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Monday, November 5, 2012

Making a dream resort township along Desaru Coast

Grand dream: Nadziruddin (centre) giving details of the planned resort development while Desaru Development Holdings One CEO Firdaus Azharuddin (left) and Themed Attractions and Resorts MD and CEO Tunku Datuk Ahmad Burhanuddin look on.

KUALA LUMPUR: Desaru Coast, an up-and-coming development on the east side of Johor, will not only satiate the affluent's taste in luxury holidays but also the desire to own a holiday spot.

The group behind the development, Destination Resorts & Hotels (DRH), said Desaru Coast would flourish into not just a luxury travel destination, but also a resort township for recurrent holidaymakers.

“It's all part of our intention to make Desaru a resort township. The residential part of it will be more likely holiday homes or second homes for those who can afford it,” managing director Nadziruddin Basri told StarBiz.

He believed that with facilities already available in a neighbouring township, the resort township would be able to leverage off the necessities rather than having another set of its own facilities.

“If you look at the proximity between Desaru and Bandar Penawar, the latter is where the mass population is and has all the facilities like schools and hospitals,” he explained. “So when we look at the Desaru plan, we think it makes sense to keep it a resort township, not a full-fledged township.”

DRH is in partnership with UEM Land Bhd for its residential development in Phase 1. UEM Land owns 51% of the residential development, which will be a mix of mid- to high-end semi-detached houses, bungalows, villas and low-density condominiums.

Nadziruddin noted that the residential component was still in its preliminary planning stage but the projects would be launched “precinct by precinct,” depending on buyers' responses and the economy.

“There will also be a need for base population and this is when we look at Petronas' development in Pengerang, which would be complete about the same time as our Phase 1,” he said, noting that Petronas would likely bring in over 20,000 staff.

“There will always be the need for housing so the potential is there, even if we can lock in 10% of its staff,” he said, noting the strategic location close to Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia.

DRH, through subsidiary Desaru Development Corp Sdn Bhd (DDC), is also in talks with UKAS to obtain facilitation funds for infrastructure development. If obtained, DRH could get up to 10% of total infrastructure capex.

It has already a RM600mil loan from Malayan Banking Bhd and a seed capital from Khazanah Nasional Bhd, its parent company.

As for opening up equity ownership in some of the components, Nadziruddin said although it was welcomed, DRH would maintain a majority share in all projects carried out so that it ccould ensure the original luxury travel theme was always retained.

“We want the whole area to blend in well with the concept of a luxury holiday. With the names we are bringing in, we are prepared to invest to maintain the township because the operators have no qualms moving out if we are not up to standard,” he said.

Phase 1 will offer four premium resorts operated by Sheraton Resorts and Hotels, The Datai, Aman Resorts and another yet to be named for the plantation hotel. There will also be marine and water parks, Ocean Quest and Ocean Splash, which feature the world's biggest salt water wave pool.

Phase 2 and 3 have yet to be finalised as DRH has decided to plan them according to market demand in the coming years.

“We are a catalyst developer so we have to take a long-term view of the development,” Nadziruddin said of the 15-to-20-year timeline set for the three phases of Desaru Coast.

“We have to make sure not to overdevelop Phase 1 even though our investment is big, because we need it to benefit from Phase 2 and 3 too,” he added.

Desaru Development Holdings One Sdn Bhd is the operational vehicle of DDC to develop Phase 1. It is a 70:30 joint venture between Stulang Ventures Sdn Bhd and Permodalan Darul Ta'zim.

Desaru Coast covers 3,900 acres along a 17-km stretch of pristine coast.

By The Star

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