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Phuket’s Grand West Sands Resort – massive makeover

Bill Barnett

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Phuket’s Grand West Sands Resort – massive makeover | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com

One of Phuket’s largest integrated hospitality resorts, the Grand West Sands Resort and Villas is underway on a massive makeover drive.

Aligning with Hong Kong’s Langham Hospitality Group, the hotel offering is being split into separate four and five star offerings.

The top end hotel will be renamed to Langham’s Cordis brand with 198 villas and suites, while the four star entity called Splash Beach Resort will feature 459 rooms.

A key element of the integrated resort is the 1000 capacity conference facilities.

Phuket's Grand West Sands Resort - massive makeover | News by The Thaiger

West Sands ownership is most known for the involvement of former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy.

The upgrade and rebranding is expected to roll out before mid-year.

As for Splash Jungle, it is likely to face some growing competition with the new Vans Nava Phuket under development in Kathu and the Blue Tree project in Cherngtalay near to Laguna.



Looking to jettison some items before jetsetting away or chartering a yacht? Look no further than Thaiger Classifieds where you can find and post items, work, property and more for free. Be sure to check out YonderTours for things to do in Thailand and tours across the country.

Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

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Food Scene

“Probably the best pork spare ribs in the world” – Naughty Nuri’s Patong

The Thaiger

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“Probably the best pork spare ribs in the world” – Naughty Nuri’s Patong | The Thaiger

Naughty Nuri’s Phuket, also known as Naughty Nuri’s In The Forest in Patong, was the first restaurant from the iconic Indonesian chain to open its doors in Thailand. The indoor/outdoor venue can easily accommodate more than 500 diners in an alfresco setting.

Their signature dish is the BBQ Spare Ribs – “probably the best spare ribs in the world” – which was created in 1995 when Brian Aldinger and his wife, nicknamed ‘Nuri’, opened their first restaurant in Ubud, Bali. The rest is history, and since then more than 10 locations have opened around in South-East Asia.

The meat on the BBQ Spare Ribs simply falls off the bone and the sweet and spicy BBQ sauce provides a nice kick to the palate. Other dishes of interest are the traditional Nasi Goreng and the Satay Lilit, a Balinese-version of the tender satay style of cooking.

Naughty Nuri’s Phuket also offers great cocktails, and the team members know for sure how to provide a great atmosphere, with the regular dance off and a cool band to accompany your meal. The venue offers regular happy hours and a fantastic Sunday brunch, with all-you-can-eat options for four hours (with a special price until the end of July).

Parking can be found in front of the restaurant, but is limited, so it is advised to arrive early. A kids-friendly dining area is also available, with small tables perfect for children.

Read the rest of the article at phuketify.com

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Bangkok

Co-working spaces in Bangkok are re-shaping small to medium business office options

The Thaiger

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Co-working spaces in Bangkok are re-shaping small to medium business office options | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Great Room

Co-working spaces are opening up around Bangkok and providing a more flexible framework for businesses to grow. Advances in technology, a more mobile workforce, and unpredictable economic growth are reshaping the business environment.

In the Bangkok office market, a traditional three-year lease with options to renew and the tenant fitting out the space remains the typical way of leasing office premises for most occupiers. CBRE reports that multinational firms, with offices in different countries, are increasingly looking for flexible lease terms as real estate costs continue to be one of their major concerns.

Companies are also looking at agile working where staff no longer have allocated desks and, in some cases, it is easier to get third parties to design, build, and operate this space rather than companies doing it themselves.

Some of the current pricing being offered by co-working space operators is very competitive and the cost combined with flexibility is making leasing from third parties more attractive than companies leasing space, fitting them out, and managing their own premises.

In Bangkok, co-working space has continued to be an emerging source of office demand and CBRE has leased over 44,000 sqm, accounting for around 25% of CBRE’s total new office letting volume in the last 2 years, to co-working space operators.

International operators like JustCo, WeWork, Spaces, and The Great Room have opened multiple centres over the recent year and more are scheduled to open this year. The aim of these operators is to revolutionise the way occupiers source office accommodation. They want to provide office space as a service rather than a traditional lease.

CBRE believes that co-working space operators are not just targeting startups companies but also multinational firms especially those seeking to build more flexibility into their real estate portfolio. The use of co-working space can provide flexibility for companies to accommodate fluctuation in space requirements.

Accounting rules have changed and rent payable under leases must now go on the balance sheet, whereas it appears that sourcing office space as a service does not count as a lease and therefore need not be on the balance sheet.

