and city views across all 355 residences, as well as enhanced services from its two neighbouring world-class hotels – Capella and naturally, the Four Seasons.
The iconic 73-storey residential tower Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok stands over more than 14 acres of prime waterfront real estate, making the opulent Bangkok luxury development along the Chao Phraya River, one of, if not the most exclusive residential address, with a world class brand name to boot – the legendary Four Seasons and with the brand, the lauded 5-star service which combines to create a lifestyle beyond First class.
Bangkok’s record breaking gridlock is well known and interested parties in the mixed use luxury city resort condo might be concerned but after talking to experts, perhaps we can allay some concerns. Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok is centrally located with quick access to the expressway, 5 minutes from Bangkok’s Central Business District and 20 minutes by car in heavy traffic to the city’s city’s most sought after shopping destinations, restaurants and attractions. Designed to create a lifestyle unlike any other, Bangkok’s first ultra-luxury Branded Residences combine with the best in hotel-inspired amenities, smart home functionality and the communal environment of being neighboured with two world-class hotels: Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River and Capella Hotel Bangkok. The 32 billion baht development by Country Group Development PCL (CGD) and Four Seasons Hotels is certainly the first of its kind in Asia.
Luxuo was invited to view the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River where we toured and actual unit, following which we met Country Group Development CEO Ben Taechaubol for a dinner cruise down Bangkok’s most culturally, socially, and historically most significant river.
CEO Ben Taechaubol discusses Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok
How does Four Seasons Residences compare to the Mandarin Oriental and the Ritz Carlton Mahanakhon?
Here’s the breakdown of the overall real estate market: Bangkok city planning means there’s the mid tier, the luxury and then the super luxury segment, driven by the quality that the developer invests in. With a luxury real estate, you typically get a good location, a great Thai architect, provide him with reasonable specifications, and that itself gets you to the luxury standard. Beyond this price point, you will start to see international designers, architects and specifications similar to benchmarks used by the Four Seasons Residences Bangkok. Usually, you will see it as part of a mixed use project rather than a single condominium – more often than not, it’s a branded residence because you’re trying to elevate the development. In addition, it’s also the mixed use concept which makes it unique.
In the Ritz Carlton Mahanakhon, you’ve got a small retail section, heavy on F&B, you get the residences and the hotel with an observatory in a single tower and that gives you a certain lifestyle in the heart of the city. For the Mandarin, the location on the Thonburi side of the river, the residences are beside a large retail concept for convenience, paired with branded hospitality service. The Mandarin hotel itself is across the river and thus, it’s a different relationship in context of the Four Seasons Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River; we are the one integrated concept with a much larger resort footprint and the concept behind it was not just luxury and residential living: It’s two legendary hotels together, Capella and Four Seasons, combined to offer a certain luxury waterfront lifestyle.
The Four Seasons Residences Bangkok is not about paramount transportation convenience but ultimate luxury. To me, this makes us clearly differentiated and unique from the competition.
How is this waterfront in Bangkok different from that of the other cities?
With a plot of this size, we had to consider what our definition of luxury waterfront living was and how we were going to use the space. Where I grew up, my home was on Sydney Harbour and from my observation, the Bangkok Chao Phraya river is special for two reasons. First, it has a rich cultural heritage. There are some magnificent waterways in San Francisco but not all of them are as culturally rich, the Chao Praya revolves around traditions and festivities. In collaboration with how dynamic and busy the river is, there’s a vibrant, chaotic energy to it, reflecting Bangkok city. The River Thames would be slower paced in comparison. So we defined our concept of luxury waterfront living in Bangkok as a “resort in the city” – a 20 minute drive into town or a 5 stop train ride. Second, Thailand is synonymous with great hospitality, best represented by its people. So if you want luxury waterfront living steeped in service and hospitality, that to me is a great way to live in Thailand. We simply layered on the components for hospitality – the resort concept with hotels. We weren’t going to complicate the brief by putting in commercial or retail components. We didn’t max out the space to what is allowed with the plot ratio and made the conscious decision to look at the value rather than the development size. The result is that Four Seasons Residences Bangkok on the Chao Praya is fairly low density.
Why is it the right time to launch this project?
At the time, it was the largest project. Today, it’s the third largest. Size aside, an opportunity like that hadn’t arisen in decades. We simply had to seize it. There’s quite a lot of land on the Thonburi side of the river, one can acquire a large plot fairly easily. On the Bangkok side, it’s a completely different story. and perceived as differently. A lot of the real estate development in Bangkok has been Eastbound and there’s been less of a reason to expand Westbound. If you took the cluster of luxury hotels on the Bangkok side of the Chao Phraya, you’ve got the Mandarin, the symbolic market leader. You’ve got the Shangri-la. The Shangri-la was the most recent 5-star hotel built on the Bangkok side and it is over 30 years old. The Oriental is well over 150 years old. The plot of land we have today is 7x the size of the leading Mandarin Oriental, 3.5x larger than the Shangri-la. With those properties, you had to travel down the side streets to get from the road to the river, roughly 350 metres. The Four Seasons Residences Bangkok stretches from the main road to the river and so when an opportunity like this developed, we were left with no good reason not to take it.
Why do you believe the Bangkok luxury real estate market has such staying power despite the political instability?
