THE LAST of the big resorts along the Khao Lak coast to be rebuilt after the tsunami now has a new name.
The 300-room Sofitel Magic Lagoon Resort & Spa Khao Lak, originally a Novotel, reopened under the five-star Sofitel brand just in time for the big wave in 2004.
It was being reconstructed this year as a Kempinski.
Kempinski is a brand with an East European heart, and it would have been the expanding chain's first venture into Thailand.
Now the beachside resort, once noted for its tropical ambience and super-sized swimming pool, has yet another new name.
The Novotel Sofitel Kempinski is scheduled to reopen on November 1 as the Rixos Premium Khao Lak.
As with Kempinski, it is Rixos Premium's first venture into Thailand. We don't know a lot about the brand, other than it is Turkish.
So from Sofitel, to Kempinski, to Rixos Premium . . . we see it more clearly now. The splendid site, not far from Khao Lak, has been changing brands in a march across Europe towards Asia.
Phuketwan has been told that the staff who have already been hired by Kempinski will maintain their positions, and that the management of the resort is likely to come from Russia.
Perhaps it's the start of a strong Russian presence in Phang Nga. The Russians will be joining the Germans and the Scandanavians, who already love what the province has to offer.
Look for more when the Rixos Premium Khao Lak website is launched, we are told, next week.
Aviation's 'New World Order'
ALL EYES will be on the skies over the green season as Phuket's resorts and real estate companies check the pulse of business.
The shakeout now consuming airlines all over the globe is of such a magnitude that, inevitably, it will affect the island's future.
The US airlines are seen as most vulnerable, along with 100,000 jobs forecast to be slashed in the industry around the globe this year.
Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon announced 1500 job cuts then told a business lunch in Sydney a couple of days ago that globalisation, accelerated by permanently higher fuel prices, would result in a ''new aviation world order'''.
''Right now the global aviation industry faces not just a shock or indeed a blip or indeed a crisis really but a permanent transformation,''' Mr Dixon said.
In Bangkok, Terapatr Mathanukraw, an analyst at Seamico Securities, predicted: ''Any airline with a weak financial position has to go out of business.
''The stronger and bigger carriers also have to lower their costs by cutting flights in order to survive until another boom cycle.''
Phuketwan predicts that the oil-rich Middle East players will become more important in any global transformation.
Although the outlook in aviation is uncertain in terms of profits, cash-rich airlines are expanding to take advantage of the situation.
Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi, has announced plans to buy 200 new planes and FlyDubai, a new low-cost carrier, has ordered more than 50 Boeing 737-800 aircraft for its launch next year.
Wellness Flies for Bangkok Airways
IN THAILAND, the country's largest privately owned airline, Bangkok Airways, plans to spend more than one billion baht to build three wellness and rejuvenation centres.
The airline also recently bought a golf course for Bt500 million.
Wellness and rejuvination seem a logical diversification for the 40-year-old group that also holds the Bangkok hospital brand and Samui Airport.
Foreign investment is being sought for two of the wellness centres, where the concentration will be on surgery, anti-ageing medicine and holistic approaches to healthcare and well-being.
Come to think of it, wellness is just what the entire aviation industry needs.
The airline hopes to turn Samui into a new tourism hub, with direct links to Hong Kong and Singapore and then Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur to follow.
Similar wellness centres are being proposed for China and India.
Sadly, Phuket seems to be left out of BA's planning.
Signs are not good for Phuket's tourism and property industries as airlines throttle back for a rough passage through darkening clouds. Embattled One Two Go CEO sees a silver lining; Flower show a bright spot.
Airline Setback Will Slow Phuket Too
The Department of Civil Aviation will today release the report on the crash of One Two Go Flight 269 on Phuket last year. The report has ramifications for continuing confidence in budget airlines; Golf caddy query; Tsunami movie hit.
Phuket Air Crash Report Due For Release
While Phuket resorts wait to see what August and September bring, some have contingency plans for staff layoffs. How deep will the oil price crisis bite? Surf carnival time; Your own tuk-tuk; Choosing a restaurant.
Jobs at Risk as Phuket Tourist Numbers Dive
A new festival on an island off Phuket is set to capture traditional life, and perhaps even the buffaloes that will be ridden and raced; The difference between Phuket Town and Phuket City, invisible people.
Buffalo Festival A First For Phuket
The piling went in but the Patong resort management discovered the classy new villas were above the 80 metre height limit. What to do? Three die in Patong landslip; Detox spa for Patong.
Patong Resort Cancels Villas For Height Breach
Phuket's hilltop Big Buddha is already attracting a steady stream of tourists and many Buddhist temples warrant visits, too; Patong tailors strike back with a honeymoon treat.
Temple Ceremonies Deserve An Audience
So it's Goodbye, Khun Suwalai. As Phuket tourism faces a new crisis, the TAT director who led the recovery after the tsunami heads for Europe and a new role. Her replacement is coming from New York
Phuket TAT Director Bound For Europe
Six months of waiting is over for the sailor at the centre of a strange night on board the Merlin that led to the death of a frogman; pawn shops record highlights economic downturn; minister quits after protests.
Kata Killing: Merlin Skipper Ready To Sail
Phuket's local authorities agree on a rubbish recycling plan; Treasury backs an island conference centre; Dubai resorts in tourism numbers crunch; New Phang Nga park planned; Burma cyclone latest.
Deal on Recycling Brings Hope For Phuket
First you see them, now you don't. One big brand is no longer going ahead with a large Phang Nga resort deal; twice daily tsunami warnings; Penang roadshow; Philippines gamble.
Big Brand Pulls Out of Khao Lak Deal
TRENDSevery day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading.