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Town for Sale: Poggio Santa Cecelia, Tuscany

During the summer months, the Tuscan countryside is drenched in sunlight, a golden honey-colored hue that spills over the hills and catches on the stone sides of farmhouses, medieval castles and historic villages. One such village, Poggio Santa Cecelia is perched on a hilltop in the coveted stretch of land between Florence and Siena and includes characteristic medieval features like stone arches, narrow streets and a tall city wall. To access the borgo, one must step through an imposing gate set in an entrance of travertine stone and topped with coats of arms.

The views from the village look like a quintessential Tuscan postcard: Cyprus trees and rolling fields of green and amber. However, what distinguishes this particular borgo from other hilltop towns is that it’s currently available for sale. The owner has listed the entire historic village, which comprises about 50 buildings, for $44 million.

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The town, which first appeared in historic records in 1198, contains a church, a grain store, a foundry, a carpenter’s workshop and a handful of other buildings that are laid out along three parallel streets of the original medieval plan. The sale further includes surrounding farmland: 200 acres of woodland, two lakes, 23 acres of fruit trees (plums and apples), 55 acres of vineyards growing Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG grapes, 26 acres of olive groves, 270 acres of irrigated arable land, as well as several stone houses and animal byres.

Around 200 people used to live and work at Poggio Santa Cecilia farming the surrounding land. As was common practice at the time, workers gave the landowner half of their produce in exchange for the use of a house and some land and animals. However, following the Second World War many of the estate’s inhabitants left in search of a new life, many of them working in the travertine quarries of Rapolano, and so the houses and farms were gradually abandoned.

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The village’s deserted state is in part what allowed the architectural and historical treasures to be well preserved. The current owners, a family from northern Italy, have been operating the estate’s organic farm, but left the village portion largely untouched, save for weatherproofing and installing a security system to keep vandals out.

“The owner is in his 80s”, explains Francesco Carlucci, founder and CEO at Essentis Group who represents the listing. “It’s a big commitment. As you can imagine, it’s not the type of project you might want to develop once you are in your eighties. It’s a project of a lifetime”.

An ambitious individual seeking a passion project, an art aficionado, say, or a history buff is the type of buyer Mr. Carlucci has in mind for the property. Passion is important given the amount of renovation and restoration required. At this quiet hilltop village, time has stood still, be it for the slow forces of nature, the roots and vines that have begun reclaiming the stone houses. Carlucci, who specializes in historic restorations, estimates a full restoration would require five years and an additional EUR 150 million ($167.6 million). “Everything needs to be restored”, he says. “It’s basically a EUR 200 million project. This is something you should do if you are passionate about Tuscany, about art, architecture and vineyards, if you have the money and you have the dream”.

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Tuscany has long been a dream destination for buyers around the world. Travelers fall in love with the region’s natural beauty and cultural riches, which include, to the west, the famed Amalfi Coast with its dramatic cliffs and sparkling beaches, and to the east the Chianti region, Italy’s foremost wine producer, with its rolling green vines and famous Sangiovese grapes. Along the winding country roads there are fields of sunflowers, vineyards, silver olive trees and the smells of lavender, mint and rosemary, aromas that are laced through the region’s mouthwatering cuisine.

Florence, the region’s largest city and birthplace of the Renaissance is home to a dizzying array of notable art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and the Duomo basilica which features the largest brick dome ever constructed. Sienna, 70 kilometers to the south, is home to immaculately preserved medieval buildings and the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo. Even the smallest of villages are layered with history. Medieval churches are built on the foundations of Roman baths; Renaissance frescoes now embellish their earlier austerity.

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The area’s sought-after status, however, means that top quality villas rarely come onto the market. When they do, they often discreetly change hands. “The type of people that own them try to pass them on to the next generation”, says Carlucci. “Owning a property in Tuscany is an asset; people dream of it their whole lives”, Even more extraordinary, he says, is procuring an entire Tuscan town. “This is big. This is a piece of history”.

Over the last decade, several Tuscan hamlets have been restored and redeveloped as luxury hotels. The most notable, Il Borro, was developed by the Ferregamo family. Ferruccio Ferragamo first discovered a Tuscan village while on a hunting trip in 1985. At the time, the hillside village, once owned by the Savoy dynasty, was in a severe state of disrepair and, in spite of being surrounded by fertile land, its inhabitants were struggling to make a living. He bought the hamlet, as well as a neighboring villa that had been half-destroyed during WWII and spent much of the past decade overseeing the restoration. Ferragamo transformed the hilltop village, which dates back to 1039, into a luxury resort where the rooms and villas retain many original features, but include modern comforts like air-conditioning, mini-kitchens with espresso-makers, mosaic-walled bathrooms and Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries.

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Borgo San Felice, located about 50 kilometers east of Il Borro, has also been transformed from medieval town to a luxury hideaway. The village, which dates back to the 8th century, retains its narrow streets and picturesque squares, its Romanesque chapel and shrines, as well as 140 hectares of surrounding vineyards. The hotel’s rooms and suites are scattered throughout the main villas and other buildings.

Developing a luxury resort with villas is one option available to the future owner of Poggio Santa Cecilia, but Mr. Carlucci believes the property could also sell to a single buyer. “In the world we live in today I wouldn’t be surprised if some visionary family decide to actually own the town and do what they want with it”, he says.

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The one point on which Mr. Carlucci remains firm is that the estate be sold in its entirety. “Splitting it up would be like so many other properties on the market. And the second you split it you lose the entire ability to control it”, he says. Careful, considered restorations have become an Essentis Group trademark, which is why the current owner has entrusted the company with the restoration. The company has its own stonemason academy and restores everything from original arches, to facades and floors. Its craftsmen also have the capability of building historic features anew using traditional materials and centuries-old techniques.

In the southern Italian region of Puglia, the group recently built a range of luxury contemporary masseries (courtyard farmhouses). The buildings have traditional features such as a barrel-shaped vaulted stone ceiling made of hand-cut limestone and sandstone, but they also have modern touches like swimming pools, pizza ovens, wine cellars and indoor spas. Such an approach, albeit adapted to a Tuscan setting and style, would guide Essentis Group’s restoration of Poggio Santa Cecilia.

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Most of the village houses have traditional Tuscan wooden doors, terracotta tiled roofs and floors and wood beamed ceilings. There are about 20 farmhouses in total, each one resembling a quintessential Tuscan scene complete with cypress trees and open fields. And although they were originally peasant homes, the properties are stately and large ranging from around 3,800 sq. ft. to more than 10,000 sq. ft. of potential living space. The centrepiece of the village is the summer residence of its former aristocratic owners, the counts of Buoninsegni. The majestic villa, completed about 100 years ago on the site of the original castle still evokes the grace and ease of nobility with its grand salons, conservatory and formal English gardens.

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So far Poggio Santa Cecila has piqued the interest of numerous potential investors. Although Mr. Carlucci cannot comment on who has expressed interest, the real estate professionals in the region say international buyers are currently a strong force. “In Umbria and Tuscany, there is a return of foreign customers, American, Chinese and Southeast Asia”, says Fulvio Biagioli from Italy Sotheby’s International Realty. In particular, he says he receives requests from buyers from Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Current real estate prices in Italy are around 30% below their pre-2009 peak, but this trend is starting to change. In 2015 inquiries on Italian property increased 57% year-on-year according to data from Knight Frank, with Liguria, Umbria, Sardinia and Tuscany all seeing an increase in sales volume. Overall sales were up 7%.

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Mr. Biaioli’s listings include Casigliano, a 16th century manor in Umbria, 1.5 hours from Rome, which includes 13 country houses with views of the Umbrian hills. Eight of the buildings have been renovated, while the remaining four still require restoration. The property, which could make an ideal boutique hotel, is listed for $11.1 million.

