Japan 2020: Positioned For Growth

With the enthronement of a new emperor in May 2019 and the successful hosting of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup, optimism in Japan has been running high in recent months. This enthusiasm is expected to carry over this year, as the country takes center stage again with the Tokyo Olympic Games, which is scheduled to take place this summer. Meanwhile, Japan’s government in December raised its economic growth forecast for the next fiscal year to 1.4% on the back of improving domestic demand.

Despite the bright spots, there is no getting away from an uncertain macro environment plagued by trade tensions, a broader retreat from globalization and geopolitical tensions. For some of Japan’s most successful corporates, however, the current bout of volatility is just another short-term challenge in their long and successful track record of overcoming adversity.

Indeed, a focus on the long term and the ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions have been the hallmarks of leading companies such as Canon, Kikkoman and THK.

Yuzaburo Mogi, Honorary CEO and Chairman of the Board of Kikkoman Corporation, is one who is no stranger to taking bold steps in the face of uncertainty. He led the traditional soy sauce maker to set up a factory in the U.S. back in the early 1970s, a daring move that was decades ahead of its time. Looking ahead, he believes that companies need to look beyond just technology and focus on developing their human capital in order to succeed.

Fujio Mitarai, Chairman and CEO of Canon Inc., is another Japanese corporate leader concentrating beyond the immediate turbulence to position his company for future growth well into the middle of this century. Canon is in the midst of a major transformation that aims to foster synergies in new business areas, even as it continues to pursue a strategy of mergers and acquisitions.

As for Akihiro Teramachi, CEO and President of THK, the aim is to capitalize on the megatrends of digital technology, aging populations and globalization to fuel the company’s growth. He likens running a business to a marathon rather than a sprint, stressing the need to keep a long-term view in order to reap efficiencies. In 2020, THK will launch a new service known as OMNIedge—a solution to predictive failure detection. It works by installing sensors on existing THK components embedded in client machines that collect and analyze data and provide alerts.

In an era marked by disruption and change, it will be companies such as these that will emerge stronger from the immediate challenges ahead to prosper for many more generations to come.

Looking For Gems In The Global Real Estate Market

Developers continue to redefine the Singapore city skyline.

Despite global economic headwinds, there is value to be found in Asia’s real estate sector if one knows where to look.

In terms of individual markets, Singapore’s residential market continues to be a safe haven for foreign buyers seeking not just profits, but also capital preservation. Looking to capitalize on this trend, developers are rolling out ultraluxury developments that cater to the region’s wealthy in some of Singapore’s most prestigious neighborhoods.

For instance, the upcoming 3 Orchard By-The-Park is a short stroll away from the UNESCO World Heritage site, Singapore Botanic Gardens, while luxury boutiques, five-star hotels, embassies and Michelin-starred eateries of the premier Orchard Road belt are just minutes away. Launched by the YTL Group, the development features the signature touch of world-renowned architect Antonio Citterio.

Meanwhile, Frasers Property is offering homebuyers a rare riverfront living experience along the historical Singapore River. When completed, the Rivière will form part of a highly attractive cluster of waterfront developments as well as food and beverage and lifestyle outlets.

Innovative players such as Guocoland are transforming the city-state’s central business district. The developer is behind iconic properties such as Singapore’s tallest building, Guoco Tower, a unique 5-in-1 integrated development located in the heart of the CBD.

Reflecting their global ambitions, Singapore’s real estate developers are extending their footprint abroad as well. For instance, Pontiac Land Group is part of the development team behind the upcoming 53 West 53 skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. The 82-story building is designed by famed French architect Jean Nouvel.

Malaysia is also well-positioned for growth. The residential property market in the country recorded a higher value of transactions in the first nine months of the year for the primary market compared with the whole of 2018, according to international real estate federation FIABCI. Malaysia’s National Housing Policy 2.0, which was launched by the Housing and Local Government Ministry at the start of the year, has helped address affordability issues and boost demand in the housing market.

