A new blueprint for the long-delayed Snake Island (Koh Pos) resort development off the coast of Sihanoukville will soon be completed, and investment of up to $1 billion is hoped to kick-start the project, which has a planned completion date of 2018, according to the developer.
Kheam Kolneath, public relations manager of the Koh Pous (Cambodia) Investment Group (KPIG), said recently that the group’s director was overseeing the finalisation of a revised resort blueprint with an architect from US-based Interstate Hotels and Resorts.
According to KPIG’s website, the group has entered into a long-term strategic development agreement, with Interstate acting as the island resort’s property manager.
Plans to redesign the blueprint for the 116-hectare luxury residential and resort complex come amid poor sales and a host of other setbacks.
In 2006, the Cambodian government signed a 99-year lease for the land on Koh Pos – also known as Morakot Island – to Russian KPIG.
The Post reported late last year that the company had already invested $100 million on a 1-kilometre bridge to the island, as well as other infrastructure, including an unfinished 5-kilometre road circling the island.
According to Kolneath, the blueprint is not yet complete, with the group director seeking changes to some aspects of the design from Interstate before an official launch and a proposal aimed at gaining permission to initiate the new project from the Council for the Development of Cambodia.
KPIG’s director has said that the new plan will increase the project budget from $276 million to $1 billion.
“I think the blueprint will be finished by the middle of this year because the director wants to push project ahead after it was put on hold following the 2008 financial crisis,” Kolneath said. “The project originally had a planned completion date of 2016, but it has now been delayed to 2018.”
The project comprises two 4-star hotels, one 5-star hotel, one “6-star” hotel, a casino, bungalows, villas for private residents, and further infrastructure to serve the resort, he said.
Kolneath added that the group had already spent $100 million so far on island infrastructure, including the bridge and the perimeter road.
“Construction of 20 villas is under way, but progress is slow,” Kolneath said, who suggested that off-plan sales had been deterred by the high price tags of $1.5 to $1.6 million.
According to Noun Rithy, general manager of Bunna Realty Group, even if the group changed the development plan, the resort development needs to have specific goals and a strategy. He said that construction delays had led to a loss of confidence, and that the developer would need to show strong commitment to win back market confidence.
Comparing Kho Pos and Ko Pich – better known as Diamond Island – in Phnom Penh, Rithy noted that Koh Pich is open for people to visit, but Koh Pos is closed to the public despite the construction of the bridge, making for a lost marketing opportunity.
Koh Pos covers a large area, and if the owner leased some parts of the island to short-term investors they could generate income, which would be better than leaving the island deserted, Rithy said.