Though investors may find other opportunities for development, Francesco Carlucci remains adamant that nothing quite compares to a medieval village in a premium Tuscan location. “There are many beautiful farmhouses, great residences to rent or own, but they are not comparable to a whole town located just 20 kilometers from Siena. This is something that simply doesn’t happen every day”.

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BUYER INFORMATION

Property:
Poggio Santa Cecilia, Italy

Hilltop village:
96,875,19 sq. ft.

Total land area:
700 hectares

Woodland:
500 hectares

Fruit trees:
9.5 hectares

Vineyards:
22.5 hectares

Olive groves:
10.5 hectares

Lakes:
6 hectares

Additional uncultivated land:
42 hectares

Farmhouses and outbuildings:
118,403 sq. ft., of which 53,820 sq. ft. has planning permission to be a residential development.

Developer:
Essentis Group

Price:
$44 million

Estimated price of restoration:
$167.6 million

Contact:
[email protected]
+44 (0) 782 571 7758
www.essentisgroup.com

This article was first published in Palace Magazine. Palace Magazine is published by Lux-Inc.

SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS Review: Anamaya Samui, Koh Samui

The beautiful tropical Thai island of Koh Samui lies 35 kilometers northeast of Surat Thani in the Gulf of Thailand. Nestled on its north east coast with striking panoramic views over the sea and surrounding countryside is Anamaya. A futuristic glimpse into high-end luxury coastal living.8-bed-b

Koh Samui’s property market grew exponentially over the past several years. The airport has expanded, allowing for more direct flights from overseas destinations and the amount of tourists from Asia has increased. Thus, what was typically a haven for European travelers looking for an upmarket holiday destination in Thailand, has now transpired over to travellers from Asia looking for their next luxury hideaway.

A 10-minute drive from Koh Samui International Airport sees you at Cheong Mon Beach just below the Anamaya development. As you wind your way up the hillside you find yourself at the site of the latest development by the team behind the award winning Samui development. Thought up by lead designer Misha Povstaniuk of architects A-MDM, he sought out to create a contemporary tropical living style. The villas show a glimpse of how to push the boundaries of design, style and functionality in this segment of the market, as they rest on twin peaks overlooking the clear blue seas below.5-bed-b

There are five different types of villas on offer, in up to 11 different layouts. Villa A at 26,759 sq. ft. is the grandest. With 7 + 2 bedrooms, these beautiful villas feature two infinity pools, enabling guests to view the sunrise and sunset from the water. There’s a gym with ocean views, digital cinema and recreation rooms. At 1,162 sq. ft., the master bedroom is larger than most city apartments and while all suites have ocean views, the master bedroom has views both east and west.

Villa B at 16,877 sq. ft. sits along the hilltop crest of the Anamaya Estate. With 6 +1 bedrooms and a contemporary flowing design, reminiscent to something Sir Norman Foster would be proud of, Villa B creates a private oasis with panoramic views of the beautiful sea below. Residents have the choice of having two infinity pools or one pool and an ornamental water feature with a sunken breakfast bar. Villa C ranges in size from 6,748 sq. ft. to 11,668 sq. ft. Boasts five large bedrooms.8-bed-c

Villa D ranges in size from 4,101 sq. ft. to 8,406 sq. ft. The four-bedroom villas are available in three different styles. Villa D1 is the largest, including a sizeable staff quarters. However, both D1 and D2 feature a digital cinema, gym, and recreation room. D3 is laid out over floor floor except for a private self-contained suite on the lower level.

Villa E ranges in size from 3,013 sq. ft. to 6,243 sq. ft. The three-bedroom villas feature an abundance of space. Available in two layouts, the property comes equipped with a recreation room, digital cinema and private terrace with a plunge pool a few footsteps away from the master bedroom.

Owners and guests will also have access to a number of facilities including the Anamaya Club. This will include all the amenities one would usually find at a 5-star hotel, including a world-class restaurant and bar, sports courts and gymnasium, rooftop pool with 270-degree sea views, health and beauty spas and a children’s day-care center to name a few.Dining-Room

Anamaya also offers property management services by In-Villa Luxuries, enabling owners to have their villa well maintained and if they choose, rented out. Set to be the next must have residential address in Koh Samui, Anamaya Samui looks to create a design style not yet seen in such a quality product on the island.

Buyer Information
Property Anamaya Samui

Location Koh Samui, Thailand

Architects A-MDM

Highlights Panoramic sea views, open-plan living, Up to 26,759 sq. ft., private infinity swimming pools, Private clubhouse with sports facilities, restaurant and bar, children’s day-care
Property Management Price From $940,000 – $5,900,000

Contact www.alfainvestors.com

This article was first published in Palace

Waterfront Villas Anamaya Koh Samui

Invest in These: 4 Waterfront Villas

We’ve been talking up quite a number of destinations over the course of the year where waterfront living presents both a great lifestyle option and a credible investment prospect. From a Philippe Starck project in Boracay to the entire Royal Phuket Marina itself, the options are overwhelming and seem to suit every kind of investment goal. To help us all focus a little, we revisit here four magnificent landed properties with either direct access to the waterfront or a commanding view of it.

Ocean Drive Bungalow, Sentosa Cove, Singapore

Ocean Drive, Sentosa Cove

A properly rare option here, the Ocean Drive Bungalow offers both the leisurely island lifestyle and organized pace of a developed nation. Unlike most Sentosa Cove projects, this one actually does have both a combined seaview and Singapore city skyline view. The bungalow is done up after the Balinese style. The Sentosa Cove area is the only place in Singapore where foreigners can independently purchase landed property.

MontAzure Private Estate, Phuket, Thailand

The Estates at MontAzure at dusk

Phuket has always been on the radar of people seeking second homes or just looking for a good investment. The MontAzure Private Estate might be just the ticket here. It is a self-contained development with its own shopping, wellness, security and retirement facilities. There are only 13 private estates (in the first phase) so conflict with the neighbors won’t be an issue. Oh yes, the view is of Kamala Bay so you can immediately tell that tourists won’t be nearby. Take note though of Thailand’s restrictions on foreigners owning land.

Kayu Villas, Lombok, Indonesia

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Lombok requires more research than the other options on the list. Located west of Bali, it isn’t quite on the global tourism superhighway and that is perhaps part of the charm. Property prices certainly reflect an influx of demand, with prices increasing some 300% in the period from 2011 to 2015 (the international airport was completed in 2011 but that might be coincidental). What we looked at was the Selong Selo residences called Kayu Villas, of which there are only eight. While Indonesia has recently allowed foreign ownership of landed property, there are strong limitations in place that developers will have to explain carefully.

Anamaya Samui, Koh Samui, Thailand

Anamaya Samui

These villas captivated us the moment we saw the renderings. Lead designer Misha Povstaniuk of architects A-MDM really did a bang-up job here, if strong design is a major factor in your decision-making process. There are actually five types of villas on offer, in 11 different configurations. The smallest start at 3,000 sqf, topping out at 26,759sqf. The view is of the Gulf of Thailand, where the island of Koh Samui is located. The entire Anamaya Samui project is self-contained and owners have access to 5-star hotel amenities. Once again, take note of Thailand’s restrictions on foreigners owning land.

These properties were all originally covered in Palace magazine.

Villa Mayavee

Villa Mayavee, Phuket: Property Focus

Undoubtedly one of the finest properties on the island of Phuket, Villa Mayavee is a true architectural gem. This luxury contemporary waterfront villa is set amidst the incredible lush forest on a secluded peninsula located on the west coast of Phuket on Kamala’s Millionaire’s Mile. Situated in the exclusive Waterfall Bay community, it is secluded from the crowded popular tourist sites, but also in close proximity to the island’s best beaches of Patong, Kamala, and Surin.Villa Mayavee

The entire property encompasses 100,000 sq. ft. of land, with the main building occupying 24,000 sq. ft. of space. The building is a unique Z-style structure where guests are welcomed into a stone hallway upon arrival and directed up to a spiral staircase leading to the living areas and separate wings. Both ocean and mountain views are seen from every angle of the rooms, as well as the outdoor lounge spaces.Villa Mayavee

Floor to ceiling glass doors and windows welcome natural light to seep through, creating immaculate spaces for rest and relaxation. There are generally two wings to the villa – the guest wing, where 3 suites, the gym are situated; and the master wing, where the master suite is located and separated from the rest of the guest rooms; It features an impressive dressing area, its own private pool, a library, and an office.Villa Mayavee

This true architectural masterpiece brings the best of the modern world into the natural arena of Phuket’s beautiful tropical forest, while also offering incredible ocean views of the Andaman.