One company that has capitalized on this potential is UEM Sunrise Berhad, a leading property developer in Malaysia. UEM Sunrise has posted an uptick in revenue over the past few years and appears to be on track for another year of growth in 2019.

In the face of an uncertain and evolving landscape, there are bright spots to be found in the region’s real estate market for discerning buyers with an eye for value and quality.

Welcoming The World

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The buzzing metropolises that have sprung from the deserts of the Gulf in a matter of decades have today become global hubs of innovation and investment. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the U.A.E. and Qatar now count among the richest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita. And as governments and private sector players continue to plough money into the startups, infrastructure and new technologies that are set to further boost economies and change the world, the Middle East is determined to be a leader, not a follower, when it comes to the future of business and finance.

As youthful populations continue to grow, so does business for the wise investor and enterprising entrepreneur. Looking at recent data, the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remain poised for growth in the coming years. MENA bagged foreign direct investment (FDI) of about US$32 billion in 2018, with the U.A.E. attracting the largest amount of FDI at US$10.4 billion, followed by Egypt at US$6.8 billion, and Oman at US$6.3 billion.

Real GDP in the region is expected to grow at 2.6% in 2020 and 2.9% in 2021, according to the World Bank, with the projected pickup largely driven by increasing infrastructure investment. But where exactly should global investors be looking in this fertile ground?

It’s a place of great change at the moment. Governments in the region have carried out a record number of reforms to improve the ease of doing business for domestic small and midsize firms, and the fruits of this are evident as four Arab countries now sit among the world’s top 10 business climate improvers, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 study. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait account for almost half of the region’s reforms. Meanwhile, the U.A.E. remains the strongest performer overall in the World Bank’s ranking.

With MENA home to millions of long- and short-term working expats, a couple of the Gulf countries have also started to offer new residency visa options for the first time to encourage and reward long-term investment in their countries. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced a new system that offers two types of visas: a permanent (premium) residency with a one-time fee of US$213,000 and a renewable one-year residency for an annual fee of US$26,700. The U.A.E. also made major changes to its visa system in May, including a new “Golden Card” system to grant permanent residency to investors and doctors, engineers, scientists and artists, as well as a long-term visa of up to 10 years and five-year retirement visas for residents that fulfil certain financial security criteria. This sends a powerful message in economies that have long been thought of as transient for workers.

The U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia are also preparing to host two major global events next year: Expo 2020 in Dubai and the G20 summit in Riyadh.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

According to a report by PwC, the Expo—which opens on October 20 and runs for nearly six months—will have a significant economic impact for Dubai, which is expected to be the second-most visited city in the world in 2020 and 2021. The emirate is already the fourth most-visited city globally, according to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index, hosting 15.9 million tourists in 2018.

In November 2020, Saudi Arabia will hold the G20 Summit, with participant countries accounting for more than 80% of global GDP. The kingdom also has its own mega-investments in the works, with the planned smart city of NEOM in northwestern Saudi Arabia at the forefront. The project stretches over three countries with territory from Egypt and Jordan comprising a total area of 26,500 kilometers. NEOM will be backed by more than US$500 billion from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia as well as from local and international investors. Its contribution to the kingdom’s GDP is projected to reach at least US$100 billion by 2030.

This is just a snapshot of the business and infrastructure development currently underway in MENA. And as money continues to flow, the region has witnessed a sizeable improvement in IPO activity, both in terms of volume and value, in the second half of 2019. Six IPOs raised proceeds of US$2.8 billion, compared with a single IPO that raised US$57.6 million in the first half of the year, according to EY.

With net proceeds reaching about US$1 billion, Saudi Arabia led the IPO activity in the region, which was fueled by three listings on the main market, including the Arabian Centres Company that raised US$658.7 million. The Gulf country is also preparing to kick off what is expected to be the world’s largest-ever IPO for Saudi Aramco, the world’s leading producer of crude oil and condensate, which generated US$163.9 billion in revenue in the first half of 2019.

