Asian Property Review chats with Joanne Kua, CEO of KSK Group Berhad and Managing Director of KSK Land Sdn Bhd on branded residences and their 8 Conlay debut project.


  1. What was the inspiration behind 8 Conlay development?

8 Conlay is KSK Land’s debut project, and we want to construct something new and exciting, an iconic development that becomes a distinct part of KL city centre. The birth of 8 Conlay was based on one revolutionary mission – that is to bring together A-list brand partners to curate one-of-its kind living spaces through three main elements – liveable architecture, world-class designs and bespoke personalized services. We want to bring luxury living in Malaysia to the next level.
Unlike other developers that bring in designers, landscape and service partners at the end stages, we brought in our partners right at the beginning and work together to map out every detail and offering of 8 Conlay. We have never looked back since then, and today 8 Conlay has become this massive project – an integrated development offering lush living experience with the highest level of service.
With an estimated GDV of RM5.4 bil, it sits on a 4-acre piece of land at Jalan Conlay, comprising two branded residence towers called YOO8 serviced by Kempinski, a five-star Kempinski Hotel and serviced residences, and a lifestyle retail quarters.
Just some quick facts about our brand partners – some of them are making their debut appearance in Malaysia through 8 Conlay:

  • Liveable architecture – We brought in Ar Hud Bakar from RSP Architects, a visionary Malaysian architect. Hud’s designs emphasise liveable architecture that focuses on local content and the human aspects of buildings.
  • We have entrusted the landscape design elements to award-winning Bangkokbased design studio, Terrains+ Open Space (TROP). We are transforming the common amenity floors of YOO8 serviced by Kempinski on Level 26 (Water Lounge) and Level 44 (Green Refuge) into retreats that encapsulate the idea of a futuristic vertical park that blends architecture and nature, something Malaysians have yet to experience.
  • Interior designs – For designs, we have YOO, an international design studio working with high-profile designers including Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders, Jade Jagger and Kelly Hoppen. YOO started designing branded residences since 1999. For Tower A of YOO8 serviced by Kempinski, we partner with Steve Leung & YOO, to transform the branded residences experience through design of living spaces.
  • Personalised luxury services – Kempinski Hotels is Europe’s oldest luxury hotelier with a 121-year rich heritage. We believe Kempinski will be able to redefine hospitality for our guests and residents at 8 Conlay with impeccable, personalized services. We are so proud to host the first and only Kempinski Hotel in Malaysia at 8 Conlay.


  1. What is the stage of development currently?

What is the take-up rate so far? When is the estimated completion date? Tower A of YOO8 serviced by Kempinski was launched at the start of 2016, and we have sold 80% of the units to-date. In terms of construction progress, the foundation and basements works were completed mid last year, and we have proceeded with the superstructure construction works. We are currently on track for completion in 2020. We are planning to roll out Tower B of YOO8 serviced by Kempinski mid this year, and will definitely share details once ready.

  1. What is it about branded residences that makes them in demand among High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs)? Share with us what are the unique features that made YOO8 serviced by Kempinski stand out?

Globally, branded residences are perceived to be at a level above high-end luxury properties and increasingly popular among wealthy investors as they offer both five-star luxuries and capital protection/hedging tool. According to Knight Frank, branded residences command 31% higher capital yield compared to non-branded luxury property segment.
Ultimately, when people buy a branded residence, they are looking at buying more than just a property, they want unique experiences that are often anchored on four key attributes –

  • Opulent design by a renowned designer
  • Luxury services and facilities offered by a 5-star hotel brand
  • Unique architecture by a celebrated architect
  • Brands associated with a level of quality and trust these brands can deliver

When you curate branded residences, you need to have a very good location, good design and a consistent level of bespoke, luxury service. 8 Conlay is situated at a prime location within KL city’s Golden Triangle. It is within five minutes’ walking distance of Pavilion KL and Jalan Bukit Bintang’s shopping district, Conlay MRT station, High Speed Rail, and is 20 minutes’ walking distance to Petronas Twin Towers.
Although branded developments are not new in Malaysia, it is still at an infancy stage. In fact, many of the KL branded residence developments are branded solely by a hotel partner.
If I were to pin point the single most important value proposition of 8 Conlay, it would be the values and trust associated with our brand partners. We have Ar Hud Bakar, an awardwinning architect; Europe’s oldest luxury hotelier, Kempinski for bespoke, personalized luxury service; and YOO for the highest standard designs.
In Tower A of our branded residences, YOO8 serviced by Kempinski, the interior design is by Steve Leung & YOO. Steve Leung is a world-renowned design guru who has won over 130 awards worldwide, and he was awarded the Andrew Martin International Designer of the Year Award in 2015 (which is equivalent to the Academy Awards in design). His works reflect a sophisticated and unique character of minimalism, with skillful adoption of Asian culture and arts. In addition, we also have the renowned Pok Kobkongsanti, TROP’s lead design director, to manage the landscape which plays a vital role in enhancing city living quality.
Simply put, each of our brand partners brings to 8 Conlay unique qualities that ultimately become a tangible benefit for our buyers and investors. We want our residents to proudly say they are buying a gem in KL and it’s worth it!

