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High season means sharing the beach with one or two others . . . but Phuket is still a pleasant place to laze.

Record Season Tipped

Sunday, November 25, 2007
LEADING Phuket resorts are anticipating a record high season, a survey by Phuketwan reveals. The participants also have high hopes for the next low season.

But there are some improvements required, the resort spokespeople say, if the boom is to continue into 2008 and beyond. "Phuket is becoming clearly overbuilt," says one influential GM.

Occupancy rates look set to top 90 percent at the five-star end of the tourist trade this year, with the newly-rebranded Centara, a major player in Kata and Karon, forcasting 90 percent in December and 95 percent in January.

The Katathani, with more than 400 rooms fronting Kata Noi beach, topped that by predicting a record 95 percent rate through November, December and January.

It's the same in the business-oriented hotels of Phuket City, where the Metropole is also predicting record business and an occupancy rate that could go to 90 percent.

With those kinds of figures, the only problem is how you can build more rooms in a hurry.

Up north, setting the pace on innovation -- and reaping the benefits -- is the Indigo Pearl. The new Naiyang resort has other marketing teams looking on with envy.

Coming next at Indigo Pearl:

..a private beach club in December with a BBQ and chill out music, a new tropical outlet, the Underground Caf???????, where an international Barista will set the pace on coffee and training, plus delicious pastries.

..a quartet imported from the US will be playing jazz, soul and funk.

..and the popular Sunday brunch will be relaunched on November 11 with a few "interesting twists." Little wonder a sell-out crowd is anticipated.

"The coming high season will be the best year for Phuket resorts post-tsunami," says Indigo Pearl Director of Communications, Raewyn du Toit.

"I believe that Phuket is on the right track by trying to attract much more discerning travellers with more spending power as compared to low budget travellers and back packers."

The hot trend is moving upmarket in style. Kata Beach Resort and Spa has just converted ground floor space into 20 pool access rooms, adding a spa and enhancing the entrance with a herd of elephants having fun in cascading water.

"Guests will always return to any hotel that provides genuine Thai hospitality, a big smile, friendly, efficient service and value for money," says GM Andrew A. Swatdipakdi.

Centara GM Alexandre Glauser agrees and believes the good times will continue. "This will be one of the best seasons for Phuket in many years, " he said.

"Demand during the low season was very satisfactory and we expect 2008 to be the same.

"Major European tour operators have significantly increased the number of direct charter flights from key feeder markets.

"It also appears that one major Scandinavian tour operator will maintain a charter rotation throughout the low season."

The Dusit Laguna Resort, celebrating 20 years this high season, takes daily occupancy figures and sees these riding at 95 percent through the high season.

"We would like the government side to set up some special programs to increase the business demand," a spokesperson said. "Otherwise the island resorts are always in competiton with each other."

In Phuket City, Metropole GM Peerapong Supaorut sees the hotel concentrating on business guests and seminars to boost numbers during the 2008 low season. "Satisfied guests are going to come back," he said.

Plenty of visitors are also turning left instead of right from Phuket airport and heading for the natural delights of Phang Nga this high season.

The president of the Phang Nga Tourism Association, Prasert Janponnean, predicts occupancy rates of between 80 to 90 percent for the Khao Lak region in December and January, where there are now a total of 4000 rooms, mostly at all-new post-tsunami resorts.

While low season occupancy figures are improving across both provinces, the rates are generally much lower than during the high season.

At least one senior marketing figure at a leading resort says privately that Phuket pre-tsunami was an overpriced destination. Today, rates are more realistic.


THE FUTURE: What the Experts Say

"Phuket needs environmental preservation and safety." Suchart Vikittipong, CEO, Katathani


"Phuket still needs an efficient, affordable and safe public transportation system; Strict zoning ('girly bars' should only be allowed in Patong and not Kata/Karon, which are more family destinations); tighter security measures; a cleaner environment; better development control; improved airport arrival experience; consistent service quality."
Alexandre Glauser, GM, Centara Villas Phuket & Centara Kata Resort Phuket

"Two issues need to be fixed: The environment and the 'trash' situation that Phuket is facing, especially on beachfronts and other public areas. Increased control over access to the prime tourist locations, especially in surrounding islands, so as to avoid the sensation of 'mass tourism,' with the negative impact this could have on the fauna and flora of such paradise spots.

"Phuket has much more to offer than sea, sun and sand. Other activities such as trekking, shopping, fine dining, cultural tours, could be developed and marketed while trying to attract discerning travellers during the low season." Raewyn du Toit, Director of Communications, Indigo Pearl

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Friday February 23, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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