No Records Found
Once a byword for chronic traffic problems and urban blight, Sri Lanka’s oceanside capital has witnessed quite the change in fortunes in recent years. Although it’s unlikely to ever reclaim its colonial-era nickname of the “Garden City of the East”, the bustling hub has clothed itself in some rather fetching new threads. Stylish restaurants, galleries and museums have upped the lifestyle quotient, while its old quarters abound with charming architecture and atmospheric distractions. With infrastructural improvements the catalyst for new property developments and luxury hotels, the city is staking its claim as a dynamic investment destination.
1. The Gallery Café
If there’s one dining venue that sums up the changed status of Colombo it is this one. Housed in a trim colonial bungalow – the former office of Sri Lanka’s most renowned architect, Geoffrey Bawa – this venture is the place to see and be seen in the city. Famed far beyond Sri Lanka, the restaurant features an all-encompassing menu that spans everything from grills and seafood to more adventurous creations. Particularly recommended are the desserts that include several familiar treats infused with jaggery, a rich brown sugar hugely popular in South Asia.
+94 11 258 2162
More: Geopolitical jockeying at Colombo financial city
2. Capitol Twin Peaks
Located in a leafy enclave near Beira Lake, one of Colombo’s most refined neighbourhoods, this luxury apartment project is expected to set a new standard for high-end property in the city. The ground broke on the 388-unit complex early in 2016 and the project is due for completion by mid-2020. Developer Capitol have already built an enviable reputation through existing ventures such as Capitol Residencies, Capitol Elite and Capitol 7 and this latest undertaking looks like being its most ambitious yet. In addition to its prime location, the project will benefit from trimmings such as a roof terrace, Sky Lounge, yoga pavilion, aerobic studio and party lounge and deck.
3. Prime Grand
Rising for 36-floors in Colombo’s prestigious District 7, the Prime Grand seems likely to live up to its aspirational name. The 316-unit project, set for completion in 2020, offers potential home owners the opportunity to invest in duplex penthouses, four bedroom Presidential Suites and smaller two-and-three bed options. The design also incorporates natural ventilation within the apartment space to minimise heat build-up and reduce energy consumption used in cooling the space. In addition to its spacious units, the condominium features a spread of lifestyle benefits. These include a 71-metre infinity pool a world-class spa, badminton court and an exclusive entertainment area.
4. The Wallawwa
Colombo’s rich colonial history has bequeathed a rather fetching selection of lavish boutique hotels. This opulent bolthole, nestled in the Negombo part of the city, is one of the most renowned. Basking in its pin drop-peaceful rural setting and lovingly tended tropical gardens, the property is a beautifully-realised restoration of a 200-year-old manor house. Top room picks are the garden suites which have huge bathrooms, upholstered seating areas and expansive outdoor perches. Other attractive elements include a stone-lined 16 metre outdoor pool, an award-winning spa and an outstanding restaurant that specialises in fiery Sri Lankan curries.
5. The Dutch Hospital
So familiar a part of the city has The Dutch Hospital become that it’s easy to forget what a pioneering place it is. Converted from – you guessed it – a former hospital used during the Dutch occupation of Sri Lanka, the precinct took on its current guise in 2011. The building is centred around two courtyards, which often host live music. While its selection of shops is largely so-so, the array of restaurants and bars include some of Colombo’s most lively and sophisticated venues. It’s an ideal nighttime venue while its low slung tiled roofs and attractive colonnades make it a good place to cool off when the city sun is at its most unforgiving.
Another symbol of Colombo’s rejuvenation, this sky-high rooftop bar ticks a variety of boxes. Lovers of imaginative cocktails will appreciate the skill of the bartenders, while gastronomes won’t be dissatisfied by a creative culinary approach driven by Swiss head chef Stefan Beutler. Various other drawcards lure the city’s beautiful people to this venue at the crown of the sleek OZO Hotel. Lounge style seating make it a comfortable place to linger, while an infinity pool and some of Sri Lanka’s best DJs ratchet up the Ibiza vibe. Best of all, however, is the outlook: a 360-degree panorama that takes in the full splendour of the city’s ocean-front location.
No Records Found
No Records Found
No Records Found
Perched above a coral cove on Koh Samui, Samujana is one of the Thai island’s most celebrated real estate developments.
Aimed exclusively at the luxury end of the market, it is best known for its spectacular location, which allows for some of the island's most jaw-dropping vistas. Also notable are its personalised service and high architectural ideals courtesy of award-winning designer Gary Fell of Gfab Architects.
