Berjaya Land inks second agreement with Four Seasons Hotels and Resort

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on January 28, 2019 - February 03, 2019.
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Berjaya Land Bhd, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Berjaya Okinawa Development Co Ltd, signed a management agreement on Jan 17 with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts for a new development in Okinawa, Japan.

The Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Okinawa is the second partnership between Berjaya Land, a subsidiary of Berjaya Corp Bhd, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Japan. The first was Four Seasons Hotel and Hotel Residences Kyoto in Kyoto.

“We bought the land in Okinawa in 2009 and it was an excellent purchase because prices were low then,” said Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Berjaya Corp founder and executive chairman, during the signing ceremony at Berjaya Times Square Hotel.

“We took a long time to get the plans ready and finally, I think we got a wonderful design. It will be, barring unforeseen circumstances and God-willing, the most beautiful, valuable and expensive hotel in Okinawa.

“Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Okinawa is another iconic project in Japan for Berjaya Group, emulating the success of Four Seasons Hotel and Hotel Residences Kyoto, which was officially launched in December 2016. I am sure that with the prestigious Four Seasons branding and management, along with its strategic location in central Okinawa, the Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Okinawa will be one of the best on the island of Okinawa,” says Tan.

“As a company, we are delighted to partner Berjaya on another project in Japan following the successful partnership in the development of Four Seasons in Kyoto. We believe this will be another spectacular project. When it is completed, it will certainly set a new standard of luxury hotel accommodation in Okinawa,” says Chrisopher Wong, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts’ senior vice-president for development, Asia Pacific.

Berjaya Land owns about 100 acres of beachfront along the western coast of Okinawa, about 50km northeast of Naha International Airport, which is easily accessible from the airport via a highway. The new development will take up about 30 acres of the land, and comprise 120 hotel rooms, 120 residences and 40 villas. It will cost US$400 million to build and is estimated to have a gross development value of US$1 billion. It is expected to be completed in four years.

Plans have not been finalised for the remaining 70 acres, but Tan says Berjaya Land is looking at building shopping malls, residences or 3 to 4-star hotels.

“The buildings will still get a beach view even though they are behind Four Seasons. This is because Four Seasons is low-rise, 3 to 4 storeys high. At the back, we can build about 10 storeys. We want to build Four Seasons first and when the value of the entire land rises, we will then plan further,” he says.

The Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Okinawa will be anchored by a beach club on the east side. Guests and homeowners will have access to the natural beach.

The low-density layout will enable guests and homeowners to access the amenities by foot, bicycle or golf cart.

Facilities include an all-day dining restaurant, speciality dining and lounge outlets, retail shops, recreation facilities, public grounds and gardens.

As for Berjaya Land’s plan to sell Four Seasons Hotel and Hotel Residences Kyoto, Tan says the company is talking to several parties. The selling price will be high as it is a trophy asset.

“It will be good for us to focus on Malaysia. We also have to fund many other projects. So logically, we will sell [the Kyoto hotel assets]. We can’t keep so many assets. We have to sell to manage our debt equity ratio as well,” he says.

As for his plan of listing the group’s hotel business in Singapore, he says he is looking into it but it is not finalised yet as the company is still in talks with some minority partners.

“The hotels that we do not sell, mostly our Malaysian hotels, we plan to list in Singapore. We want to list here in Malaysia but we are not able to because of the chain-listing rules,” he says.