Price upon application.

Story Credits

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Aqua Boracay

Guide: Waterfront Living, Boracay

While it is only seven kilometers long and in some parts a slender 500 meters wide, petite Boracay has become one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines. The island is located in Aklan province, 200 miles south of Manila off the northwest tip of Panay island in the western Visayas region, and it is one of more than 7,000 islands in the Philippine archipelago, but its sparkling azure waters, powdery sand beaches and laid back ambience have raised the islet to international prominence. Multiple reefs surrounding the island also provide natural barriers making the seas perfect for a wide range of water sports, including snorkeling, diving, windsurfing and kiteboarding.

Today development on Boracay has spread beyond White Beach. New luxury hotels are being built on Bunyugan Beach and up into the hillsides where land is more readily available. An ambitious mixed-use project from Megaworld Properties, Boracay New Coast, is also under construction near the Fairways and Bluewater Golf Course, and will encompass 140-hectares — 14% of the island’s landmass — with hotel, residential and retail components that seek to approximate the quaint charm of a Mediterranean village.

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Aqua Boracay by YOO Beachfront.

But the project that has put Boracay on the map for international property investors is its first branded residence, Aqua Boracay by YOO. Co-founded by designer Philippe Starck and developer John Hitchcox, the YOO brand has successfully exported its sleek modern residences to various international locations and Boracay was an appealing market.

“There were no internationally branded resort residences in Boracay, yet there was a demand from international buyers for design apartments,” says Mark Rudnicki, Head of Marketing at Aqua Boracay by YOO.

Rudnicki says the island’s tourist base has increased 88% in the last five years, but while additional hotels are being constructed to cater to growing demand, there has been a scarce supply of luxury real estate for those looking to reside either occasionally or permanently on the island. “Aqua Boracay fills the gap, offering investors the opportunity to own their own piece of paradise for personal use or to earn an income stream or a combination of both,” he says.

The project is located on Bulabog Beach, nearby the commercial area of D’Mall and not far from the nightlife of White Beach. It has 168 residences with amenities that include three swimming pools, a day spa, a health club and concierge services. Sales have been strong. The project sold its first phase of 48 apartments in less than a year, and the most recently released units are already 50% sold, Rudnicki says.

Aqua Boracay by Yoo bedroom.

Aqua Boracay by Yoo bedroom.

Remaining available units include: one and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 538 to 2,841 sq. ft. Interiors feature a natural white and earth tone palette, optional furniture package by Filipino designer Vito Selma and full height sliding glass doors to wrap-around terraces. The residences are priced from $220,000 to $1,999,999 and a minimum return of 12% is guaranteed over the first two years.

According to Rudnicki, investors are turning their attention to the Philippines from countries such as Thailand and Indonesia where Capital Gains have peaked. “The Philippines is an emerging country at the beginning of a growth cycle and investors are looking at Boracay with one of the world’s finest beaches and a new International airport to open in 2017,”
he says.

Previously accommodating only small turbo-prop planes, the new Caticlan Borocay Airport, scheduled for completion later this year, will feature an expanded runway able to land airbus jets and offer 50-minute flights from Manila, two-hour flights from Hong Kong and four-hours direct flights from Singapore. This prospect, of course, buoys the expectations of developers for Boracay’s growth potential.

While Aqua Boracay by YOO has firmly established itself as a high-end beachfront hideaway, private residence on Boracay’s waterfront are increasingly difficult to find. “There is not much left for sale on the beachfront,” says Peter Brugger, General Manager at SPR Boracay Real Estate Inc. “Most of the private houses or villas are on the hillside overlooking the beach.”

Mayumi Beachhouse.

Mayumi Beachhouse.

Brugger sells luxury villas primarily to expats from around Asia, many who are looking for a second home or to settle down for retirement. He is currently listing just one beachfront villa at the northern end of White Beach, near the golf course. Known as Mayumi Beach House, the five-bedroom property spans three floors and 5,564 sq. ft. with several sea-facing terraces and a hot tub on the top floor. The home is listed for $2 million.

Some projects, like Aqua by YOO, are designed to be foreigner friendly, allowing foreigners to buy with no restrictions and in their own name and even offer ‘non-status’ financing. But by law, foreigners cannot own land in the Philippines. They can purchase units in condominium buildings so long as foreign ownership in a single project does not exceed 40%, and if married to a Filipino, a foreigner can buy land provided the title/tax declaration is in his or her spouse’s name.

As Boracay’s international reputation grows and tourist arrivals increase, some worry that in addition to dwindling land up for grabs, the island’s charm may also be fading. The frenzied rate of development, alongside reports of noise and overcrowding, not to mention damaged coral reefs and heaps of garbage during high season, have led some critics to warn that Boracay has reaching a tipping point. Last June, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources found that the level of chloroform bacteria in the sea at Bulabog beach was almost 50 times above the level deemed safe for swimming, although the DENR has since improved the island’s sewerage system and more recent tests show the sea is safe. Like any emerging destination, Boracay is likely to face growing pains, but with any luck, developers will seek to strike a sustainable balance where the rush to capitalize on growth does not threaten the island’s eco-system and its natural beauty.

This article was first published on Palace Magazine.

Forest City: Billion Dollar Eco-Living Project

Care to own a slice of man-made paradise just an hour away from Singapore? Well Forest City, a Malaysian property development, is promising to provide potential homeowners just that. Set to open in 2035 (we know, it is a long wait but these guys are literally building a paradise), the property will call four man-made islands on the Malaysian side of the Johor Strait its home. Those interested in having a home or an investment on the island can expect to pay anywhere from $200,000 for a two-bed-room unit to $1.6 million for a seaside villa.

“It is by far one of the most enthusiastic private land reclamation projects I have heard of around the Southeast Asia region,” said Chua Yang Liang, head of research for Southeast Asia at property services and investment group Jones Lang Lasalle. The 700,000 high-rise and waterfront villas, will be joined by luxury amenities that will cover the 3,425 acres and is set to have its own immigration centre. At $42 billion, the project is one that is making the news of late not only because of its ambition but also due to the ecological impacts it can have on the marine life around it.

While the concept is being sold as a liveable eco-city, the land reclamation that will help make space for Forest City, is coming under fire for the damage and changes it will have on the environment. “It has the potential to change the ecology of the whole area in profound ways,” Greenpeace scientist Paul Johnston told AFP. “It might change the things that are living there, it might change the vegetation that can grow there” he added.

Even neighboring Singapore (no slouch in the land reclamation stakes itself) is taking notice of the development, prompting the environment ministry to study an impact assessment report by Malaysia. “No damage, no pollution has been exported to Singapore,” said Mohamad Othman Yusof, Executive Director of Country Garden Pacificview. “We don’t want to create any problems with anybody and we’re going to abide by the rules and regulations.”Country Garden acknowledged the loss of permanent fishing ground, damage to seagrass meadows and mangroves, thanks to the development. However, the developer added that the project would also have economic benefits with its creation of nearly 62,200 jobs.

Alongside these environmental woes, the property is now facing criticism from industry experts who believe that targeting investors from mainland China may not be the best idea. After all, China is seeing little growth in its economy and expansion thanks to authorities cracking down on corruption and stopping cash from being invested outside of the country.

