THE DAYS when the stretchy 80 metre tape measure could be used on Phuket hillside building sites may be over, although a tragedy that killed three workers has now raised fresh concerns about safety on the slopes.
The island's protected green tops and the slopes below them continue to be a focus of intense interest and speculation, especially during the rainy season.
There is some good news. Phuketwan has discovered a Patong company that chooses not to cheat or offer a bribe to build beyond the official limit.
A round of applause, please, for general manager Sawalak Niyonmadul and the family team behind the Blue Marine Resort and Spa.
We revealed exclusively in PROPERTY last week that an expansion is tripling the number of rooms and adding upmarket villas at the family's existing resort on the beach road, north of the Novotel and the Diamond Cliff.
Now sales executive Pisarak Silanurak has told us that the design has been modified.
Three large, delightful-looking pool villas have been scrapped . . . because they exceed the 80-metre height limit.
Piling has already been put in. Yet having been told about the height issue, the family had no hesitation in reducing the number of villas from nine to six.
The Niyonmadul folk felt that the law needs to be upheld, even if it costs, Khun Pisarak told Phuketwan.
On another Patong hillside building site, three Burmese workers died in a landslip after heavy rain, just the kind of unnecessary tragedy that the laws governing the hilltops and slopes are designed to prevent.
Patong police are taking action and will interview construction management and the landowner. (Look for updates on Phuketwan )
A police investigation is already proceeding into two sites above Kamala.
Question marks also hang over other hillside properties on the island, so it's pleasing to learn that some companies are prepared to act to stay within the law.
At the Blue Marine, the Classic Wing and the new Royal Wing will offer a total of 270 rooms, with the Royal Wing being rated four-star plus.
The large new central swimming pool runs to about 60 metres in length.
Detox Spa For Hollywood Heroes
COMING OFF the drawing board at the Blue Marine is a ''medical spa'' that will be available to Phuket residents as well as visitors and guests.
The management plans to employ a doctor to lead a ''detox'' team at the spa, which will have six massage rooms.
So if you see some Hollywood heroes around Patong looking healthier by the second, don't be surprised. It may just be the treatment at the Blue Marine.
The new wing includes 28 honeymoon suites, each with a deep bath on the balcony, protected and private but with superb views out over the bay.
Construction is taking longer than anticipated, which is not unusual on the island.
December 15 was the scheduled opening date but it may be January before the first tranche of the new wing is ready to take guests.
The management team of five daughters and a son had no resort experience before the Blue Marine opened and have since learned enough to prove themselves extremely capable.
More land is owned by the family above the 80 metre limit.
That part of the property will stay green, and the plan is to extend the exisiting landscaped areas within the resort in line with the TAT appeal to make Phuket as attractive as possible.
As for the height limit, we think that stretchy 80 metre tape measure should be preserved in a museum under a sign headed: The Bad Old Days.
As the tragic death of the three workers sadly highlights, height and slope laws have the purpose of protecting lives as well as the Phuket greenery.
From August, the hiring of additional Blue Marine staff begins. Inquiries should be addressed to HR by telephoning 076 370400 after August 1.
Phuketwan Takes You Higher
DESPERATE to experience the view from 80 metres above Patong Bay, we headed north, up the coast road a little, then turned right on the road to the top of the Villa Santi site.
The Villa Santi hillside spread, considered to be one of the island property success stories, is now a landmark above the Paan Yah restaurant.
The restaurant, which gives diners a great view over the bay from much closer to sea level, is being renovated, so it's closed for now.
Up the hill, hard going for a Honda Jazz, the panorama is stunning. This is probably the best view of Patong that money can buy.
Just to make sure what we were seeing was legal, we called Suchat Chutit, the guru of the greentops.
He is the man at local government level who makes the call around Patong on whether a property is too high.
Yes, he said, he had checked the Villa Santi property three times, the way he usually does.
It's precisely 78 metres above sea level, Khun Suchat says.
Good call, Villa Santi.
Next time we find a suitable Patong hillside, we'll move a bit higher to see the fabulous view if the limit is ever increased, the way some owners want it to be.
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.
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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.