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27/02/2008 - West Sands Eighteen Months on.  27/02/2008 - West Sands Eighteen Months on.

When West Sands was launched at Mai Khao beach in July 2006 it was considered to be one of the most ambitious resort projects in Phuket.

Eighteen Months after the launch we take a look at how things are progressing and interview some of the first investors in the development:

Mikael Hall from Sweden was one of the first to buy at West Sands and was happy to answer a few questions about his investment:

What attracted you to invest at West Sands in Phuket?

"As an experienced traveller around the globe I have always looked for a perfect home away from home and in Phuket I found West Sands Hotel Villas with a location directly on the beach and no roads between my house and the beach. A house that is under the supervision of West Sands and that will be rented for most of the year. A house needs to be lived in. To come down to a house that has been empty for  several months is not a nice experience. At West Sands that experience will be eliminated."

What has been your experience during the construction phase of your villas?

"I have not been down to Phuket at all during the construction but still been able to follow the process and the work thanks to a fantastic photo gallery that has been open to all on the internet. As I am myself in the construction business I could see that everything worked out fine. Now when the houses are ready I will visit my Hotel Villa on the Beach in March 2008. "

Have there been any frustrations?

“None whatsoever !”

How do you see the value of your investment at West Sands?

"As there are so many offers on the market it is important to choose one that will keep its value even if the markets drop. West Sands will do that and more. I see an increase in value over the years and when the whole project is ready I am 100% sure West Sands will be the most sought after location in Phuket. Among all the resorts around the world West Sands will be in the Top League."

West Sands has continued to grow and develop since the early stages and new features have been added, including a water park at a cost in excess of four million U.S. dollars, a Padi 5 star National Geographic Dive Centre, a 50m beach front swimming pool, a beach restaurant, a club house with Deli, a grocery store, two fitness centres and a central control centre.  A luxury brand hotel will also operate from the site along with an oriental wellness centre.

Mats Olsson, also from Sweden, purchased several villas at West Sands in early 2007, I asked him some questions about his experience so far:

What attracted you to invest at West Sands in Phuket?

"The location on the beach, the major share holders of the developer being Sir Terry and Paul Mercer gave us a lot of faith that we would be getting a top quality product that was solid for the long term, the architectural design and the fact that it is a complete resort with a lot of facilities."

What has been your experience during the construction phase of your villas?

"Overall very good. The time schedule has been modified due to the fact that additional land could be purchased and the resort developed a lot during these first 18 months. We could never have imagined such a large development could be carried out without disturbances bothering investors like ourselves. Again, it relates to the major share holders, their financial strength and having chosen such a large general contractor like Ritta."

How do you see the value of your investment at West Sands??

"We signed our contracts in March 2007. Since then, the prices have increased as mush as 50% depending on type of object. We anticipate, our investment will double within three to five years."

Is the environmental build policy important to you and if so why?

“Yes, very much so. Due to the fact Phuket is far away from most of the visitors and they require air transport, it is important to somehow “compensate” the environmental issue on the resort itself. It will be an even more important marketing issue for every day. It makes the resort even more unique!"

The resort is being built to the LEEDS Silver Environmental Rating and after West Sands won the 2007 Green Development Award, Sir Terry Leahy said that working with the environment was key from the outset of the project. “An important consideration for me in developing West Sands was to see if we could bring together the latest luxury resort, but one which was sustainable and which enhanced the natural environment,” he explained. “We’ve tried to employ renewable energy resources, recycling and general resource management to make the smallest footprint that we can, as well as adding very useful employment opportunities and a boost to the local economy.”

From an agent's perspective I have been impressed by the high standards achieved by the construction team, it is one of the cleanest and most organised building sites I have seen in twenty years in the business.

One surprising aspect of West Sands is the amount of space afforded between the properties at the Mai Khao site; being a large resort with well over 350 properties, you would imagine that it could feel over developed, but the wide roads and large, landscaped common areas with their water features and mature trees make the development feel extremely spacious and low density.

The standard of finishing is excellent, yet the team are the first to admit that materials are constantly being reviewed.  For example, the PVC windows and doors already fitted to the finished properties are being changed for aluminium as they are unhappy with the durability.  

The first phase of the development is nearing completion, the clubhouse and a gymnasium are already open along with the Deli which serves superb fresh coffee. Construction is underway on the beach restaurant and work on the water park will start this month, it will be completed by November.

Although ambitious, the project is actually well ahead of schedule, a rare achievement in Phuket.

A limited number of beach front villas, penthouses and apartments are still available.

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