If youÆre a hedge fund manager or an investment banker whose chances of getting a fat annual bonus outweigh the chances of getting a credit crunch retrenchment, you might like to consider splashing out on a flat in the Sukhothai Residences, due for completion in 2010.

The development is about to be launched in the Sathorn road area of Bangkok, adjacent to the Sukhothai Hotel, a swanky five-star hotel whose suites are beloved of visiting investment bankers.

Staying at the Sukhothai hotel has long been regarded as a sybaritic experience by bankers, and worth making an excuse to go on a not-entirely-necessary business trip to Bangkok. It prompted one head of global credit at an investment bank visiting from New York to enthuse, ôJust on the basis of having stayed at the Sukhothai, I wouldnÆt be averse to our buying a few hotels here.ö

Although she left the firm shortly after, that same Wall Street company did amass a portfolio of Bangkok hotels, though less fancy ones in which their bankers would probably be loathe to stay, largely located in the naughty nightlife district of Sukhumvit Road and far from the imperial serenity of the SukhothaiÆs Khmer bas-reliefs.

The selling agents for the Sukhothai Residences have not formally revealed themselves yet, but an employee at BangkokÆs leading property agency said that the flats would start at around 120 square metres in size and go up to 1000 square metres for the penthouse.

It is understood though that the prices for this 40-floor honey-trap will start at $6,000 per square metre. ôThatÆs ridiculous, itÆs at Hong Kong prices,ö says one member of Hong KongÆs alternative investment community who has a hankering to spend his twilight, incontinent years in Bangkok.

The rumour mill in Bangkok is in full swing. Benjaporn Chatkaew, director of sales and marketing at rival high-rise Le Raffine, says, ôI understand prices start at Bt200,000 there, but go up as high as Bt400,000 ($12,000)". Le Raffine is a recently completed development into which Hong KongÆs hedgies are known to have bought million dollar palatial duplexes. Prices in top condo developments in Bangkok cap out at about Bt150,000 per square metre at present, so the Sukhothai will set a new upper benchmark.

ô$12,000 per square metre is outrageous, this is what you get in a very well located district in Paris, and even in the Champs Elysees,ö says Parisian Richard Bigg of Star Research in Bangkok. ôWhich one would you chose if you had the money? Residing in Paris or in noisy Bangkok near the dump?ö

It is true that when you emerge from your Bangkok castle in the clouds, you are confronted with a Krungthep sidewalk festooned with power cables, steel bars from low-hanging shop fronts and enormous potholes in which Bangkok toddlers drown during the rainy season when they flood with water. Death from above and death from below. Even directly outside the Sukhothai hotel are unlit canals into which luckless foreigners have fallen (including this correspondent).

There are a lot of foreigners with fat wallets when it comes to shelling out on posh Thai property. Assuming though that the 1,000-metre penthouse is going to be priced at the upper end of the range speculated, then you are going to be digging deep for your new apartment.