Connect with us


Gulu opens up about RPM sale

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Gulu opens up about RPM sale | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The Royal Phuket Marina (RPM) is on the market.

The announcement of the ‘luxury lifestyle development’s impending sale comes as a surprise to many industry analysts, particularly as RPM Chairman Gulu Lalvani has often referred to the development as his legacy. Just last year, Mr Lalvani announced a 5 billion baht investment plan for the marina.

In an exclusive interview with the Phuket Gazette earlier this week, Mr Lalvani explained he was approached by a private equity investor at the beginning of January.

Taking a break from his high finance life in New York to enjoy a yachting vacation around the Andaman, the holiday-maker reportedly contacted Mr Lalvani to make him an offer.

“I said, ‘it’s not for sale’. I told him this is my personal hobby and so on,” Mr Lalvani said.

While Mr Lalvani refused to reveal the identity of the potential buyer, he said that his own research into the man and his company found considerable investments in the hospitality industry worldwide.

Mr Lalvani’s anonymous investor reportedly holds significant assets in mixed-use developments in the US, including in Florida’s entertainment capital Orlando, and similar developments in California.

“He kept following up and I kept telling him no,” Mr Lalvani said. “Then he sent two people from the US and appointed an architect, saying he would pay for the architect to put together a master-plan of what he wanted to do here.”

Beyond the opportunity to get a free master-plan from a major property investor, Mr Lalvani said he was impressed by the investor’s willingness to do whatever it took to convince him to take the deal.

“He said he would pay for the master-plan, ‘You have nothing to lose and if we can’t do a deal you can have it with pleasure,'” Mr Lalvani said. “Well, that sounded very good to me. By the middle of March, he had convinced me that he was very serious and the master-plan went ahead.”

RPM, located on the island’s east coast, has appointed JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group to handle the sale through an ‘expression of interest’ campaign.

That master-plan includes 2,700 hotel rooms, divided among several brand-name hotels, in low-rise structures arranged around a large water park, as well as an artificial beach and beach club. The plan also features time-share villas, tourist facilities and a conference center, spread across RPM’s almost 200 rai of land.

The plan is reminiscent of Mr Lalvani’s original vision for the marina complex, but with a significant difference in the market focus.

In 2002, Mr Lalvani was among a number of interested parties encouraging the Thai government to adjust its restrictive taxing structure that bulked foreign yachts with foreign carpets and levied a punitive 200 per cent plus tax on their import. With the changes in the excise and tax laws, the flow of new yachts arriving in Phuket’s waters jumped considerably and Mr Lalvani began building RPM.

The development was to take place over multiple phases, including a second marina basin, high-end condos and luxury villas. What exists as RPM today is just the first phase of that original plan.

The collapse in tourist arrivals following the 2004 tsunami and a series of international economic crises stalled development of further phases. It was not until just over a year ago, Mr Lalvani said, that he felt confident enough to announce his intention to bring in new investment to kick start further phase development.

However, in the years since the completion of the first phase of the marina, the demographic of visitors to the island has changed dramatically.

“I didn’t expect this demographic,” Mr Lalvani said. “I thought there would be more and more Europeans.” Mr Lalvani said his original vision for RPM was that it would be the cornerstone of a re-imagined Phuket that would become the ‘Monte Carlo of Asia.’

“I did genuinely think like that,” he said. “I discounted the Chinese economy progressing so fast. So there I was wrong. What is happening now is Europeans are still coming, but Asians are coming in greater numbers.”

Mr Lalvani experienced first hand the shift in tourism demographics, as an estimated 30,000 Asian tourists now use the marina each month as a jump off point for speedboat tours to Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi. Good business, but definitely not the business he was expecting.

According to JLL’s ‘Information Memorandum’ on the RPM offering, which the company distributed to about 100 of its top property clients around the globe, 63 cities in 20 countries now have direct flights to Phuket. Nearly half of those flights originate from China.

“40 per cent of the world’s population lives within five hours of Phuket,” Mr Lalvani says. “It was direct flights that made the Chinese market. India will be next, if they get direct flights. Once they get going… This place hasn’t seen anything yet. The future of Phuket for tourism is incredible.”

