A New Beginning
Browsing the internet for nothing other than to kill time I came across a website called “Businesses for sale”. Little did I know that by clicking on this site my life would change incredibly within two months.
I married my Thai wife about two years ago and I split my time between Europe and Thailand where we have a home. My wife stayed at our home in Thailand whilst I travelled back and forth for work on a bi-monthly cycle. Life was good, but I really missed my wife during my time away from Thailand, so when my wife told me she was pregnant I knew that I had to find something to occupy us and to provide us both with an income in Thailand. Ventures as diverse as pig farms and rubber plantations were looked at and ultimately dismissed as unprofitable and too much like hard work for the return. We even discussed wineries and cheese making businesses but all were dismissed very quickly.
Anyway, back to my Google search. “Businesses for sale in Thailand” was the exact phrase I Googled and I was led to a website called Iamkohchang.com. Here I saw listed many businesses on the lovely Koh Chang Island which my wife and I had travelled to many times before. As is so typical of Thailand, lots of bars etc were listed at prices and rents that would change a person’s finances from a large fortune to a small fortune very quickly. However there was one resort type business that had been reduced quite drastically and it seemed like a good business opportunity on paper, so I called the agent and figures and accounts were emailed to me. Everything looked great so I called the guy selling and we arranged to travel down and take a look the next day.
We left Pattaya at 9 AM and arrived at the ferry terminal at Laem Ngop around 4 hours later. The ferry crossing took another 30 minutes and from there it was a short 30-minute drive to the quaint fishing village of Bangbao on Koh Chang. The roads on Koh Chang are a challenge to say the least and best compared to the ride “Space Mountain” at the Disney resort. I have since been told that many tourists are killed and seriously injured each year on Koh Chang, so be careful on the roads if you come here. My first impression of Koh Chang was not great because the first resort we drove through is Whitesands which is just like a smaller version of Pattaya, and it seems overrun with Ruskies. As you drive further around the island, the place gets better and better. Not so many visitors make it all the way to Bangbao, but for me that is the reason I liked the place so much.
The resort that we would ultimately buy is called Cliff Cottage in Bangbao. The resort is aimed at budget travellers with fan huts available at 350 baht / night and more traditional beachside rooms with hot water etc at 700 baht / night. The area is stunning and the resort has a bar / restaurant area over a secluded private bay. I was mesmerised and so was my wife. We stayed for 2 days and we recognised that the resort was a little run down, but the potential enormous. One day later we made an offer which was refused, and it then became obvious to us that two other parties were trying to buy the place at the same time as us, so the owner was unwilling to reduce his price any more. A decision had to be made and I called the owner to say that we would pay the full asking price. His response astounded me! He said he would think about it!! WTF!! I’d just offered the full asking price although it had been reduced a few months earlier and I was told that some other people were starting a bidding war. I told the owner that I had the cash and I was willing to pay a substantial deposit immediately. Again the guy didn’t say yes or no, so I told him to sell to the other people and that I was withdrawing my offer. I guess that did the trick because the next day he called me to say he would accept our offer! We immediately drove down to Koh Chang to sign a pre-sale contract and pay the deposit. It was agreed that we would take over the resort 6 weeks later on March 1st 2011. I had to fly back to Europe to arrange the money and I arrived back to Thailand on the 26th February and 2 two days later we arrived at Koh Chang. I’ve simplified the legal side of buying the business, but we paid a great husband / wife legal team from Pattaya and the new ten-year lease was signed and registered at the land office near Trat. I was amazed how cheap our legal fees were and would recommend our legal team to anyone looking to buy / sell or anything in Thailand. The lawyer’s wife is Filipina and speaks fluent Thai and English. Nicer people you could not meet.
The outgoing owner stayed on for two days with us, and then left for Isaan where his Thai wife hails from. It was daunting to say the least especially as the resort was 100% full a week after we took over, but we were lucky to have some great staff who stayed on with us.
We have already made some changes to the resort by upgrading all mattresses to new deluxe Australian ones, and also changing the menu and adding European food options. We plan to upgrade the electric supply any day soon, and we have made enquiries to get building permits for 12 new en-suite air conditioned beachside rooms. Exciting times are ahead for sure and we are already making lots of nice new friends from all over the world.
I forgot to say that the owner’s accommodation is a fantastic two storey wooden house built on stilts over the sea facing Bangbao pier. At night the sea laps underneath and it is incredibly soothing to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean under your bed.
I have already purchased two sea going kayaks for exercise and fun. After 6 years of living on the outskirts Pattaya this new sedentary lifestyle is amazing. We have made new friends already and the sense of community is fantastic. We are looking forward to low season to enjoy the natural beauty of Koh Chang and waking up to the sound of the sea is amazing. The sunrises on one side of our house over Bangbao village and we are blessed to have an amazing vantage point on our private cliffs to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Thailand.
I will keep the readers of Stickman informed of our progress as it continues, and we hope that if any readers are down our way then they will call in and introduce themselves. Of course a small discount for Stickmanites will be applicable. Our resort has a website called Cliff-cottage.com .
I will celebrate my 40th birthday soon and at this moment in time life seems near perfect. Thank for taking the time to read my story and remember that new beginnings happen all the time in Thailand.
Chok dee Khrup!
Dangerously close to an advertisement, but I will allow it this time.
Good luck with the resort – I hope business is good and it proves to be an enjoyable venture.