In Conversation with Chih Ching, Executive Chairman & Co-Founder of KOP Limited
Ong Chih Ching, Executive Chairman & Co-Founder of KOP Limited
Numerous characteristics such as the location, amenities nearby, price, unit size and furnishes can determine how luxurious a property is. In Singapore, many of these properties are found in District 9, 10 and 11. What are some important characteristics that buyers or investors look out for?
We spoke to Ms Ong Chih Ching, who have developed numerous high-end properties on her foray in real estate to find out more.
1. Tell us a little bit about KOP. How did you start up as a developer?
When I was young, my dream was to be an architect and I love interior designs as well. My favourite designs are hotel designs. Though I pursued a career in law initially, I also bought and sold properties, so I was quite familiar with real estate. At the law firm, we had a subsidiary called Koh Ong and Partners Management Services which provided consultancy work other than legal advice, hence the name KOP. Nowadays, we often joke that KOP stands for ‘King of Properties’.
When I was a lawyer, I focused on conveyancing, mergers and acquisitions in capital markets. Leny Suparman joined as one of the directors for the real estate advisory around 2005. In 2006, we saw this plot of land at Cairnhill road and decided that we could renovate the building to cater to high net worth individuals as most of our clients were from the Middle East and China. We invited Ritz-Carlton to be the manager of this project and this was the genesis of The Ritz-Carlton Residences; the hotel chain’s first such branded residential property outside of North America.
The Ritz-Carton Residences
We went on to develop Hamilton Scotts; tallest ensuite sky garage development in the world and two more others in the year 2007. In total, we did four projects that year and we had raised funds from friends, ex-clients and our own pockets of course. Today, Leny and I both live in our own projects too.
Our philosophy is to anticipate the needs of consumers and this appeals to sophisticated buyers who are both busy and savvy, plus appreciate the finer details provided. I have great satisfaction when fellow owners compliment the development for its exceptional quality and layouts.
We have sufficient allocation of different spaces for living, dining and hosting guests. On specific request though, we can combine the living and dining area for those who prefer bigger spaces. At our new project Dalvey Haus, we provide for a timely concept to better integrate with work from home lifestyles.
Our company’s tagline is we build your dreams. Home ownership is almost everybody's dream and we are building for them. It also conjures achieving higher standards than what’s available in the market, and for me to ensure that we always better ourselves.
2. What is your role and the best part of it?
I will take care of design and construction while Leny does marketing and sales. We seek each other’s advice frequently but always leave the final decision to the partner who oversees that field. It is an ongoing process of working and learning together.
I remember taking a risk by designing a colourful and bold show unit here in The Ritz Carton Residences because I wanted to offer something unique despite the objection of the sales department as they wanted something safer. We sold it rather quickly and I was extremely happy. I love to constantly challenge myself so learning consumer trends is important and anticipating it is an art which I always hope to master. My role truly allows experimenting, expressing creativity and trying different things.
I have been told by my team that it is rare in a development company that the boss is so involved and detailed in design. Well, I really enjoy design very much and also to introduce new ideas and determine the target clientele for it. I look closely at our brochure designs and even personally purchase different furniture from around the world to ensure that we create a home instead of a showflat. Shopping is certainly fun too.
3. How do you evolve and sustain growth amid the evolving economic landscape?
For business sustainability, we expanded into offices subsequently. Apart from commercial and residential property development, we are also into hospitality. As a bold move, we conceptualised, designed and invested in Wintastar Shanghai in China. It is the world's biggest integrated indoor ski resort.
To us, sports entertainment real estate will become the new integrated real estate. As an ex-sportsperson myself, I know how monotonous training can be, so I wanted to provide them with an immersive environment while doing sports. At the same time, we will attract tourists. In Wintastar, they can see the aurora, mountains, castle, and ski in ski out hotel rooms. There are close to 1,000 rooms housed in two tower blocks of service residence, a 5-star hotel linked to the ski slope and another 4-star resort hotel which guests can take the cable car to the indoor ski slopes.
In the hospitality business, we have our own Montigo resorts in Batam and Bali, fit for three generations. I love it when I see families holidaying there together. That is why, we have a policy that when families visit as three generations, the grandparents get lots of perks as we feel that it is ultra precious for them to bond with their children and grandchildren. Montigo will also manage all the hotels in Wintastar.
4. What are some of the major learning lessons or challenges over the years?
When we first started, I was only 36 and as two ladies, there were so many what-ifs, especially as newcomers in the industry. We faced a lot of criticisms and naysayers, but we are also thankful for all the support we received from people who believed in us. Life is short and if you are given the opportunity to do something different, I believe in taking the plunge to do so. After which, you just need the tenacity to deliver your promises. So, we will continue to constantly push boundaries and to build more dreams.
That said, for the next 25 years, we will probably explore replicating some of our current concepts such as The Ritz Carton Residences, Hamilton Scotts and Wintastar. Needless to say, Leny and I will continue to identify gaps in the market, complement each other and hopefully deliver awesome projects one after another.
5. Why did you choose to build a luxury residential project at Dalvey road?
For a long period of time, we were busy expanding in other real estate sectors and overseas. Hence, when the opportunity arose, we decided to look back to Singapore for our next residential project.
Dalvey Haus is located in prime District 10 which is attractive, and we were inspired to offer residents new condominium living in the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) enclave close to Singapore Botanic Gardens. It is a rare gem. In addition, the new Stevens MRT station is just a short stroll away.
Even though it is on a small plot of land, I decided that it must have stature, almost of a museum quality. Therefore, the development will be stone-clad, imposing and yet gives an urban resort feel. It is low rise and so close to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, therefore it was imperative to make this project serene for city slickers seeking sanctuary as they retire each day after their bustling life. The materials were all carefully chosen for easy maintenance and of course, the design of our DNA is also to ensure that the development is timeless.
6. What can potential residents look forward to?
The personalised attention of KOP’s award-winning hospitality arm curated for Dalvey Haus to provide residents with top-level concierge services. Nothing beats being pampered daily by a team of warm crew.
7. What do you like best about this development?
The full package! The location, the design and service. This is a project that I believe makes heads turn and will withstand time.
Keen to learn more about Dalvey Haus? Stay tuned for our upcoming full video interview with KOP Limited’s Group CEO & Co-Founder, Ms Leny Suparman.
Comments reproduced with permission from developer.
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