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Koh Russey, a jewel by the sea

Alila Villas Koh Russey, which are expected to break ground next month, will set new standards for Cambodia’s luxury beach resorts.
Alila Villas Koh Russey, which are expected to break ground next month, will set new standards for Cambodia’s luxury beach resorts. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Koh Russey, a jewel by the sea

After its November launch in Hong Kong, Alila Villas Koh Russey will break ground late next month, initiating the construction of a world-class luxury resort.

Alila Villas occupies 25 hectares on Koh Russey, an island in the Koh Rong archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand, with easy access from Sihanoukville via Ochheuteal jetty.

The first phase of the development will see the completion of the villas and the hotel in late 2015, according to Chris Hobden, surveyor at CBRE Cambodia, which is the authorised sales agent for the luxury island-resort development.

“It will bring a new standard of luxury to the southern coastline of Cambodia. Both Alila and CityStar are very focused on sustainability, which is not always a priority here,” says Hobden, who adds that just last week the project design was endorsed by EarthCheck.

EarthCheck is an Australia-based organisation that provides benchmarks and scientific advice and certification for sustainable tourism.

Among the many sustainable features of the villas are systems that automatically adjust lighting and temperature when occupants enter or leave the villas.

Meanwhile, resort structures only account for 15 per cent of the total site area, preserving most of the natural foliage.

A fishing exclusion zone 200 metres around the resort will preserve the marine environment.
A fishing exclusion zone 200 metres around the resort will preserve the marine environment. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The resort will also feature a nursery, which aims to protect more than 20 species of trees indigenous to the island, and an exclusion zone 200 metres around the resort that will preserve the marine environment – fishing boats will dock at jetties at the northern side of the island.

CityStar is pre-selling 132 villas – each of which has a swimming pool – and 47 duplex apartments. The villas will range from one-bedroom to four and from $480,000 to $2 million and more, according to Hobden.

“For one-bedroom villas, you have a guaranteed return of 6 per cent for three years – years two, three and four of hotel operations – and after that, the rental income is split 50/50 between Alila and the villa owner, after a 15 per cent maintenance, management and service charge fee is deducted,” Hobden says.

For two-bedroom and four-bedroom villas, owners have the choice of keeping them fully private or asking the hotel to manage them for periods of five years, on a renewable basis. The duplex apartments are all private, although CityStar and Alia are in a position to offer services.

Rates are expected to be set at around $500 a night for a one-bedroom villa, $600 for a two-bedroom villa and $1,360 for a four-bedroom villa.

Hobden says it will be the first coastal resort in Cambodia to be managed by an iconic brand.

The developer is French CityStar, founded in 2003 by Jean-Louis Charon, who was formerly managing director of Nexity, France’s No.1 real estate development company. The managing director in Cambodia is Etienne Chenevier, an established entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in Asia.

It is the first time that Alila has cooperated with CityStar, and Hobden describes it as a development that adds another level of prestige to the project.

“We’re talking about two companies that both have strong track records, and you need that if you’re going to attract investors,” he says.

According to Hobden, the best parallels for the resort regionally are in Bali, where Alila Villas Uluwatu and Alila Villas Soori have garnered multiple international awards.

Hobden calls Alila Villas the “crafted luxury” arm of the company’s profile, and the new Cambodian villa resort will be only the fourth of its kind worldwide.

Alila Villas Koh Russey is designed by Singaporean architect Chioh-Hui Goh of renowned architectural firm studiogoto.

David Simister, chairman of CBRE Thailand and Cambodia, says he is enthusiastic about the long-term potential for the Cambodian hospitality sector and particularly beach resorts, having seen dramatic growth in values in Phuket and Bali.

“Cambodia has the appeal, natural hospitality and unspoiled islands to offer a fresh and more eco-conscious approach to resorts,” Simister says.

Meanwhile, on the subject of Alila Koh Russey, Hobden says there is already some early interest from investors.

“Considering the full marketing campaign has not got under way yet, we have already had considerable interest from investors,” says Hobden, who was not at liberty to disclose precise sales figures.

Just 25 minutes by private car and speedboat from Sihanoukville Airport, Hobden notes that Alila Villas Koh Russey is perfectly positioned to take advantage of Siem Reap’s luxury tourism sector by offering visitors a luxury boutique beach holiday.

“With the daily flights from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, you could fly into Siem Reap, and then fly almost direct to Alila,” Hobden says.

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