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Why this Miss Universe prefers to live in Thai property

Natalie Glebova talks luxury Asian homes and life after coronation




Former Miss Universe Natalie Glebova has called Thailand home for over 10 years.

When the scepter has been put down, when the crown has been handed over, when the final walk has been walked, a Miss Universe contemplates life unlike anyone. The world’s most coveted beauty pageant title subjects its holders through a whirlwind year of travels and oft-gainful contracts, and it is a maelstrom that promises no soft landing. Beauty queens eventually face a crossroads leading stateside or home, bright lights all.

But those crossroads have turned out to be home itself for Miss Universe 2005 Natalie Glebova. After flying the flag high for Canada that year, the pageant monarch found herself in a series of serendipitous return trips to then Miss Universe host country Thailand. By the end of her reign, Natalie had received an offer from Thai lager maker Singha to be their brand ambassador.

More than 10 years later, the Russian-Canadian model and television personality still calls the Southeast Asian nation her base, with husband, 2001 Mister Panamá Dean Kelly, and their daughter Maya. Locals have grown endeared to the lanky expatriate, nicknamed Fah ("blue" in Thai) for her steely eye colour.

In 2014, she bought a three-bedroom, 180-square-metre condominium unit near Bangkok's plush Thonglor neighbourhood. She also owns two condos by the beach, one in Na Jomtien, near Pattaya, and the other in Rayong.

Her feet firmly planted in Asia, Natalie sounds proud of her decision to stay and explore the region's real estate offerings — make no Steve-Harvey-sized mistake about it.

What made your decision to move to Thailand?

The country and the people gave us such a warm welcome; it was hard not to fall in love with it. I felt so comfortable in Thailand and the Thais have even given me a local nickname, Fah. I’m very happy with my decision to settle here, because so many wonderful and amazing things have happened to me to make this a very special place in my heart.

Tell us more about your Thai condo. What drew you to it?

I loved the fact that it has only seven floors and doesn’t have too many units. I prefer to stay close to the ground — I don’t like to live in high-rises up in the sky — and also fewer units, so it’s quieter and not so crowded.

More: Asia Property Report speaks with Donald Trump

What drew you to Thonglor? What's so great about the area?

View from the top of the Octave bar in the Thong Lor district of Bangkok. Stephane Bidouze/Shutterstock

Ever since I started living in Thailand, I have loved coming to Thonglor to hang out with friends, go to restaurants and shopping plazas, and get all my beauty services. So when I decided to buy a condo, I looked very closely at properties in this area, not only because I was familiar with it, but also because it’s clean, has a lot of variety, and quite international with people from all over the world living in this area. Now I like it also for the fact that there are a lot of schools and kids’ facilities around here.

More: Why Thonglor remains Bangkok’s epicenter of cool

How great is Thailand, or Asia for that matter, in raising a family?

Natalie and husband Dean run a travel startup called Travelbook

Thailand is fantastic for raising a family simply because of ease of lifestyle and affordability. It’s easy to hire help and the schools are of very high international standards. There’s always something to do and places to go in Thailand, and we personally love to travel together as a family all over the region. Our favorite destinations are Phi Phi Islands, Bali, and Hong Kong.

Are you thinking of buying more houses in Thailand or Asia?

Sure, I’d love to own more property in Asia. I would love to have another condo in the south of Thailand like Krabi or Trat.

Which other countries in Asia would you like to live in someday?

I’d love to live in Bali, Indonesia one day. It has such a lovely charm and atmosphere, and the food there is just as good as Thailand. I could also see myself living in Hong Kong, as it reminds me of New York City in some ways, and I love NYC!

What is your current relationship with real estate developers?

I did an endorsement for Henderson Land a while ago. I am interested in exploring more real estate deals. I am urbanised and love to travel so I’m looking for properties that match my lifestyle.

What's a great final question you really would like to answer?

