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Poolside at the Allamanda, Laguna Phuket

Laguna Heading Towards Resort Brand No. 8

Friday, August 14, 2009
ANOTHER new resort brand is likely to emerge shortly to add to the seven already at Laguna Phuket, now clearly the island's most diverse ''destination resort.''

Earlier this year, Outrigger became the latest brand arrival, complementing the Dusit Thani (1987), the Sheraton Grande (1992), the Banyan Tree (1994), the Laguna Beach Resort (1991), the Allamanda (1993) and the Laguna Holiday Club Resort (2006).

At one time, the whole of this area on Phuket's Bang Tao beach was a disused tin mine wasteland. That began to change with the 1987 opening of the first resort, the Dusit, in what is probably best described now as a beachfront lagoon and parkland resort sanctuary.

Laguna Phuket was the site for the first Banyan Tree, now a global brand, and some pioneering pool villas that still rate among the best anywhere.

Laguna dabbled in property, sold off vast tracts of land nearby, then decided it really did want to do property properly, and bought the tracts back again.

Largely because of the strength of its brand, Laguna has done extremely well in mixing property with resorts, now mostly outside the original sanctuary, but inside as well. Laguna has about 300 property owner-investors, with more projects in the works.

There are those traditionalists at Laguna who wince every time a piece of open grassy space disappears under concrete, but so far the balance seems to have been well-maintained.

Some people thought, for example, that the three-storey rooftop pool Dusit Villas, built in ripples beside the beach and a lagoon, might be too much. They seem to have been proved wrong.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a rave review after her stay in one during Asean last month . . . and presumably, there are regular returns to the owners.

In many ways, the changes now taking place at the Allamanda Laguna Phuket are far more cosmetic, even though a new brand is the most likely outcome.

The move has been described as a disintegration, yet others see only positive outcomes and view the process more as a reconstitution.

The all suites Allamanda is in reality a combination of three separate developments, each with different owners. Under Thai law, 100 percent of the owners have to agree for a development to be classified as a resort.

In this case, the preference of the group owning Allamanda 1 is for a condominium structure, while the owners of Allamanda II and Allamanda III prefer their investments run as a resort.

The eventual result, says one informed insider, ''should actually be very constructive. Everyone will get what they want.''

The Allamanda was the site of Laguna's first vacation club and from that sprang the concept of the Laguna Holiday Club Phuket Resort, which opened nearby in 2006.

From December, the Laguna Village development becomes the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas, with more five-star facilities being promised to add to a range of 30 restaurants and dining outlets of different kinds.

Yet to come in another farflung corner of the vast estate is what might then be Laguna Phuket's Brand No. 9, the long-awaited Angsana Resort, with ''skypool villas'' as the special attraction.

It was once expected to be Brand No. 7. Adaptability, though, has always been one of Laguna Phuket's traits.

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Interesting piece but perhaps for a large number of condo purchasers they bought the units for rental returns or usage. They did not necessarily understand the difference between 1, 2 and 3 but bought into Allamanda as a hotel type investment. For the owners of 2 & 3 now the front desk, restaurant and other facilities are gone with the lagoon facing curb appeal so while they may find a solution for management at the end of the day the silent (perhaps you could say majority) of investors remain challenged to capture reasonable rental returns. The inadequacies of the CJP and Hotel Act come into play and thats a larger issue for developers who want to do the right thing as Laguna did, but end up in a maze of legislation which is not appropriate. Looks to be an ongoing issue for condo hotels until these acts are amended.

Posted by Bill on August 16, 2009 10:47


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