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The next wave at Kalim will consist of boutique resorts

Kalim Wins Langham Place for Young Trendsetters

Thursday, July 17, 2008
KATA, Kamala, Karon and Kata Noi have all grown and prospered faster than that fifth west coast K, Kalim. But not any longer.

One of Asia's top international brands is to open an innovative resort there, and the future of Kalim Bay will probably be as a trendy destination for young, well-off travellers looking for a place to play, and to party.

Kalim, close to Patong but very different in character, is almost perfect as a secluded retreat for those who like to make forays elsewhere on Phuket for daytime adventure and nightlife.

The Langham Place Miora Resort and Spa, Kalim Bay, Phuket, is quite a mouthful, but it should also provide plenty of memorable holiday experiences in a ''sophisticated enclave.''

Consisting of 79 private pool villas, the Langham Place is now almost 20 percent complete and should be ready to open by late 2009 or 2010.

Australian Andrew Jessop is Vice President, Thailand, of Langham Hotels International and Managing Director of the brand's first venture into Thailand and the Andaman region, Langham Place Eco Resort & Spa, Rawi Warin, Koh Lanta, Krabi.

He is genuinely excited at the prospect of a Langham Place on Phuket, where he spent four-and-a-half years from 2001 to 2005.

''It's quite surprising to see the new Phuket,'' he says. ''The changes are dramatic. The place is much more with-it and family-oriented.

''Even the face of Patong is very different, with Jungceylon triggering new interests and the Marriott among the big brands who have seen the change.''

Right now, Kalim is ready to boom. At present it's mostly a slightly cluttered, maze-like traditional Muslim village, mixed with a few low-key hotels and surfer shacks.

Oddly enough, restaurants have led Kalim's move up-market. Lim's has been tucked away in behind the shorefront for some years but Hung Fat's and the White Box are recent additions.

''If you converted the White Box into a resort, that's what the Langham Place will be like,'' Mr Jessop told Phuketwan. ''It will be for fun, not serenity.''

Roof-top decks will be the order of the day at the villas. And play.

Added to the mix will be the Langham's own Chuan Spa (running water in Mandarin) where everything will be ''totally organic.''

Hawaiian designer Clint Nagata and his youthful team from BLINK have, from all accounts, produced a stylish design that is perfect for a luxury villa resort, targetting upwardly-mobile young movers and shakers.

A couple of other boutique resorts are on the way at Kalim, too. They should combine with Langham Place to give Kalim a with-it, buzzy, youthful connection.

The Kalim resort will be in stark contrast, yet in other ways complementary, with the more laid-back Langham Place on Koh Lanta, and Mr Jessop is confident that the Phuket project has a big future.

''I've always loved Krabi and we are encouraged by what's happening there,'' he said.

''Phuket will continue to do well because it has a great reputation around the world. You don't have to say you have been to Thailand.

''It's enough to say you have been to Phuket. The name has global resonance now.''

He sees the current crisis over air fuel as yet another bump for the travel industry.

''There will always be bumps,'' he said. ''They can be overcome.''

Langham Place is the boutique brand for Langham Hotels International, a Hong Kong-based group that, with Banyan Tree and Shangri-La, is providing Asia's own segment of the rapid-growth Asia-Pacific market.

China and rapid expansion there remain the centre of attention.

Langham, which already has outlets in Australia, announced earlier this week that it will open a 78-room Tuscan-themed resort in 2010 on an island off the New Zealand city of Auckland.

Langham's parent, the Great Eagle Group, has its headquarters in a 59-storey office tower, shopping mall and hotel complex in Kowloon.

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Look for more of the latest about resorts in the region at Phuketwan

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