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National: July event round-up

The Thaiger

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By Paul Poole

The running season is picking up pace (pun intended) in July with several races taking place around the country. The Sahaviriya-Bangkok Triathlon 2018 is back on July 7-8 after two years hiatus. The ultimate Bangkok race, it takes participants through a gruelling swim in the Chao Phraya river, a bike ride through the city’s back alleys and corridors, and a run along the streets in the heart of the city. Three shorter variations will be held on Saturday July 7, while the real challenge – a 1.5km swim, a 54km bike and a 10km run – taking place on Sunday, July 8.

The following weekend, on July 14-15, one of the toughest events on the racing calendar, the 100 Miles Thailand, takes place in the region around Chiang Rai. With distances up to 200km, and a number of shorter distances and relay races, 100 Miles Thailand is the ultimate when it comes to endurance running.

Less taxing is the Pattaya Marathon, which takes place on July 15. Held for the 27th time, the race is popular with both locals and foreigners and regularly attracts international runners who enjoy a day in the seaside resort. Apart from the Full Marathon distance, participants can also compete in a Half Marathon, a Quarter Marathon, a Micro Marathon Wheelchair, a Micro Marathon Student, and a Micro Marathon Fun Run.

Later in the month, on July 22, the Thale Noi Roi Run 2018 will take runners through the picturesque region of Phattalung Province, crossing the bridge over Thale Noi Lake and offering 360 degree views over Songkhla Lake along the route. It is a great way to explore a part of southern Thailand off the beaten track.

And lastly, for those who are more into trail running, the annual Columbia Trail Masters 2018 takes place in Wang Chan in Rayong Province on July 29. The race is popular with nature conservationists due to the commitment to conservation, community building and sustainability; for every ticket purchased, Columbia will donate 100 baht to a local community awareness programme and match the total donation amount. Now, if that doesn’t get you moving, we don’t know what will.

If sailing is more your thing, head to Phuket on July 18-22 for the annual Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek. Centered around the 5-star Cape Panwa Hotel on Phuket’s southeast coast, the event is held for the 15th time and aims to promote Phuket as a premier sailing destination as well as support the island’s tourism industry during a time when the island is generally less busy. Previous years has seen as many as 40 boats participate, attracting hundreds of sailors from more than 20 countries.

Keeping with the wet element, the Kek River Rafting Festival is for those seeking a little adrenaline rush. Starting in July and running through October, the festival takes advantage of the rainy season when the river swells and offers exhilarating rapids during its 8km course.

If quiet time with a good book fits more with your idea of fun, the 3rd Chiang Mai Book Fair should get your attention. With more than 200 publishers attending and 10 renowned authors invited to give talks, the fair also features a cosplay contest, a tales teller competition, workshops and much more. Chiang Mai Book Fair is on until July 8 at Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport.

July is usually the month where many go abroad for the summer holidays. If holiday is not on your agenda, however, don’t despair. You can still experience a bit of foreign culture at the Bonjour France showcase at CentralWorld from July 12-15. Organised by the Franco-Thai Chamber of Commerce, the fair showcases products ranging from cosmetics, fashion, interior design and gourmet food and beverage. See you at the pastry stand!

Founded in 2004 by veteran international marketing consultant Paul Poole, PAUL POOLE (SOUTH EAST ASIA) is an independent marketing consultancy based in Bangkok, Thailand specialising in commercial sponsorship and partnership marketing, working with both rights holders and brands – acting as a catalyst by bringing them together and maximising the relationship.

We have packaged, sold and managed sponsorship and partnership opportunities for a wide range of rights holders and worked with many of the world’s leading brands to source and engage the right sponsorships and partnerships for them to maximise.

- The Thaiger

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

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National

Singapore Airlines back on top. Thai Airways in 10th place.

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PHOTO: Flyer Talk

Singapore Airlines is back on top after a decade held out of the top airline position by middle-eastern competition. It’s their fourth win since the Skytrax World Airline awards started back in 2001.

The island nation’s national carrier was named Airline of the Year at the 2018 Skytrax World Airline awards. Singapore Airlines was last top of the list in 2008. This year it forced out last year’s top honours winner, Qatar Airways, into second place.

Yeoh Phee Teik, Singapore Airlines’s senior vice president of customer experience, said “We’re very ecstatic.”

The airline  also claimed best airline in Asia, best first class and best first class seat.