Looking to North Africa, Egypt also is working on an IPO program that will see multiple state-owned companies listed on stock exchanges locally and potentially abroad. This year, the country launched its first sovereign wealth fund. The US$12.4 billion fund aims to ensure the best use of Egypt’s wealth and natural resources.

Despite a big drive in the region to diversify economies, the oil and gas sector continues to grab significant investments, with new discoveries coming to light. Recently, BlackRock and KKR acquired a 40% stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company oil pipelines for US$4 billion, while the Carlyle Group acquired a 30% to 40% stake in Cepsa, which is wholly owned by the U.A.E.’s Mubadala Investment Company, for US$3.4 billion. Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni recently announced new discoveries in Egypt, including new resources in the Abu Rudeis Sidri development lease in the Gulf of Suez. In August, it also announced production from the Zohr field—the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea—had reached more than 2.7 billion cubic feet per day.

Aside from the established big names, MENA economies are also getting a boost from widespread entrepreneurial activity. The startup scene is consistently gaining traction, with US$517 million invested in 354 deals during the first nine months of 2019, according to a report from startup data platform MAGNiTT. The U.A.E. continues to be the main hub for startups, grabbing 62% of the total funding, while Egypt accounted for 27% of deals during the same period. The region witnessed its largest-ever technology transaction in March 2019, when Uber acquired its Middle Eastern rival Careem for US$3.1 billion.

Investors are racing to fuel growth, and countries have welcomed new funds. Last February, Dubai-based Middle East Venture Partners raised an additional US$65 million for its third regional fund, the Middle East Venture Fund III. BECO Capital also closed its second fund with US$100 million in October. And most recently, Mubadala Capital—the financial investment arm of Mubadala—announced new tech funds with assets of about $250 million for MENA.

Overall, despite global headwinds and regional challenges, the Middle East’s economies are looking strong for the future, and investors should keep their eyes on this resilient and visionary meeting point between East and West.

Indonesia: Sustainable Success

Having won a second term in office, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his new government will be looking to continue their mission to develop the country’s infrastructure and attract foreign investment. Jakarta announced a US$400 billion infrastructure plan following President Widodo’s re-election, including more than two dozen new airports and power plants, aimed at boosting economic growth.

Both large conglomerates and newer emerging firms are looking to capitalize on Indonesia’s continued economic growth, even as they seek to contribute back to society.

One company that has grown along with Indonesia is Astra Group. Since its founding more than 60 years ago, the leading diversified conglomerate has been committed to prospering with Indonesia, a journey that it continues on to this day. In order to realize this vision, the group has been working to promote sustainable growth in Indonesia that balances economic priorities with social and environmental concerns.

In the consumer sector, Indonesian companies have benefited from the growing ranks of middle-class consumers with higher purchasing power. One such success story is PT Nippon Indosari Corpindo Tbk, the leading bread company in the country that owns the top-selling brand Sari Roti. With an overwhelming 90% market share in Indonesia’s mass production of bread, the company is now looking to replicate its recipe for success in overseas markets such as the Philippines.

Retailers have also cashed in on the rising number of shoppers with fatter wallets. Alfamart has expanded over the past 20 years to become one of the largest minimarket chains in Indonesia, serving over 4.1 million customers every day.  Meanwhile, Kawan Lama Group grew from a single kiosk in 1955 to become a billion-dollar retail giant today boasting market-leading brands such as Ace Hardware.

Indonesia’s fast-growing technology scene is another bright spot in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Indonesians are among the world’s biggest users of Facebook and Twitter, and a global leader in digital applications such as ride hailing and e-commerce. In 2018, the country’s digital economy had an estimated value of US$27 billion, and is expected to grow further on the back of government incentives including tax breaks.

Unsurprisingly, Indonesia’s startup scene is one of the most dynamic in Asia. During President Widodo’s first term, Indonesia saw the emergence of four startups, each with a value of more than US$1 billion, including ride-hailing service Gojek and online store Tokopedia.

With an aim to support the country’s newest entrepreneurs, Alpha JWC established itself as a leading venture capitalist in Indonesia in less than four years. With one of the largest VC teams in the country, Alpha JWC has a deep understanding of local market conditions.

