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JW Marriott at Khao Lak, latest of the branded resorts in the region

Phuketwan Phuket Business of the Year 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009
BUSINESS on Phuket is a bit like the patient in the recovery room. The nurse says: ''She looks so healthy and so beautiful.''

And the surgeon responds: ''Yes, but you should see what she looks like on the inside.''

Outwardly a picture of sunshine and holiday magic, inwardly facing some potentially unwanted and threatening complaints . . . that's Phuket.

In looking at business on the island this year, we found few positives. And even some of the positives turned sour.

One Australian swimming pool company, moving its factory to Phuket purely for tax and salary savings, failed to respond to our telephone calls and ignored our email messages.

Perhaps they were preoccupied, laying off Aussies and hiring Thais. Let's hope they learn something quickly about courtesy, or they will certainly struggle to succeed in Asia.

The attitude of that company is in direct contrast to this year's winner, a brand that responds to callers, even when they are prying journalists.

The Phuketwan Phuket Business of the Year is a brand so huge that it hardly needs the accolade: Marriott International.

Yet Marriott has shown faith in ''Greater Phuket'' by rapidly growing its brands to the point where we believe it now has more staff in the Andaman region than any other private employer.

The count of Marriott properties worldwide continues to tick over so fast that if we say there are 3150, later today there are bound to be 3160.

With the JW Marriott a fixture at Mai Khao for more than eight years, little happened for ages, apart from the addition of the Vacation Club. Since 2008 though, Marriott has opened Courtyards at Patong, Kamala and Surin, plus a splendid JW Marriott at Khao Lak.

As well there's the Marriott-connected Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which opened at Phulay Bay in Krabi earlier this month, the first of that particular designation in the world.

Another Reserve is coming eventually in Phang Nga, and on the island, a first Renaissance, with a turtle-shaped roof, will be opening in 2010.

Yet one more resort that we believe will eventually emerge as a Marriott lies behind green screening in Kamala, awaiting an improved economic climate the way most of us await high season sunshine.

That's a fair amount of fire-power for one brand, in one region. Marriott staff also work a five-day week, or are heading towards that standard.

The Marriott also plans to improve industry education in 2010 by liaising with Prince of Songhkla University to provide practical training and hospitality courses. We recommend the Aussie pool company signs up.
Other Phuketwan Award Winners

Phuketwan Phuket Restaurant of the Year 2009
Photo Album Well we've cheated twice with this award, once by giving it to two restaurants, and the second time by telling readers of another site about it first. Sorry. But enjoy them both.
Phuketwan Phuket Restaurant of the Year 2009

Cape Sienna, Phuketwan Resort of the Year 2009
Headland Winner This Resort of the Year embraces compact hillside space and uses music and food to build a base for a strategy that others are bound to follow.
Cape Sienna, Phuketwan Resort of the Year 2009

Phuket's Innovation of the Year for 2009
Phuketwan Award Making peace pay is the innovative mediation system that has been developed on Phuket to the point where police are now also examining the idea.
Phuket's Innovation of the Year for 2009

Phuketwan Resort of the Year 2008 Award
Photo Album Phuketwan starts its second year with its first award for 2008, a new one, for the resort of the year. Take the tour of the resort we think tops the lot and sets the standard.
Phuketwan Resort of the Year 2008 Award

Phuketwan Innovation of the Year 2008 Award
Photo Album Golf and sailing vie for Phuket's top sporting spot and the latest award from Phuketwan reflects that competition. Greet this year's winner of the innovation of the year award.
Phuketwan Innovation of the Year 2008 Award

Phuketwan Attraction of the Year 2008 Award
Photo Album Happiness probably is more important than success. At least, that's the view from 2008 and the view from the Phuketwan ''business'' award winner of the year.
Phuketwan Attraction of the Year 2008 Award

Phuketwan Person of the Year 2008 Award
During the three day Phuket airport siege, Phuketwan updated more than 50 times, often to cover the latest information from a key figure whose skills were soon on show again in the Bangkok blockade.
Phuketwan Person of the Year 2008 Award

Comments

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Which other businesses did the shortlist? And what are the qualifications to be "business of the year", besides laying off Aussies but be friendly on the phone? :)

Being a nice behaving tourist industry gorilla with a timing problem on their resort pipeline would not be my main point. Do they have an outstanding record for keeping their employees, even when they get pregnant, sick or older? They reduce their carbon footprint? They make a stand to improve Phuket imperfections, like Tuktuks a.o.? The educational thing, that is to come (!) cannot be the thing for 2009. So, how come? Your laudatio seems insufficient for the price.

Editor: Marriott's record on the environment and staff welfare is excellent. Being big shouldn't necessarily be a problem. Great ''new'' businesses on Phuket are hard to find, so much so that last year, we adapted the award to 'Attraction of the Year,' noting the Big Buddha. This year's award also reflects the activity in resort management generally. It's one area where businesses are showing faith in the region. As usual, we called for readers' nominations in this category. Eventually we hope the awards will be based on broader and deeper island feedback. For now, as with all the awards, we play it as we see it. We don't think it's fair to name other 'nominations' in this category.

Posted by Lena on December 31, 2009 20:56


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