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Players, not golfers: the group at Club Med's short course yesterday

Fairway to Heaven: Phuket Scores Park for the Club Med Course

Sunday, August 17, 2014
PHUKET: Club Med and Phuket officials strolled a holiday golf course yesterday and paced out an area that will become a public park in a peace deal to save one of the world's most desirable resorts.

The international brand agreed to give up five rai of its property instead of two rai to placate local people who expressed the desire - probably without serious intent - to reclaim some of the public land on which the Club Med resort sits at Phuket's delightful Kata beach.

Constant erosion on the shorefront has reduced the grassy grove along the beachfront over the 30 years since the leasing arrangement began, so the gift by Club Med serves a useful purpose in retaining the local balance between nature and commerce.

With Thailand's military might supporting moves to reclaim all public parks and beaches for the people, the gradual ending of the long Club Med arrangement with the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation fell at a fascinating period in the island's history.

It was the opening of the Club Med resort in 1985 that is credited with sparking the introduction of daily flights from Bangkok to Phuket, the gesture that marks the island's movement from a history built or tin mining and rubber planting to total dependence on tourism.

The people in the surrounding seaside towns of Kata and Karon have a reputation for protecting their local turf and for being perhaps a little too self-interested when it comes to promoting the cash flow of the local highly-priced taxis and tuk-tuks.

While Club Med is about as international in outlook as any resort gets, it is regrettable that little of that international approach has permeated the surrounding village mentality, which is still locked into the same way of operating as in 1985.

Fortunately, the president of the administrative organisation, Paiboon Upatising, who strode the fairways with Club Med officials yesterday, is an honest broker whose skills at managing without pandering to special interests have been noted recently with an anti-corruption award at national level.

Talks are likely to finalise a new 30-year deal within coming weeks. There is no likelihood of the locals taking over the resort: the local council has yet to prove an ability at managing a coastal resort town without favoring the wrong people.

If the upgraded rent of 27 million baht a year ends in the hands of Khun Paiboon and the administrative organisation, then Phuket stands a reasonable chance that the money will be spent wisely and fairly.

Just what the park will eventually achieve has yet to be determined, but Club Med has also promised to maintain it.

Despite the nerve-tingling end to the 30-year lease, Club Med must be delighted with the success of the Phuket resort: one executive recently announced that the search is on for a second site in Thailand.

It's fairly certain, though, that the one option not being considered is another lease involving public land.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Club Med serves a useful purpose in retaining the local balance between nature and commerce.... To be honest is because Club Med is there that this balance still exists. Without the Club Kata would be like Patong... A closest place to a garbage-dump..

Posted by dave on August 17, 2014 17:54


Approximately 1 million dollars, of this 27 million is a bargain for renting that land!!!!

I thought it should be fairly around five or ten times more -- 5 million dollars or 10 million!

Was the bidding open to the public???

Question is, does the public really reap the benefits of this mere 1 million dollars / 27 million?

It would be great to see what exactly the public money is used for.....

Posted by J on August 17, 2014 19:16

Editor Comment:

Only one-third of the land that is public. The cost of the lease of the private land has not been revealed.


Good that Club Med will maintain the park, hopefully there will be a lot of waste buckets and instructions for the park users in how to use them.

Posted by Sailor on August 17, 2014 19:55


Dear J,

Club Med is not buying the land , they are renting it!!

A yearly rental of U$ 10m equaling to 320m Baht, would make no financial sense.

Khun Paiboon is a savvy business man, understanding what is a fair price to extract .

To me seems he has negotiated extremely well, getting 27 m Baht a year, with future increases , a public park for Kata, managed by the Club Med.(therefore no costs for the Kata municipality for upkeep)

Public money for the provincial authority , they are pretty clear what they are spending it on, beach safety, running a local hospital, running the pink buses, supporting some local schools. One of the reasons Khun Paiboon was voted in as Or Bor Tor President was his platform of transparency .


Posted by wm on August 18, 2014 11:22

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