Asian airlines made a return to the winner’s list this year with ANA All Nippon Airways receiving third place, Taiwan’s EVA Air in 5th position, Cathay Pacific in 6th, Hainan Airlines in 7th, Garuda Airlines in 9th (an extraordinary achievement considering their reputation only a decade ago) and Thai Airways in 10th place.

Singapore’s victory marked a resurgence in Asian carriers in the annual UK-based aviation industry review. Skytrax began its awards in 2001 and is recognised for its fairness due to passengers voting in all categories. Aside from a win by Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific back in 2014, all past seven years have all gone to middle east based airlines.

“We’re glad that our work has been recognised and our customers have voted for us to be the world’s best,” said Yeoh.

Garuda Airlines, which has turned its service around since the early days of Skytrax, when it was banned from flying into European airspace, was presented with the prize for best cabin staff along with its 9th place overall.

Not one US airline picked up a single award.

Locally Air Asia picked up an award for Best low coast airline – Asia, Thai Airways won the award for best airline catering in Economy Class (The Thaiger thinks the voters weren’t flying on the same flight when Thaiger experienced the economy class ‘food’) and Bangkok Ailines won Best Regional Airline – Asia.

The top 10 world’s best airlines for 2018
1. Singapore Airlines
2. Qatar Airways
3. ANA All Nippon Airways
4. Emirates
5. EVA Air
6. Cathay Pacific
7. Lufthansa
8. Hainan Airlines
9. Garuda Indonesia
10. Thai Airways

Best airlines by global region
Northern Europe – Finnair
Western Europe – Lufthansa
Eastern Europe – Aeroflot Russian Airlines
Africa – Ethiopian Airlines
Australia / Pacific – Qantas Airlines
Central Asia / India – Air Astana
China – Hainan Airlines
Central America / Caribbean – Copa Airlines
South America – Avianca
North America– Air Canada
Asia – Singapore Airlines
Middle East – Qatar Airways
Europe – Lufthansa

Best low-cost airlines
Africa – Mango
Australia & Pacific – Jetstar Airways
Asia – AirAsia
Central Asia / India – Indigo
China – West Air
South America – Sky Airline
North America – WestJet
Middle East – Flynas
Europe – Norwegian

Best airline catering
Economy – Thai Airways
Premium economy – Aeroflot Russian Airlines
Business – Austrian Airlines
First class – Air France

Best airline seats
Economy – Japan Airlines
Premium economy – Air New Zealand
Business – Qatar Airways
First class – Singapore Airlines

Best regional airlines
Africa – Royal Air Maroc
Asia – Bangkok Airways
South America – Azul Brazilian Airlines
Central Asia / India – Azerbaijan Airlines
Europe – Aegean Airlines

Best airline lounges
First class – Qatar Airways
Airline alliance lounge – Star Alliance Los Angeles
Independent airport lounge – Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal Two
First class lounge dining – Air France
Airline lounge spa facility – Thai Awards

Best airlines staff service by global region
Africa – South African Airways
Australia / Pacific – Qantas Airways
Central Asia / India – Vistara
China – Hainan Airlines
Central America / Caribbean – Copa Airlines
South America – Azul Brazilian Airlines
Asia – ANA All Nippon Airways
Middle East – Emirates
Europe – Austrian Airlines

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Thai Life

World’s Top Ten off-grid hotel stays

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…according to booking website Hotels.com

Want to go ‘off the grid’? Escape from the bustling markets, show-pieces and tourist traps around the world? Some of these places don’t even have wi-fi.

Hotels.com has launched a new Hideaway Hotels category to help you escape 21st century life for a break The booking website has seen a 60% spike in guests leaving reviews of places they’ve raved about, specialising in off-grid getaways.

“Thanks to our 25 million guest reviews, we’ve seen a huge uplift in desire to escape the city and head for the hills – in some cases, quite literally! Going ‘off-grid’ seems to be a trend many guests are positively highlighting more and more in their reviews,” said Johan Svanstrom, president for the Hotels.com.

Desert Nights

UAE – Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert – Hotels.com review rating: 9.6 out of 10

Sit back, relax and enjoy peace and quiet in the desert. A hotel nestled among spectacular sand dunes, Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert is the quintessential “middle of nowhere” hotel. Shoes off, toes in the sand, this breathtaking luxury hotel with spa and safari offers plenty of space to unwind.