Interestingly, at the reported prices, homes within Forest City will start lower than the majority of public housing in Singapore, with the aforementioned seaside villas being more affordable than most plain vanilla condominiums in the city-state. Apparently, buyers have taken notice because the AFP reports that the developers have moved 500 units already. Some of you reading this might wonder why man-made islands are even necessary for Malaysia, which has no shortage of land. Well, the approach worked in Dubai, though the environmental results there are exceedingly well documented, so maybe there’s something to it after all.

Forest City is a joint venture between Hong Kong-listed property giant Country Garden and a firm owned in part by the Sultan of Johor himself. Once again, the Dubai parallel is inescapable as that reclamation project was sponsored by the royals there.

This story was written in-house, based on reporting by the AFP and other online sources

Richard Branson Launches Exclusive Spanish Villas

The billionaire property developer and owner of Virgin Air, Sir Richard Branson, is set to add one more venture to his already impressive portfolio with the launch of luxury villas on the Son Bunyola Estates. Part of the truly scenic island getaway, the pair of villas are found nestled among citrus fruit, almond and olive trees. One can only expect the retreats to be as luxurious as his other exclusive luxury retreats and private islands.

Terrace of the Sa Punta de S’Aguila Villa in Mallorca, Spain

Terrace of the Sa Punta de S’Aguila Villa in Mallorca, Spain

The estate of Son Bunyola is situated on the Northwest coast of Mallorca, Spain. Spanning 700 acres, the estate is said to date back to the 1800s and even boats a private gated entrance, adding to the exclusivity of the two villas. With a view of the Tramuntana mountain range in the distance, the vacation option is one that could prove to be a hit among those with cash to spend.

The Pool at Sa Punta de S’Aguila Villa in Mallorca, Spain

The Pool at Sa Punta de S’Aguila Villa in Mallorca, Spain

In the first villa, Sa Punta de S’Aguila, guests can look forward to amenities such as a heated swimming pool, kitchen, living room and dining area. With five en-suite bedrooms, the villa whose name translates to “Eagle’s Point” can accommodate up to 10 adults. A seven-night stay at the villa is expected to cost €21,825 which includes meals, drinks, wireless Internet and concierge services — which amounts to €3,120 a night for each couple.

Bedroom of the Sa Terra Rotja Villa, Mallorca, Spain

Bedroom of the Sa Terra Rotja Villa, Mallorca, Spain

At Sa Terra Rotja, which translates to “Red earth”, guests will be able to enjoy the pebble beach just a short distance from the villa. The four en-suite bedrooms provide a comfortable space for eight adults. Rates for the second villa start at €17,460 for seven nights.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Richard Branson Luncurkan Villa Spanyol Eksklusif

October Opening: Soneva Jani Resort Maldives

The splendid blue vistas of the Maldives have captured many a traveler’s imagination, since ancient times, and are the primary draw for the multitude of resorts there, including the soon-to-be-open Soneva Jani resort. With 24 water villas and one island villa, as well as a great host of features and facilities, this could be a great place to witness the best of the Maldives at your own leisure once it opens for business in October.

1 Bedroom Overwater Villa_Exterior_Night View by Richard Waite

Luxurious privacy is assured, of course. The 25 villas take up an area that stretches 5 kilometers, giving enough space for guests to enjoy and explore to their hearts’ content. Every water villa has exclusive pools that open into their own stretches of the lagoon, and some even have slides starting from the top deck, allowing a fun splash into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is reportedly (remember the place isn’t open yet as of this account) the retractable roof in the master bedroom – allowing for a magnificent view of the stars while you lay down in your (presumably) soft and comfortable bed.

1 Bedroom Overwater Villa_Master Bedroom by Richard Waite

There are many things to do over at the Soneva Jani. Features include a spa, a dive center, an observatory, a children’s den, an organic garden – and even a special outdoor cinema called the Cinema Paradiso (you know, like the movie). This ‘silent cinema’ is special in that every guest will be given Bluetooth earphones while watching their movies so that the wildlife in the area isn’t disturbed by the noise.

1 Bedroom Overwater Villa_Outdoor Shower_by Richard Waite

In terms of dining, there are five different outlets serving cuisine from all over the globe, with full gourmet menus to choose from. Should you want something completely different, you can have your own special ‘culinary adventures’ all around the lagoon – like having lunch in the organic garden or on the private beach.

1 Bedroom Overwater Villa_Living Area by Richard Waite

“Soneva Jani is a place of incredible natural beauty. The waters in the lagoon have the most vibrant shades of blue that I have not seen anywhere else in the Maldives… the villas are stunning and include all attention to detail that Soneva is renowned for” said Soneva General Manager Olivia Richli. With its perfect scenery and its unique location – this is the spot you’ll want to discover properly when it finally opens later this year.

You can check out more at Soneva’s website over here.

Tuscany Wine Villa For Sale By Christie’s

Located in the lush and serene countryside of Tuscany, Italy, this traditional wine estate offered by Christie’s International Real Estate boasts more than 37 hectares of land, with two large residences hosting a variety of features and rooms. Should you have a desire for privacy and gentle comfort, you could certainly do far worse than this.

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The villa is located just 5km away from the beautiful town of Lucca, and, slightly further afield, you can even reach coastal retreats such as Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio. This, at least, ensures you’re still within the capacity to enjoy company and the latest buzz should you desire it. In a contemporary twist, the villa is also fitted with modern technology. There are three bedrooms in the renovated stone villa, and six in the restored farmhouse. One of the notable amenities is a whole mosaic tile infinity edge pool with a spa underneath – featuring a hammam, two dressing rooms, and a whirlpool bath.

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On the agricultural front, there are five hectares of functioning vineyards for you to make use of, as well as three hectares hosting almost 4,000 olive trees. With wine cellar, wine making area, and oil mill, you’ll definitely be able to produce your own high quality crop either for personal use or to place on the market.

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And, finally, there’s the helipad. This is only one of four properties in the whole of Italy to boast such a thing. It’s a private LIQE helipad, and there’s also a hangar and a night landing certificate to go with it.

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So, if you want the perfect property infused with an idyllic Italian air, and a terrific view, you can check out the villa over at the Christie’s website.

Urban Oasis: Asimont Villas, Singapore

Within District 11 of Bukit Timah, Singapore lies the latest luxury residential development designed by Aedas. Asimont Villas is a beautiful enclave of 21 unique villas, split between seven separate clusters. In an effort to fashion a special and an intimate community, landscaping is used to create privacy, screening wading pools and private patios from shared common spaces. It works in such a special way, that one really needs to see to fully appreciate.

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According to Aedas, the villas have been conceived as a series of “frames” and “floating boxes”. Apertures have been placed in specific locations allowing filtered daylight into the tropical garden. The villas are 3-story affairs with strata title and consist of four bedrooms, a private pool and basement parking. The design is contemporary and offers residents an unbeatable living experience in the heart of Singapore within short walking distance to a number of shops and restaurants.

Visit Asimont Villas for more details.

Floating Seahorse Villa Dons Emirati Style

When the world’s first Floating Seahorse originally set off in 2015, people were impressed by the prospect of having a floating habitation with luxury fittings. Basically, everyone wanted to sleep with the fishes! Based on this positive reception, European real estate company Kleindienst has come up with the Signature Edition version of the villa. This special version of the Floating Seahorse will be fitted with the best of Emirati culture and European design and is now in the making in the UAE.

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Spanning 4,004 square feet across three levels, the Signature Edition was specially formed to accommodate families with guests, groups, and children of all ages. There are four flexi living/sleeping areas, and the total possible amount of people adds up to eight adults and eight children. Each level can be fully adapted to suit individual needs when required, or customized to ensure the ultimate privacy by fully enclosing the outdoor areas.

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The key highlight is the underwater view available because of two totally submerged en-suite underwater bedrooms, from which you’ll be able to view the surrounding coral gardens and marine life. The Signature Edition ensures the complete rendering of your own aesthetic, allowing you to pick from all sorts of premium quality finishes, and bespoke interiors/furnishings, to fully outline your underwater domain.

