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Sanctuary Developer Sees Big Future for Ho Tram

John Manning, an Australian property developer and long-time resident in Vietnam, is the developer behind Sanctuary Residential Resort Community’s second phase in Ho Tram.

He spoke to Saigoneer about some of the challenges facing the project, as well as his belief that Sanctuary is perfectly situated for the future.

Sanctuary’s first phase of villas was built and sold between 2008 and 2010, concurrent to Vietnam’s real estate market crash. As a result, the remainder of the project was undeveloped until 2016, when The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip hosted the first Ho Tram Open golf tournament.  

“We launched very quickly on the back of that tournament,” Manning shares. “The Grand expressed confidence in Ho Tram and we wanted to support them. We thought, ‘well, if we can sell a dozen villas we’ll start.’ We sold six or eight villas that weekend and we decided to keep going.”

Manning’s partnership with the original developer came to an end and he took the second phase on as his personal pet project, following his own vision.

“What I would ideally like [Sanctuary Resort] to be is an estate of second homes for wealthy people; a community, where owners are friends,” he says. “So you look forward to coming down all or most weekends. That’s where I think it will go.”

Manning strongly believes that Ho Tram, which is currently sparsely developed, will soon become a hotspot. "There’s absolutely no doubt it will succeed, it’s just a matter of when,” he asserts. “It’s an absolute given that it will thrive. You can’t have an area like this, a two-hour drive from one of Vietnam’s major cities, and it not take off.”

However, the developer argues that two things need to change for that to happen: The Grand needs to be granted a license allowing Vietnamese to gamble, and the regulations regarding property titles need to be altered from a fixed-term lease to a freehold lease.

“Those are the two big kickers and when they come, it’ll go,” Manning says.

“Our villas are built to an international standard and quality. They have over 300 square meters of ground floor area and sell at around US$400,000. I should sell 20 villas in a month because they’re that good a value, but for various reasons we’re not there yet.”

Manning averages a sale of one villa per month. He notes that a nearby project offers similarly sized villas at nearly double the price, further emphasizing Sanctuary’s value.

“The customers aren’t a problem, the money isn’t a problem, there just isn’t a real psyche yet for Vietnamese to have a second home,” Manning adds. “In Australia or America it’s much more common.”

As for the design of the villas, he stresses simplicity. “I’ve done this since I was 25, and simple is the best answer. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. You can build a luxury, functional villa that your customer will enjoy, you just need good spaces where you can arrive, open the door and relax. Your clothes are in the wardrobe, you’ve got showers, toilets, baths, beautiful landscaped gardens and a pool, that’s what you want. The philosophy is that simple.