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Phuket now has a world class shopping hub

Tim Newton

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Phuket now has a world class shopping hub | The Thaiger

by Tim Newton

The population of Thailand is around 70 million people. I think most of them were at the opening night of the new Central Floresta on September 10.

As far as openings go this must have put a smile on the Central owners and management involved in bringing this new shopping experience to fruition – it was a triumph in every respect.

If you were driving past over the weekend you must have thought, as I did, that there was no way the new shining light of the Central Pattana Group was possibly going to be ready. Little did we know that the hard work was all happening behind the facade and once the scaffolding came down on Sunday, voila, there it was.

Phuket now has a (sorry, I’m going to use the hackneyed phrase) world class shopping precinct in the heart of the island. A ‘central’ retail district to rival anything else in Thailand, outside Bangkok. Surely the intersection will now continue to attract more investment and the area will evolve into the island’s premier shopping zone – clearly this is the plan and what Central Pattana are hoping for.

Everything about the new Central Floresta is well above predictions – from the parking (there’s plenty), the range of stores, the excellent food court, the imaginative design, the decor, lighting – it’s all outstanding. Particularly pleasing is the integration, just about everywhere you look, of ‘Thainess’ but with a Phuket flavour. The Peranakan architectural motifs adorn the food court, the lofty statues and sculptures are highly imaginative and add spectacle to the open spaces.

Whilst some of the better-known luxury brands are missing at the moment there are still plenty of high-end luxury brands and a few new ones as well.

I am sure we will be calling the two sides of the road ‘the old Central’ and ‘the new Central’ in the short-term, but can imagine there will be a time when the two will morph into one precinct we’ll simply call ‘Central’.

Phuket went a few notches up the retail ladder yesterday when the new store opened its doors. Apart from Thailand’s best beaches, the island can now boast an international shopping precinct as a key attraction – it was lacking in the past with Patong’s Jungceylon looking tired and Central Festival in need of a modern interpretation. The retail scene is changing a lot faster than developers seem to be able to cope with.

For the ‘locals’ who yearn for the Phuket of old – the little Thai tropical paradise with the cheap bars and tacky beach restaurants – it’s long gone and it’s not coming back. Thailand’s largest companies and biggest investors are spending big and the biggest international brands keep coming, investing in new projects, raising the stakes and the quality of the island’s offerings.

In the next few years we have the opening of one of the most spectacular water theme parks in Asia opening up (Blue Tree in Cherng Talay), a classy new Mandarin Hotel at Laem Singh on the west coast, the opening of the MontAzure properties at Kamala and a list of other new developments currently pending announcement – all taking Phuket up a notch.

Phuket now has a world class shopping hub | News by The Thaiger

The new food hall on the lower floor is immense with something for every budget and taste. And a floating market!

Phuket will never be the same; it’s growing and evolving into an urban island for tourists – the ‘Hawaii of South East Asia’ (as I heard someone describe it last night – thanks Harry). If you really want to live the 1990’s Phuket you can still find a similar lifestyle north of the island, down around Trang, parts of Krabi or even up around the northern parts of Phuket. But the island is now on a one-way trajectory to become Thailand’s most recognised international brand.

So congratulations Central Pattana for having the vision and coming up with something we can all enjoy and that tourists will appreciate. Floresta is a welcome addition and will surely encourage other shopping zones on the island to invest and catch up, otherwise be left behind.

But wait, there’s more coming. The new shopping precinct has three themed attractions to open yet and an enormous Aquarium as well.

Check out Floresta but leave yourself a morning or afternoon – there’s plenty to absorb.

We were at the opening yesterday when the shutters went up…

Central Floresta is open. We were there.

PHUKETIt’s open. We were at the new Central Floresta in the opening moments.

Posted by The Thaiger on Sunday, September 9, 2018


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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,200 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Instagram and Facebook.

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Bangkok

Container with radioactive waste being stored at Laem Chabang port

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Container with radioactive waste being stored at Laem Chabang port | The Thaiger

An unknown amount of radioactive waste has been detected inside an export container at the Laem Chabang Deep Seaport, just north of Pattaya, Chon Buri.