Since the completion of phase two in 2015, Samujana has become popular not only with savvy investors but also as an enviable venue for upscale family holidays, intimate parties and even as a celebrity bolthole.
While each of the 27 villas are desirable, Villa 28 is one of the stars of the show. From the boats on the horizon to the beauty of its immediate surroundings, the six-bedroom property boasts some of Koh Samui's best views. It was for this reason that British software company owner John Chartres made the decision in 2015 to invest in his own slice of paradise at Samujana.
Tell us a little about your background and your previous experiences with property investment.
I spent most of my formative years in the Royal Air Force before leaving in 1990. Since then I’ve primarily worked in programming and founded a software company, which works with very large retail opticians mainly in the US. That success has allowed me to buy a few properties and a boat.
Two of the residential properties in the UK are in West Sussex, which is convenient as the boat is docked at Brighton Marina. Obviously, a boat is not an investment, you’re just spending a lot of money that you’ll never see again! Still, I’ve invested at both ends of the spectrum, so hopefully my properties don’t become boats.
Why did you decide to invest in Thailand?
My relationship with Thailand started about 12 years ago. My wife and I fell in love with the culture and the food. My wife loved going to detox retreats, especially Kamalaya on Koh Samui. I went along a couple of times and just about coped: if nobody mentioned colonic irrigation!
The general manager at Kamalaya told us that a friend of his was managing a resort on the island and we should look. We went up to Samujana on the same day and I remember being absolutely wowed by the villas and the views.
We didn’t go there with the intention of spending USD4m, but by the time we were sat back at Kamalaya the decision had been made. We can occasionally be impulsive, but there wasn’t even any coffee, never mind alcohol, served at the retreat, so it wasn’t a question of us being intoxicated. We just thought it was the right time and basically said “why not”?
More: Asia’s 15 Best Resort Residences in 2015
Did you buy Villa 28 solely as a lifestyle investment or were you already thinking about the potential rental yields?
There was never any intention to rent it out. It was to be used as family holiday home. It’s only when we went to a cocktail party at one of the villas and got chatting to another owner that we realised the types of rents we could achieve. He told me that we could probably fetch anywhere up to USD3,500 a night and, well, I thought that sounded good.
I think our property is slightly different to some of the others in that we’ve made some notable bespoke additions, such as the high-tech games room. Guests are now specifically seeking out our villa because of the facilities we offer.
There have even been a few celebrities stop by, including a very famous Chinese actress and model. Wealthy Chinese clients now very much want to stay where these celebrities have visited.
Would you say you’ve designed the interior to suit your tastes as well as those of your guests?
My wife is a natural interior designer. She spends her life pulling out pages from magazines. While we haven’t employed interior designers, we have hired great craftsman to create a unique setting.
We’re not trying to copy a certain brand, but there’s been an eye on who’s staying there. Many of our guests don’t necessarily always want to be out in the sun, which is why is why we wanted to ensure the property was kitted out with the latest gadgets and tech. If guests have had too much of the heat, they can lock themselves away and watch the latest movies in the home cinema.
More: 6 royal reasons to live, invest and play in Hua Hin
What do you think is the villa’s standout feature?
The view from the dining area. In fact, the view from anywhere in the villa. Wherever you sit there’s a stunning view.
I also think that the personalised service and the privacy sets it apart and makes it better than a stay at any hotel. A hotel room is essentially just a bedroom and, unless you want to eat from your lap, you typically must go the restaurant, which you share with everyone else, to eat. If you’re a wealthy businessman or a celebrity – or you’re with someone you shouldn’t be with – you probably want privacy, and that’s what you get at Samujana. You’ve got the kitchen, the staff (maids, butlers and the gardeners) and if you want to self-cater you can. There’s nobody looking in on you.
Had you explored investing in overseas property elsewhere, and do you have plans to expand your portfolio?
Before buying the villa at Samujana we’d taken a trip on a catamaran to the British Virgin Isles with some friends. They were looking seriously at buying property in the Caribbean and we were involved in that for a while. We also looked at Ibiza, so that we could have the boat nearby and stay in a villa when we wanted to use it, but I never found anything suitable in Ibiza or the Caribbean. Looking ahead, there’s no plans to invest in other properties again anytime soon. For now, the villa on Koh Samui – and the new boat – is all I need.
Read next: Why luxury real estate in Thailand remains a solid investment