After studying architecture at Kasem Bundit University in Bangkok, a glittering career in the field always beckoned for Khun Attasit Intarachooti. A lasting legacy of those formative years is his continuing friendship with a fellow student who, as consultant, is responsible for much of the fine tuning at Botanica Villas and the other developments masterminded by Khun Attasit.
But make no mistake, the over-arching vision behind all these projects is Attasit’s, though his innate modesty precludes his labouring the point at our meeting. He is that rare animal: both an artist with an aesthete’s vision, and a highly successful businessman who not only designs his “secret pool villas”, but funds them as well.
Phuket is, he feels, in addition to its charm as an island of exceptional natural beauty, a fecund place in which to work. Bangkok is relatively “cliquey” with limited social mobility: here he feels there is a stronger sense of community with a smaller group of entrepreneurs willing to cooperate with each other.
He does not share the current pessimism about the island’s future, seeing it as “better than Singapore’s” with enormous potential for continued growth and development. That he currently has a number of major projects, including five phases of Botanica Villas, mostly completed, at Layan, plus Grand Sea Through Villas at the other end of the island at Rawai, is testimony to that optimism. But he counsels caution. Success can be dangerous; over confidence as a developer can result in trying to expand too quickly – with disastrous results. And he is rightly concerned about the wrong kind of expansion: high density apartment blocks which ignore environmental concerns.
Failure is not part of Attasit’s vision: already more than 80 per cent of his uniquely designed pool villas have sold. Business is thriving. While we talk beside the pool of an exquisite property already reserved, groups of prospective buyers wander appreciatively around the site.
Khun Attasit, a youthful looking 41, comes from a secure home background. Brought up in Hat Yai, his mother was a major influence, a “strong” woman who always insisted that “inside” you must be “very good”, was insistent that her son inherited these sound moral values. As he says, “I try to follow my heart”.
His own domestic life is happy and settled; his wife comes from the long-established Thai/Chinese community in Phuket. Together they have two lovely daughters aged nine and five, both studying at Kajonkiet International School. You can be sure that Attasit will instill in them his own values, the same lofty ethical principles that he employs in his business activities.
And somehow he finds the time to keep in shape by bicycling; it is entirely typical of the man that, never one to do things by halves, he rode a bicycle from Singapore to Phuket for a charitable cause.
Botanica Villas is an initial development of 28 villas. More are following. Phase five features five-bedroom properties priced at up to 32 million baht. Described by their designer as “modern tropical”, these villas fit gracefully into the Layan landscape. Open plan in concept, our meeting venue combines Balinese and traditional Thai elements with elegant western furnishings. The central pool, beautifully lined with blue-grey natural stone, is flanked by magnificent bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms, lavishly appointed with marble floors, white ceramic tiles, natural stone walls and teak furniture. A symphony in white, gold and grey.
On another side is wooden decking and a sunbathing area; we sit and talk beneath a huge overarching eave where one can still relax in Phuket’s balmy air even when rain is falling. High ceilings, concertina glass doors and transom windows give a feeling of airiness and light. An open plan, fully fitted western kitchen abuts the lounge. To complete the picture, a grassy area and plants ranging from coconut and lady palms to Boston ferns and yuccas provide a tranquil and verdant alfresco ambience. Attasit’s aim – “to connect the inside with the outside” – is flawlessly achieved.
Unsurprisingly, his vision has attracted international clients from a wide spectrum – including Finland, the United States, Italy and Dubai. Such affluent customers are not only discerning, but fastidious. However, if they request changes and modifications, Attasit is happy to oblige; he is not (as he says) like some developers who adopt a rigid”buy what you see” attitude. And he believes in giving maximum value – that word again – to the client.
His budget disburses little on advertising: he believes it is better to spend on superb locations and materials, on build quality and design. For the same reason, he stringently limits his staff numbers. His aim is one of constant improvement: learning from experience, he feels that each project has enabled him to amend and upgrade. In the future, he will assuredly create even more luxurious villas.
As a parting shot, I ask Attasit why, surrounded by up-scale resorts, he has never ventured into that market. His reply is succinct. The return on capital with resorts is necessarily slow; selling villas offers the prospect of an immediate recoupment on investment. Enough said… Attasit may be a romantic, but he is also a realist.
Quality of construction and service are the main concepts behind Botanica Luxury Villas. Attasit always strives to learn from past experience to feed into the ongoing development of his various projects.