As we stand on the soft sand looking out at the shimmering turquoise waters of Pantai Cenang in Langkawi, we can visualise ourselves taking in this view while lounging on the balcony of a resort home with a nice cold drink in hand.
“Imagine it,” says Tropicana Corp Bhd managing director of marketing and sales Joanne Lee during an exclusive trip to Langkawi, hosted by the property developer.
For some, this vision will become a reality as Tropicana is launching its latest product line, the Tropicana Journey Collection, on Dec 5, which will see the company developing resort-themed products at popular holiday destinations — starting with the hills of Genting Highlands and the seaside in Langkawi.
The launch is particularly significant for the group considering the effects the pandemic has had on property development activities. However, with the high vaccination rate in the country and the economy opening up, Tropicana believes the time is right to move forward with the new product line.
Before getting to this point however, group managing director Dion Tan and his team, including Lee, had gone through a period of deep reflection on how to proceed cautiously since the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak. It has led the group to focus on specific activities to keep it on an even keel, particularly on the digital front.
“For years, our group has been taking the necessary steps to strengthen our digital transformation plan in our aim to accelerate our business and to serve our customers better. Our digital initiatives have proved successful because during the Covid-19 lockdown, our team still managed to react promptly and continue to have meaningful engagement with our customers,” says Tan.
“The pandemic has taught us a valuable lesson that strengthening our digital footprint is vital for our marketing and sales initiatives, consumer engagement dialogue as well as to help spur the growth of our group — for example, the introduction of our Tropicana 360 app and enhancing our digital marketing techniques and customer outreach via virtual events and shout-outs through our social networks,” he continues.
Tan reveals that the pandemic provided “a master course” for the team as they took a deep dive into their core businesses to come up with some key practices to keep the group moving forward.
One of the key practices is staying resilient by leveraging the group’s brand name and strategic marketing campaigns. “Our Tropicana 10-TEN campaign was launched in June 2020, with 10 signature deals to provide flexible homeownership solutions to our buyers. This six-month campaign was a success and recorded an impressive RM899 million in bookings. The campaign contributed to the 450% surge in property sales and boosted the confidence in our brand,” says Tan, adding that other print and digital campaigns that have been rolled out include Tropicana 10-TEN Ex10sion, Tropicana 100 and Tropicana 100 Xtended.
“We also unveiled the first home personalisation series called T.Living for Freesia Residences in Tropicana Aman, Selangor. Owners can choose their preferred colour themes, fittings and smart home features,” says Tan.
To strengthen Tropicana’s position, the property developer has expanded its presence to places such as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he adds.
Another of the group’s key practices is unlocking land at the right location and at the right price point. “Apart from our total reported land bank of 2,144 acres spread across Malaysia, we are also planning to roll out the ‘T-series’ — our affordable range of properties to cater for the M40 group. To mark this milestone, we recently entered into a joint venture with Puncak Alam Housing Sdn Bhd via our subsidiary Tropicana Senibong Sdn Bhd.
“We have secured the development rights for three parcels of leasehold land with a total size of about 362.74 acres. Strategically located in the heart of the Puncak Alam township in Selangor, our proposed T-series development will cater for the right market and provide modern affordable homes centred around our unique DNA,” says Tan.
The group’s other key practices include the enhancement of cost, compliance and work efficiency; embracing technology; improving its gearing; and engaging with stakeholders and the underprivileged.
Tropicana Journey Collection
The group’s latest product, the Tropicana Journey Collection, was showcased to City & Country through an exclusive visit to the sites of the projects, namely Tropicana Grandhill in Genting Highlands and Tropicana Cenang in Langkawi.
Tan says, “Tropicana pioneered the concept of residential resort-style living with the Tropicana Golf & Country Resort two decades ago. Drawing from the success of its resort-themed developments, the Tropicana Journey Collection was born. The keyword, ‘journey’, is used in this creative concept to communicate a sense of exploration and discovery.”
For Lee, the Journey Collection helps to strengthen the identity of Tropicana as a developer of luxury resort living, offering a wide range of properties that suit the “journey” theme, from homes by the hill to homes by the sea. She explains that the design of these products is targeted at a broad range of customers who are looking for a holiday or retirement home, or an investment asset.
She adds that each development will be a part of a larger township development. “Tropicana owns 596 acres of land in Genting Highlands — it is one of the largest land bank owners in the region. And we have 128 acres of prime land bank in Langkawi.”
The products will be marketed across Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam; the Middle East such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia; and China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia and India, says Lee.
Tropicana Grandhill — a cool getaway
About a 40-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur, with temperatures of between 15°C and 20°C, is Tropicana Grandhill. At 3,000ft above sea level, the master development sits on 112 freehold acres, with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of more than RM20 billion.
According to Tan, Tropicana Grandhill is part of a larger master development called Tropicana WindCity, which has two other sizeable tracts owned by Tropicana. One, a 308-acre parcel located next to Tropicana Grandhill, will be called Tropicana Paradise. The other measures 176 acres, is closer to Gohtong Jaya, and will be named Tropicana Avalon. Both tracts are still in the planning stage.
Tropicana Grandhill will be the group’s first township development in Genting Highlands and, when fully completed, will contain 880m of elevated roads, residences, retail, healthcare and wellness facilities, an international school, a senior living facility and a park.
