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Shout it from the rooftops - Phuket has a resort with the turtle as a symbol

Phuket Turns Turtle: Renaissance Photo Special

Thursday, April 22, 2010
TURTLES are wonderful creatures and everyone likes the idea of helping them to make a comeback along the Andaman coast, especially on Phuket.

Various resorts contribute handsomely to the groups that are fighting to give the turtles back their traditional hatching grounds, along Phuket's northern beaches and beyond.

Now the turtle has been seized as a symbol by Phuket's newest resort, the Renaissance at Mai Khao. Not just seized, but promoted to the rooftops. The Renaissance celebrates the turtle like no other resort has done before.

Other resorts have turtle funds and turtle souvenirs . . . the Renaissance is virtually a tribute to the turtle, with many roofs in the shape of the turtle's carapace.

Phuketwan took a sneak preview tour of the new resort today, and found a whole pod of turtle roofs among the villas on the site, as well as on the main building. While there are some early guests testing the resort, the Renaissance is still being fitted out and in its training phase, although forward bookings are being taken for May and onwards.

Mai Khao, the most northerly of Phuket's beaches, remains one of the most untouched stretches of sand, despite the presence of an increasing number of five-star resorts. We had to stop today to allow a herd of water buffaloes to cross the road.

Unfortunately, we didn't see any turtles. But the more modern and thoughtful resorts have been set back from the coastline, to encourage the turtles to return to lay their eggs.

The Renaissance also has brought the beach inland, with large stretches covered by sand, leading to the foyer and an elegant bar where a flock of seagulls swing from the ceiling.

Back at the real beach, there's a main pool and a bar and some stylish ideas for decoration. Not far away, there's a tumbling waterfall feature. And a Quan Spa.

Now all it needs is a few turtle eggs.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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So they pay tribute to the very creatures that have been decimated by the encroachment and development of their nesting grounds by, er, developments such as this one.

Editor: Nothing we've seen from the Renaissance so far supports our view that these are turtle rooftops, although online it's said the design carries ''a touch of whimsy.'' Many of the Phuket beaches dominated by resorts would be far worse with helter-skelter development. At least at Mai Khao, there's a chance the turtles may return. So it's unfair, Treelover, to, er, lay that one on them.

Posted by Treelover on April 22, 2010 15:36

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If you look at any guidebooks dating back only 2 -3 years they list and explain Mai Khao as being a place for turtles to breed and nest.... walk along the beach frontage there after dusk now! Not overly confident Turtles will return to Phuket again to be fair editor..unless there is data to show an increase would be delighted!

Editor: Guide books are seldom kept up-to-date. Turtles have rarely been spotted on Mai Khao since the 2004 tsunami, although a rare leatherback surprised people at West Sands on Mai Khao not long ago. More come ashore at Thai Muang and further up the Phang Nga coast.
If you search Phuketwan, you will find information that is more accurate than the guide books.

Posted by lantawan on April 23, 2010 13:32

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Oh how cute you saw water buffaloes. Maybe the Renaissance should have made their development in the shape of water buffaloes instead. Indeed, since 2004, the year 5-star developments started, there hardly haven't been any turtles spotted. It's probably just a coincidence. Do you really believe a return of the turtles is imminent when construction at Mai Khao is booming? First they kill the turtles and then they say they love them and want them back. The question is: what needs Phuket more? The large 5 star developments at Mai Khao or the turtles? Both are not possible and everyone knows it.

Editor: Sammy, who said turtles were returning? There have been one or two encouraging sightings, that's all. The people who decide to build five-stars can hardly be blamed . . . you need to ask the local authorities who approve the structures about their plans for the turtles. The 2004 tsunami is generally regarded as being the major setback. Resort managements are among the most proactive in trying to encourage their return.

Posted by sammy on April 26, 2010 10:16

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Any turtle expert can tell you that the lights on the shore keep nesting females away. The resorts drove them away years ago. Much more hypocritical is Banyan Tree whose owner is constantly making self-serving statements about their environmental record despite the damage they have done in Thailand (disrupting turtle nesting) and Bintan (gouging a golf course out of the forest).

Editor: The 'lights on the shore' argument appears not to have worked with the leatherback that returned to deposit eggs at West Sands recently. Resorts can hardly be blamed for a system that allows private ownership along the edges of beaches. Given that state of affairs, many of Phuket's beaches are better protected with resorts than without them. Laguna Phuket/Banyan Tree turned an abused tin mine wasteland into a landscaped haven, so their contribution to protecting the environment is a plus. You can't blame resorts for the lack of foresight of governments. Turtles nested on Patong beach once, too.

Posted by getreal on April 26, 2010 23:41

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I appreciate the need to support habitat and in an ideal world, we could achieve that without compromise. Unfortunately, sustaining habitat requires the presence of top end resorts with a conscience.

Yes, some of the resorts have caused initial damage, but their presence keeps those developers that would build without any concern for habitat, in check.

Long ago the Laguna area was leftover mine tailings and gaping wounds in the earth. The presence of the Laguna development achieved a greater benefit for Phuket than had the area been left as it was. There are a number of large resorts here that treat their sewage, that practice responsible management and that encourage their guests to behave accordingly.

I'm sorry, but the people slamming some of the larger developers have the wrong target. The devastation around the Patong shoreline vs. the attempts to keep Karon and Bang Tao decent are quite the contrast.

Posted by Ryan on April 27, 2010 07:43


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