The new investor’s master-plan focuses on the mid-range family market. The change in demographic emphasis will also bring the development in line with the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s latest shift in marketing position, from a value-for-money destination to a value-for-experience destination, purportedly driving tourist spend through longer stays and higher quality experiences.

JLL has set a ten-week window on the expression of interest, with an expectation of serious offers to be on the table before the end of September. But with an eager investor already on the hook, why did Mr Lalvani appoint JLL in the first place?

“We couldn’t agree a price. Obviously someone coming in wants to have the lowest [price], but the seller wants the highest – and I wasn’t wanting to sell it anyway,” Mr Lalvani said. “So, he came up with this idea: ‘Why don’t you put it on the market? I have to have the first refusal on the top bid. If I match it, I get it. If I don’t match it, go ahead.’ So, that’s the legal agreement that we signed.”

At this stage, however, Mr Lalvani has not yet made any commitment to sell RPM and says he would still be happy to continue to build his legacy in the years ahead. But the crux of the issue is, who will carry that legacy into the future?

“To be frank with you, my children, unfortunately, are not turned on by living in Phuket,” he said. “My son has a very successful business and is jet-setting around the world, my daughter is married in England and doesn’t want to move from there and Zoran [his youngest], I was hoping, would take over here, but he’s told me: ‘Don’t count on me, I want to live in Europe.’ That’s a bit of a disappointment.”

“For me [the offer] is timely. I’m 77. I don’t feel it but I see the potential. There are more boats here than ever before. And if there’s the best water park here, surrounded by all categories of hotel for whatever your budget, and the best marina and the best beach club, where else can you go?” Mr Lalvani asked.

“People go where their kids can be happy.”

— Simon J Hand

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Phuket’s water bosses claim there will be enough water

The Thaiger



Phuket’s water bosses claim there will be enough water | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Bang Neow Dam in Thalang, just a few muddy ponds

Well into the second half of the Phuket wet season and the three main dams are well below capacity, Bang Wad Dam just over 13% capacity and the Bang Neow Dam in Thalang district around 5%, mostly unusable muddy ponds. The newer Khlong Katha in Chalong is at a much higher level, about 30% of capacity.

But this time of the year the three dams need to be well on their way to full capacity if the island is to get through the high tourists season and dry season without a repeat of last year’s muddle where provincial obfuscation and confusion put the health of thousands of residents at risk by cutting off their water supply and water trucks became more populous than passenger vans.

The lack of water also co-incides with increased development and more tourists arriving each year.

Now the Director of the Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office, Somsawat Chaisinsod, is calling for province administrators and the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority to begin water saving campaigns as the annual heavy rains in October may not arrive or be less frequent. The suggestion of water ‘restrictions’ was not mentioned in the meeting.

At a meeting attended by Phuket’s Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana, Mr. Somsawat claimed that the island’s annual rainfall, for the first seven months of 2019, has only been 10% less than average.

But the dams are a LOT more than 10% lower in capacity. In the case of the Bang Neow Dam in Srisoontorn, it’s virtually empty.

A representative from the PWA said that the Authority is currently buying 45,000 cubic metres of water per day from undisclosed “private sources” to top up the island’s potable water needs.

“The PWA is in the process of securing water supply from a new supplier to improve the water supply and reduce the volume of water drawn from the dams.”

Meanwhile Prapan Kanprasang, chief of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in Phuket, told The Phuket News he “believes Phuket has enough water to the island through the next dry season, after the annual rains cease early November”.

“We have enough water to use.”

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading


Norwegian out on bail following death of British man at Centara Grand Resort in Phuket

The Thaiger



Norwegian out on bail following death of British man at Centara Grand Resort in Phuket | The Thaiger


The are reporting that a British man died at the Centara Grand Hotel in Phuket in a fight after telling another guest to “keep the noise down” as his wife and son tried to sleep, according to the man’s family.

The details in the BBC report conflict with earlier local reports out of Phuket.

The BBC report says that 34 year old Amitpal Singh Bajaj from the UK complained about noise from the next room at the five-star Centara Grand Hotel on Karon beachfront in Phuket.

The man’s family claims that another man forced his way into their room via the balcony early on Wednesday, August 21. The family claims that the man strangled Mr Bajaj.