Amid the country’s growing prosperity, Indonesia’s financial services sector is also stepping up to help manage the growing wealth of its people. For instance, Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s largest financial institution, has been a leading player in managing and growing the assets of Indonesia’s affluent.

As uncertainty persists in the global economy, these and other dynamic Indonesian businesses will continue to prosper on the back of resilient and sustainable business models that have successfully delivered superior value.

Malaysia: Moving Ahead

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia continues to be on an upward trend, with Bank Negara Malaysia noting that, amid rising external headwinds, the country’s economy remains on a steady growth path in 2019.

The central bank observed that the economy recorded a stronger growth of 4.9% in the second quarter compared to 4.5% in the first quarter, supported by higher household spending and private investment. Growth is expected to remain supported by private sector activity while Malaysia’s growth performance remains resilient.

As a bellwether of upbeat sentiments experienced by Malaysian companies, the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) reports that inbound events alone brought in an estimated US$380 million contribution to the country’s economy. In 2020, Malaysia will launch Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM 2020), a tourism campaign that aims to bring in 30 million tourist arrivals and US$24 billion in tourist receipts. “In line with the campaign, we have to date lined up 38 business events that will bring in around 49,000 delegates, mostly from the healthcare, telecommunications, science and technology industries,” says Datuk Zulkefli Hj. Sharif, CEO of MyCEB.

The ability to attract international participation to its shores is not Malaysia’s only strength, however. Large conglomerates such as Top Glove, Silverlake Axis and Serba Dinamik are prime examples of how Malaysian companies have successfully ventured abroad.

Top Glove continues to be the largest rubber glove maker in the world, accounting for 26% of the global market share, and has ambitions to grow this figure to 30% by 2020. Silverlake Axis is looking to aggressively grow its customer base this year, as it aims to be in many more markets by mid-2020. The company recorded a 26% jump in revenue to US$162.23 million, while net profit jumped 83% to US$58.52 million in its latest full-year report.

And Serba Dinamik, an oil and gas maintenance, repair and overhaul services operator, has recently expanded to Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Its revenue has also more than quadrupled from US$180 million in 2014 to US$780 million in 2018, and the company today has a market capitalization of approximately US$1.47 billion.

But revenue and profitability aren’t the only measures of success for Malaysian companies.

BookDoc’s founder and CEO Dato’ Chevy Beh believes a progressive country is measured by how its healthcare system functions. This is why the four-year-old startup aims to bring connected digital healthcare to the masses by integrating technology into every facet of human life.

“In the healthcare realm, going digital means having your healthcare services available anytime and anywhere, and making these services work for you the way you want them to,” he says.

Moving forward, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus is confident that the Malaysian economy will remain on a steady growth path. She said the external sector is likely to continue to be affected by slower global growth amid ongoing trade tensions but the overall baseline projection is for the Malaysian economy to grow by between 4.3% and 4.8% in 2019.

UOB Research said the government is likely to continue efforts to restore public finances and good governance, which will help the country find balance during volatile times. The country will likely adopt more cost-effective ways of spending and ensure sufficient fiscal buffers are in place, the firm added.

The Philippines In 2019: Resilient And Rising

Manila skyline

Coming off GDP growth of 6.2% in 2018, the Philippines has impressively maintained positive momentum in the face of a global economic slowdown and geopolitical tensions. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and IMF have all maintained projections of the Philippines as one of the region’s fastest-growing economies into 2020.

The Department of Finance cites strong macroeconomic fundamentals and judicious fiscal and tax reforms as reasons for the country’s strong performance. Its debt-to-GDP ratio is dropping, gross international reserves are rising and the Philippine peso is among Asia’s best-performing currencies. This prompted financial analytics firms such as S&P Global to upgrade the country’s credit rating to “BBB+” with a stable outlook.

