Ho Tram, with its powdery white-sand beach, accessible location and world-class recreational facilities, is attracting foreign investments and accelerated numbers of tourists. This small coastal town is now on track to become one of Asia's premier leisure destinations.
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Located in the district of Xuyen Moc in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, Ho Tram offers residents of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) an exclusive getaway close to the bustling metropolis. In February 2015, the inauguration of the Long Thanh-Dau Giay expressway dramatically shortened the travelling time from HCMC to Ho Tram. Previously taking three to four hours, the expressway reduced the journey to just two hours. This ease of accessibility, combined with its inviting climate – an average yearly temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, with low rainfall and no seasonal typhoons – has already made Ho Tram an attractive place to visit. And its three ports capable of accommodating international cruise ships only amplify the area's impressive tourism prospects.
Since 2011, the number of visitors to Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province has steadily increased. The first six months of 2016 drew nearly 9.5 million arrivals, 307,408 of whom were foreigners, according to the provincial tourism department. Timo Schmidt, the head of International Residential Sales and Leasing at Savills HCMC, predicts that “Ho Tram will become the foremost resort destination for weekenders from HCMC, with a variety of projects at different price points under way”. Ba Ria-Vung Tau Tourism Department has estimated that, by 2020, there will be approximately 25.3 million arrivals per year to the province.
Ho Tram continues to make a strong name for itself in the hospitality and real estate sectors, providing a broad range of luxury activities and accommodation. There is still a lot of room for growth, particularly in terms of amenities and service.
Most industry experts agree that the disparity between international and local tourist numbers is due to the lack of suitable amenities for foreign visitors in Ho Tram and the rest of the Xuyen Moc district. They are confident, however, that this will soon change. Olivier Do Ngoc, managing partner of Dynasty Investments, believes that Ho Tram “is turning into a luxury destination for both Vietnamese and international customers, with subsequent facilities, a casino and a golf course positioning the destination as an emerging luxury destination”. He is also positive about the growth of Vietnam’s tourism prospects as a whole. “Vietnam is still in its early days of tourism development although it has a lot to offer, including beautiful and pristine beaches, renowned local culture and food, and resorts which are increasingly offering attractively priced holidays at international quality standards.”
Second and Holiday Homes
Current residential projects in Ho Tram are mostly aimed towards the second home or holiday home market. Existing projects such as The Sanctuary and upcoming projects including The Hamptons Ho Tram and Sanctuary Phase Two offer luxury-standard living at a reasonable cost. Prices currently range between USD350,000 and USD1.1 million for a villa, with many offering net revenue sharing and attractive yields of up to 8%. Marc Townsend, managing director of CBRE Vietnam and a long-time resident of Ho Chi Minh City, is confident that Ho Tram is primed for second-home development. “It’s the closest place to go to the beach [from Ho Chi Minh City] on the weekend, and as more Vietnamese people and families [want to] do that, I think it’s got a huge future.”
The Future of Gaming in Vietnam
As the first fully licensed casino in Vietnam, The Grand Casino currently offers 90 tables and 614 slot machines, and is expected to expand to 180 tables and 2,000 slot machines. Only those with foreign passports, however, are currently granted access to casinos within Vietnam. “A casino business in Ho Tram will help to create jobs for local employees, in addition to developing theprovince’s transportation and infrastructure,” David Lim, a managing partner at ZICO Law, which advises foreign investors on their investments in Vietnam, explains. “This is seen in Singapore, whereby its two integrated casino resorts have contributed between 1.5 and 2% to Singapore’s GDP, and created more than 20,000 jobs. Vietnam's Grand Ho Tram Strip opened its first international casino resort in 2013, and has attracted many tourists, with tourism turnover increasing by 23% in 2014 compared to the previous year.”
Under Vietnamese law, any form of gambling by Vietnamese citizens is prohibited. A draft decree submitted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance to the National Assembly in mid-September 2016 maintained those restrictions, but the issue remains controversial, and any decision is far from final. In an interesting turn of events that may hint towards the future of gaming in Vietnam, officials of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province have agreed on a site for an airport servicing Ho Tram. The airport will be relatively small at around 200 hectares – designed primarily to serve Vietnamese customers travelling from other provinces – and will be built by The Grand Ho Tram. Before construction can begin, the airport has to be added to the national zoning area for transport development, and then submitted to Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defence and Ministry of Transport for comment.