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There are 40 Signature Editions now under production, and each are currently priced at AED 12 million, with the estimated completion for the first phase in October 2016. You can check out more information over at www.thoe.com

Focus: Villa Clairefontaine, France

This magnificent villa is located in the Mougins village, close to all daily amenities and only 25 minutes from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, France. Situated near a prestigious golf course and international school, this Provencal style villa of approximately 600 sqm is set in a landscaped garden of more than five hectares with a large rectangular swimming pool and pool house. The villa has its interior designed and dressed by an Italian designer with modern fittings and designer furniture; it comprises two living rooms, an office, a large kitchen with dining room plus seven en suite bedrooms.Villa-Clairefontaine-interior

PRICE ON APPLICATION

One Fullerton

1 Fullerton Road, #02-01, Singapore 049213

Tel: +65 9168 6888

[email protected]

www.altacollection.com

 

Story Credits

This story was first published in Palace.

Kirei Studio Transforms Aspen Log House to Villa

“To create a concept for a residence is to understand your client: their life, their values and what they want when they’re at home and when they entertain,” says Nathalie Ryan, founder of Kirei Studio, who spearheaded the interior design of a residential project in Aspen, Colorado. “Each client is different depending on their culture and lifestyle.”

Aspen is an exclusive mountain resort in the mountains of Colorado, home to a high-end clientele, expensive private clubs, restaurants and hotels. Residential properties in the area are mostly on a large scale, very luxurious and well designed.

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“This house was originally a classic 15,000-square-foot log house that we transformed into a contemporary chalet à la ‘Mies Van der Rohe’—with transparent views from the interior to exterior. Now, it is a villa where contemporary art finds its place with studied perspectives between each room and material contrasts between wood, leather, cashmere, silk and a subtle lighting scenario.”

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Even from the outside, it is evident that the house was given a luxurious treatment. The walls are made of natural Spanish limestone, azul bateig, mounted on stone panels. The vintage steel roof is from Steelscape, and the lumber is exotic ipe wood. Next to the entrance is Marianna, a sculpture by Jaume Plensa.

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Bateig stone is also used in the entrance hall, where it is paired with the blackwood stone on the fireplace. To achieve a balance, a lighter hued walnut in natural oil finish is used on the floor.

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Luxurious details such as closets inspired by the codes of Hermès using leather stitching and Sycamore wood details, cashmere walls in the bedrooms, a Calacatta marble island in the kitchen, and back walls with intricate details of stainless steel and leather have been incorporated throughout. A state of the art staircase with floating walls connects the lower and upper floors of the house.

Review: Villa Poiret, Yvelines, France

Located approximately 40 kilometers from Paris in Yvelines and on a hillside by the Seine, the listed Villa Poiret was started by architect Robert-Mallet-Stevens in the 1920’s before architect Paul Boyer took over on the unfinished building in 1934. The villa is one of the three villas of this size built in France by Mallet-Stevens and is classified as 20th century historic heritage.

The villa adopted the appearance of a cruise liner, inspired by transatlantic steamers which were popular during the 1930s. Today, the building resembles a chateau from early modern times. It was restored and renovated in 2006.

With about 800m² (8,611sf) of living space, the main building is surrounded by approximately 1,000m² (10,764sf) of wide terraces and spacious roof terraces.Yvelines, France: Villa Poiret

GROUND FLOOR
On the left of the entrance hall is a south-east facing, right-angle lounge which boasts 7.1-meter-high (23-foot-high) ceiling and is flanked by floor-to-ceiling picture windows with black metal frames. Double glass doors in the corner of this full-length window, on the east side, lead out to large outdoor terraces and open up to nature views. There is an ornamental fireplace against one of the lounge walls. Two stairways lead down in a V-shape from the terrace to the south-east part of the parklands. Following on from the lounge, in the east wing of the villa, a long corridor leads to a study, a home cinema lounge, a bathroom, a toilet, two bedrooms, a dressing room and a bathroom with toilet. All the east-facing rooms have access to the terrace running along this side of the building. Two adjoining dining rooms face the entrance hall—the bigger of the two has large, south-facing picture windows that open out to one of the terraces; the second room has a stairway which leads down to the basement and provides access to the west-facing kitchen and pantry. The pantry has a French window opening on to another terrace. The kitchen also leads to a laundry room or storeroom. There is also a study, games room and billiards room.Plaquette-Villa-Poiret-stairway

FIRST FLOOR
There is a roof terrace on the west wing. A corridor on this floor also leads to a bathroom with a west-facing picture window, a toilet, two south-facing bedrooms with windows that open out to the south terrace, and an inner balcony that overlooks the main lounge. A wide stairway leads up to the second floor which comprises a terrace, from which a last stairway leads to the belvedere. This lookout platform provides an unobstructed panoramic view of the Seine valley as well as a 360-degree view of the surroundings.

BASEMENT
The approximately 800 m² (8,611sf) basement comprises cellars and an area suitable for spa; fixtures and fittings are yet to be completed.

Buyer Information
Property: Villa Poiret
Location: Yvelines, France
Highlights:
Design resembles a chateau
The lounge opens out to large outdoor terraces and open up to nature views
Ornamental fireplace
All the east-facing rooms and a large dining room have access to the terrace
Games room and billiards room
Cellars and spa area in the basement
Price: €3,970,000 (US$4,463,530)
Contact:
Nicholas Michelon
+33 (0)6 35 25 45 98 (France)
+852 9236 1456 (Hong Kong)
www.patrice-besse.co.uk

Story Credits
Text by Domenica Tan

This article was originally published in PALACE Magazine

Focus: Samujana Villas, Koh Samui

Koh Samui is today a renowned international holiday destination, with visitors and investors from all over the world. The number of visitors from Asian countries is increasing due to improved air links, with direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The large increase of high-end resorts between years 2012 to 2014 has repositioned the island as a luxury resort destination. The real estate market has also seen prices increased over the last few years.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana-Featured

Boutique luxury villa estate, Samujana, has unveiled its second phase of eight expansive new properties, adding to its existing collection of 25 luxury hillside villas. The project first opened in March 2012 as Koh Samui’s most exclusive and discrete luxury villa estate. Positioned in the most sought-after location on the island, it offers complete privacy, yet is within a few minutes’ drive from Samui International Airport. Set in a prestigious hilltop location which is walking distance from beaches of Choeng Mon and popular Chaweng, the all-pool award-winning villa estate overlooks a coral cove, giving each villa uninterrupted sea views and private beach access.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana3

The 25 villas at Samujana have been designed by Asia’s celebrated Gary Fell of GFAB Architects — each sensitively constructed in harmony with the natural rock outcrops and vegetation with a contemporary spacious design. With large en suite bedrooms, living spaces and dining areas, state-of-the-art kitchens, dedicated parking and private infinity edge pools, each property boasts uninterrupted luxury in a home away from home.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana4

Villa 30 is known not only as the jewel in the crown of Samujana, but the most impressive villa in Koh Samui, as one of the few places on the island with 360-degree sunrise and sunset views of Chaweng and Lamai, Choengmon and Plai Laem, Big Buddha and the neighbouring island of Koh Phangan. Situated at the very top of the estate, Villa 30 features five en suite bedrooms, a state-of-the-art cinema, private gym and a handcrafted spiral staircase. The villa also offers a breathtaking infinity pool, two fully equipped kitchens and incorporates the use of contemporary Asian art and accents throughout. From rain showers to Nuovo sound systems, a full service bar and rooftop barbecue deck, the villa is suitable for functions such as a soirée or intimate dinner party with friends.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana7

Villa 28, which has six bedrooms and extensive gardens, is perched high up on the estate and offers panoramic sea views. This 1,209sf villa is fully equipped with two designer kitchens sufficient to accommodate group functions, a private cinema complemented with a wide selection of films and TV shows, and an infinity pool.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana6

