Joe Cole snags Hua Hin penthouse

The growing property market in Thai seaside resort Hua Hin received a powerful boost on Tuesday with the arrival of England football star Joe Cole, who paid a visit to town to claim ownership of his latest piece of overseas real estate - a luxury penthouse apartment in the Hua Hin Country Club.

"I looked at the quality of the properties here, such as the finishes, and took advice from advisors who look after my properties abroad," the Chelsea mid-fielder told Property Report Asia. "They thought this was the best destination [to invest in] so I've come out here to take a look. This is the first opportunity I've had to come to Hua Hin and I'm very happy I invested here."

Hua Hin's property growth really started to take off about three and a half years ago, benefiting from its close proximity to Bangkok and a prestigious royal history. Located on the southeast shore of Thailand about 230km south of Bangkok, it has been the Thai royal family's holiday retreat since 1928, and His Majesty the King resides there today.

Hua Hin has long been considered a golfer's paradise, given that Thailand's first golf course - the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course - was built here in 1924 and remains a popular tee-off spot today. The Black Mountain Golf Course, consisting of two newly constructed 18-hole golf courses which opened this year, is the seventh to be built in the Hua Hin area. And like most footballers, Cole says he's always up for spending some down time on the greens, which is part of the reason he selected the Hua Hin Country Club - which overlooks Black Mountain - for a holiday home.

"I'm not a good golfer, but I do enjoy a round. I actually haven't played for about eight months, as I've spent most of the season injured," said Cole, noting that there were a couple of reasons he added the country club penthouse to his property portfolio. "I like a bit of privacy but I also like to socialize so it's lovely that the property is on the golf course; it's always going to busy, there's a clubhouse and there will always be someone who's willing to take us for a round."

The Hua Hin Country Club, developed by the Lersuang Group, is a freehold luxury apartment project. The development is expected to be complete in about a year and will have full resort facilities within the Zephyr Valley project, which sits directly in front of the golf course offering spectacular views of mountains and lush green fairways.

Cole said he checked out the Hua Hin Country Club and Black Mountain websites before coming to Thailand, and the property just "ticked all the right boxes."

"I've only been here a few hours, but after having a drive around all the villages and down the mountain roads I'm already 100% sure I've made the right decision," he said. "Who knows, maybe I'll even get a few more [investors] spread the word."

That's certainly what Hua Hin Country club developer Lersuang is banking on. In recent years, Hua Hin has attracted worldwide acclaim with an explosion of 5-star resorts. The town has been visited by some pretty big names, such as the Beckhams and supermodel Kate Moss, who visited the world-renowned Chiva-Som Spa. However this is the first time an English football star has taken ownership of a holiday home here. But Cole is modest when it comes to his ability to attract investors.

"I think the development speaks for itself," he said. "It's a quality place, and I think that in itself will attract buyers."

As for what Cole looks for when investing in a holiday home, he says there are a number of factors he takes into consideration: "Firstly, you've got to invest your money wisely, so you've always got to look at the location.This is a very up-and-coming market getting talked about a lot in England. Secondly, you look at the setting, and the people who are building it."

Cole says there were a number of reasons he decided to pick up a holiday home in Thailand, such as fine weather and a nice culture, and added that he hoped to get a chance to watch some Thai boxing matches while he's here.

"It's a great place to have a holiday home, with great people. Thais are very polite, very family-oriented," he said, adding he hopes to make it to Thailand as often as he can, but given his busy schedule that will likely be only once a year.

Jo Swain, Lersuang Group's sales & marketing manager, says Cole's recognition of Hua Hin as a holiday destination will benefit the town as a whole: "The football star's draw to Hua Hin Country Club and ownership of a holiday Penthouse apartment at the development in the area signifies Hua Hin's evolvement to become a lifestyle destination has been a successful one."

The Lersuang Group say they are planning to increase their portfolio of already successful developments on the island of Phuket, with numerous developments earmarked Hua Hin as well. A "fly buy" programme has also been introduced for interested parties to sample a taste of Hua Hin, in partnership with the Evason Hideaway Hua Hin, where Cole stayed during his visit.
Thailand Real Estate & Property Guide