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The sign that has fooled islanders for years. The Conrad is not going ahead on Phuket.

The Fate of The Good Ship Conrad

Sunday, December 9, 2007
PHUKET'S mysterious Conrad Resort has been like some mythical ghost ship, seen through the fog occasionally, large and looming, before fading from view.

Go down to Cape Panwa and the large sign on the left announces boldly on gold: ''Conrad Phuket Resort & Spa. Pre-opening Office.''

Read some local magazines and you are led to believe quite falsely that it's already a bustling tourist hub.

Go online and do a search and, until a few days ago, you could find a page on the Conrad site of lyrical details about the resort and a box that offered the opportunity to ''Book Now.''

Within days of Phuketwan contacting Hilton to ask about the Conrad, the online page had disappeared.

We were told that the sign, a fixture on the road to the Cape for several years, may also not be there for much longer.

''We will take appropriate steps to have the signage of the Conrad name removed,'' a spokesperson said.

Try to enter the grounds of the Conrad in search of the pre-opening office and you are likely to be rebuffed by a security guard.

It was different back in the days of the old Panwaburi, which had the Hilton's support. The Panwaburi was a fine hotel, with a secluded stretch of beach and a good reputation.

But somewhere between the announcement of the plan to open a Conrad, the premium Hilton brand, and the actual completion of the project, something went wrong.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, Phuketwan endeavoured to find out precisely what.

''Hilton Hotels Corporation confirms that it is no longer associated with Panwaburi Co. Ltd in regard to the development of the Conrad Phuket Resort & Spa in Panwaburi, Thailand, with effect from 9 May, 2006,'' the Hilton spokesperson said.

Was the change from the Panwaburi to the Conrad a victim of the tourism lull after the tsunami, or an ebbing cash flow? We may never know for sure.

''Hilton Hotels Corporation currently manages four hotels in Thailand -- Millennium Hilton Bangkok, Hilton Arcadia Phuket Resort and Spa; Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa and the Conrad Bangkok,'' we were told.

The Hilton Phuket Arcadia is the second largest hotel in Thailand, with more than 700 rooms.

And the Hilton chain is to grow by one in 2009, when the Conrad Koh Samui Resort & Spa is due to open.

All we can say is, ''Good luck, Samui!''

Meanwhile, although big-name brands including Mercure, Courtyard and La Flora continue to open on Phuket, Conrad will not be among them, for now at least.

We hope the brand eventually makes it to Phuket.

The good news for Cape Panwa is that the glorious outlook from the headlands of the partly-completed resort should not go unseen for much longer.

We are reliably informed that an announcement about the future development of the site will be made in January, 2008.

Look out for a new sign soon on the road to the cape.


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Sunday September 15, 2019
Phuketwan - Your sweet Phuket, every day


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