It will be developed in three phases, with Phase 1 featuring a serviced residence, an international school, retail facilities and a wellness hub. Phase 2 will have a recreational park, a serviced residence and the Silver Village for senior citizens, while plans for Phase 3 are still being finalised.
Under Phase 1, Tropicana’s first product for sale will be the serviced apartment development known as TwinPines Serviced Suites, with a GDV of RM1.06 billion. Sitting on 3.57 acres, the two-tower project will offer 1,443 units, with the 55-storey Tower A having 795 units and the 56-storey Tower B, 648 units. Built-ups will range from 379 to 1,330 sq ft.
The standard units will have one bedroom and one bathroom, two bedrooms and one bathroom, or two bedrooms and two bathrooms, while the dual-key units will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, three bedrooms and three bathrooms, or four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The development will have hotel-style amenities, facilities and services, and the units will come fully furnished.
Expected to be completed in May 2026, the units are priced from RM397,000, or RM1,050 psf. The maintenance fee, including the sinking fund, is 55 sen psf.
According to Lee, the target market is mainly investors who are business owners as well as local and foreign investors who are buying for mid- to long-term investment. Other potential purchasers are owner-occupiers such as families from the Klang Valley and Pahang who want to use the units as holiday homes; companies buying for their employees to use; and business owners and executives working in Resorts World Genting.
Tropicana has engaged a tenancy management operator called HostAStay to help investors manage and rent out their units.
To cater for large groups of tourists, there will be a dedicated drop-off lobby for coaches. Facilities include an outdoor heated pool, putting green, children’s playground, barbecue area, gym, multi-purpose hall and gourmet kitchen. Concierge services will also be provided.
In addition to the residences, there will be an international school on a 3.39-acre parcel. It will have a gross floor area of 250,000 sq ft across eight storeys, with 120 classrooms, a hall, swimming pool and football field for a student population of 2,400. The operator of the school is still being finalised.
Tropicana Cenang — sandy beaches and glorious sunsets
Travellers will once again be able to enjoy the sight of Langkawi from the window of a plane as it comes in for landing at the Langkawi International Airport, thanks to the opening of local and international borders.
The group thus believes the timing is right to unveil its Tropicana Cenang development. Located just 9km from the airport, Tropicana Cenang is on Pantai Cenang, considered the most vibrant and busiest stretch of beach in Langkawi, with a mix of cafés and restaurants, duty-free outlets and attractions such as Underwater World Langkawi.
At night, there are bars and lounges, live music and cultural performances to keep visitors entertained. Local and international visitors can opt for a variety of accommodation facilities such as resorts, chalets and budget hotels.
“Tropicana Cenang will offer unique seafront homes within a premium mixed-use development at the most strategic location in Langkawi, targeting both owner-occupiers and investors. It aims to provide owners with an exclusive seafront lifestyle, luxury accommodation and rental-generating property,” says Lee.
Soft-launched in September, the development sits on 5.28 acres of freehold land and will have serviced suites, retail facilities, a hotel and, possibly, a branded residence.
There will be two blocks of serviced suites — the 39-storey Assana Serviced Suites with 831 units and the 6-storey Merissa Serviced Suites with only 60 units. Details for Merissa are forthcoming but Assana, which means “waterfall” in Irish, is open for viewing of its show units and to purchase.
Priced from RM457,000 to RM1.829 million, the units will all have a sea view, with built-ups of 380 to 1,310 sq ft. The layouts on offer are studio, two bedrooms and one bathroom, three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Lee says the project has an “international status”, which means foreign buyers can purchase products priced from RM500,000.
On the 8th floor will be a wide range of facilities for families — should they not be inclined to go down to the beach — including swimming pools, a hammock garden, yoga terrace, TV and games room, multi-purpose room and gym. The maintenance fee including the sinking fund is 61 sen psf.
According to Lee, the estimated rental yield is 8% on average if the daily rental is RM250 to RM800, based on the unit size and an occupancy rate of 50%. There will be a tenancy management operator that will help investors manage their units. Assana is scheduled for completion in 2026.
Lee says Tropicana is confident the product will do well as tourist numbers had been increasing before the outbreak of the pandemic, and tourists are expected to return in due time.
Moreover, international events held on the island such as the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) and the Tour de Langkawi often bring in many tourists and there are usually not enough hotel rooms to cater for the demand.
Lee says the other parcels Tropicana owns on Langkawi are still in the planning stage. The largest, measuring 58.83 acres, is on Pulau Rebak Kecil, followed by 44.61 acres at Pantai Kok, 16 acres at Tanjung Rhu and 3.12 acres at Bukit Mali.
The launch of the Tropicana Journey Collection is an exciting moment for the developer, which has been one of Malaysia’s top property developers for many years.
Tan says the group’s total land bank of 2,144 acres, with a total potential GDV of about RM77 billion, places the group in a good position to unlock their value and deliver sustainable earnings in the next few years.
As for the future, he is optimistic. “Although the industry’s prospects remain challenging in the short term, the group believes that there will be demand for properties in prime locations in Tropicana’s established, mature and developing townships, with attractive pricing and innovative ownership packages and offerings.
“Therefore, the group will continue to focus on being market-driven in its product offerings while continuing to unlock the value of its land bank at strategic locations across the Klang Valley, Genting Highlands and the Southern regions,” says Tan.