In a statement Amitpal’s 34 year old wife Bandhna Kaur Bajaj described to police how the attacker “barged” into their room naked and attacked her husband.

“My husband sacrificed his life to save my son’s life and mine. He will always be our hero.”

“My husband tried to block the man and move me and my son away. As the man was kicking, punching and just, beating him up, my husband told me to please leave and save our son,” according to the BBC report.

The rendering of the report from the BBC is quite different from Phuket’s local news reports.

In Phuket reports it stated that a fight started at 4am, when the British man Amitpal Singh Bajaj confronted Norwegian Roger Bullman over the amount of noise coming from his room.

“Mr Bullman was drunk, and security had already visited his room twice to ask him to keep the noise down. When Mr Bajaj confronted him, he stabbed Mr Bullman in the shoulder with a steak knife.

Mr Bullman, trained in martial arts, then got the British man in a choke hold and maintained his grip on him. He says he did not mean to kill him, and did not think he had.”

The BBC report says that Mrs Bajaj grabbed the couple’s 2 year old son and fled the hotel room to look for help. She says she ran down a staircase and hid under a tree with her son in her arms while calling the reception from her mobile to tell them what had happened.

“I asked the reception to please make sure someone attends to my husband… “please give him some medical help, I’m very scared, I’ve escaped”, according to the BBC report.

“I could still hear the attacker screaming. I didn’t want to be attacked.”

Mr Amitpal was taken to Patong Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Norwegian citizen has been arrested in Thailand and is being provided consular assistance.

According to Phuket News, Karon police said that “Mr Bullman had been released on bail posted at the court, but was unable to confirm how much bail was posted at. Reports in the Norwegian media said that bail was posted at about 200,000 baht.”

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading


Huawei technology working with the ‘smart city’ project in Phuket

The Thaiger & The Nation



Huawei technology working with the ‘smart city’ project in Phuket | The Thaiger

Huawei Technologies impressed participants at this week’s ASEAN Smart Cities Network Conference & Exhibition in Bangkok with its white paper on smart city development in Phuket.

The paper aims to drive Thailand 4.0 initiatives to pave the way for major digital and infrastructure development in Phuket, one of Thailand’s pilot smart cities, and to provide insights and guidance on an integrated framework needed for a successful and sustainable urban transformation.

Inspired by Thailand 4.0 economic development program launched in 2016, the paper focuses on a practical ideas that helps empower Phuket communities for digital future.

Huawei conducted an assessment and case studies on the services and utilities required for a fully-developed smart city. The resulting white provides comprehensive insights into action plans to transform Phuket into a smart city by 2020.

The services include smart energy and utilities, smart mobility, smart environment, smart living and smart economy while the enablers are smart governance, smart infrastructure and smart people.

In his opening address, Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa)’s president Dr. Nuttapon Nimmanpatcharin noted that thanks to the support from the National Smart City Committee and organizations from both public and private sectors, the smart city developments have already begun in 6 prioritized cities: Phuket, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and 3 EEC provinces.

“As one of our pilot cities, Phuket needs a clear development plan and a sustainable management model in order to fully transform into a smart city in 2020, this white paper will surely help facilitate smart city project for Phuket and other smart city candidates as well.”

Chanchai Tanatkatrakul, Principal, Roland Berger Thailand added: “We looked at global best practices and analysed local issues and requirements to develop this Smart City Framework for Phuket. Talking to various stakeholders helped us tailor our recommendations that can address the needs of Phuket and its people very well:”

Deng Feng, Managing Director of Huawei Thailand agreed, saying: “At Huawei, we promote industry development at all levels. As Thailand embarks on the journey to become one of the first countries in the region to develop a smart city scheme, we will provide practical recommendations and solutions to ensure a smooth and complete city development for Phuket and the rest of Thailand.”

