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Resort-Living Focus: Dijaya's niche resort homes

Edge, Resort-Living Focus, 4 September 2006


Dijaya Corp Bhd group managing director P K Poh remembers a time when helicopter rides were part of the effort to attract prospective buyers to what was then a relatively new property offering — resort-style homes within a golf and country resort. The year was 1991 and the development, Tropicana Golf and Country Resort, was considered the first of its kind in Petaling Jaya. Aside from taking prospective buyers on helicopter rides over the 625-acre development, the developer also completed the infrastructure and a 36-hole golf course within the first three years.

"We wanted to build the trust of prospective buyers and allow them to see the progress of the development," says Poh of the developer's move to build the roads and put in the streetlights in the early stages. "We also built the golf course ahead of time to show our commitment," he adds. (The development was planned with a 27-hole golf course in mind; the additional nine holes have since been developed for property units.)

While the first few years were challenging, the turning point came in 1994 when the golf course was completed. Landscaping at the development had also progressed and Tropicana Golf and Country Resort began to gain the market's attention. By then, the developer had embarked on another resort-style project in the vicinity — the 407-acre Damansara Indah — and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, both Tropicana Golf and Country Resort and Damansara Indah have notched up total sales of RM1.8 billion. Tropicana Golf and Country Resort has the distinction of having residents from 22 countries (the US, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Germany and Spain, among others). "It is like having a mini-United Nations," says Poh.

Having developed 90% of the total acreage at these two addresses, only a few residential and commercial parcels remain undeveloped. These include an eight-acre parcel at what Poh says is the most prime site of Tropicana Golf and Country Resort as it commands views of the golf courses at Tropicana and Damansara Indah. The developer plans to offer 400 units of upmarket condos in the middle of next year. The condo project, Tropicana Grande, will offer built-ups ranging from 2,500 to 4,500 sq ft, says Poh, adding that the project is currently at the design stage.

Aside from this upcoming project, the developer is offering the remaining bungalow lots and semidees at Green Acres, an enclave within Tropicana Golf and Country Resort. These units were put on the market in 2004. Land area for the bungalow lots ranges from 7,500 to 15,600 sq ft. The lots are pegged at RM145 psf and to date, 80% of the 64 lots have been sold. The 178 semidee units, meanwhile, have notched up a 95% take-up (the remaining are bumiputera units). The semidees offer a lot size of 40 ft by 100 ft and built-ups of 3,910 to 4,200 sq ft and are pegged at RM1.45 million.

Over at Damansara Indah, prospective buyers have a choice of semidees and condos. The condo project, Casa Indah 2, boasts 391 units with built-ups of 1,215 to 1,519 sq ft and a price tag from RM248,900. Made up of two 27-storey tower blocks (Tower A and B) and two 5-storey blocks (Tower C and D), Casa Indah 2 is located next to the recently handed over Casa Indah 1 at Persiaran Surian. The high-rise units at Casa Indah 2 were put on the market in March and to date 80% of the units at Tower A have been sold. The developer plans to offer the low-rise units once the high-rise ones have achieved total take-up of 70%.

The 150 semidee units, meanwhile, offer built-ups of around 6,200 sq ft and a price tag of RM2 million. Poh discloses that construction has begun on half of the units. Opting for personalised one-to-one sales service, to date 10 units have been sold since the units were put on the market earlier this year.

Aside from these housing units, there are a few commercial parcels earmarked for lifestyle retail and commercial units and the developer's corporate office at Tropicana Golf and Country Resort and Damansara Indah. Poh is excited about the 14-acre commercial development at Damansara Indah, in particular the 500-unit serviced apartment project fronting the lake at Sri Selangor golf club. These units are to be put on the market in the third quarter of next year.

'Competition spurs us on to do better'

While Dijaya Corp no longer needs helicopter rides to offer prospective buyers a glimpse of resort-style homes, it continues to be innovative in its product offerings.

Poh points to the 498-unit Casa Indah 1 condo comprising high-rise and low-rise blocks. "In designing the 4-storey low-rise block, we decided against a replica of the high-rise block; here, owners of the ground floor units have their own garden and the car park is just outside the unit, so it is almost like living in a landed property," he says. Due to its location next to a golf course, the views are maximised so much so that some units boast views of both the golf course and the swimming pool.

When Casa Indah 2 was launched earlier this year, the developer again upped the ante. Poh says the high-rise units from the fifth floor onwards boast full-length windows for the master bathroom, complete with rain showers.

While competition spurs the developer on to raise the bar and come up with innovative products, Poh recognises that the market is increasingly challenging. "You can come up with a good product or concept but service is crucial, especially if you want repeat customers," he says. For Dijaya Corp, 10% to 15% of its customers comprise repeat buyers. He adds that one of the lessons learnt over the years is exceeding customers' expectations. He points to the service rendered by the security team that goes above and beyond their job requirements. "We charge 2.2 sen psf for security but residents get more than security in return; our guards have now become experts at catching snakes and monkeys. They even risk their lives to remove bee hives to offer residents peace of mind," he adds.

Thanks to these efforts and through its experience of managing 1,000 acres of property (Tropicana Golf and Country Resort and Damansara Indah combined), Poh is confident that the service culture at Dijaya Corp cannot be copied. "The culture is built into the organisation," he adds.

Spreading its wings

Looking ahead, Poh says the developer is in serious negotiations with three developers in India to jointly develop resort-style properties. "We are keen to transfer our brand name and help design golf resorts," he says.

Closer to home, he says the remaining parcels at Tropicana Golf and Country Resort and Damansara Indah are sufficient to keep the developer busy for the next five to eight years. Besides this, Dijaya Corp also has 500 acres of land in Tanjung Malim, Perak, where development approvals are currently being sought. For more details, call (03) 7728 2018.

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