The Arrival of International Operators
International operators have clearly recognised the potential of Ho Tram and have begun their entrance into the market. Spanish hotel chain Meliá will manage a five-star resort within The Hamptons Ho Tram that will provide 99 villas and 288 condos, and operate at an international standard. Dynasty Investments plans to introduce international hospitality super-brand Club Med to Vietnam with a 1.2-kilometre beachfront development. The Grand Ho Tram signed an MOU with Coteccons in May 2016 for the construction of a second hotel tower, valued at USD75 million. It also has plans to add a USD200-million condotel with more than 1,000 units, integrating a significant residential component into the resort. According to Gary Martin, head of development at Asia Coast Developments Ltd. (ACDL), the current developer of The Grand Ho Tram, "The second tower, a five-star hotel of 560 rooms, will recommence construction before the year’s end with a completion date projected in late 2017, [and] will add further options to both local and international tourists.”
Currently, there are approximately 1,214 hotel rooms in Ho Tram operating at a three- to five-star standard. It is expected that, by 2019, this number will have increased to approximately 2,085. An overwhelming number of experts envisage Ho Tram as Vietnam’s answer to Thailand’s Hua Hin. With similar proximities to major business centres (Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok), pristine beachfront and ample opportunities for development, the comparisons come easily and are clearly evident.
Industry experts express glowingly positive views on the future of Ho Tram. With every necessary element to fulfil its potential as Vietnam’s ultimate weekend getaway perfectly aligned, it is only a matter of time before Ho Tram’s success comes to fruition.
Ho Tram Infrastructure – Accomplishments and Challenges
Under current laws, any form of gambling by Vietnamese citizens is prohibited. While a draft decree submitted to the National Assembly in mid-September 2016 chose to maintain these restrictions, the issue remains controversial and that decision is far from final.
Electricity and Sanitation
In recent years, the regional authorities have invested in the proper road, electrical and sanitation infrastructure for the area, ensuring sustainable growth in Ho Tram.
The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip offers 18 holes of ‘links style’ championship-quality golf (clubhouse area: 2,300 sqm; practice area: 3,000 sqm). A second golf course is also due to be opened.
Opening of the HCMC-LT expressway reduces travel time to Ho Tram from four hours to two. Future Ben Luc-Long Thanh highways and Bien Hoa-Vung Tau highways will continue to improve accessibility.
Ho Tram Airport: A 200-hectare site has been approved, with construction to be completed by The Grand Ho Tram. Long Thanh International Airport: With its first phase due to open in 2025, Long Thanh will be the largest airport in Vietnam with a capacity of 100 million guests per year. Tan Son Nhat Airport: Capacity is being increased at HCMC's main airport to handle up to 40 million guests per year.
Foreign Direct Investment
International Cai Mep-Thi Vai Port and 15 industrial zones have been developed on a total area of 8,500 hectares. In 2015, foreign direct investments registered 127 projects worth a total of USD27 billion. Local investment projects tallied at 442 with a total amount of VND240 trillion.
Source: Nguoi Tieu Dung Newspaper
- Developed by ACDL (Canada)
- Branded and operated by The Grand
- Located in The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip
- Phase 1: 32 luxury villas; Phase 2: 28 luxury villas
- Price range: USD1.4 to 1.6 million
- Completion in 2017 for Phase 1, 2018 for Phase 2
The Grand Ho Tram Phase 2
- Developed by ACDL (Canada), USD75 million investment
- 559 five-star hotel rooms; world-class facilities
- 700-900 condo project
- Opening in 2017
The Sanctuary Phase 2
- Initially developed by Sapphire (Australia)
- 44 semi-detached, high-end villas
- Price range: USD350,000 to 850,000
- Scheduled for opening in Q2 2017
The Hamptons Ho Tram
- Developed by Tanzanite Intl., USD80 million investment
- Resort operated by Meliá Hotels (Spain)
- Five-star resort inclusive of 99 villas and 288 condos
- Phase 1: 59 villas and 144 condos; Phase 2: 40 villas and 144 condos
- Scheduled for opening in Q2 2018 for Phase 1 (Phase 2 in 2019)
- Developed by Hai Thuan Tourism Services Investment
- USD47 million investment
- World-class all-inclusive resort
- 300 rooms
- Scheduled for opening in 2019
QUO Indochina wishes to express its sincere thanks to the following people for their invaluable support and insights regarding Ho Tram.
- Marc Townsend, managing director, CBRE Vietnam
- Olivier Do Ngoc, managing partner, Dynasty Investments
- David Lim, managing partner, ZICO Law,
- Stephen Wyatt, country Head, JLL Vietnam
- Timo Schmidt, head of international residential sales and leasing, Savills HCMC
- Gary Martin, head of development, ACDL
- Son Nam Nguyen, chairman, Tanzanite International
- Phong Lai, chief executive officer, Norfolk Group
- Phuc Pham, managing director, Viethome