Steady economic confidence is evidenced by foreign direct investments doubling and consumer demand accelerating to 6% in 2019 versus the same period last year. Major infrastructure projects are on track, boosting related industries. Philippine firms such as port-handling titan International Container Terminal Services, Inc (ICTSI) are contributing to the government’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program by helping improve trade logistics and investing in human capital. Its Chairman and CEO Enrique Razon Jr. says that, as global manufacturing and production shifts, the country can capitalize on available opportunities.

The Philippine property market is set to reach double-digit growth this year, with real estate values hitting historic highs, according to Leechiu Property Consultants. With the country accounting for 16-18% of the estimated global information technology business process management revenue market, offshoring and outsourcing demonstrate strong, stable demand. Jones Lang LaSalle projects growth of 7-8% in 2019 for the contact center industry alone. Online gaming operators are the most recent and aggressive leaders of this gold rush. Vigorous take-up of office space and the burgeoning worker base have also fed a bullish residential market. Rising condominium prices, previously reliant on the local and overseas Filipino markets, are now increasingly driven by foreign investors and locators. Rental rates in key areas have risen by 80% in the last three years. Thriving online retail and logistics are driving demand in warehousing and industrial properties.

This boom is translating to solid performance by the country’s largest conglomerates, and many have successfully increased their presence abroad. SM Investments Corporation, cited in Forbes’ Global 2000 list of the World’s Best Regarded Companies, saw its income up by more than a quarter this year thanks to its banking and real estate holdings. ICTSI’s earnings, meanwhile, have increased by almost 50% in 2019.

Years of sustained growth coupled with increased investments are uplifting more Filipinos, translating to more jobs and better quality of life. Network marketing companies like FRONTROW are taking advantage of these conditions to achieve rapid success. Developers such as Vista Land, run by the country’s second richest tycoon, Manuel Villar Jr., are keeping pace by expanding with more innovative projects in key locations.

By overcoming and even making the most of regional challenges, the Philippines continues to rise in the ranks as a leading global economy.

Singapore: Transcending The Turbulence

Amid persistent trade tensions and weakness in the global manufacturing sector, Singapore is facing headwinds on multiple fronts. Even as the city-state braces for the challenges ahead, however, it continues to attract strong investment as firms continue to put their faith in the strengths of this international business and financial center.

After all, Singapore’s own story as a city-state has shown its ability to transcend the uncertainty in the global economy and adapt to an evolving landscape, continuing to present itself as a safe haven for investment and business.

Multinational corporations and homegrown companies from a range of industries are leveraging Singapore’s strengths of geography, ease of doing business and support for innovation to forge ahead with their expansion plans in the face of an uncertain landscape.

Leading real estate developers are rolling out daring new residences that are redefining luxury living in the city. For instance, City Developments Limited has unveiled three new premiums condominiums–Boulevard 88, South Beach Residences and Nouvel 18–in some of the city’s most sought-after neighbourhoods.

Another stunning development in downtown Singapore, Marina One Residences in the heart of vibrant Marina Bay, launched its second tower earlier this year. This unique project by developer M+S was conceived through a historic collaboration between the Malaysian and Singaporean governments.

On the hospitality front, icons are being reborn even as new brands enter the market. Raffles Hotel Singapore reopened this year after a major restoration, reinvigorating a historic landmark with a heritage that stretches back over a hundred years. Meanwhile, The Ascott Limited is shaking up the industry by launching its largest co-living property in Southeast Asia in Singapore, the first under its lyf brand of co-living properties designed for millennial and millennial-minded travellers.

Another leading hospitality player, Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG), continues to expand its portfolio of properties in Singapore and around the world as it brings its signature brand of sincere hospitality to more markets. The group aims to be a leader in sustainability, with its upcoming property, Pan Pacific Orchard, designed to be its first zero-waste hotel.

From its regional base in Singapore, luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover is also upping its game in terms of innovation and service levels across 17 markets in Asia as it taps into the rising affluence in the region’s dynamic economies. The recent relaunch of one of its most iconic vehicles, the Land Rover Defender, is set to make a splash among car buyers in this part of the world.

