Tour company expands into property development in Malacca

A rendering of The Apple development in Malacca.

A rendering of The Apple development in Malacca.

Having established a strong presence in the travel market, the Apple Group of Companies is looking to move further upstream with its expansion into property development and travel-related events.

Apple Group managing director Datuk Seri Lee Ee Hoe said there was a lot of potential in property tied to tourism and given the company’s experience in owning and managing its own brand of boutique hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Lee is optimistic about its property arm.

“Tourism and property are a good combination. It is proven that, with a good location and brand, this is a model that works very well and we want to bring this model to other cities that have good tourism numbers,” said Lee.

Apple Group formed a joint venture company, Apple 99 Development Sdn Bhd, with PTS Properties Sdn Bhd to undertake several property projects, including a RM400mil integrated development in Malacca.

The project on a freehold site along Jalan Tun Sri Lanang, Malacca will feature a hotel, serviced apartments as well as small office/home office units.

The 284-room hotel will be managed by Marriott under the Courtyard brand and is expected to start operations by the end of 2017.

While the hotel business is not particularly new to the Apple Group, Courtyard by Marriott is the first hotel under the group that will be managed by an external hotelier.

The residential component, named The Apple, will have one-to three-bedroom units as well as penthouses, studio and duplex soho units. The units will be priced at an average of RM600psf to RM700psf.

Although the average price range for The Apple is relatively high for the Malacca market, PTS Properties chief executive officer Boo Kuang Loon said this is because it is a niche offering.

“There is demand for this type of product in Malacca because of the natural growth of the city. The population is growing and there is a gap in the market for those looking for quality apartments in the town area. We are filling that gap,” he said.

Boo added that some 60% of the 361 units available have been taken up with the bulk of the buyers being locals.

“Malacca’s property prices are cheaper than the Klang Valley. It is an unnoticed pearl. That is why we are going in now. Property prices there have room to grow,” said Boo.

He noted that Malacca has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and is in need of more professionals to fill vacancies. Additionally, several companies had announced larger investments in the state which would lead to more job opportunities.

Boo said coupled with growing tourism and the planned KL-Singapore high-speed train, Malacca certainly had a lot of growth potential.

The developer is also looking at other projects to keep itself busy in Malacca, including Impression Melaka and Resident 99.

“The government is paying a lot of attention to the tourism industry and having more accommodation is good for the industry. People usually go to Malacca for a day trip and rarely stay over.

We want to play a part in developing the industry and by building more accommodation, we hope to pull more tourists to stay longer in Malacca,” said Lee.