A Hong Kong-Myanmar joint venture plans to build a luxury mixed use development aimed at high net worth individuals, to the south of Ngwe Saung village in Ayeyarwady Region. The project will include hotels, residential units, 20 kilometres of white sand beach, a jetty and a golf course.
Hong Kong based H&Co Real Estate Holdings and Myanmar’s Mya Bay Development Company will work together on the project through a joint venture called Karaweik Coast. A karaweik is a mythical bird with a beautiful voice – the word comes from the Pali word karavika.
The project will be wholly privately owned and the developer has already completed preliminary master plans for two large adjacent sites.
The first site, known as Mya Bay, comprises 1265 acres including 8km of beach. Its development will include villas, hotels and a spa, according to advertising agency MultiVerse Asia, which is responsible for marketing the project.
The second and larger development will be called Karaweik Kove. The 3000-acre site is located to the south of Mya Bay. It has around 12km of beach, and will be aimed at high-net-worth individuals, according to MultiVerse Asia.
“We will make a formal announcement at the end of next year. We plan to build a mini city, with a jetty, a golf course, hotels, restaurants, a private hospital and a playground,” said U Myo Min Win, the project’s director. He did not want to discuss the plan in further detail at this stage.
Ngwe Saung is one of seven officially recognised beach resorts in Myanmar, and is the second-most-visited by tourists, after Ngapali beach in Rakhine State. In 2000, Asia World Group built a road connecting Pathein, the capital of Ayeyarwady Region, to Ngwe Saung. Since then, many local companies have developed hotels and resorts along the beach.
Ngwe Saung had 23 hotels with a total of 1264 rooms by the end of 2014, according to data from the Minsitry of Hotels and Tourism (MoHT). However, the road is bumpy and the 270km journey from Yangon takes around six hours. If the Chaungtha to Yangon road was upgraded to an all-weather dual carriageway, it would reduce driving time to around three hours, and “catalyse considerable additional tourism growth and investment”, according to the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan 2013-2020.
“Due to the high potential for domestic and international tourism in Pathein, Chaungtha, and Ngwe Saung, improvements to the roads that link these destinations with Yangon is a priority,” says the report, which was developed by the MoHT. Chaungtha is located immediately to the north of Ngwe Saung.
As the number of international tourists to Myanmar rises, developers are increasingly looking beyond the major tourist destinations Bagan and Inle Lake for opportunities. The number of international tourists to Myanmar rose from 319 million in 2011 to 1.79 billion in 2014, according to MoHT data.
However, large-scale tourism development often has a negative impact on local communities. In Ngwe Saung, 16,000 villagers have seen 65 percent of their agricultural lands and 80pc of their palm plantations confiscated by the authorities, according to a report by French nonprofit association Info Birmanie.
“Seine [dragnet] fishing, one of the most important sources of income for the local population, was also outlawed. The economic losses have been considerable for the communities living in Ngwe Saung,” said the report.
However, according to H&Co’s website, the company is a responsible investor in the communities in which it operates. It lists local capacity building and training, cultural integration and community outreach programs among its core values.
H&Co has several other projects planned for Myanmar, including a US$200 million luxury housing project called Platinum Pathein Condominium, which will include 26 villas, three condominiums, with a total of 410 units, a shopping centre, a cinema and a three-star hotel. It will be located in Pathein. The company is also developing an industrial site in central Yangon and a residential project in Mandalay. H&Co was founded by Scott Hall and Jonathan Nichols. Local partner Mya Bay Development is affiliated with Khine Property Company, K Strong International Company and AsiaTOURS Myanmar Company.
Source: Myanmar Times