But it’s not only multinational corporations that are capitalizing on Singapore’s advantages. One of the country’s most successful brands, traditional Chinese medicine giant Eu Yan Sang, is reinventing itself for the digital age 140 years after its founding.

Supporting these enterprises are Singapore government agencies like Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), which is developing a robust ecosystem for companies to thrive in a rapidly digitalizing economy. Among other initiatives, the agency is working with industry partners to facilitate the development of applications that leverage ultra-fast 5G wireless networks.

The path ahead remains rocky for the foreseeable future, but in these challenging times businesses around the world are banking on Singapore’s stability and proven success in navigating crises to accelerate their growth journeys.

Hong Kong: A Global Hub For Opportunity

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

In 2018, the world’s longest bridge-and-tunnel sea crossing officially opened. The 55-kilometer passage that now links Hong Kong to Macao and Zhuhai in China’s Pearl River Delta not only is an awe-inspiring feat of architecture, it is also symbolic of the increasing synergy between these vital business districts. Yet, while Hong Kong is set to capitalize on its unique location as the greater bay area grows into a center of commerce and industry, it itself remains a key hub in the heart of Asia.

Opportunity is everywhere. Global in outlook, in experience and in standards, Hong Kong is an ideal base for businesses wanting to stretch far. An extremely pro-business environment makes it easy to register a company, while Hong Kong’s simple tax system—with low rates and favorable deductions—is the most business-friendly in the world, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the World Bank.

Financial institutions, chambers of commerce, venture capitalists and trade organizations connect businesses with people, networks and resources across the region. With an unparalleled appetite for entrepreneurialism, Hong Kong is constantly keen to welcome new business and access is exceedingly simple. It’s no wonder that an increasing number have flocked to the city to set up businesses in recent years; close to 9,000 overseas companies are currently registered.

Hong Kong knows how to make things happen. World renowned for its infrastructure, its experience and its efficiency in shipping, logistics and freight forwarding, it is home to one of the world’s busiest container ports and Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), the world’s busiest international cargo hub. Responding to rapid growth from e-commerce, the airport’s new plans include a state-of-the-art logistics center, which is designed to handle high-value cargo such as pharmaceuticals and electronics. If the goal is to get things moving to get things done, there is no better destination than Hong Kong.

World-class living coexists alongside industry and entrepreneurialism. Vibrant arts and culture sit alongside a diverse choice of sports and recreational activities, and the bustling streets are a colorful display of language and livelihood. Hong Kong’s universities feature high in global listings, with the Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA program ranked among the best. Team this with the city’s high-achieving local and international schools and it is easy to see from where Hong Kong gets its famous drive and ambition.

Commerce races ahead in this bright, cosmopolitan city, often within view of an expansive shoreline and the South China Sea. And, of course, for business or pleasure, most people find themselves frequently coasting across those waters. Whether commuting on the reliable rail network up to Shanghai, traversing the extraordinary bridge to Zhuhai, or jetting out of HKIA, Hong Kong is a buoyant jumping-off point to the rest of the world.

Upgrading The Travel Experience

As travelers become savvier and more demanding, hospitality players are leveraging technology and design to upsize the guest experience for their customers. Comfortable, well-designed rooms and premium services are just the starting points in an increasingly competitive landscape. To truly stand out in a crowded market, hotel and serviced residence operators must offer a seamless and enriching experience throughout the entire customer journey.

Progressive regional and international players are doing just that. For instance, Singapore-based hospitality group The Ascott Limited has rolled out a group-wide digital transformation strategy to support its growing global portfolio that encompasses eight world-class brands. One key initiative in this effort was the launch of the Ascott Star Rewards (ASR) earlier this year. ASR is the serviced residence industry’s first loyalty program that offers members the full flexibility to earn and redeem points.

In Manila, pioneering integrated-resort Solaire continues to reinforce its position as a leading leisure destination in booming Entertainment City. To complement its old-world opulence, the property is pushing the boundaries of innovation. For instance, Solaire’s high-tech “Players Stadium” features the world’s largest suspended center display, spanning 360 square meters and offering the equivalent of 310 65-inch screens merged into one.

