Ocean plans three more resorts

With strong confidence in the tourism industry, Ocean Property Co, a real-estate development affiliate of Ocean Group, has planned to develop three new projects in Hua Hin, Koh Samet and Koh Yao, according to chief executive Nusara Banyatpiyaphod. The project being developed in the second half of the year is Ocean Villas Hua Hin, with an investment of over 600 million baht. It will be located on an 11-rai site close to the company's recent hotel, the Asara Villa & Suite Hua Hin.

The 800-million-baht Ocean Villas is in contemporary Thai-Victorian style, on lots sized between 100 square wah and one rai and priced from 25-120 million baht a unit.

Eight units have already been booked and sales are targeted to close next year. Construction will start in the third quarter of the year and will be completed in 2010, with Ocean Life Insurance as the financial supporter.

Mrs Nusara said tourist arrivals in Hua Hin for the 12 months to June grew by 15-20%, with Thai tourists accounting for 80% or about 1.86 million and 455,444 foreign tourists.

Europeans made up 82.35% of the foreign tourists, followed by Asians (10.22%), Americans (3.70%), Asia-Oceania visitors (3.34%), Middle-East nationals (0.24%) and Africans (0.15%).

In 2008, the company plans to develop a four-star boutique hotel on Koh Samet where it has a 10-rai site. The plot is now leased to Baan Talay Resort and the contract will expire next year.

''Another project in Koh Yao is being redesigned to cap construction costs,'' said Mrs Nusara. ''We will wait for cash flow from Asara Villa to start up new projects next year.''

Asara Villa & Suite has 52 pool villas and 44 suites, with room rates of between 9,500 and 69,000 baht per night. During the first two months of operation, it had an occupancy rate of 10-15%. The company expects 40% by the end of the year and 65-70% next year.

Currently, the company has two projects in hand. It has recorded 60% sales of its 268-unit Ocean Portofino Condominium worth 1.8 billion baht in Jomtien Beach, Pattaya.

''Sales of some property projects in tourist destinations, even Pattaya, have slowed down. Fortunately, we launched it early last year,'' she said.

The property market in the first half of the year was sluggish but Mrs Nusara noted that some segments such as city condominiums near mass transit continued to grow in line with the new trend in urban lifestyles.

Currently, the company's condominium in the central business district, O2 Hip Condominium in Soi Nai Lert, is half sold. It has a total of 48 units worth 400 million baht. Bangkok Post