In a shrinking world, it was only a matter of time before the easyJet set began to look beyond Europe for the next international property hotspot. Sure enough, the announcement earlier this month by aviation tycoon Tony Fernandes that his new budget airline, Air Asia X, will start regular flights from the UK to Kuala Lumpur from July this year has prompted a surge of interest in the established Nexus golf and leisure resort on Borneo’s serene, 4,000-acre Karambunai peninsula, where a small development of beach side villas is nearing completion.
The tower blocks of South-East Asia’s booming business centres are already familiar territory to Britain’s international high-flyers; now governments in the area are keen to promote its undiscovered white sandy beaches and ancient rainforests. Designed by Hawaiian architects Wimberley Allison Tong & Goo, the Nexus Residence villas are built of sustainable materials in traditional Malaysian style along the resort’s four miles of pristine beaches: Pool Villas float on the surrounding waterscape, and the Spa Villa suites have breathtaking views of the South China Sea and Karambunai Cove. Colliers CRE (020?7487 1978) are the UK agents for sales at Nexus Residence, where prices for the Pool Villas start from about £212,000, suites from £105,000.
From Kuala Lumpur, it is a short hop to the Thai island of Koh Samui with its uncrowded diving waters and glorious national park both mercifully untouched by the 2004 tsunami, thanks to the island’s position on the sheltered side of the Gulf of Thailand. In 2005, a joint venture between globe-trotting British entrepreneurs Neil Helliwell and Stephen Owens (who now lives on Koh Samui) resulted in the formation of Dhevatara Properties, which now boasts a portfolio of bijou villa developments in prime beach front locations.
Five of six huge villas at Dhevatara Cove, designed by Hong Kong architect David Clarke, have already been sold to UK buyers with Belgravia or Kensington addresses. Such buyers, Mr Owens says, ‘are making a lifestyle choice, buying homes they do not need, but wish for’. And, although he foresees great capital appreciation in the future, he would not recommend buying for investment at Dhevatara, as rental returns would be unlikely to cover the cost of servicing a loan.
The remaining 8,500sq ft, six-bedroom, glass-walled villa has maids’ quarters, a swimming pool and a beach house, and is for sale through Chester-field (020?7581 5234) at $3.15 million. Another exclusive Dhevatara project, the Residence at Bophut on Samui’s glamorous north shore, has a handful of villas of similar quality and design left for sale, at prices starting from $1.4m.
It’s ‘next stop the Seychelles’ for the Dhevatara team, who have bought the archipelago’s idyllic Marianne Island, where they plan to create ‘a plantation resort’ along the lines of Richard Branson’s Necker Island. In the meantime, it’s all systems go on the 100-acre Eden Island off the coast of Mahé, capital of the Seychelles, where local developers are working with the government to create the archipelago’s first proper residential marina development around the former coral island’s 38 acres of private waterways. The scheme offers a choice of 470 luxury apartments, houses and villas, each with its own mooring, for sale freehold at prices from £155,000 to £1.1m through Pam Golding International/Savills (020?7824 9088).
With many wealthy Britons now virtually commuting to the Caribbean throughout the winter months, discerning international home buyers are increasingly retreating to less developed islands such as the unspoilt Turks and Caicos, where the capital Providenciales is reckoned by experts (including the late Jacques Cousteau) as being among the 10 best diving sites in the world, thanks to the barrier reef which runs the full length of the island’s 17-mile north-east coast.
Sitting on the edge of 18,000 acres of national park along the coast of Northwest Point on Providenciales, the prestigious 99-acre Amanyara resort (the name derives from the native Arawak meaning ‘place of peace’) is the epitome of laid-back chic, comprising a boutique hotel of 40 low-rise timber-shingled guest pavilions and 33 private villas designed by the architect Jean-Michel Gathy. All the buildings are designed to blend into the island’s natural landscape, and any trees removed have been relocated elsewhere.
The private villas, each similar in design to the hotel pavilions and built along the ocean front or around the resort’s many tranquil lakes, have three, four or five bedrooms, and a 1,200sq ft swimming pool in the same volcanic rock as that of the hotel. The smallest three-bedroom villa has 14,000sq ft of built area, with 8,000sq ft under the main roof. Sale prices range from £4m to £8m through Savills International (020?7016 3740).