PHUKET, THAILAND – The global pandemic, which closed Thailand’s borders for the majority of the year, has considerably impacted the country’s real estate and hospitality sectors, especially in major tourist destinations such as Phuket. But with rays of hope breaking through the Covid-shaped cloud, some in the industry are looking ahead to 2021 with cautious optimism.
Thailand’s relatively low case numbers and effective outbreak containment, combined with the recent announcement that a vaccine will soon be available means demand from both domestic and international investors for vacation residences is reportedly up, while discussions regarding the loosening of travel restrictions are ongoing. This bodes particularly well for property developers and hotel operators on Phuket.
One local firm to successfully weather the storm in 2020 is Utopia Corporation. The multi-faceted approach of the micro-business enterprise, which specialises in the development, design and engineering of hospitality, residential, commercial and entertainment projects across the island, ensured that innovative business practices ensued throughout the difficult period. With a close-knit community of employees spanning the various components of the company and industry sectors, Utopia is currently gearing up for a much-improved new year.
“Although it has been a tough nine months for everyone on Phuket, there’s a big opportunity for the local property and hospitality market as prospective investors and holidaymakers look to return in the new year,” says the firm’s CEO Hachi Yin. “Our local knowledge, diverse market solutions and innate ability to evolve means we are already prepared for the upcoming challenges and opportunities of 2021.”
Launched in 2015 by Australia-based real estate group International Property Advisory, Utopia Corporation started life as a development company before swiftly expanding to include sales and management services, a move that has allowed the firm to control costs and streamline operations. Over the years, Utopia Corporation has continued to evolve into an all-encompassing real estate and hospitality brand that is now synonymous with Phuket. The seamless diversification and success of these varied operations also ensured the firm was able to not only survive but even thrive in 2020, with plans already afoot for further growth in the new year.
In its latest foray into IT infrastructure and software development, Utopia, will in early 2021 market launch ‘Zeus Teknology RE’, a virtual real estate and masterplan system that enables prospective investors to view properties online. The app is based on technology Utopia Corporation used to support sales of its own properties during the lockdown period. Zeus Teknology PMS, a property management solutions app will also be made available in February 2021.
“It is this reactive mindset shared by our stakeholders and every staff member that allows us to enhance our market offering for both consumers and competitors,” explains Hachi Yin. “Our approach is about much more than simply profit margins; it’s about making Phuket a more viable destination for our customers, peers and international partners.”
Indeed, Utopia Corporation’s hotel and resort products are increasingly piquing the interest of global luxury brands. Last month, the company announced a landmark partnership with legendary Italian brand Tonino Lamborghini for an upcoming, upmarket low-rise retreat. Expected to welcome guests in 2023, the 46-key Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Phuket, overlooking the Andaman Sea, will be masterminded by multi-award-winning design firm Alexander Wong Architects. The partnership also marks Tonino Lamborghini’s first foray into the country’s hospitality industry and is yet another signal of long-term optimism held for the recovery of Phuket’s hospitality sector.
“Phuket will inevitably be at the top of travellers’ wish list once the vaccine is widely available they start eyeing vacations again,” adds Hachi Yin. “Thanks to the tireless work of our team, we look forward to welcoming international guests back to the Pearl of the Andaman.”
The company has already noted a recent uptick in enquiries from both local and international investors for some of its latest residential projects, including the 23-rai Utopia Maikhao, located on Phuket’s prestigious northwest coast, and Rawai beach-based Utopia Dream, which is set for completion in 2022. The firm also recently completed the exclusive serviced residences development Utopia Thalang, while the Moroccan-influenced Utopia Yamu gated community is due for handover later next year. Two further projects, Utopia Central and Utopia Karon, meanwhile, are slated to open in 2021.
In recognition of the firm’s rapidly emerging reputation on Phuket, Utopia has amassed a number of highly-regarded industry accolades in recent years. These include the Dot Property Awards’ Best Development and Construction Company winner trophy in 2018 and 2019, as well as three gongs at last year’s PropertyGuru Thailand Property Awards, including the coveted Best Condo Development (Phuket) for its flagship project Utopia Loft Naiharn. The neighbouring resort Utopia Naiharn also won Now Travel Asia Award for Asia’s Top Emerging Hotel.