We have political instability but its very much a domestic matter. Even at the height of the tension, it’s still concentrated in a few areas, so it’s not like the whole city shuts down. There were instances where they took it too far and it affected the airport but that was heavily criticised and they lost support. Bangkok is a resilient city, even at the peak of political instability, there were only small drops where three months later, tourist arrivals were back to an all-time high. Overall, the instability doesn’t affect tourists and its overall targeted at local officials.
In terms of investments, there’s been a lot of business stability over the last few years thanks to a lull in political activism. The last three years have been doing quite well.
With almost 70% of the units sold, a common refrain from your Executive Director is that Hong Kong has been very good to the Four Seasons Residences Bangkok, does this imply that the majority of the sales has been going to Hong Kong natives or Chinese nationals investing?
Some of our international buyers are foreigners living in Thailand but when we analysed the data, we discovered that it was Hong Kong natives rather than Chinese natives residing in Hong Kong. We have marketed the most in Hong Kong because it’s been very well received there due to the value of the currency in Bangkok as well as the fact that the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok resonates with them because they’re accustomed to luxury waterfront living.
We’ve been there four times and we’ve reached new record highs each time. We have a lot of Chinese clients are well but China requires a far more disperse strategy due to its geographic size.
Why are you not as aggressive in Singapore as you are in Hong Kong?
We plan to go to Singapore. It takes a lot of extensive planning and we need the right selling partner. This has been the key to our success. In places like Taipei, Thai developers have refrained from going there because there’s some uncertainty but we’ve found success there as well. We have a lot of Singaporean clients as well but because they’re so familiar with the city, they’re already buying through our local intermediaries.
How does Country Development Group decide new projects?
Our investment mandate is not just luxury. We invest in few projects of significant size in multiple sectors. We deal only with high quality. We don’t land bank either, our concepts are carved out with very specific intentions which is why the location we sought out had to be very hospitality friendly. Our next project will be mixed use with a residential component.
Financial Times estimated 5% worth of annual rental yields, would you evaluate this as conservative or optimistic?
I believe it’s fairly conservative. The thing is that yields are higher when the initial price point is smaller, thus i think it’s conservative for the smaller units and on the larger units, you’d probably see 3.5%. I don’t think people who are buying into Four Seasons Residences Bangkok are looking for rental yield anyway, but on capital gains, the yields will be higher on the bigger units. Something particularly interesting is that we have one of Bangkok’s Top 3 international schools nearby, as a result, rental demand is really strong. Not only is it higher but there’s ample new demand every year.
From an investment standpoint, some critics are saying you’re better of putting the same amount of money you’d pay for a Four Seasons Bangkok residence in REITS and get 8 to 10%. What is your counter argument to such a proposition?
It’s comparing apples to oranges. I think our clients are incredibly wealthy and they already have allocations towards stocks and bonds etc, an important asset class is real estate. When you’re looking luxury real estate, it’s each for their own, while we’re not claiming to be the highest rental yields or largest capital gains, that is not the play. Our investors are looking for something of exceptional quality and rarity. Our buyers know that they are purchasing something which cannot be replicated. There are many copycats in Bangkok, simply look at all the real estate condominium developments clustered around BTS stations, all of a similar size. There’s only one Four Seasons Residence Bangkok at Chao Phraya River. When it’s this rare, the prices go up higher. This concept can never be replicated with this location – a site like this has not cropped up in 100 years, nor with such a brand, nor with sucha design philosophy.
How did you manage to convince Capella and Four Seasons to co-exist at the same site?
It’s not unusual to have brands co-existing in one plot but in our case, our concept was planned with a strategy and role for the two hotels and how they would supplement the residences. The Four Seasons Private Residences is an urban resort, 500 keys, quite sizeable for a 5-star hotel with a positioning at the top of the market. Bangkok is the global number 1 tourist destination purely by tourist numbers and this positioning is important, especially when beside the largest Four Seasons Residences in the world today. Supplementing this vision, we looked for a team of likeminded professionals with clear positioning and we found this with Capella, an all suites type hotel with 100 keys and its very complimentary to one another.
What’s the traffic situation going to be like with 355 keys for the residences alone, not even counting the hotel traffic?
There are many developments popping out in Bangkok. There 4 lanes but the large roads are not common in Sukhumvit. What’s important is your proximity to the expressway. For super luxury, proximity to a skytrain is good to have but not vital. We’re one of the few Bangkok luxury real estate projects that offer a river shuttle which will take you to a skytrain and connect you to Siam Paragon in 9 minutes.
Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok Amenities and Specs
- Designed by the internationally renowned duo Hamiltons International and BAMO
- Featuring a range of floor plans, from 115sqm, 2-bedroom residence to a 1,050sqm penthouse
- Enjoy shared facilities like the River Lounge and the Amenities Deck to swim in a contemporary infinity pool that faces the iconic river, indulge in a tranquil session of yoga and Pilates at the state-of-the-art fitness studios, unwind in the private cabanas.
- The all-exclusive lavish Four Seasons Club triplex, over 1,300 sqm large with facilities for music lessons, private tuition, children’s play area, glass walled wine room for rare spirits, a golf simulator, a billiards table and theatrette.
Available units starting from ฿ 35,000,000. Visit www.chaophrayaestate.com