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Kimi Raikkonen (we think) in sunglasses at Rawai

F1 Champ Kimi R. Plants His Foot for Phuket

Saturday, October 4, 2008
PHUKET needs every friend it can muster right now, especially those entitled to use the words ''World F1 Champion'' after their name.

We are talking, of course, about just one person here, Kimi Raikkonen.

The fast-moving Finn stood still long enough at Rawai on Saturday to soft-open the Outrigger Serenity Terraces Resort Phuket Phase 1 (as in F1) with a deft slice of a pair scissors through a ribbon.

At least, we think it was Kimi Raikkonen.

We've never seen him as anything more than a blur in Ferrari-red on the Formula One racing circuit.

And he did not take off those sunglasses by the beach at Rawai to confirm it was the same face as the very large face on the advertising hoarding out front.

So we took his word that he is Kimi Raikkonen. He is, though, it would appear, definitely a friend to Phuket.

He told a couple of hundred intimate friends of Outrigger who dropped by for the P1 soft launch and his few words that he discovered Phuket a couple of years ago, enjoys his visits, and hopes others do, too.

We guess he views Phuket gridlock with the same level of unhappiness as the rest of us, and presume that he prefers his tuk-tuks to be red.

He certainly sounded perhaps he'd had a recent time a little like Phuket when he wrote on his website after the first night GP in Singapore:

''It's difficult to find the right words: racing at night or during the day, this is definitely not my year.''

According to some Rawai neighbors, Kimi would definitely rather not be involved in too many city street circuit races, like the Singapore GP, simply because they don't give an opportunity to F1 drivers with flair to go for it.

Perhaps the Japan GP next weekend will be different and he can improve on fourth place at present in the 2008 standings.

As to the business outlook for Phuket property sales, Serenity Terraces Marketing Director Ramesh Hamal was exceedingly optimistic, perhaps with good cause.

According to Outrigger Thailand General Manager Pieter Van Der Hoeven, they had made a cheering sale just the previous day.

The public message from Mr Hamal was full-throttle optimism, too:

''The financial turmoil we have witnessed in the US is surely going to have impact world wide,'' he told hungry onlookers.

''However, Thailand's property market, especially Phuket, may be in the best position to take advantage of this setback because of strong economic fundamentals.

''Let us not forget that Phuket does not rely on speculative buying. Most buyers here in Phuket are looking at resort properties for lifestyle and investment, with long-term objectives.

''Because of the decline of property values and the lack of confidence in the banking industry in the West, the Asian property market, espcially Phuket, may actually benefit.

''We believe people in the West may find it more sensible to invest their savings in this growing market.

''Please remember that prices on Phuket are three to four times lower than other markets such as the Caribbean islands, Singapore, and so on.

''Therefore, Phuket offers very good opportunity for price appreciation.''

Gentlemen, start your engines. And go, Kimi.

Raikkonen has purchased a pool villa and the developers report that more than half of the 52 resort properties have been sold.

Prices for condos and villas range from US$300,000 to US$1.1 million. The property is scheduled to open in April 2009.

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