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PM Abhisit at the last Asean conference he attended on Phuket

PM Tips Asean for Phuket: Resorts Slug It Out

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
SEVERAL Phuket resorts are expected to be contenders for the Asean Plus Six summit, which is now officially destined for the island in June.

The decision in favor of Phuket was made despite a last-minute plea by Pattaya to be given a second chance to prove it could do the job well.

Now the race will be on among Phuket resorts to seize the prize.
Candidates will need to be able to provide accommodation for at least 1600 people, the leaders of 16 nations and their entourages.

It's likely to come down to a race between Karon and Bang Tao, with perhaps a combined effort by the Hilton Arcadia and neighboring resorts being the only serious competition for Laguna Phuket.

Is Laguna's planned giant marquee ready for what could prove to be the ultimate test? What can the Hilton Arcadia offer by way of competition?

Phuketwan put the case for Phuket deserving of a chance soon after the Pattaya security embarrassment in which red shirt protesters invaded the resort where the nations were to meet, bringing the summit to a finish before it had begun.

Pattaya mayor Itthiphol Khunpluem sought a second chance for his town today, but Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva went to a Cabinet meeting and emerged with the name of the winning destination: Phuket.

To a certain extent this was only fair and proper. Bangkok was originally to be the summit destination, but the yellow shirts invaded Bangkok's airports back in November.

Then it was to be Phuket's turn, but by the time the decision came, there was not enough space left in the island's large resorts over the Songkran-Easter holiday break to accommodate the delegations.

So the big opportunity went Pattaya's way. And they blew it.

Now the test will be whether Phuket, well equipped by nature as an island with just one road route on and one off, and a handily placed checkpoint, can meet security requirements.

You can bet that the leaders of all 16 nations will not want to waste their time on a summit that came to nothing all over again.

And PM Abhisit, having once accepted what he was being told about security being adequate, will not tolerate another failure.

Phuket is perfect for this kind of conference, with the Sheraton Laguna Grande having held more than one smaller Asean conference recently, and probably the front-runner.

A big plus is the availability of quality accommodation for national presidents, prime ministers and the Sultan of Brunei in the Dusit Thani's new villas along the sea and lagoon opposite the Sheraton.

It may just be coincidence, but both the Hilton Arcadia and the Sheraton have emailed out special offers on pricing and deals within the past few days.

It should be quite a show, and the prospect of holding the Asean Summit will offer huge encouragement to all resorts on the island and in the neighboring region, too. Roll on, June.

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Sunday September 26, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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