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That sense of place: Pavilions brand redefines 'self' in global expansion

That sense of place: Pavilions brand redefines 'self' in global expansion

PHUKET: The launch of The Pavilions Residences in Phuket last week not only raised the bar for high-end properties for sale on the island, it also marked the foundation of a network of lifestyle-focused destinations spanning the globe.

By Chris Husted

Sunday 15 October 2017, 10:00AM

Gordon Oldham, founder and CEO of The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts, through the global expansion of The Pavilions Residences is redefining ‘A Place To Be’.

Gordon Oldham, founder and CEO of The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts, through the global expansion of The Pavilions Residences is redefining ‘A Place To Be’.

The Pavilions Phuket Residences alone present an opportunity unto themselves. The project, which won Best Housing Development (Phuket) and was highly commended for Best Condo Development (Phuket) at the PropertyGuru Thailand Property Awards 2017, comprises a collection of three- and four-bedroom villas, and two penthouses, with prices starting at US$1,645 (just under B55,000) per square metre.

Nestled on one of Phuket’s highest points, with panoramic views of the island’s west coast, the residential community offers privacy and tranquillity in abundance. Located only three minutes’ drive from the golden sands of Layan Beach, the exclusive enclave is also just 20 minutes from Phuket International Airport, making it easily accessible from the rest of the world.

Each of the luxury residences is unique, with the six villas ranging from 577.5sqm to 965.5sqm in size and the two penthouse apartments offering 335sqm and 435sqm of space respectively. All the units provide contemporary open-plan living and dining areas, expansive outdoor terraces and private infinity-edged pools.

Adding to the luxury lifestyle appeal, residents will be able to enjoy modern Mediterranean cuisine at Firefly, or sample tapas and cocktails with spectacular views at 360 Bar & Grill, consistently rated the best bar atmosphere on Phuket. They can also unwind at the Plantation Club, or relax at The Pavilions Spa, which was honoured at the World Luxury Spa Awards. Residents and their guests will benefit from Pavilions Hotels & Resorts’ acclaimed “mindful service” approach, which extends from highly attentive to no interruption, leaving each individual free to create their own private hideaway.

Penthouse owners will also have the option of entering a rental pool with 60 days’ personal use per year and an expected annual return on investment of 4%.

Yet The Pavilions Phuket Residences also stand testament to a core philosophy that is currently undergoing nothing short of a global expansion. Under founder and CEO Gordon Oldham, The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts in the past 18 months has brought six more properties into its portfolio. The bespoke hospitality company will break ground on The Ginto Residences in Niseko, Japan, this month with 50% of the plots already sold, and is also creating The Pavilion Residences Lisbon, Portugal, which will mark the luxury residential concept’s European debut.

Also already on the company’s map are properties in Amsterdam, Rome and Madrid as well as an award-winning “100% energy self-sufficient” luxury eco-resort built on the site of a base camp climbers’ hut in the shadow of the Annapurna in Nepal.

“The thought was that we’d start with cities first as finding the right locations in cities is pretty easy,” Mr Oldham jokes while sitting in the The Pavilions Phuket resort, high on the hill overlooking Layan Beach. But it is not just location Mr Oldham is looking for; he wants more.

“The property in Lisbon is undergoing a complete renovation. It is a listed historical building that is part of the local culture itself,” he explains. Similarly, the property in Rome has taken on the role of presenting works by local artisans to become a centre for local arts.

The two properties, as with the rest of the collection, specifically represent the four core concepts at the heart of The Pavilions brand: Art, Culture, Romance and Adventure. On this, Mr Oldham has his sights set firmly on delivering, and it is difficult to imagine that the Hong Kong lawyer of 40 years once called a “legal Rottweiler” will miss his mark.

“I guess I am going back to my roots,” he explains, pointing out that even in Bali, where The Pavilions brand began with one property 17 years ago, the company is in talks to take over more luxury villas and a newly constructed wellness centre with a superyacht on hand for guests wanting to tour the islands.

For The Pavilions brand in Phuket, it has been a series of graduating expansions over the years since the resort opened in 2006, culminating with the launch of the Residences.

“Phuket is famous as a place of romance,” Mr Oldham notes, but even on this concept the theme runs deeper. Romance is an attachment, a sense of belonging with someone, something or even some place other than the self.

“It is a feeling,” is the short definition offered, as Mr Oldham recalls the early days when he scaled the hill where the Pavilions Phuket now stands, cloaked in serenity just counting the coconuts. That sense among natural surroundings remains today as you enter the grounds under a canopy of thick bamboo curled over the driveway.

As for adventure, Mr Oldham notes by example, “A friend of mine each year runs a ‘pop up’ hotel in Mongolia, where he has just had 4,000 horses provided. You get to stay in authentic ger [large tents] where Genghis Khan started his little trip.”

“My vision is that when you buy into The Pavilions, you buy into so much more. You buy into a lifestyle where you do not have to feel obliged to spend time in a property you bought far away just because you paid for it,” he says. “You get to choose where you want to go, whether you want to enjoy the snow-blanketed forest in Niseko, go diving off Bali or soak up the culture the Nepal.” 

In the age of managed properties, The Pavilions is also heading in a different direction. “The object is always to own the buildings we have,” Mr Oldham explains. That single factor provides the freedom to create the property the brand is striving for. “Here at The Pavilions Phuket Residences, apart from the main structure of the building we can tailor the interior to each buyer’s own preferences,” he adds.

To the future, Mr Oldham says he has yet to set a finish line for himself for how far he would like The Pavilions to grow.

“At this stage I want to have the infrastructure to have 10 hotels, to survive these days you must,” he says.

“There are a couple of guys with beautiful hotels who I want to say, ‘Look, come under the umbrella’,” Mr Oldham notes, but other than that he confirms that he is not looking to join with other associations to broaden the range on offer. Control in delivering what The Pavilions stands for is paramount. 

“My concept of time these days is a little different – it’s just a function of time,” Mr Oldham says.

“Not that I’m demanding but I have a few principles in life and one of them is ‘Lead, Follow or get out of the way’. There is nothing else,” he laughs.

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