Less than a year after all refurbishments were completed on Hongkong Land’s Central Mansions – formerly Colonial Mansions – the classic residential units in the heart of Phnom Penh’s burgeoning financial, government and office-rental district are enjoying occupancy rates of close to 100 per cent, according to management.
“When we launched last year, we weren’t entirely sure that Phnom Penh was ready for penthouse suites at $4,500-$6,000 a month,” general manager Edward Barrow says. “But all five of the penthouses are now all taken in long-term rentals.”
Founded in Hong Kong in 1889, Hongkong Land owns and manages substantial swathes of Hong Kong and Singapore’s premium CBD office and residential space.
Central Mansions was the group’s first project in Cambodia, after first entering the market in late 2011, when it paid more than $33 million for a portfolio of properties. The group spent $4.5 million on the refurbishment of the 12-year-old Central Mansions building, which comprises two blocks – one six floors, the other 10.
Originally built in 2001, Colonial Mansions officially became Central Mansions on March 15 last year, and is now complete with a spacious, modern gym, a creche for infants, a restaurant, that has been leased out to and managed by The Shop (Street 240), serving everything from sandwiches, curry, noodles, pizzas and burgers to fine dining, while also offering a deli and bakery.
Among its other amenities, Central Mansions offers a convenience store, two swimming pools and a Jacuzzi.
“Everything is in place now and we’re working towards operational excellence,” says Barrow, who adds that occupancy is averaging 98 per cent.
“Around 60 per cent of that is long-term rentals – six months or more,” he says, adding that overnight and short-term bookings account for only around 20 per cent of business.
According to Barrow, details of the long-term rentals are spread largely through word of mouth, while short-term rentals tend to come through the big-name online booking sites such as Agoda, Booking.com and TripAdvisor.
“Where we can offer better value is when you’re talking families with more than one child,” he says. “In a hotel, families with children – especially children who are eight and older – can be difficult to cater for, but we offer apartment-style accommodation with two to three rooms.”
Leasing manager Jenny Sophorn Phal, as she provides a tour of the amenities followed by the rooftop views of Wat Phnom and towering neighbour Vattanac Tower, says: “It’s like a family here; everybody feels safe and secure, and there’s always someone in the lobby to greet you when you come home. We even provide kitchenware, so you can cook at home.”
According to Sophorn Phal, long-term tenants stay on or recommend the property to other incoming long-stays due to the security and safety, as well as the convenient location close to what is emerging as Phnom Penh’s CBD.
“It’s a competitive market but we’re doing well,” she says.
Prices for long-term rentals on studio apartments – 21 square metres – start at $800 a month, or $80 for an overnight stay, says Sophorn Phal, who adds that Central Mansions has a total of 101 units.
Studio apartments account for just four of the total at Central Mansions, while the majority are one-, two- or three-bedroom units, with 31, 36 and 24 respectively.
The overnight price for a two-bedroom unit is $150, while a three-bedroom unit goes for $200 a night.
With 31 one-bedroom units ranging from 44 square metres to 60 square metres, prices vary depending on the size of the apartment.
Meanwhile, Sophorn Phal says, long-term tenants – the mainstay of Central Mansions’ business – enjoy the same services that they would in a five-star hotel.
“We pride ourselves on being able to provide hotel-like services in a residential setting – a lazy man’s paradise, if you like,” Barrow says.