The younger generation of travelers is demanding that the brands they patronize prioritize sustainability. One hotel group that is leading the way on this front is Singapore’s Pan Pacific Hotels Group. The group was recognized as the “World’s Leading Green City Hotel” for PARKROYAL on Pickering, its flagship property in Singapore. Pan Pacific is continuing its sustainability efforts with plans to launch another eco-friendly property, Pan Pacific Orchard, in 2021. The new hotel aims to offer guests a resort-style experience in the heart of Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping and lifestyle district.

Amid the focus on technology and sustainability, however, simple pleasures such as an exceptional fine-dining experience continue to be important to discerning travelers. One hotel that has taken this to heart is Lotte Hotel Seoul. Korea’s premier luxury business hotel is known as one of the country’s best “gourmet” hospitality establishments. In particular, the hotel’s two leading restaurants—the Korean restaurant Mugunghwa and French eatery Pierre Gagnaire à Séoul—have helped make Lotte Hotel Seoul a must-visit for foodies.

In the battle for travelers’ hearts and minds, these hospitality groups have hit on the right formula to ensure that their guests keep coming back to their world-class brands, wherever they may be.

Standing Tall In Asia’s Real Estate Market

The Asia-Pacific real estate market has ridden a wave of expansion over the past decade, powered by robust economic growth and strong capital inflows into the region. However, recent headwinds have emerged to threaten the continued growth of the sector. These challenges—ranging from the continued trade spat between the U.S. and China to rising borrowing costs—have persisted into 2019, resulting in heightened uncertainty.

Amid the volatility, however, lies unique developments and concepts that have risen above the competition to grab the attention of investors and buyers. One luxury residential project that has literally taken Singapore’s real estate market to new heights is the Wallich Residence—a one-of-a-kind development that offers an ultra-exclusive, urban-living experience in the heart of the city’s business district.

Developed by GuocoLand, Wallich Residence is perched atop Singapore’s tallest building—the 290-meter Guoco Tower—which has helped elevate the profile of downtown Tanjong Pagar district, one of Singapore’s most sought-after neighborhoods.

Also injecting a dose of vibrancy into the premium end of Singapore’s residential market is the luxurious Marina One Residences, which launched unit sales at its second tower this year. This groundbreaking project is the result of a historic collaboration between Malaysia’s and Singapore’s state-owned investment funds.

More exciting launches are in the pipeline. For instance, developer Aurum Land is introducing a new living concept that combines nature and art in a prime lifestyle district. The Hyde condominium will offer an oasis of tranquility in bustling Singapore, with the lush foliage of Goodwill Hill providing the residence with an air of exclusivity, while high-end boutiques and Michelin-starred restaurants lie minutes away on Orchard Road.

Projects such as these helped boost prime residential prices in Singapore by 9.1% in 2018 to S$3,480 (US$2,565) per square foot as buyers returned to the market in force, according to property consultancy Knight Frank. While the growth trend stalled when the government introduced new cooling measures in July, analysts say a severe price correction in 2019 is unlikely given the city’s stable economic fundamentals.

In Hong Kong, the city’s prime housing prices rose 3.9% in 2018 to HK$33,956 (US$4,328) per square foot, decelerating from a 7.3% increase a year earlier, data from Knight Frank showed. But like Singapore, differentiated offerings are expected to continue to do well over the long term.

One such development is Discovery Bay on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island. Located between the waters of the South China Sea and tree-lined hills, this once-barren land was transformed in the 1980s by developer HKR International Limited into a 650-hectare, world-class, resort-style residential development. As Hong Kong’s largest, low-density, premium integrated development, Discovery Bay is highly sought after by families seeking a vibrant child- and pet-friendly community within the territory.

Over on Hong Kong island, meanwhile, Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited iconic Victoria Harbour residential project is making waves in the market, with the development’s luxury apartments in high demand and registering record prices.

Against a backdrop of uncertainty, investors should take the opportunity to refine their real estate strategies and identify developers and projects that can help build resilience against market volatility into their portfolios.