How do you define success? This was actually a question I asked one of the finalists in Miss Universe 2006 when I was passing on the title. I like this question because there are many ways to answer as success means different things to different people. For me, success has always been about reaching your personal goals, being satisfied with your life and what you’ve achieved, and having an inner happiness that doesn’t come from material things or possessions but from wealth of experience, love, and personal development.

 Natalie and Dean with daughter Maya, born April 2016

Read next: Ivanka Trump, scion of brand sophistication


Expanded Indonesia Property Awards 2017 programme announced

Indonesia’s biggest real estate awards launches its third year with opportunities for recognition outside Jakarta

Nominations are now open to the general public and will close on Friday, 28 July

The PropertyGuru Indonesia Property Awards, the most recognised real estate awards programme in the archipelago, has announced the official opening for nominations for its third annual edition.

Presented by title sponsor Kohler, with support from co-sponsor Regus Indonesia and media partners Liputan6 and PropertyGuru Property Report, the Indonesia Property Awards 2017’s mission is to “reward the country’s finest real estate” developers, developments and design.

Industry professionals and the general public are now invited to submit nominations until Friday, 28 July 2017. Online submissions are accepted via

[caption id="attachment_61805" align="aligncenter" width="740"] (L-R) Ferry Tanumihardja, country manager, Kohler Indonesia, title sponsor; Indro Tjahjono, partner, BDO Indonesia, official supervisor; Terry Blackburn, founder and managing director, PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards and Asia Real Estate Summit; chairman of the judges Hendra Hartono, CEO, Pt Leads Property Services Indonesia; Andy Harsanto, country manager, Regus Indonesia, co-sponsor; Mr. Wasudewan, country manager,, Indonesia’s leading real estate website and the Awards’ official property portal[/caption]

This year’s programme offers a total of 21 categories, including recognition for residential development in various locations outside Jakarta, and a new award for Best Universal Design Development.

“Universal Design is the design of a built environment that can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability and we are proud to recognise it alongside longstanding awards for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development as part of PropertyGuru Group’s own CSR mission,” said Terry Blackburn, founder and managing director of PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards.

More opportunities outside Jakarta

The organisers expect to receive around 160 entries to come from developers with current projects in Jakarta, Bali, Bintan and Batam, Surabaya, Lombok, Makassar, and Medan. Categories that received a lot of interest and positive response last year will again be offered this year, such as Best Luxury Condo Development (Jakarta), Best Office Development, and the Special Recognition in Sustainable Development, which was presented to two developers in 2016.

“The Awards are dedicated to the developers who have shown their passion and hard work in creating successful projects and hopefully in the near future, they can build properties that could be deemed 'pride of the country' just like the iconic buildings in markets such as Singapore, Beijing, Dubai or London,” noted Hendra Hartono, CEO of Pt Lead Property Services Indonesia, and incumbent chairman of the independent judging panel.

[gallery type="rectangular" size="full" ids="61802,61800,61801"]

Hartono admits that market conditions are still "relatively soft and challenging, but Jakarta still remains a dynamic city in the Asia Pacific region. Thus, the Indonesian property market remains Jakarta-centric,” adding that there are many ways for the capital city to improve its number 56 ranking as the most livable city in the world, per the 2016 survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“In my opinion, involving urban development plan will enhance many projects’ value and could also attract foreigners to live in Indonesia. And while it is quite uneasy to collect more exciting projects in other big cities in Indonesia to participate in the Awards, we may expect entrants from the hospitality sector – from budget to five-star hotels – townships, government buildings, and non-commercial projects.”

Well-attended by senior industry figures

Last year’s gala dinner saw more than 20 real estate companies and even one foreign embassy join the final shortlist to compete for Winner or Highly Commended honours. The exclusive event, which crowned PT Intiland Development as Best Developer, was attended by nearly 330 senior industry figures, including Herman Nagaria, director of property and business development at PT Summarecon Agung, who was voted Real Estate Personality of the Year by the editors of Property Report.

