Saturday, September 08, 2007

Limitless to build $220m hospitality development

09/05/2007 11:04 PM | By Robert Ditcham, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Limitless, the global property development arm of Dubai World, will build a $220 million residential and hospitality complex in Vietnam. The project will be the company's first in Southeast Asia.

The project will be built on a 125 hectare site at Halong Bay on Vietnam's North East coast. The area, one of Vietnam's main tourist destinations, is a Unesco sanctioned world heritage site.

Designed to cater to Vietnam's growing tourism industry and demand for luxury homes, the Halong Star development will consist of a 250-room five-star hotel, a 100-room luxury 'boutique' hotel, 226 villas, 85 luxury townhouses and 114 apartments, as well as retail and commercial space.

It will be built in phases over a five-year period starting in December, with the five star hotel and townhouses first to go up. The project is currently in the design phase.

Environmental concerns

Philip Atkinson, regional director for Southeast Asia, Limitless, said the company is well aware of the environmentally sensitive nature of the area. "We know our responsibilities and have taken a sensitive approach. It's a low density development with only 30 per cent of the site area consisting of built up area," he told Gulf News in an internview.

Yesterday's project announcement coincided with the official visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to Vietnam to discuss bilateral relations.

Dubai World chairman Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI), were part of the delegation that accompanied him.

Vietnam is considered Southeast Asia's fastest growing economy and has attracted significant foreign direct investment (FDI) since joining the World Trade Organisation. According to Rob McKellar, CEO at Savills Asia Pacific, FDI is expected to exceed $13 billion in 2007.

Atkinson said the Halong Bay project's hospitality element will tap Vietnam's growing tourist market, especially from China, Korea, Australasia and Europe. The residential components will cater mostly to wealthy Vietnamese residents, expatriate Vietnamese returning to their country of origin and foreign buyers, he said.

The project will be the first of many Limitless investments into Vietnam, Atkinson added.

"We're working hard on development deals in Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Hanoi. We will work with joint venture partners but conceive and develop projects ourselves," he said.

The Dubai company's partners for Halong Star are Phuong Hung Joint Stock Co and International Property Investment Partners, which will facilitate the scheme, leaving Limitless to handle actual project development.

Limitless is also pursuing joint venture partnerships in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, after opening a regional headquarters in Singapore this year.