From Rector to Developer

Swedish Charles – a Proud Property Award Winner on Phuket


In January 2011 Charles Gorder was selling a new beachfront development to prospective Phuket island lifestyle investors at Phuket’s international boat show (PIMEX). About 20 months later, mission accomplished, he invites for a closer look at the result: Nchantra @ Sirey Beach condominium on a yet relatively unknown island east of Phuket town.

He is proud. No wonder; the project he has realized along with his Thai partner has just won one of the 36 categories in the Thailand Property Awards 2012 as Best Condo Development (Phuket)! The Swede is all smiles as he allows himself to be photographed in the lobby on the premises, holding the prize.

And the result far exceeds his expectations, even if he has not been able to include the advanced renewable energy climate solution from ClimateWell in Sweden, which he so much wanted – to get a genuinely ‘green’ project.

“I must say the result is much better than I had anticipated. But I think my partner had envisioned how it would be. I could not grasp all the details with Thai features, landscaping etc. That’s his part. And it’s been like that with each project we’ve done together, be it pool villas, town houses or shop houses… the result has always exceeded my expectations,” says Charles who 19 years ago made Phuket his home.

The vision for the project was conceived based on the typography of the land and by the skilled architect team within TAA & Associates, overseen personally by Charles’ business partner, Mr Ekasak Thonthawes.

Together they create projects based on a high level of quality where Nchantra is their most prominent project so far.

Nchantra_Sirey_Charles_Gorder“We set the bar high; it should be European quality.“

Representatives of the awards inspecting the developments short-listed also noted the high quality of this particular project, combined with that they liked the setting with magnificent sea view – especially the planning with a roof garden for each unit.

The nomination had been completely unexpected, says Charles.

“I must say it was a fantastic feeling; 500 persons were there on the gala dinner, including the elite within Thailand’s property. And many well-known builders were left empty-handed. So it felt great to go up on stage and get the prize. It’s a long time since I was so happy and it took several days for me to digest.”

The Nchantra @ Sirey Beach consists in terraced two-storey residences, all with semi-private plunge pools and a terrace with unobstructed sea view. From the beachfront units you step out right onto the sloping sandy beach and all residents enjoy a common beachfront pool with restaurant. Half of the units are for sale (most already sold) as freehold condominium, and as the property also functions as a hotel resort – Nchantra Pool Suite Residence – investors can join a rental pool.

The hotel starts with Korean honeymooners as its main client group, which they also have experience in catering to with a previous pool villa residence project in Phuket’s southern area, Nai Harn.

Nchantra_Sirey_ExteriorFive star developers
Despite a previous portfolio (and having designed and constructed projects also on assignment, such as the new Marriott hotel in Khao Lak as well as the five star Beyond resorts) they did not have any model for the creation of Nchantra.

“We have tried to build based on the contour of the land, but this was only partly possible in order to have a sea view on all levels. We found a middle way to follow the landscape and keep as many of the large trees as possible but invested a lot also in landscaping – 148 trees were put in here.”

Having achieved wholly or partially sea view from each apartment the conceptual design is rather unusual, where all air condition units are hidden underneath the buildings along with various installations to clean water. Some of the trees protrude up between the houses and the walkways, for the whole construction is elevated from the ground resting on concrete foundations. The property gets own water from a well and all purified water from the sewage controls system is used for irrigation.

“Water is still not enough so we also have rainwater collection with pipes leading down to two tanks of 250 cubic metres.”

As for the high quality Charles highlights features and material such as the double walls with Siporex, a lightweight structural material with high thermal insulation properties, and the “Rolls Royse of air conditioning” from Daikin – both contributing to energy-saving.

“It costs more but has lower sound level and more effective energy consumption than any other brand.”

Other features contributing to less water consumption are water efficient toilets, urinals in the bathrooms on living room level and tap aerators restricting the flow of water.

“Many of our customers or buyers also see it as a good investment – which is probably the most important thing.”

Sirey is seen as an up-and-coming area, and with a new Westin resort having paid the way other hotel brands such as Centara Hotels & Resorts, Park Hyatt and Marco Polo are about to follow suit and develop resorts there.

“We sell at a price much lower than what it would cost on the west coast, so within a few years with more five star resorts the prices here will go up significantly. So it is certainly a great investment,” states Charles.

The proximity to Phuket town is also an advantage and with several marinas at short distance.

Nchantra_Sirey_BedroomSales and environmental/marine expertise
Charles own expertise is having been selling products his whole life, everything from diesel engines and submarines to off shore oil platforms and cruise ships. Another skill is that also possesses in-depth technical knowledge about ships.

Charles is from Kalmar and a Naval Architect. He was 20 years ago Rector for the Maritime Academy in Sweden.

“Many things emerging within environmental technology and solutions now have been around within shipping for many decades!

The reason he ended up on Phuket is pure coincidence, just as it was to meet and form a partnership with Mr Ekasak.

Working for a shipping company in Dubai he travelled frequently to Southeast-Asia and one time the managers in the region suggested they should meet on Phuket.

One of his good friends had bought a house there and when Charles got an opportunity to by a house within the same project he decided to invest. He has bought and sold homes ever since, and invested in land and property developments together with his current business partner. They formed their joint companies 12 years ago.

Charles still thinks it is great fun and have plans that will keep him busy for the next four years so retiring is not on the agenda.

Next up: eco villas
The next project will be 17 pool villas near Nai Han, where he anticipates to fully being able to meet the requirements for eco homes and incorporate the ClimateWell climate solution, which was too costly for Nchantra.

“I will try to include as many environmentally friendly and energy-saving features in that project as possible. In environmental point of view I find it worth to achieve this and they will be moderately priced and investors will be able to save money long-term even though the maintenance fee will be slightly higher.”

Charles says he has indication it will be a sought-after project and with the eco focus he hopes to get many Scandinavian and Northern Europan buyers.

Text: Joakim Persson
Photos: Joakim Persson

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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