Thailand’s leading hotel operator Centara Hotels, announced it has signed management agreements for three new properties with a combined total of 216 keys, with Asia Investment, Development & Construction Sole Co., Ltd (AIDC), a well-established enterprise in Laos. In the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang, Centara plans to open an upper upscale Centara Grand Luang Prabang and a midscale Centra by Centara property, both near the town centre. The third property will be under Centara’s new lifestyle brand, COSI, catering to the growing segment of connected, freedom-loving travellers. It will represent a unique offering in Vientiane, the Laotian capital.
The management agreement comes as Laos launches ambitious new plans to promote tourism. In recent years, the government of the Lao PDR has come to regard tourism as a priority sector for driving socio-economic development. It hopes to attract 5 million visitors in 2018 and increasing numbers in the years ahead with a Visit Laos campaign under the slogan “Simply Beautiful.”
According to a new report from the Swiss-based World Economic Forum, Laos ranks 14th among 136 countries in price competitiveness.
“This partnership with AIDC is a great opportunity to expand our footprint into a distinctive country,” said Centara CEO Thirayuth Chirathivat.
“Laos is on the list of more and more travellers to this region, and we want to serve them with the distinct and varied accommodation options to match the travel experience they are seeking.”
Luang Prabang is the well-preserved, old spiritual city at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers. Although well-served by direct flights to its airport and modern amenities, it lives up to its World Heritage status with beautiful temples and traditional riverside life. Bicycles outnumber cars. Delicious baguettes, croissants, cafés and French restaurants hint at the French colonial history in both Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
The three new hotels are the latest evidence of Centara’s expansion strategy, which calls for doubling the number of properties under its management during the next five years. This latest development will see Centara’s hotel count in Laos reach four with Centara Plumeria Resort Pakse already well under development and scheduled to open in 2020.
Hong Kong property tzars team up for new Phang Nga development “Aquella”
Two of Hong Kong’s leading entrepreneurs Allan Zeman and Richard Li are developing a mixed-use project in Thai Muang, Phang Nga named Aquella.
The initial phase of the development includes a par 72, 18 hole golf course, resort pool villa residences with two to four bedroom unit configurations back of a massive land site that offers over 2.5 kilometres of white sand beach.
Previously, the approximate 1,000 rai site was the home of the Thai Muang golf course. After acquisition the course was closed, and the master planned Pinetree project that was to contain a marina and luxury Park Hyatt hotel stopped when land zoning issues changed in Southern Phang Nga.
Today, the new golf course has been reconfigured and Zeman’s Paradise Group who developed Kamala’s posh Andara ultra villa resort in Phuket are collaborating with Li’s Pacific Century Premium Developments (PCPD) group.
South West Phang Nga hosted some of Asia’s most significant luxury villa sales in the mid 2000’s given it’s close access to Phuket International Airport, over the Sarasin Bridge.
Changes in the zoning regime stunted the area’s growth over the past decade but a new wave of interest has been born in projects such as Charn Issara’s Baba Beach Club.
Land prices in Koh Pilai and Koh Kloy have sharply escalated in recent months on the announcement of a second Greater Phuket airport by Thai aviation authority AoT.
That said, the area has a rich history in demonstrated luxury residential sales in projects such as Aleenta and Sava.
With Phuket bursting as the seams, and prime oceanfront plots limited, the recent transaction of the former greenfield site of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve has indicated positive sentiment.
Car and house loans surged in 2018
The Bank of Thailand says they’re concerned about the double-digit growth in loans for cars last year. The central bank is now monitoring the trend and will keep track of statistics for the rest of 2019. Their concerns about the Thai mortgage market the year before resulted in new regulations coming into effect this April.
Loans for cars were up nearly 13% in 2019, up from 8% growth in 2017 and much smaller growths in the years before.
They reported that commercial bank auto loans rose to 1.07 trillion baht last year, a rise of 12.6% from the previous 12 months. Defaults on loans has also risen during 2018 but the BoT says the rate is still “manageable” at 1.66%.
The BoT says they will need to continually monitor the business of loans for cars for at least the rest of 2019.
Last year they put the spotlight on property mortgages. The study resulted in more stringent conditions for the loan-to-value ratio, especially for second or subsequent housing loans.
Mortgage lending expanded nearly 8% in 2018, compared to 5.5% in 2017. The more stringent requirements for housing mortgages comes into force on April 1 this year.
Generally, the loan sector for commercial banks rose by 6% last year, again a rise from the previous year where the rise was 4.4%.
But the BoT reports that the profitability of the banking sector remains in positive territory. Interest income is now the main source after the fee-based income of some banks, particularly fund transfer fees, declined.
Kamala’s Twinpalms Montazure poised to welcome guests in July
Set on the golden sands of Kamala Beach, Twinpalms MontAzure will welcome its first guests in July this year.
Already a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the boutique beach hotel offers beautifully appointed Suites, Penthouses and Private Pool Suites.
Suites range in size from 70m2 to Penthouses with private pools and sea views boasting large living spaces of up to 300m2. Guests will also enjoy using a lap pool or an infinity pool offering views of the Andaman sea.
Twinpalms MontAzure will also launch its beachside restaurant and lounge, ‘Shimmer’, with uninterrupted sea views. Shimmer restaurant will serve vibrant and tasty food with an Asian focus, delicious and creative cocktails, and a great wine list, all served with the customary gusto and flair expected from the Twinpalms brand.
Olivier Gibaud, General Manager of Twinpalms Hotels & Resorts says, “With 15 years’ experience refining Twinpalms excellent service standard complemented by a luxurious dining and entertainment quality that sets itself apart from other destinations on the island, we are very excited to bring this knowledge to a new hotel”.
Designed by Martin Palleros, following the original Twinpalms concept and style, of utilising Phuket’s beautiful landscape, Martin has allowed the design to maximize the sea views from most of the Suites and areas within the buildings, whilst also ensuring the preservation of the views of the mountainside from other perspectives.
Resident Manager, Thipwimon Chatchavansilachai says, “For respect for our island location, we will launch with a ‘no single-use plastic’ policy, meaning alternatives to common plastic items such as straws, packages for bathroom amenities and water bottles will be replaced with materials such as bamboo, ceramic and recycled paper.”
“We will continuously find better alternatives in our hotel operations for the preservation of the environment”.
Naturally, guests of Twinpalms MontAzure also have access to the brand’s other dining destinations, taking full advantage of the three beaches Twinpalms has a presence: HQ Beach Lounge – a few steps away on Kamala Beach, Catch Beach Club, Catch Junior and Palm Seaside, located on Bang Tao Beach and the flagship resort, Twinpalms Phuket, is just a few steps from Surin Beach.
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