This means occupiers do not need to commit to a traditional three-year lease term. Instead, they are paying their rental as a service fee on a per desk or membership basis rather than per square metre. Co-working space operators are also providing tailor-made solutions with companies enjoying exclusive use of the space and not sharing it with others, making this a viable alternative to a traditional lease for large local and multinational companies.

As millennials will become the largest generation within the workforce in the future, CBRE foresees that companies are forced to re-think their workplace quality to make it capable of encouraging collaboration and innovation as well as promoting employee wellbeing. More companies will transform their offices into agile workplaces either doing it themselves or relying on a coworking space operator to provide the solution.

SOURCE: CBRE

Co-working spaces in Bangkok are re-shaping small to medium business office options | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Soimilk

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Expats

Ten things the Thai Government need to do right now

The Thaiger

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Ten things the Thai Government need to do right now | The Thaiger

OPINION

Thailand is a proud country with a rich cultural tradition. And great food. Expats and visitors have been flocking to the Land of Smiles for a century, especially the last 20 years when tourism has surged to become a major contributor to the country’s GDP.

But the veneer of a never-ending rise in tourism numbers has lost its gloss with tourism officials, perennially optimistic and talking-up the numbers, are admitting that tourism is down some 30% this year.

That’s a big drop. If you were running a business, and it lost 30% of the people walking through the door, you’d be be taking immediate and urgent action.

But the rot has been setting in for a number of years and now needs urgent and radical attention if the good-ship ‘Thai Tourism’ can be turned around. It’s not just tourists either, living as an expat has become increasingly complex and expensive for many. There is a perception of “we’re not wanted here anymore” which is an uncomfortable feeling to have when you just want to enjoy living in the country you love and contribute to its economy by participating.

Here are ten suggestions, published in good faith, we believe should be implemented to address key problems.

Make it easier to do business

Between the mountains of paperwork, public service attitude, language barriers and fierce protectionism, doing business in Thailand as a foreigner is not easy. The need to have a small army of accountants and ‘Thai Nominees’ is just a part of the problem. The endless red tape and hurdles put up by the Thai Government, and the patchy application of some of these requirements, make running a business professionally an ongoing challenge.

Make it easier to apply for, and maintain, visas

There are quite a few visas available for tourists and expats to come to Thailand . But the goal posts keep being shifted and the requirements continually change. Thinly-veiled corruption and variations of how the various visas are applied have made getting and maintaining a proper visa in Thailand challenging.

Tourist visas would also benefit from increasing possible length of stays and reducing paperwork before and upon arrival. There is currently a waiver of visa fees for some countries .

A long-term resident visa would also be welcome. Given the difficulty of getting a long-term resident visa in Thailand does little attract real long-term retirees.

Immigration officials, around the country, control their own local fiefdoms where the ‘guidelines’ are just guidelines and are interpreted differently on different days by different officials. Apart from confusing the expats and tourists, these systems provide lucrative opportunities for blackmail and corruption.

A smile could help sometimes too.

Scrap the Tourism Authority of Thailand

Whilst the reasons for Thailand’s droop in tourist numbers are many and varied, the body who has been marketing Brand Thailand is the Tourism Authority of Thailand. They have made countless mis-steps and strategic errors in the past decade and must shoulder part of the responsibility for the current malaise.

A proper, independent, tourist organisation with a professional, modern marketing team with international experience, not just Thais, is a must. Thailand’s ‘charm’ is no longer enough in a highly competitive world of international tourism. Around SE Asia there are now emerging destinations that are simply doing a better job than the team at the TAT who are, like the national airline, beset with nepotism and long-termers who should have been fired a decade ago.

Just about every aspect of tourism in Thailand needs to be updated, cleaned-up and improved and the TAT are just the wrong people to do it. They’ve strategically been chasing an unsustainable tourist mix and placed all their marketing eggs in few baskets, and the strategy has failed.

In a world of immediate online opinion and sites like TripAdvisor, the new tourism tzars in Thailand need to have a thorough understanding of modern social media and how to effectively use it.

Working under the auspices of the Department of Sports and Tourism hasn’t worked well for the TAT. The Government now needs a dedicated Department of Tourism is they are to maintain the percentage of GDP garnered from tourists.

Urgently and aggressively address tourist safety

The fall-out from the Phuket Boat Tragedy is still being felt and has left a poor impression of safety for tourists. A year later and what has changed?

Speaking of Phuket, the shameful handling of the local lifeguard contracts has been a direct reason for drownings along the island’s west coast in recent years. The dithering of contractual arrangements and personality clashes took precedence over hiring, up-skilling and deploying a professional lifeguard service to protect beachgoers.

