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Cranes on the beachfront at the Centara Grand site

Centara's 1.9 Billion Baht Phuket Grand Grows

Monday, August 18, 2008
Monday TRENDS

THE CENTARA Karon Resort Phuket reports an occupancy rate of 70 percent. Centara took over the old Islandia in 2006 as part of its move to develop a presence on Phuket's west coast.

The Karon resort has 335 rooms and 320 staff, and it's just five minutes on foot to the beach . . . where an even more impressive Centara is being built.

The only resort actually on the beachfront at Karon, the 1.9 billion baht Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket is already an imposing sight as traffic swings down the hill from Patong to Karon.

The turning to the site is awkward, on a steep slope that could be made more difficult in heavy traffic or bad weather.

All seemed to be going smoothly when Phuketwan dropped by the construction site. Opening is set for 2010.

A colonial-style resort edging the sand will offer villas with private pools, five-star-plus luxury, and accommodation for 262 guests.

Centara changed its name from that of the large well-known retail parent, Central, in 2007.

The change doesn't seem to have done any harm as far as guest numbers go. The existing resort says this year is proving better than last year.

Phuket is also home to the Centara Kata Resort Phuket (158 rooms / 146 staff) and Centara Villas Phuket (72 Villas / 114 staff).

Sunshine Seeks More Tourists

ON THE Sunshine Coast of Australia, debate is taking place about the future of tourism in much the same way as it is on Phuket.

The concern, though, is that more Aussies are going overseas for holidays (and hundreds of thousands of those Aussies come to Phuket.)

According to some estimates, up to 3000 Sunshine Coast holiday industry jobs are at risk in the next few years, especially if the value of the Australian dollar increases.

A local newspaper supports the drive to attract more home-grown tourists on short breaks, ''choosing the sights of Bli Bli over Bali, Tewantin instead of Tuscany, or Peregian rather than Phuket.''

In response, one reader wrote: ''What happened to the old fashioned hotel that offered meals and full service at prices that could be afforded by families on middle incomes?

''The coast is suffering from the modern business mode of 'charge the earth and provide as little as possible.'

Another reader adds: ''First people complain because they can't stand tourists, then they whine when they're gone.''

And a third says of the Sunshine Coast holiday destination, which centres on the resort town of Noosa: ''People use to come here because it was quiet and relaxing, and you could walk along some beaches without seeing another soul for kilometers, now the coast is just a mini version of the Gold Coast, without the casino, and the three worlds [theme parks].''

There was this comment: ''Too many dollars are wasted trying to attract new people who arrive, don't get treated well and then don't come back. Where's the economy in that?''

And again: ''The coast is reminiscent of the seaside resorts of Northern England which suffered when the package tours of the '60s arrived, and then failed to reinvent themselves to cater to modern tastes.''
Guess what? Another reader even suggests reduced rates in the less popular time of the year, to attract regional holidaymakers.

Phuket, you are not alone.

The Hot Tip on Tipping

PHUKETWAN's recent survey on tipping and service charges in the restaurants and resorts of Phuket produced this response from a correspondent at the Thai Visa forum site:

''As an American, when in America you tip 15 percent as there is no such thing as service charge (which is a load of BS to me, being charged for service? If I disagree then I go to the kitchen to get my food myself?) and you tip regularly, the tips are pooled, taxed and redistributed to the waitstaff.

''Here if I see service charge in the bill, I am not obligated to tip. It's built in. But, many times 50 percent of the service charge goes back to the establishment (they are chiseling us!), so if the service is above and beyond, or I really like the people, I'll put another 10 percent down as a tip. That gets me to my 15 percent, which is normal to me.

''Overall the ++ system (Service charge and VAT) is crap. Another 17 percent added on to what was ordered is frustrating. I much prefer to see the price on the menu and see at the bottom, 'VAT and service charges included in prices.'
huggybear

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TRENDS
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Friday January 27, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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