Pattaya Na Jomtien and Bang Saray are the latest residential hot spots, but new international transport (Bangkok Airport links) and a high-speed train bode well for the whole region. The areas immediately to the south of Pattaya and Jomtien have long been popular with discerning residential purchasers. Lovely beaches, with views out to picturesque islands and sunsets that can take one's breath away make much of the Na Jomtien and Bang Saray coastline a lovely place to live. The impressive infrastructure just up the road in Pattaya, in the form of hospitals, shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment spots, ever-improving road connections and so on make the area wonderfully convenient.
Immediately prior to the 2008 credit crisis, the area appeared to be on the verge of taking off, but the consequent economic slowdown had the effect of applying the brakes, at least for a while. A drive along Sukhumvit Road through Na Jomtien and on to Bang Saray would convince most observers that the takeoff is now well and truly under way.
EMERGING RESIDENTIAL LOCATIONS
While not the only new condominium development in the area, the recently launched Del Mare, on Bang Saray Beach Road, is perhaps the most important. This 32-storey, 385-unit project will be the first high-rise development in Bang Saray. Previously doubts were expressed as to whether high-rise developments were permissible in Bang Saray. The debate now appears to be settled.
The Del Mare is being developed by the Porchland Group, one of the area's most active developers. In choosing the wonderfully attractive Bang Saray bay for its latest project, the company is taking full advantage of the area's significant momentum.
The sizeable AD Bang Saray condominium has also sold well, focusing on affordable units, and is now virtually complete, while the smaller Bang Saray Beach Condo has been successful enough to convince the developer to launch a second project in the area.
Just up the road, a few hundred metres back toward Pattaya, the Pure Na Jomtien promises to be a very special, absolute beachfront development. The early interest in the Pure from domestic buyers, notably from Bangkok, reinforces the fact that the longstanding popularity of the area among Thais remains intact and, in fact, is growing ever stronger.
The growth of the Bang Saray-Na Jomtien area is not just about condominiums and housing developments being built in ever-increasing numbers. There are currently two state of the art water parks being developed, both of which are due to open later this year. According to reports, Ramayana will be the biggest water park in Southeast Asia, while the Cartoon Network Amazone will likely rely on its brand name to bring in families with young children.
When one considers the vast numbers of domestic, typically Bangkok-based, visitors who have been drawn to Pattaya in the past by what can perhaps be considered less exciting new attractions, one must anticipate that the draw of the water parks will be very significant indeed.
Projections are that several hundred thousand people will visit each park every year, and I don't doubt the credibility of those figures.
The visitors will be exposed to residential developments in the area. Many will be introduced to the Bang Saray-Na Jomtien area for the first time. The expectation is that other businesses and attractions will open in order to take advantage of the opportunities provided by these visitors, thus creating a positive cycle of development.
Accordingly, one assumes that additional new residential projects will be launched in the vicinity in the coming months. Indeed, we are already seeing the early signs of exactly this happening.
By way of example, one can look to the recent launch, by the listed developer Nusasiri, of the Grand Kingdom, a large, mixed use development to be set on a 300 rai site on Sukhumvit Road close to the point where Na Jomtien becomes Bang Saray. According to reports, the development will include houses, condominiums, retail space, a hotel and another water park. The shopping plaza will be an exciting addition to the area and very welcome for car drivers who currently deal with extremely busy traffic to get to the otherwise superb Central Festival Mall in the centre of Pattaya.
The TCC Group's recent announcement that it is to build two large hotels in Na Jomtien, one of which will be a Marriott Resort and Spa and the other a JW Marriott, is another big boost for the area.
Also of potentially great significance are the actual and proposed upgrades to U-tapao airport. While located in Rayong province, just outside of Sattahip, the airport is little more than a 15 minute drive from Bang Saray.
U-tapao is already undergoing a 200 million baht redevelopment to increase its annual capacity fivefold to three million passengers. In addition, the Transport Minister recently ordered the Department of Civil Aviation to conduct a feasibility study into the construction of a second runway. The plan is to develop U-tapao into a commercial airport alongside Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang.
Moreover, the planned high-speed rail link connecting U-tapao with Rayong, Pattaya and Bangkok, part of the government's two trillion baht infrastructure package, should also help drive traffic to the airport.
So, exciting times lie ahead for Na Jomtien and Bang Saray. The momentum for the area now seems unstoppable. If it is indeed soon to have a significant international airport on its doorstep, in more ways than one, the sky will be the limit.