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RM280m resort off Sabah's coast

KUALA LUMPUR (Mar 9): Jewel of Mabul Development Sdn Bhd is developing an over-water resort not far from Mabul Island off the Sabah coast.

The RM280 million Alorie Lepa Lepa resort will feature pool villas — each villa has a private pool — across 80 acres of submerged land, managing director Louise Lang told a media briefing on Thursday.

Already some 40 out of the 87 villas have been sold on a leaseback basis. The built-ups are between 2,200 and 5,500 sq ft with prices from RM2.8 million to RM5.5 million. There is an additional unit called the honeymoon suite which will not be sold.

The resort is slated for completion in 1Q14. Piling commenced last December and will take up to a year to complete, Lang said.

"The Alorie Lepa Lepa will add a new dimension to the state's tourism industry with a high-value, up-market and eco-friendly product that is sustainable and complements the Sabah Development Corridor's initiatives of capturing higher value economic activities," said Lang.

This is the company's first resort project and there are plans for more resorts in the future. Among the main features of the Alorie Lepa Lepa resort are an underwater restaurant that can sit 40 and a marine conservation centre.

There will also be a thalassotherapy spa that uses salt water and local seaweed in its treatments and a free-standing celebration pavilion for private functions of up to 120 guests. The room rates will start from about US$700 (RM2,114) a night including transfers to the resort.

The developer holds the master title to the resort and investors will have subsidiary titles to the villas which enable them to sell their property if they wish to. This leaseback project is targeting 50% international investors.

The guaranteed returns to investors is a minimum of 7% per annum for the first five years. In the sixth year the rate will rise to 7.7% — a 10% increase — for the next five years. Subsequent five-year blocks will see returns increasing by 10% on the compound returns until the end of the country lease that expires in 2067. A country lease is similar to commercial leasehold land in Peninsular Malaysia. The rate of return will be reviewed then.

Lang said in May this year the project will be introduced to high net worth individuals in Hong Kong and Shanghai through private previews.

Once the resort is completed and open to receive guests, they will need to fly into Tawau before being transported to the coastal town of Semporna. From there they will take a 25-minute boat ride to the resort.

The resort will be managed by Alorie Hospitality, a hospitality management firm set up by CEO Jean Marc Lafosse. "Our philosophy is to establish and facilitate an ongoing environment where operators work together with the owners as one team with the aim of building and operating quality properties with the best and fastest return for investors," he said.

The developer assured that all environmental aspects of the project have been looked into. "We have adopted the 'cradle to grave' concept in the delivery process, to ensure full compliance with the environmental impact assessment (EIA) conditions, and local regulations pertaining to the environment," Lang said.

"Even before the design process, we engaged an international environment consultancy to determine ways to minimise the environmental impact on the project site and study its impact on the island vegetation and marine ecology."

Lang added that there will be no tapping of ground water reserves on Mabul Island, while construction materials will be prefabricated on the mainland and shipped to the construction site.

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