Guests can also enjoy the various amenities offered on the estate — private villa hosts, local and international cuisine from top, private chefs, an all-weather floodlit tennis court and access to water sports. Samujana has also partnered Koh Samui’s leading spa centers and a wide range of beauty and relaxation treatments can be provided in the privacy of villas. There is also exclusive charters of various sailing and motorboats, suitable for activities such as water-skiing, picnics on hidden beaches, snorkeling, sightseeing or sailing.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana2

Kurt Berman, General Manager of Samujana says, “we are focused on offering owners the very best return on their lifestyle investment. By operating as a boutique villa retreat with the provision of exemplary hospitality in such a stunning setting, we create an environment where owners and guests can discover a new state of mind”.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana

The development has been awarded various accolades, including the ‘Best Villa Development in Southeast Asia’, ‘Best Villa Development in Thailand’ and ‘Best Residential Architectural Design in Southeast Asia’ at the South East Asia Property Awards 2013, and was highly commended for ‘Architecture of Multiple Residences in Thailand’ at the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2014, among others.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana8

Buyer Information

Property: Samujana

Location: Bontji Moo 4 Koh Samui, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand

Architect: Gary Fell of GFAB Architects

Highlights:

Walking distance to nearby beaches

Selected villas offer 360-degree sunrise and sunset views

Some in-villa facilities include large en suite bedrooms, a state-of-the-art cinema, private gym, infinity pool, kitchens, full service bar and rooftop barbecue deck

Spa treatments provided in the privacy of villas

Exclusive charters of various sailing and motorboat

Access to activities such as water-skiing, picnics on hidden beaches, snorkeling and sailing

Price: Price on Application

Date of Completion: Phase Two is complete, all villas are open.

Contact: www.samujana.com

Story Credits

Text by Domenica Tan

This story first appeared in PALACE Magazine.

Mona Lisa’s Tuscan Villa for Sale

The Villa Antinori, once home to the most likely candidate to have modeled for Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting, is up for sale One of Tuscany’s most famous villas, its owners will be hoping to make bank thanks to the property’s links to the Mona Lisa.

The Villa Antinori was once owned by the family of silk merchant Francesco Del Giocondo, whose wife Lisa Gherardini is widely believed to have sat for da Vinci’s portrait, arguably the most famous in the world.

Located in the hills outside Florence, “the villa is priced at over 10 million euros ($11.3 million),” but may well go for much more, a press officer for the Lionard Luxury Real Estate company told AFP.

Villa Antinori, which boasts a chapel, extensive grounds and a vast lemon grove, lies some five kilometres from the Tuscan capital and was owned by the Del Giocondos from 1498 to 1517.

At the end of the 19th century it was sold to Tuscan wine masters Antinori, and it was Nicolo Antinori who decided to put a drawing of the property on the family’s Villa Antinori wines.

The move was a challenge to wine rivals in France, with Antinori reportedly saying: “they have their chateaux, we our villas”.

Most historians believe Lisa Gherardini, who was born in 1479 and died in 1542, modeled for the Mona Lisa, which was painted between 1503 and 1506, when the Del Giocondos owned the villa.

Some art sleuths think, however, that da Vinci might have used a male model for the Mona Lisa – or that the sly grin is because the painting is a self-portrait.

In September last year, Italian archaeologists trying to solve the mystery of the model’s identity said they had found bits of bone which could have belonged to the ‘real’ Mona Lisa – but had failed to find the DNA to test it against.

Orchards Niseko, Hokkaido Japan

The Orchards Niseko is located on the northern most Japanese island of Hokkaido and on the eastern side of Hirafu. The resort boasts double mountain views of Mount Yotei—which is also known as the Mount Fuji of Hokkaido—and the ski hill, Mount Annupuri. The area is popular during the winter months but tourists are also attracted to the temperate climate, fresh air, quality food and wide array of outdoor activities which include hiking, cycling and golf offered during the green season, making it a year-round destination. Property demand has climbed alongside tourism figures and developers are taking advantage of the opportunities.

Unique features in houses at The Orchards Niseko include high ceilings, exposed beams, open plan living, and traditional Japanese entrances and hallways.

Unique features in houses at The Orchards Niseko include high ceilings, exposed beams, open plan living, and traditional Japanese entrances and hallways.

The Orchards Niseko is a master planned estate development with 40 residential land plots of pre-designed and custom homes; buildings will have complementary designs and finishes. They will all have similar styles which fit within the design parameters of the community and incorporate extensive use of timber, stone and glass. Buyers of custom homes are shown a design board and product samples to help in the process of choosing the type and color of external timber cladding, stonework, and the overall interior design of the 300m2 (3,229sf) space.

'Washi no Su' is a custom designed home which has 350sqm of living area.

‘Washi no Su’ is a custom designed home which has 350sqm of living area.

Alternatively, the process can be delegated by an architect and project manager, if buyers prefer. Construction process span approximately six months and may differ depending on the complexity of design requirements.

Each house will be strategically positioned in consideration of view channels and privacy. Externally, The Orchards houses are required to use selected colors from a master color palette; yet, no two house will be identical. Internally, the houses feature high ceilings of up to 6.5 meter above floor level on the upper level, exposed beams, large Japanese-style baths, open plan living, kitchen and dining areas as well as traditional Japanese entrances and hallways.

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For example, ‘Washi no Su’ is a custom designed four-bedroom, six-bathroom home which has 350m2 (3,767sf) of living area with a garage, living space upstairs and downstairs, vaulted ceiling in the two master bedrooms. Other custom designed homes include the four-bedroom ‘Goyomatsu’ and ‘Kashi’, and the six-bedroom ‘Keyaki’ and ‘Winterhaven’. Pre-designed homes are such as the ‘Akagashi’ and ‘Kuromatsu’ which are three-bedroom and three-bathroom homes boasting 200m2 (2,152sf) and 202m2 (2,174sf) of living area respectively.

'Keyaki' is a six-bedroom custom designed home.

‘Keyaki’ is a six-bedroom custom designed home.

‘Akagashi’ has a traditional alpine roof design while ‘Kuromatsu’ has a gable roof design. Both open up to views of Hirafu’s ski hills, a farm and Mount Yotei.

'Winterhaven' is a custom designed six-bedroom home located on plot 40 with approximately 9,000sf of land.

‘Winterhaven’ is a custom designed six-bedroom home located on plot 40 with approximately 9,000sf of land.

Facilities in the Orchards include a clubhouse which features an owner’s lounge, open fireplace, reception area, multi-purpose space which can accommodate up to 80 people, gym and kitchen. There is also a pond, walking track, mature cherry, walnut, and pine trees, and a vegetable garden for guests and owners—especially nature lovers—to enjoy.

'Goyomatsu' is a custom designed four-bedroom home

‘Goyomatsu’ is a custom designed four-bedroom home

Rental returns fluctuate considering demand and running costs but investors can expect one to three per cent return per annum subject to the frequency and time of owner’s usage. Occupancy is expected to be above 50 per cent during the peak winter ski season and close to full occupancy during the winter holiday periods which usually run from Christmas to Chinese New Year. Midori no Ki (MnK)—Japanese property management company which manages the Orchards Niseko—encourages owners to provide feedback on nightly rental rates, however, the rates and inventory of rooms are managed dynamically (changes occur daily in some cases) to maximize revenue for each owner. Financing for home purchases can be obtained via Niseko Resorts Group on a case-by-case basis. Owners may choose to rent their homes or keep them for personal use.

