oh Puis Investment Group (KPIG) believes luxury gaming resorts can draw in high-end visitors from other Asian countries.
It plans to develop one six star, two five-star hotels, one four-star casino hotel, a VIP casino, a marina yacht and beach Club, high-end restaurants and bars, a luxury spa and wellness center, a 150-unit marina village, meeting and conference facilities and various villas.
“When the directors of KPIG first visited Koh Puos, Cambodia in 2006 and its deserted white beach, they knew that they had discovered something special. Back-packers have been coming to Sihanoukville for 20 years because it was off the beaten track with its beautiful lush vegetation and mountains rolling down to the long white beaches,” according to an investment report by Ptolemy Capital.
“However, the secret is out and the past five years land prices have tripled and quadrupled as the international airport now makes the location easy to reach and brings double digit growth on the tourist numbers every year.”
The plan is to build a luxury resort on both the island and the mainland opposite over 150 hectares. The developer has so far spent US$126 million on the project.
Since many Southeast Asian countries do not allow gaming, the developers believe the Cambodian project can draw in high-end visitors and gamers from countries including Thailand, Vietnam, China and Taiwan.
“Currently, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan have prohibited or restricted the ability to gamble within their borders. Most gamers from Asia currently travel to South Korea, Macau, and Singapore. These three are benefiting from the restrictions instituted by other Asian countries. In addition to these three centers, Cambodia, the Philippines and Malaysia have emerged as credible Asian gaming destinations, experiencing significant growth from casino privatization initiatives.
“VIP Chinese gamers are traveling further afield to find gaming locations and there are flights from mainland China to Brisbane for weekend gaming. Unlike the Western gamer, the Asian VIP gamer will bring their entire immediate and extended family on holiday. So the ‘gated-island community’ of Morakot Island represents an ultra-discreet gaming experience and an attractive family holiday destination for Asian VIPs.
To make the project accessible to the public, KPIG has built a 985-meter bridge from Koh Puos to the mainland. It has also obtained an in-principle approval from government for the casino and a construction permit has been issued and an assessment of environment and social impact has been carried out.
KPIG has signed Operator Agreements with Ritz Carlton and Renaissance to operate the island hotels. EDSA, an internationally renowned master-planner and landscape architects, has been appointed to draw up a masterplan and landscaping.
Koh Puos Island is 950 meters from Sihanoukville on the mainland and is the nearest of a chain of coastal islands which stretch from the sea boards of Thailand on the North to Vietnam on the South. It is 18 kilometres from Sihanoukville International Airport and 230kilometres from Phnom Penh International Airport.
Sihanoukville has already developed into a leisure tourism destination for Asian tourists, mainly from China, Taiwan, Thailand and Korea and from Europe, mainly from Russia, France, UK and Germany.
Cambodia is seeing more tourists each year and visitor numbers have risen 16% per annum over the past 10 years with foreign arrivals exceeding 4.2million per year in 2013. It has been able to take advantage of unrest in Thailand and a dip in popularity of Malaysia by marketing itself as an alternative destination to Chinese tourists.
The country aims to attract 6 million visitors by 2016 through increasing the number of tourists and direct flights from China, improving the infrastructure in Cambodia, and simplifying the visa application process, including lengthening the allowed number of days that visa-free tourists from China can stay.
Advisers believe that the lack of quality hotel product in Sihanoukville indicates potential average annual hotel room occupancy of 55%.
The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism has identified Sihanoukville as the main development focus of Cambodia’s tourism industry. Currently there are six casinos in the city and more are expected to enter the market.
Sihanoukville has become a beach town and tourist destination, catering to weekenders from Phnom Penh and a steadily increasing number of foreign visitors, as its white-sand beaches remain less developed and less crowded than the resorts in nearby Thailand.
“Existing and future supply of international/branded hotels in Sihanoukville is still very underdeveloped so there is a clear opportunity here as the upscale or luxury hotel market is close to non-existent with only one five-star hotel in the local market,” says the report.
The project contact is well-known fractional consultant, David Disick, who says, “The developer has assembled a team of the finest worldwide experts to ensure the success of this development. This includes the unique feature of combining in this development hotel operations, sales of individually owned real estate units and sales of fractional interests in these units. The developer reiterates its overriding dedication to make Morakot Island a success that all can be proud of.”