SOURCE: The Nation

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required

ปังมาก “โมเม ธนัชชา” เล่นลีกญี่ปุ่น ทีมบลูแคท | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 day ago

ปังมาก “โมเม ธนัชชา” เล่นลีกญี่ปุ่น ทีมบลูแคท

ชาวเน็ตชม วินัยนศ.ญี่ปุ่น ไม่ยอมให้คนไทยขี่จยย.บนฟุตปาธ (คลิป) | The Thaiger
คลิปข่าว2 days ago

ชาวเน็ตชม วินัยนศ.ญี่ปุ่น ไม่ยอมให้คนไทยขี่จยย.บนฟุตปาธ (คลิป)

วินาทีฮือฮาทั้งประชุมสภา รัฐบาลเสียงปริ่มน้ำ แพ้โหวตฝ่ายค้านครั้งแรก [คลิป] | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง2 weeks ago

วินาทีฮือฮาทั้งประชุมสภา รัฐบาลเสียงปริ่มน้ำ แพ้โหวตฝ่ายค้านครั้งแรก [คลิป]

4 โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอล U23 ชายแชมป์เอเชีย ไทยพบซาอุฯ | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล2 weeks ago

4 โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอล U23 ชายแชมป์เอเชีย ไทยพบซาอุฯ

18 ก.ค. 5โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทย-ฮ่องกง ชิงแชมป์เอเชียรุ่น U23 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

18 ก.ค. 5โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทย-ฮ่องกง ชิงแชมป์เอเชียรุ่น U23

“แอน ทองประสม” เล่นทายาก ในวัยเข้าเลข 4 [คลิป] | The Thaiger
ดาราไทย1 month ago

“แอน ทองประสม” เล่นทายาก ในวัยเข้าเลข 4 [คลิป]

18 ก.ค. 5โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทย-ฮ่องกง ชิงแชมป์เอเชียรุ่น U23 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

18 ก.ค. 5โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทย-ฮ่องกง ชิงแชมป์เอเชียรุ่น U23

คลิปนาทีพลเอกประยุทธ์ให้สัมภาษณ์นักข่าวภาษาอังกฤษ ตอบคล่องปร๋อเรื่องกฎหมาย | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง1 month ago

คลิปนาทีพลเอกประยุทธ์ให้สัมภาษณ์นักข่าวภาษาอังกฤษ ตอบคล่องปร๋อเรื่องกฎหมาย

ฺBlink กรี๊ดคอแตก ลิซ่า Solo คอนเสิร์ตวันแรก BLACKPINK world tour in your area : encore | The Thaiger
BLACKPINK1 month ago

ฺBlink กรี๊ดคอแตก ลิซ่า Solo คอนเสิร์ตวันแรก BLACKPINK world tour in your area : encore

ไฮไลท์ บราซิล-โปแลนด์ วอลเลย์บอล เนชั่นส์ ลีก 2019 รอบสุดท้าย | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

ไฮไลท์ บราซิล-โปแลนด์ วอลเลย์บอล เนชั่นส์ ลีก 2019 รอบสุดท้าย

คลิปย้อนหลัง Miss Grand Thailand 2019 รอบชุดประจำชาติ | The Thaiger
บันเทิง1 month ago

คลิปย้อนหลัง Miss Grand Thailand 2019 รอบชุดประจำชาติ

ถ่ายทอดสดMiss Grand Thailand 2019 รอบชุดประจำชาติ 10 ก.ค. | The Thaiger
บันเทิง1 month ago

ถ่ายทอดสดMiss Grand Thailand 2019 รอบชุดประจำชาติ 10 ก.ค.

ชมไฮไลต์ ‘นุสรา ต้อมคำ’ เซตมือ 1 เนชั่นส์ ลีก 2019 รอบแรก | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล2 months ago

ชมไฮไลต์ ‘นุสรา ต้อมคำ’ เซตมือ 1 เนชั่นส์ ลีก 2019 รอบแรก

6 ก.ค. บ่ายสอง ถ่ายทอดสดตุรกี-บราซิล วอลเลย์บอลเนชั่นส์ ลีกรอบตัดเชือก | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล2 months ago

6 ก.ค. บ่ายสอง ถ่ายทอดสดตุรกี-บราซิล วอลเลย์บอลเนชั่นส์ ลีกรอบตัดเชือก

สูสี! ไฮไลต์บอลโลกหญิงรอบรองฯ คู่ 2 เนเธอร์แลนด์ 1-0 สวีเดน | The Thaiger
ฟุตบอล2 months ago

สูสี! ไฮไลต์บอลโลกหญิงรอบรองฯ คู่ 2 เนเธอร์แลนด์ 1-0 สวีเดน