Clubhouse facilities and other amenities at The Orchards Niseko allow guests to enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities

Clubhouse facilities and other amenities at The Orchards Niseko allow guests to enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities

Buyer Information
Property: The Orchards Niseko
Location: Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Developer: Niseko Resorts Group
Highlights:
Double mountain views of Mount Yotei and the ski hill, Mount Annupuri
Selection of pre-designed and custom homes
Extensive use of timber, stone and glass
Each house strategically positioned in consideration of view channels and privacy
High ceilings of up to 6.5 metre, large Japanese-style baths, open plan living, kitchen and dining areas, Japanese entrances and hallways
Open fireplace, bar, multi-purpose space, gym, pond and walking track
Occupancy is expected to be above 50 per cent during the peak winter ski season and close to full occupancy during the winter holiday periods
Price: Price on application
Contact: + 81 (0)136 555 122 or [email protected]

Story Credits
Text by Domenica Tan

This article was originally published in PALACE Magazine

Focus: Studio Munge

From Toronto to Hong Kong, Studio Munge’s interiors transport guests and residents into a world of sumptuous luxury.

Design aficionados often talk about how a carefully curated space affects the way you feel. This is certainly the belief of Allesandro Munge, design principal at Studio Munge, a Toronto based firm that specializes in luxury hospitality and residential interiors. “Most of my designs are emotion based,” he says. “Whether the guest enters a restaurant, a hotel lobby or a private residence, the initial burst of emotion is what I’m after.”

Since opening his studio in 1997, Allesandro Munge’s atmospheric interiors have reached an increasingly global clientele. His firm has partnered with Park Hyatt, MGM Resorts, Greenland Group, Wheelock Group and China Land Resources among others, often working on projects across several continents simultaneously.

Whether he’s creating a moody bar in Vancouver or a plush residence Hong Kong, Munge’s spaces are also decidedly upscale. “I will use every design element accessible, from bespoke furniture designs to the most luxurious finishes to translate our narrative and transport people into a world of hedonist luxury,” he says.01-Alessandro-Munge-Portrait

Born and raised in Germany to Italian parents, Munge came to design as a child when he began sketching designs for his mother’s drapery business. Later he expanded his visions to incorporate different elements of a room to create a comprehensive space. Professionally, he got his start at Yabu Pushelberg in Toronto where he worked for four years before breaking away with Sai Leung to form his own company. Fast-forward two decades and his firm has become one of Canada’s leading design studios.

Studio Munge is known for an innovative and eclectic approach to high-end interiors where choice materials and furnishings are often combined in playful, unexpected ways. At Taverna Mercatto, an Italian restaurant that recently opened in Toronto, Studio Munge combined barbed wire chandeliers and exposed beams with stained glass windows and reclaimed church pews to achieve a look that is part gothic industrial and part nonna’s living room. At Prohibition, the bar at Vancouver’s legendary Rosewood Hotel Georgia (where Munge’s studio also spearheaded a stylish restoration), Studio Munge created a sleek room with lush drapery and richly upholstered bar stools, a throwback to the age of decadence and glamour that includes an ornate ceiling clad in Macassar Ebosy, a custom glass-and-metal chandelier, an a 3,000 sq. ft. black stone bar.Studio_Munge_Prohibition_17

A keen eye for detail and love of lavishness also characterizes the studio’s prolific hospitality and residential work. (The firm is currently working on over 30 residential projects split between four design teams.) At the Ritz Carlton Residences in Toronto Studio Munge was tasked with creating model suites that exuded the refined elegance for which the brand is known. To convey tasteful sophistication the firm used rich woods like macassar ebony and patterned floors made of marble, limestone and granite. Since future owners would eventually customize their units, Munge concentrated on showing upgrade options such as brushed, satin-nickel hardware, walls custom-lined with wenge-stained oak and leather stitched panels. To add local flair Studio Munge commissioned art pieces from Toronto artists. To contemporize the space they designed a custom two-sided fireplace between the living room and the den.

Finding cohesive solutions for projects that demand a plurality of design languages and functions is not easy. Allesandro Munge attributes his success in part to his extensive world travels. “My extensive travelling is undoubtedly what influences me the most. The contact with foreign culture has had an immeasurable impact on my designs. It allows me to truly understand human nature, the psychology of the mind and what links us all.”Studio_Munge_Bisha-Sales-Centre_Credit-Evan-Dion09

Munge’s world travels became a central principle for another recent residential project, the Bisha Hotel and Residences. One of the developers, Charles Khabouth, was an early nightclub client of Munge’s who loves to travel and collect art and furniture. He wanted Bisha’s interiors to be ‘worldly instead of trendy’, filled with one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect the international inspiration of Studio Munge’s travels around the globe.

The flagship project is the latest private-label boutique hotel and residence brand to emerge in Toronto since the Four Seasons. It comprises a 41 storey tower, designed by Wallman Architects, 100 hotel rooms and over 300 residences that feature nine-foot ceilings, spacious balconies and custom-designed Studio Munge cabinetry.

Entering the building, Bisha’s interiors are meant to reflect the fusion of Toronto’s homegrown poise with an international flair. Studio Munge employed a tantalizing mix of opulent furnishings and textures including glass, wood, stone, gold-hued metals leathers and silks. The lounge features wireframe chairs from Minotti, a French sideboard bar unit from L’Atelier, a custom hide rug from Kyle Bunting and custom wall finish by Toronto’s Applied Arts Studios. At the bar, vintage Parisian wall sconces flank a gold circular fireplace; a glass sculpture by Jeff Goodman hangs from the coffered ceiling.

The opulence is palpable; yet the space is also designed to feel intimate, complete with ‘at home’ comforts. These days Munge says the lines between luxury hospitality and residential project are increasingly blurred.  While his luxury hospitality clientele is looking for intimate and curated spaces, “a home away from home”, residential developers are tapping onto the aspirational luxury hotel lifestyle. “They both are merging into a common sophisticated cosmopolitan lifestyle,” he says.Studio_Munge_IDS-Bisha-Credit-Tom-Arban_20

Munge says the biggest change he has experienced is to the actual scope of his design projects. “We’ve outgrown the client/contractor relationship and are now working in a much more symbiotic way with our prestigious clientele and developer partners.” This means the studio will come to the table with a deeper understanding of their client’s business needs, leading to stronger partnerships and more relevant designs both in concept and execution.

But business aside, the driving factor for Munge remains the desire to transport guests through his lavish and evocative spaces. “The beauty of Interior Design is that capacity to transform a human being’s mood and feelings through spatial experience.”

Q & A

You started your company nearly 20 years ago. Have your tastes and design ideals changed since then?

I wouldn’t say my design ideals have changed rather they have matured. As you age, learn more about yourself and become comfortable in your skin. It all starts influencing your aesthetic.Studio_Munge_Prohibition_04

Who are some of your favorite designers?

Many of our designs are inspired by architecture and fashion. I am not sure I can point to one favorite designer but I have always admired designers with a strong vision and sense of direction from the likes of Frank Ghery to Tadao Ando. They have such a great understanding of light and volumes; both artists perfectly materialize the intricate relationship between fluidity and human connectivity.

Do you think Canadian studios are sometimes overlooked when it comes to design?

15 years ago maybe… It’s a different story today. The digital world, ease of travel and communication have turned the industry into a village. Wherever you are based, clients are open to hiring you if you produce quality work. Plus our “conservative Canada” has evolved tremendously, clients are much more inclined to going out of their comfort zone.  I mean look at what Canada has produced…from the likes of Frank Ghery to Drake.Studio_Munge_Suites-at-The-Ritz-Carlton_Credit-Evan-Dion06

In addition to luxury condominiums you also work on private homes. Is there a private residence of which you are particularly proud?

The residential work I am the most proud of is a terraced private home I have been designing for the last four years. It’s one of those beautiful design stories that I cannot wait to share with the world. The architecture is extremely modern and resort like.  It is filled with gorgeous Canadian limestone, strong architectural features and sophisticated details.

What would you like to work on next?

I really need to find the time to finish my own residence! It’s been an ongoing project for years, a passion project of mine that requires much more attention that I am able to give right now. Hopefully 2016 will be the year.

Staff Credits
Text by Sophie Kalkreuth

This article was originally published in PALACE.