The port’s deputy director, Vice Admiral Yutthana Mokkhao, says the waste is being kept in the safety zone at the port which is equipped to handle radioactive situation and it is being handled by officials from Thailand’s Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT).

The waste was detected by x-ray officials and TINT was alerted on Thursday. Yutthana said TINT intended to remove the radioactive waste for disposal by Friday but the operation could not be completed on time. The operation resumed yesterday, he said.

The container belongs to the Aftermath Stainless Steel and Metal Recycling Company.

Yutthana did not specify the amount or type of radioactive waste.

The Nation reports that, normally, radioactive waste could be a by-product of electricity generating by nuclear reactors or it could come from medical radiating machines.

Container with radioactive waste being stored at Laem Chabang port | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Bangkok

Thailand’s first Apple store opens along the Chao Phraya at the new Iconsiam

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand’s first Apple store opens along the Chao Phraya at the new Iconsiam | The Thaiger

The new Iconsiam building is open along the banks of the Chao Phraya along with a stunning new Apple Store, the first in Thailand. One of the features of the new store is the play on the Apple logo which makes it look like a letter of the Thai alphabet, a first such departure for the usually rigorous Apple style-sheet.

The new Apple Iconsiam seamlessly connects the new mixed-use IconSiam Centre to an outdoor roof terrace. The store’s clean, trapezoidal design lines and glass surfaces accentuate the natural beauty of its surroundings while creating an open, airy atmosphere erasing boundaries between interior and exterior.

Apple Iconsiam, the first Apple Store in Thailand, opens today in Bangkok at the city’s newest and largest shopping centre, IconSiam Centre.

The store features Apple’s full line of products, including iPhone XS, iPhone XR and Apple Watch Series 4, invites visitors to pursue their creative passions with free Today at Apple sessions. Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, said that Bangkok is a cultural and economic destination for the entire region, which hosts millions of passionate Apple customers.

Thailand's first Apple store opens along the Chao Phraya at the new Iconsiam | News by The Thaiger

“We are thrilled to introduce our Thai customers to Today at Apple, our full line of products, our phenomenal employees and the service and support that is loved by customers around the world,” gushed Ahrendts.

Denny Tuza, senior market director, Asia Pacific Retail for Apple, notes that the design features two expansive glass facades that create transparency through the store and to the river, the city and beyond.

As customers walk in through a sweeping curve stone entry, their journey continues to the lush roof garden, where they can admire local art, participate in a Today at Apple photo or sketch walks, or simply enjoy iconic views of Bangkok.

Inside the store, a spacious forum offers all of Apple’s free Today at Apple sessions, which he says Apple expects will inspire visitors to connect with one another, discover a new passion or take their skills to the next level. People can sign up for Today at Apple sessions at apple.com/th/today. These hands-on sessions, led by creative pros, offer tools for all to explore their creative curiosity and learn to make the most of Apple products and services.

Thailand's first Apple store opens along the Chao Phraya at the new Iconsiam | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Business

Thai Airways doubles up on 2017 losses

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai Airways doubles up on 2017 losses | The Thaiger

Thai Airways has doubled up on losses for the past three months (Q3), compared to the same period last year. They’ve reported an operating loss of 3.69 billion baht, up 103% year-on-year.

The total revenue was actually up 2.2%, according to a statement from the Thai Airways president, Sumeth Damrongchaitham, but the operating costs were up 1.87 billion baht, compared with the same period in 2017.

He put the dismal profit report down to natural disasters, decreasing numbers of Chinese tourists and rising oil prices.

Whilst noting that the third quarter each year is usually airlines’ ‘low season’ in Thailand, he said fuel prices were up 5.5% this year along with rising costs of maintenance and overhaul.

Sumeth mentioned a few milestone events in Q3, including the Typhoon Jebi that hit Japan, disrupting flights, an earthquake in Hokkaido and Typhoon Mangkhut which hit Hong Kong – all key routes for the national airline.

But, more than the other events, the general drop in Chinese tourists choosing Thai Airways was the main shock to the airline’s bottomline during the period.

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