Around the country the reports of safety lapses causing death and injury to tourists are alarming in their frequency. Tour bus crashes, boats capsizing, renting out motorbikes to unlicensed drivers and tourist attraction safety standards. Problems associated with all of these are mostly preventable.

Change the company law

Part of the problem of doing business in Thailand is that, no matter how good you are, you never really own the legal framework that defines your business. A foreigner can only own 49% of the shares in a Thai company. This protectionist business law is a major barrier for foreigners to invest in Thailand making it difficult, or impossible to attract additional investment or plant to sell your business down the track.

There are provisions for larger enterprises to register a 100% foreign owned Board of Investment (BOI) business but these are quite complicated and expensive to set up and only available for limited industries.

  • Agriculture and Agricultural Products
  • Mining Ceramics and Basic Metals
  • Light Industry
  • Metal Products, Machinery and Transport Equipment
  • Electronic Industry and Electric Appliances
  • Chemicals, Paper and Plastics
  • Services and Public Utlities
  • Technology and Innovation Development

Providing a more flexible and easier company law, with options for small to medium companies, would allow Thailand to attract a much larger number of international business people.

Smile

It’s meant to be the Land of Smiles. But arrive at any checkpoint or airport as you land in or depart Thailand and your first and last impressions are of unhappy, scowling immigration officials. And if you arrive at the wrong time at an airport the queues can be horrendous.

The situation may be similar at any international airports around the world, but when you pin your whole brand around being a Land of Smiles, you could at least try.

Now they’ve added an additional layer of checking you in and out of the country with a fingerprint and iris scan. Taking a copy of all your finger and thumb prints just adds another 30 seconds or so as you arrive and depart… multiplied by x number of tourists waiting in line.

The same applies for some, probably more than in the past, of retailers who seem to spend a lot more time scrolling on their phone rather than attending to their customers these days. Some just don’t like being interrupted and, if you’re not buying, give you attitude rather than a simple acknowledgement.

Address the currency

To be fair there is only a limited number of levers to pull for Thai treasury officials that could ‘force’ the Thai baht to a lower value. Short of printing new currency (which would also push up inflation), there are limits to what a modern government can do in an open international currency trading world.

Still, local businesses in tourist regions could take some control and reduce the ‘tourist’ prices and stop the blatant rip-offs aimed at solely extracting money from tourists’ pockets. Buy a Big Mac in the middle of Patong or Pattaya, then drive 3 kilometres away to another McDonalds and note the difference in price. Just maintaining your high prices and hoping for the best isn’t going to win new business.

The two-tier pricing is also a slap in the face for tourists (and most expats) which smacks of xenophobia or greed. Even the word ‘farang’ denotes an attitude to caucasian foreigners, either of derision or as walking ATMs.

Name and shame scammers

Scams have been part of the tourist game forever in Thailand. Some are just a silly punt at extracting a few extra baht from unsuspecting tourists, others are down-right dangerous. When these scammers get outed and charged (rarely) the fines and punishment are often perfunctory and are not a deterrent to other would-be scammers.

There should be a register of these annoying tourist rip-offs and schemes which is posted on some website where the ‘shame’ can act as a better deterrent using the Asian concept of ‘losing face’ as a weapon to combat scammers and prevent more from flourishing.

Or simply track down punish the current scammers and fine them more often.

Make it easier to buy property

You see a property. You like it. You negotiate a price and want to buy it. That’s usually where it starts to get difficult. Foreigners cannot buy land or the land that their villa is sitting on. Many have got around these laws by leasing the land or forming a Thai company to do the transaction. In both cases the ‘buyer’ is never really the ‘owner’ and, whilst working reasonably well for 30 years, is still a long way around a fairly simple situation. The only winners are lawyers as they help foreign buyers navigate the labyrinth of Thai property and company law.

With the law allowing foreigners to own condominiums 100% (as long as 51% of the available units in the development is owned by Thais), developers have raced to build condos to feed the foreign buyer interest in Thai property.

24 reporting of address (TM30) needs to be simplified or scrapped

The requirement for foreigners to report their residential location within 24 hours of a change of address smacks of a ham-fisted Big Brother. The law applies to expats as well, forcing them to report to Immigration when they return from a weekend away or a business trip. The actual guidelines lead to more questions, rather than providing answers, and the enforcement is applied ad-hoc.

If the report could be done ‘easily’ online on an effective, easy-to-use, reliable webpage or App, that would certainly help. But that’s not the case as the site is often down and not in multiple languages. Simplifying and streamlining the process of reporting where you are as a foreigner, is way overdue.

We understand the security requirements for reporting non-Thais’ whereabouts but requirement to report EVERY time you sleep at another address, other than your home, is limiting and a complete over-reaction to a small problem.

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