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Laguna Phuket balloon planned close to marquee lagoon site

Laguna Phuket Pursues Conventions Market

Friday, October 3, 2008
A SECOND LARGE Phuket resort is making a bid to attract more of Asia's meetings and conventions (MICE) market.

Laguna Phuket has now joined Royal Phuket Marina in coming up with a unique venue to claim a segment of the suddenly-vital regional market.

Laguna's concept of 'Latitude', a permanent marquee capable of seating as many as 1500 people in air-conditioned comfort, is very different to the bricks and mortar option announced earlier this year by Royal Phuket Marina.

With long-haul travel predicted to soon become more expensive, Phuket resort entrepreneurs are now looking at ways of winning a greater share of the regional meetings and conventions market.

Singapore is probably the key regional competitor. With casinos and a growing nightlife, the island nation is likely to attract more regional business from next year.

On Phuket, the Ao Phuket reclaimed land marina and convention centre concept, off Saphan Hin in Phuket City, has been on the drawing board for 20 years.

It is likely to stay there. The island has been waiting for so long for a convention centre that Royal Phuket Marina and now Laguna Phuket have apparently decided to do their own thing.

At least one other resort, the Hilton Phuket Arcadia in Karon, which has 700-plus rooms, has in-house facilities for gatherings of perhaps 1000 people.

Laguna Phuket said in a media release this week that its facility will have a concrete floor and be ''fully operational'' in the second half of 2009.

''Latitude will be centrally located within Laguna Phuket in the park opposite Canal Shopping Village by the lagoon that separates the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket and Laguna Beach Resort,'' the announcement said.

The facility is described as ''perfectly placed to enable stunning entrances by water via the resort's network of waterways.

''The surrounding grounds will be beautifully landscaped and will complement the natural aesthetics in Laguna Phuket.''

Laguna has used a large portable marquee capable of holding 1000 people to good effect to cater for large events, including the annual marathon and triathlon, since 2004.

The sanctuary resort on Bang Tao beach is home to the Banyan Tree, the Sheraton Grande, the Dusit Thai, the Allamanda, Laguna Beach Resort and the Laguna Holiday Club.

However, other resorts on the island will be invited to work with Laguna Phuket on a program for meetings and conventions.

The Royal Phuket Marina, which has the virtue of being centrally-located on the island, has yet to announce its own plans to open an on-site resort.

It is believed that three brands are still being considered. One of these may be targetted towards conventions.

The Royal Phuket Marina conference facility, announced at a media conference in August, is part of an existing building and may be limited for some exhibitors by low ceilings.

However, marina chairman Gulu Lalvani said that the conference centre facilities will grow with demand to 10,000 square metres, and the ultimate investment could be as high as one billion baht.

The annual Phuket International Marine Expo, opening on December 4, will be the first event to be staged at the conference centre, which is being created in an existing building underneath second-floor marina condominiums.

Partner in the project is Informa, an international conference group.

Laguna Phuket also has plans to set up a tethered balloon near its marquee conference facility. The balloon has the potential to carry visitors on scenic tours as high as 300 metres, with Department of Civil Aviation approval.

Laguna has announced plans to open a seventh resort at the sanctuary and is also considering a golf resort, along with a second 18-hole course.

THE GLOVES will soon be off in the battle for the hearts, minds and do-it-yourself shelves of island residents. homeWorks opens on October 25 in big new premises opposite Central Festival.

Meanwhile, down south close to the old Chalong Circle, construction is proceeding feverishly on the new HomePro site.

HomePro Vice President Nat Jarlitchana told Phuketwan that the monsoon weather had slowed construction a little, but they hope the 500 million baht development will be ready to open in December.

The site is a large 24 rai. As well as space for a large HomePro store that will offer much more than the existing outlet at Tesco Lotus, there is 2500 square metres of space to accommodate other retail outlets.

Two HomePro stores on Phuket will be about the limit for now, with a Krabi branch opened this year and 34 branches throughout Thailand.

We expect there will be quite a battle once both big stores are open and out to prove they have most to offer. The bargains should be available to benefit everyone.

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Sunday October 2, 2022
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