Review: Avadina Hills, Phuket, Thailand

Kajima Group, one of the largest engineering and development companies in Japan, has created one of the most exclusive and private, tropical residential developments in the world. Avadina Hills is located in Layan, on the west coast of Phuket. Known for its beautiful beaches and infamous James Bond islands, Phuket is one of the top destinations in South East Asia. The exclusive resort is located within easy access to two marinas, an 18-hole golf course, Phuket’s international airport and all the finest dining, entertainment and shopping Phuket has to offer.

Avadina Hills, Phuket / Kajima

Featuring 21 luxuriously appointed private villas on more than 16 hectares of land, the site was originally purchased in the early 1990’s while operating as a rubber plantation, with no public road access. Through working with master landscape architect James Hyatt and Japanese architects Sakakura Atelier, the development was brought to life.

Avadina Hills, Phuket / Kajima

When asked the style of architecture used in the villa’s design, Mr. Sakakura describes it as “a mix of Japanese spirit with modern architecture and design.”

Avadina Hills, Phuket / Kajima

The villas are set on a forested slope with beautiful views overlooking the bay of Bangtao and Layan Beach directly below. James Hyatt was able to create a natural balance between the bordering national park and the site’s contours. The grand staircase connecting the floors and leading out to that encompassing view was the idea of Mr. Kajima. Residents staying at Avadina Hills will experience complete privacy in their hideaway.

Avadina Hills, Phuket / Kajima

Each villa also features an Infiniti edge pool and two to three tiered levels of bedrooms, spa and meticulously designed entertaining space. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors allow for the entire living space to be opened up, creating a perfect harmony between the sunshine outdoors and the cool, natural colors, indoors.

Avadina Hills, Phuket / Kajima

With 4-8 bedrooms, villa utility space ranges from 19,020 sq. ft. – 22,281 sq. ft. and are priced from $7.61 – $9.86 million (THB270-350 million). The entire development is set to complete in 2020.

Avadina Hills, Phuket / Kajima

Buyer’s Guide

Thailand has a very stable and resilient property market, ensuring demand locally and from overseas always remains strong.

Thai Civil Code is based on the mainland European civil law.

Traditionally, under Thai law, foreigner buyers are prohibited from owning land in Thailand. They may only secure rights to use the land to build or buy a home.

The purchaser must obtain a registerable 30-year renewable lease with the option to renew indefinitely in 30 year periods.

There are some exceptions:

Companies can own land (Maximum foreign ownership of 49%; Use a legal power of attorney from the Thai shareholders to control the company)

Investments of at least $1,142,857 (THB40 million) into a Board of Investment approved project allows you to purchase 1 Rai (0.16 hectares) of land.

Always hire a real estate lawyer when purchasing property in Thailand, as much of the market is unregulated and a lawyer will be in the best position to ensure your transaction goes smoothly.

Buyer Information
Property: Avadina Hills
Location: Phuket, Thailand
Developer: Kajima Group
Highlights: 21 Private Villas, Exclusive Location, 24-hour security, Open plan design
Price: from $7.61 – $9.86 million (THB270-350 million)
Contact: www.avadinahills.com

Staff Credits
Text by Robbie Wilson

This article was originally published in PALACE

Review: Point Yamu by COMO

Tourism arrivals to Phuket continue to grow, alongside its strong reputation of being a popular property investment destination. Property investment, especially in Phuket, has generally given higher returns than gold or government bonds, according to Srinarin Paopongpaiboon, a Senior Analyst at Siam Commercial Bank’s Economics and Business Research Centre.52729580-H1-Verandah_Room_with_Balcony_view

Located on a peninsula on the east coast of Phuket on the tip of Cape Yamu, Point Yamu by COMO gives guests the chance to experience the lesser known side of the island. The newest resort and villa development by COMO Hotels and Resorts is a 25-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. The development features 79 hotel guest rooms, suites and 26 private pool villas. All rooms, suites and villas offer floor-to-ceiling windows and are ocean-facing with views towards Phang Nga Bay and its distinctive limestone outcroppings.52729507-H1-Bay_Suite_Bathroom

The interior aesthetic is by renowned Italian designer Paola Navone. The collaboration sees COMO’s signature clean lines and pared-back, contemporary style united with Navone’s eclectic, colourful approach and the use of local materials. The result is a dazzling palette of bright aquamarines and burnt oranges, with Thai artisanal techniques such as traditional wood tiling and woven rattan adding texture reflecting the presence of the sea, Thailand’s Buddhist culture and the colourful influence of Phuket’s Peranakan culture. Intricacy of design is seen throughout the development—for example, the pillars in the lobby are decorated with broken ceramic tiles which are hand-cut and pieced carefully to liken that of a mosaic pattern. Thai handicraft is also an important element incorporated into the design, with extensive use of weave patterns in furnishing used around the resort.57890042-H1-_MG_2504FRDLGR_POINT-YAMU

Villas for sale include seven two-bedroom pool villas and 13 three-bedroom pool villas. Two-bedroom pool villas are approximately 2,433sf in size and have large private pools. The units are likened to a private residence more than a resort villa. It can accommodate up to six people and includes indoor and outdoor dining, pantry, laundry and storage room. The three-bedroom pool villas are approximately 3,638sf large and also feature its own private pool. There is an indoor and outdoor dining area for up to eight people, a kitchen, small laundry and maid’s room.63800007-H1-point_yamu_1bd_villa-4191

Rental of the two-bedroom pool villas range from THB65,000 ($1,923) per day during the low season and THB80,000 ($2,367) per day, while the three-bedroom pool villas range from THB90,000 ($2,662) to THB125,000 ($3,700) per day respectively, and is therefore able to offer significant rental yield.63799975-H1-point_yamu_1bd_villa-3982

Villa owners can enjoy access to the main resort’s facilities which include a 100-meter infinity pool, a fully-equipped gym and activity centre, with diving, water sports and boat excursions which offer private boat trips from Marina Pier to nearby beaches and islands. There are also various dining options—Nahmyaa which offers Thai cuisine; Italian restaurant La Sirena; and COMO Shambhala cuisine—and exclusive COMO Shambala Retreat which offers holistic, Asian-inspired therapies and treatments in eight treatment rooms.63799991-H1-point_yamu_1bd_villa-3220

Cultural activities such as Thai cooking classes and island tours of Phuket and its old town are also available to Point Yamu guests. An exclusive beach club which is scheduled for completion in July 2015 will be located on Naka Island which is a 20-minute private boat ride away. Hotel guests and villa owners can enjoy a large saltwater pool, water sports, and activities for children, spa retreats and COMO quality food.

Point Yamu by COMO has been awarded ‘Best Hotel Design and Best Villa Development’ at Thailand Property Awards 2014, amongst several other accolades.

Buyer Information

Property: Point Yamu by COMO

Location: 225 Moo 7, Paklok, Talang, Phuket 83110, Thailand

Architect: Jean-Michel Gathy

Interior Designer: Paola Navone

Highlights:

—25-minute drive from Phuket International Airport

—Floor-to-ceiling windows and are ocean-facing with views towards Phang Nga Bay and its distinctive limestone outcroppings

—Intricacy of design in the interior with COMO’s signature clean lines and pared-back, contemporary style alongside eclectic, colourful approach and use of local materials

—In-villa facilities include private pool, indoor and outdoor dining, pantry, laundry and storage room

—Main resort’s facilities include a 100-meter infinity pool, a fully-equipped gym and activity centre, with diving, water sports and boat excursions which offer private boat trips from Marina Pier to nearby beaches and islands

—Exclusive beach club located on Naka Island has a large saltwater pool, water sports, and activities for children, spa retreats and COMO quality food

Prices: Approximately $1.9 million (two-bedroom pool villas) and $3-5 million (three-bedroom pool villas)

Contact: comohotels.com/pointyamu or [email protected]

Story Credits

Text by Domenica Tan

This story first appeared in PALACE.