The 2017 event will be held on Thursday, 12 October at Fairmont Jakarta, official venue of the Indonesia Property Awards, with the official shortlist of nominees revealed on 8 September ahead of the black-tie gala dinner. A new Real Estate Personality of the Year will also be announced before the ceremony.

[caption id="attachment_61803" align="aligncenter" width="740"] Chairman of the judges Hendra Hartono, CEO, Pt Leads Property Services Indonesia, gives a talk during the launch of the PropertyGuru Indonesia Property Awards 2017 about his outlook for the local property market, and the potential impact of Indonesia’s tax amnesty programme[/caption]

Monitoring the entire nomination and judging process once again is BDO, the world’s fifth largest accounting and auditing firms, and official judging supervisor.

BDO Indonesia partner Indro Tjahjono explained the supervisor’s role and how the Asia Property Awards system maintains credibility – by exercising fairness and transparency – at the media launch for the 2017 edition held on 15 March at the Ruby Room of Fairmont Jakarta.

Alongside Blackburn and Hartono, Tjahjono appeared at the launch event with Kohler Indonesia country manager Ferry Tanumihardja, Regus Indonesia country manager Andy Harsanto, and Mr. Wasudewan, country manager of, Indonesia’s leading real estate website and the Awards’ official property portal.

Growing success and influence, boosted by a top-level real estate summit

Hari V. Krishnan, CEO of PropertyGuru Group, commented about the launch: “We see great opportunities in Indonesia, a huge real estate market and one of the region’s biggest economies. With the growing success and influence of the Indonesia Property Awards, we are helping Indonesian property seekers make informed and confident property decisions by presenting them the best, most innovative, and most beautiful real estate on the market today via our trusted Asia Property Awards platform, supported by our digital business with a full-range of media capabilities.”

As always, top winners from Indonesia will advance to the Asia Property Awards two-day grand final in Singapore this November, opening up their businesses to new audiences around the region.

[gallery type="rectangular" size="full" ids="61804,61808"]

Preceding the 2017 gala dinner, which begins with a two-hour international cocktail networking reception, followed by a lavish four-course dinner and awards ceremony proper, is the PropertyGuru Indonesia Real Estate Summit on 11 October, also to be held at Fairmont Jakarta. Catering to C-level executives and senior industry leaders, the Summit is a full-day networking conference that will feature insights and lessons from regional and global experts.

Both the Summit and Gala Dinner will receive extensive coverage through influential media outfits as well as PropertyGuru Group’s market-leading property portals and affiliate websites used by more than 23 million property seekers in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Super early bird tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the Indonesia Property Awards 2017 are available. For details, email or call +66 (02) 204 9555.

More information are also available on the official website.

Two of ASEAN's leading developers have big plans for Tangerang

Singapore-based titan will team up with a local player for project in the Greater Jakarta city

Colorful lanterns in Bintaro Xchange Park in Tangerang, Indonesia. GeorginaCaptures / Colorful lanterns in Bintaro Xchange Park in Tangerang, Indonesia.

Singaporean property giant Keppel Land and leading Indonesian developer Metropolitan Land (Metland) are jointly developing a landed housing project in Tangerang, a satellite city in Greater Jakarta, the two companies announced yesterday.

Costing around IDR250 billion (USD18.6 million), the project will offer around 450 landed houses in a 12-hectare plot within the Metland Puri township. The Indonesian unit of Keppel Land has acquired a 50 percent equity in the development.

"Indonesia is one of Keppel Land's key growth markets, and we are focused on scaling up our presence in Greater Jakarta, which is seeing rapid growth,” said Sam Moon Thong, president of Keppel Land's Indonesian business. "We seek to meet the needs of a fast-growing middle class who aspire to own quality homes."

More: Capital Place: A Good Sign for Jakarta’s Future

The two companies will "tap respective strengths for a quality residential development to enhance the Metland Puri township," said Thomas Angfendy, Metland’s president director.

