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Club Med on Phuket, where guests enjoy golf by the shore

Club Med Gifts Park to Save Resort

Saturday, August 9, 2014
PHUKET: A new public park and a lucrative contract are now on the table, aimed at saving ''one of our most successful resorts worldwide'' for the Club Med brand on Thailand's holiday island of Phuket.

As Phuketwan revealed this week, the iconic Kata beachfront resort sits partly on public land and the 30-year lease is due to expire in 2015, with some locals wanting the land back.

That prospect became less likely in talks yesterday between Club Med, local village authorities and Phuket's key elected administrator.

Club Med offered two rai of the space it presently rents to create a public park of any description desired by locals with a bottom line of 10 million baht on landscaping, and an undertaking to spend three million baht a year maintaining the gift.

Senior village community leader Winai Chidcheaw remained adamant that five rai would be acceptable.

More talks and a viewing of the proposed area are scheduled for August 16, when Club Med CEO South East Asia and Pacific Heidi Kunkel will again visit Phuket.

''Phuket is an important destination because it is very international,'' she told Phuketwan. ''People come from Europe, from China, from all over South East Asia. Club Med has been here on Phuket for 30 years.

''It's a very important destination for us. We've been respecting the environment, we've have been doing our best to provide a beautiful site.

''We provide jobs for about 250 locals and work with many local suppliers. We want to continue to do that for the next 30 years.''

Club Med is credited with generating the flow of quality tourists to Phuket from its 1985 opening, but almost 30 years on, the land on which the resort was built has become the key to the future.

Part of the property is rented from a private owner while about one third is public land, occupied under a deal with the elected Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation.

Somehow under the arrangement, the local Kata-Karon municipal council managed to build its new headquarters on land rented by Club Med.

At yesterday's meeting it was revealed that Club Med took the council to court over their usurpation of the rented space, and won.

The present president of the administrative organisation, Paiboon Upatising, said yesterday the erection of the council offices predated his tenure and he had no idea how it came about.

Also on a chunk of land in the same block is the Surf Hut, a popular restaurant and sports centre where surfers ride artificial waves. Surf Hut pays 50,000 baht rent each month to the administrative organisation.

The money that Club Med is now talking about to renew its 30-year lease is much larger.

Having most recently paid three million baht for the iconic 39-rai shorefront stretch, Club Med is offering 27 million baht a year, with incremental rises over the next three decades.

Village leader Khun Winai would prefer a starting figure of 30 million baht. Interestingly, Club Med is also pledging a payment of 750,000 baht a year to the local council.

Khun Winai is also keen for the resort brand to dig deeper and find 3.7 million baht a year for a group known as ''Rak Karon,'' (Love Karon) which promotes jobs for locals in nine tourism-related categories.

Just how that money would be spent wasn't made clear yesterday at the meeting at the administrative organisation's headquarters in Phuket City.

In a broader context, the district's taxi drivers have recently been arrested en mass and more than 100 face extortion and intimidation charges as part of a coup command cleanup by the military forces that took control of Thailand on May 22.

Coup or no coup, Club Med is extremely content to be on Phuket and would like to stay for at least the next three decades.

Regional CEO Ms Kunkel said that the resort's occupancy rate was running at 80-85 percent and would be up to 100 percent within the next week.

''Our objective is a stabilization, so we don't see so much appearance [of Thailand] on the news,'' she said. ''It causes some concern.

''For the next 30 years, we want to be able to provide a space, to create a public park and to be able to continue to operate Club Med's unique positioning for our international clientele.

''This is one of the most beautiful sites in the world and we want to be able to welcome our guests and to be able to work well with the local Phuket people. That's really our only ambition.''

Local people have the right to decide the future of the public land at a public meeting. Khun Paiboon said that, with the lease expiring in September next year, a decision would have to be made before March at the latest.

Talks are underway as Phuket authorities and the Thai Army have cleared sunbeds and umbrellas from beaches and demolished illegal shorefront restaurants in a move to reclaim stolen public space.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Put it out to International tender and see what the big boys have to offer

Posted by Terry on August 9, 2014 08:14

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'That's really our only ambition.'
Ambition is a poor excuse when profit is the motive!

Posted by Pete on August 9, 2014 08:58

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"Club Med is offering 27 million baht a year, with incremental rises over the next three decades.

Village leader Khun Winai would prefer a starting figure of 30 million baht. Interestingly, Club Med is also pledging a payment of 750,000 baht a year to the local council."
So who gets the 27 million?

Posted by Chob on August 9, 2014 09:38

Editor Comment:

The Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation.

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(moderated)

Posted by Bobby on August 9, 2014 09:56

Editor Comment:

Don't like what we do? Think others do it better? Don't read us. Simple as that, Bobby. No point in conflict. Be constructive, or don't bother.

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here is an idea for you - rather than moderate the comment like you have and replied to it grow a pair and answer what i said in it.

Posted by Bobby on August 9, 2014 10:40

Editor Comment:

Oh no, not the tired old ''grow a pair'' thing. You're a 20th century hangover, Bobby.
There will always be differences between us and rival publications. Perhaps you are the only reader out there who doesn't understand that. You can drive a Honda, an Isuzu, or a BMW. All for free. To complain about such a rich freedom of choice would be churlish.

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It's a tough one to decide. But surely the law must be upheld to cover all, otherwise what is the point ?
One concession here or there, will be looked apon by the public as way of using this as an excuse to setup shop or challenging the authorities if a similar case arrises. Whether you have been here for 5 mins or 30 years must we make the distinction ?

Posted by reader on August 9, 2014 12:00

Editor Comment:

The Club med lease is lawful use of public land, reader, as distinct from illegal use.

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"Paiboon Upatising, said yesterday the erection of the council offices predated his tenure and he had no idea how it came about."

Reminds me of Bart Simpson: "I didn't do it."

Posted by Smithy on August 9, 2014 13:08

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I have just been down to have a walk on Kata beach . Club med is a beautiful place and sits perfect in with the beach side . The piece of land at the far end of kata on the beach that actually used to be club meds sailing school years ago has now been taken over by the Kata locals .Just go and look yourself , they have been there three months maybe and it is a dump already . TUK TUK parking,food karts, garbage dumped all over , ohhh and a guy who tells me i cannot park because tuktuk only . Thank you Club Med for saving one of Phukets most beautiful beaches .

Posted by tony kenny on August 9, 2014 15:10

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I see a bit of Greed by village authorities in the request for 5 rai. Also to request more $ for love Karon.
It seams if a business is successful others have their hands palms up looking for something. It sounds as if Club Med is a great attraction to Phuket that stimulates the local economy. Why so greedy from local Villagers to milk a cow dry.
What if they closed and looked else where?
I've seen the property and it looks amazing from the roadside.
A landlord should appreciate good renters not drive them away by greed.

Posted by John on August 13, 2014 01:33


Friday December 15, 2017
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