  1. What is the ratio of local and foreign buyers? Where do the foreigners come from?

Currently, our buyers’ profile are about 80% foreign and 20% local. We have buyers from Tier 1 cities in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Middle East and more.

  1. What is the percentage of price premium of your branded residence over a comparable non-branded residence? Why would buyers pay the premium?

As mentioned earlier, Knight Frank reported that branded residences commanded an average uplift of 31% compared to non-branded property segment. In addition, according to a market update report by Horwath HTL published in January 2018, a property with hotel affiliation could translate to a 25–35% uplift in pricing.
8 Conlay was launched at RM2,700 psf in 2016 and reached RM3,200 psf in 2017.
Our premium price can be fetched due to:

  • Quality of the brands delivered;
  • Central prime location;
  • Luxury service and trust that brands like Kempinski will maintain the property and ensure the uplift of capital appreciation;
  • Good design – Good designers help design and optimise spaces that are easier to live in or to rent out.

What is the built-up range for the units and their price psf?

The branded residence units of Tower A of YOO8 serviced by Kempinski range from 700 to 1,308 sq feet. They are priced at RM3,200psf or an average price of only RM2.3 mil per unit. All units are fully-furnished with furniture
selected by Steve Leung & YOO and offer views of the Royal Selangor Golf Club and KLCC, in addition to receiving the same Kempinski service.

  1. Why choose Kempinski?

8 Conlay was created with the idea of providing service excellence in liveable, design-led architecture. We wanted people to know that living at 8 Conlay is more than having a shelter over their heads. It is an experience which allows each resident to create their own story.

For this, 8 Conlay needed a brand partner who could provide the top-notch services that would reflect hospitality at its best and simultaneously allow residents to form incredible memories.
We know Kempinski Hotels will be able to meet our guests’ and residents’ expectations as every aspect of Kempinski’s 121 years of luxury bespoke services is geared towards serving guests who expect excellence and value individuality.
Kempinski does not adopt a one-size-fitsall approach. They try to incorporate what is distinct about the location where the hotel will be built. That’s why each Kempinski hotel is unique to its location and local cultures; providing a sense of place but maintaining the same consistent bespoke service standard throughout its hotels. This uniqueness sets Kempinski apart from other luxury hoteliers. We hope that more Malaysians will find meaning in luxury living as a reflection of their passion to achieve excellence.

  1. What is your view on the competition from other branded residences in KL?

The supply of branded residences is limited around the world. People who buy them don’t generally want to sell them because these are limited and priceless possessions they are proud to own. We believe 8 Conlay offers buyers and investors a good investment opportunity as it will command better capital yield for the longer term. Besides, prices of luxury properties in Malaysia are considered among the cheapest in Asia. We are also the only branded residence in Kuala Lumpur to bring a luxury five-star hotel brand and a world class branded designer, Steve Leung & YOO into the mix, rather than just a hotel brand.

  1. What is the market outlook for such branded residences in Malaysia, particularly in KL?

Despite soft market sentiments and the oversupply issues facing the Malaysian property market, we remain upbeat about the long-term prospect of the Kuala Lumpur property market. Furthermore, there is not much land left in the KLCC area and therefore supply is finite and limited.

Firstly, Kuala Lumpur is still a key investment destination for businesses and investors.
Secondly, the property market will enjoy the spillover effects of major mega infrastructure projects such as the High Speed Rail and MRT project, because once these projects are completed, they will change the city, just like any other major city in the world. By then, Kuala Lumpur will transform into a more vibrant and liveable city, and property prices are set to rise.
So, the immediate need is to rebuild buyers’ confidence. We cannot overlook the fact that today’s discerning buyers have high expectations and are very selective.
In addition to pricing, their buying decisions are affected by factors like services, quality, location and capital appreciation.
Buyers will continue to invest if they see the right property – developments offering the right concept, location (within the Kuala Lumpur city centre) and long-term rental yield potential. For example, they prefer branded residences due to its characteristics of better capital yield, quality hotel servicing and consistent maintenance of the property.
As Kuala Lumpur transforms into a worldclass city, there is definitely greater demand for branded residences. Every city needs a gem development that will put the city on the world’s map, and branded residences have the capability to give Kuala Lumpur a different character that will put it on par with other top cities in the world.

  1. What other projects are in the pipeline in Malaysia for KSK Land?

For the rest of 2018, we will remain focused on developing 8 Conlay, nurturing it to completion.

  1. Any plans to expand overseas?

If opportunity presents itself, KSK Land is open. However, for now, we see opportunities in prime locations in Malaysia.

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