Other projects by Keppel Land in Jakarta include the condominium complex West Vista as well as a residential development at Jalan Daan Mogot, Straits Times reported.

The announcement comes amid an upsurge in vertical developments in Jakarta. The Indonesian capital is expected to welcome 75,083 units to its apartment supply by 2018.

Read next: 6 reasons why Thamrin is one of Jakarta’s hottest neighbourhoods

The joy of tax: 3 things we’ve learned about real estate taxes in Indonesia

Tax amnesty, tax havens and luxury taxes in Indonesia – it’s all going on

[caption id="attachment_56709" align="aligncenter" width="740"]Africa Studio/Shuttershock Africa Studio/Shuttershock[/caption]

Tax, the second most interesting word in the English language ending with ‘x’, is cropping up in Indonesian property news a lot lately.

With current growth figures nothing to celebrate – a far cry from just two years ago when Jakarta, Indonesia’s bustling capital, was named the fastest growing luxury property market in the world by Knight Frank – tax initiatives have formed part of the effort to get things back on track.

With a little help from our friends at Jones Lang LaSalle Indonesia, here’s a summary of what we know about the current state of affairs:

1. The tax amnesty is proving successful

[caption id="attachment_56715" align="aligncenter" width="740"]leolintang/Shutterstock leolintang/Shutterstock[/caption]

After sluggish beginnings, the highly anticipated tax amnesty, enacted in June, now looks to be the most successful ever, with IDR 3,621 trillion declared; around 90 percent of the IDR 4,000 trillion target that had been set for 30 September.

“While this has not yet translated into a pick-up in residential sales, we expect to see strong sales growth in the next 6 to 12 months,” JLL’s Q316 report said of the amnesty.

Those who have saved in the amnesty are being encouraged to pour their money back into real estate, with Financial Services Authority head Muliaman Hadad saying the market value of Indonesian REITs “would be promising for years to come after the easing on tax burden.”

More: Singapore home market unaffected by Indonesian tax amnesty

2. Tax havens probably won’t happen

While a certain amount of buzz was created around the possibility that Indonesia may make tax havens out of islands Bintan and Rempang, Todd Lauchlan, country head of JLL Indonesia said he’s “skeptical” that these will ever go ahead, feeling there is little point as Singapore plays this role for Indonesians already.

[caption id="attachment_56713" align="aligncenter" width="740"]Tax haven or not, we wouldn't mind laying low on Bintan for a while... Image: Delpixel/Shutterstock Tax haven or not, we wouldn't mind laying low on Bintan for a while... Image: Delpixel/Shutterstock[/caption]

3. Luxury taxes mean condo demand is largely in the middle and lower segments

While the macro environment may have improved, super luxury and luxury taxes remain in place meaning the upper end of the market continues to experience weak sales.

Buyers are now attracted by affordability and lower tax burden, and new developments are mirroring this. There have been only a few high-end launches since mid-2015, and there is an overall decrease in new condominium launches in 3Q16, with only 600 new units (way down from almost 3000 in Q2). While the average sales rate has fallen steadily, it remains healthy compared to many other markets.

[caption id="attachment_56717" align="aligncenter" width="740"]The luxury tax means fewer luxury launches... but we'll bet The Hamilton in South Jakarta (Indonesia Property Awards nominee) is on many a wish-list. The luxury tax means fewer luxury launches... but we'll bet The Hamilton (Indonesia Property Awards 2016 nominee for Best Luxury Condo Development: Jakarta) is on many a wish-list.[/caption]

Read next: Herman Nagaria to receive Indonesia’s Real Estate Personality 2016 award

Tax and real estate law will be one of the discussions in the next Property Report Congress on 13 October 2016 at the Fairmont Jakarta. The whole-day conference Property Report Congress Indonesia is a dedicated, high-level forum for industry leaders, VIPs, and real estate professionals to discuss how to continue driving growth and excellence in one of the world’s dynamic real estate markets. For tickets, partnerships and enquiries, visit the official website or contact


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