A look at Malaysian developers that go international

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Berjaya Land and S P Setia projects emphasise on sustainability and the local environment 

By Yanika Liew

Most, if not all, corporations have the desire or intent to break into the global market. With a larger customer base, corporations are well on their way to establishing a recognisable international brand. While this is no different for Malaysian property developers, international property development projects tend to be more risky and much more capital-intensive.

Malaysian developers approach the foreign market with partnerships, engage with foreign stakeholders, and some enter independently, with full ownership of their developments. 

An example of Malaysian developers that have gone overseas for property investments includes the Battersea Power Station development, which is owned by SP Setia Bhd, Sime Darby Property Bhd and The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), with several commercial assets directly owned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and EPF.

The Malaysia Developer Awards (MDA) 2022 awarded two Malaysian developers as winners in the Special Awards International category, benchmarked at a global standard, which are Berjaya Land and SP Setia.

Berjaya Land began its impressive track record in the Malaysian hotel and resort industry with Berjaya Tioman Resort in 1985, before the company expanded further locally and globally.

“I am proud to share with you that we currently operate over 40 hotels in eight countries worldwide such as Japan, UK, Philippines, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Iceland. Furthermore, we are currently one of the largest hotel owners in Iceland with 13 properties operated by various world-renowned brands such as Hilton,” Berjaya Corporation Bhd chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun said.

Berjaya Land’s Four Seasons Hotel & Hotel Residences in Kyoto, Japan.

Berjaya Land’s Four Seasons Hotel & Hotel Residences in Kyoto, Japan.

In Japan, Berjaya Land made its mark with its Four Seasons Hotel & Hotel Residences Kyoto, Four Seasons Hotel & Residences Yokohama and Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Okinawa. These luxury hotels are the staple of the company’s brand, one of which was recognised at the recent MDA, allowing the developer’s expertise and accomplishments to be put on display both regionally and internationally.

“In the coming years we will continue to focus on the development of luxury hotels and resorts, with the aim of expanding our collaboration with the Four Seasons luxury brand to at least 10 locations in Japan,” Tan said.

“The Four Seasons Resort & Residences Okinawa is a beachfront property located in Onna Village on the western coast of the island. It comprises 33 acres of land on the prime Sunset Strip and nearby the famous Cape Manzamo. It will exclusively serve 127 hotel rooms, 124 luxury residences and 28 luxury villas with the unparalleled standards of Four Season’s hospitality,”

“Whereas the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences Yokohama development sits in the waterfront location in the port of Yokohama nicknamed the Golden Port and one of Japan’s three largest trade ports. It is centred around a global luxury property that also includes 129 hotel rooms and 164 luxury residences together with an aquarium and retail stores overlooking the stunning Bay Bridge,”

“With an estimated GDV of USD2.1bil (RM9.89bil) for the 2 properties ongoing in Japan, I am confident that both the upcoming world-class Four Seasons development in Okinawa and Yokohama will deliver sustainable growth and value to Berjaya Land and our stakeholders,” he added.

The appeal of Berjaya Land’s luxury hotel and resort developments stems from its commitment to preserving the environment that surrounds its projects. Take, for example, the Four Seasons Hotel & Hotel Residences in Kyoto, which had been chosen due to the 800-year-old pond garden, Shakusui-en, a stunning remnant of the Heian Period. 

With sustainable development increasingly a necessity, developers have become more innovative in their efforts of incorporating nature and green beauty, presenting such aspects of the development as the highlight rather than a feature. However, international projects must go beyond that to also afford due respect to the local cultural landscape in all stages of development, from conceptualization to construction.

“As we continue to explore and invest in development projects around the region and globally, we remain focused to our strategy in luxury property development and to future-proof our business towards becoming scalable and sustainable,” Tan said.

“As such, we are prioritising designs which protect the habitat and nature around our development areas and utilisation of environmentally friendly materials in our development projects,” he said.

These can be seen in the Kyoto site through solar panels, watering systems and recycling culture.

“With 38 years of experience and excellence under our belt, and with our strength in crafting unique experiences coupled with our passion in delivering heartfelt services, I am certain that we will deliver sustainable value to our investors,” Tan added.

SP Setia’s Eco Sanctuary in Singapore.

SP Setia’s Eco Sanctuary in Singapore.

Sustainability and future progress

As a giant in the property development industry, SP Setia has won multiple International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) awards to date, with a portfolio including developments in Malaysia from Klang Valley, Johor Bahru, Penang to Sabah, as well as international developments in Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

SP Setia’s Eco Sanctuary project in Singapore earned the company its Special Award win in the MDA. As its name suggests, Eco Sanctuary is a low-density high-rise development with a concept and design with the theme of Mother Nature, in line with the company’s stance on the necessity for environmentally friendly and sustainable developments, seen through its Malaysian developments.

The construction of Eco Sanctuary had been meticulous and precise due to the location of the development. As with Berjaya Land, SP Setia took into consideration the local environment, integrating it into the development rather than clearing it away, as most other developers would have.

Eco Sanctuary is located in close proximity to Singapore’s Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Due to the ecologically sensitive nature of the area, the company did its utmost to ensure the safety and health of the immediate environment. The very same development was named World Gold Winner for the FIABCI World Prix d'Excellence Awards Gold Award (Sustainable Development) in 2018.

“For Team Setia, we are always striving for the best in all we do, through our products and services. Thanks to the organisers for recognizing us. We are continuously evolving for the better, as any organisation that wants to grow well,” SP Setia executive vice president Datuk Zaini Yusoff said during the MDA gala night.

“We are humbled if we are one of the few who help to trailblaze in the property market and beyond. We have accelerated our digital transformation while maintaining our standard of products and services. We look forward to introducing more ideas and campaigns benefitting our purchasers,” he added.

When it comes to Malaysian developers that have broken into the international spotlight, the answer seems to be an innovation of sustainable development as well as great respect towards the environment and culture surrounding the area of development.

Perhaps one day, with more and more developers pushing the property industry forward, we will see more Malaysian names on the global stage, bringing the nation to the forefront.


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