Icey Tundra

Sweden – Icehotel – Hotels.com review rating: 8.6 out of 10

This epic location is just the spot to rug up and take a moment frozen in time. There are endless opportunities to chill and hopefully enjoy the stunning Northern Lights. There is a selection of warm and cold room types available, including the Art Suites, each individually hand carved and kept between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius. Take something warm to wear.

Jungle Life

Bali – Four Seasons Resort Sayan – Hotels.com review ratings: 9.4 out of 10

For those seeking a romantic off-the-beaten-track getaway, this resort is a well-hidden gem, rising out of the rice fields above the Ayung River. The 60 guestroom retreat is surrounded by the lush hillside and fragrant gardens of Sayan, offering guests a spiritual epicentre. Feet up – it’s time to enjoy the exquisite views and pure luxury.

Cave Dwelling

Turkey – Gamirasu Cave  – Hotels.com review rating: 9.8 out of 10

This hotel is hidden among the beautiful and rugged Cappadocia region in Turkey. The cave rooms are guaranteed to ensure guests avoid a rocky holiday. This quirky hotel offers the ultimate luxury, both underground and off the beaten path.

Treehouse

Thailand – Keemala – Hotels.com review ratings: 9.2 out of 10

This truly remarkable property is a tranquil wonderland set spectacularly above the island rainforest canopy but just minutes from Kamala, a small town north of Patong along Phuket’s sandy west coast. The 38 guestroom resort offers free-standing baths, yoga classes and a poolside bar. The stunning Birds Nest villas even offer private infinity pools in the sky! This is remote luxury at its finest (but not TOO remote).

Private Island

Florida, USA – Little Palm Island resort and spa – Hotels.com review rating: 9.8 out of 10

The Little Palm Island Resort and Spa proves the adage that good things come in small packages. An exclusive resort with only 30 guest rooms, it offers spectacular water front views with a private beach, luxurious spa and 5-star restaurant. No holiday will be the same, so guests can enjoy the secluded island and be sure to brag to friends about a truly offgrid vacation in Florida sun.

Mountain to Sea Resort

St Lucia – Jade Mountain Resort – Hotels.com review rating: 10.0 out of 10

Overlooking 600 acres of beach, this Caribbean resort is one of the most mesmerising hotels in the world. The resort features a full-service spa, fitness facilities, tennis courts and an infinity pool. Some suites even come with their own pool overlooking the mountains. Its iconic location provides guests with an exclusive sanctuary.

Ranch Life

California – Calistoga Ranch – Hotels.com review rating: 9.6 out of 10

Fantasise about taking a dip in a private canyon in the Napa Valley? Dreams do come true at Calistoga Ranch. The resort offers a true taste of secluded luxury, with private lakes, rolling hills and lush forests. Pull up a sun lounger and sip on some wine to celebrate a supreme holiday.

Rural Retreat

Chile – Remota Hotel – Hotels.com review rating: 9.0 out of 10

Hidden in Chilean Patagonia, the world epicentre of natural beauty, guests can enjoy breathtaking views of this remote paradise. The hotel offers a marina, spa, pool, garden and library. Guests can use this stunning hotel as a base to explore the nearby native forests, islets, ice fields and glaciers.

Silo Stay

New Zealand – Silostay Little River – Hotels.com review ratings: 9.6 out of 10

Go against the grain by holidaying in the quaint town of Little River, New Zealand. Located in the land known as the long white cloud, the refurbished grain silos bring a unique, extraordinary and peaceful experience. This innovative, ecofriendly accommodation is the only one of its kind in the world.

 

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Entertainment

Water Park Wars – Phuket wettest battlefield

The Thaiger

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by Xinyi Liang-Pholsena of ttgasia.com

ttgasia.com is reporting that the water park battle in Phuket is getting very intense as new players enter the marketplace. Among them Blue Tree Phuket, poised to open its doors early 2019 as an upscale family entertainment and lifestyle complex.

The sprawling 22.5ha development, located around Cherngtalay, is the result of a joint venture comprising unnamed Thai and international partners, who see opportunity in the family-oriented attractions sector by pumping investment upwards of US$40 million into the project.

“Pattaya has two water parks, Hua Hin has three water parks, but Phuket has just small water parks. There’s been a clear demand for inland entertainment alternatives for some time now,” said Michael Ayling, general manager of Blue Tree Phuket. He was speaking to TTG Asia about the upcoming project in an exclusive interview ahead of its pre-launch in August.

“Blue Tree will offer an immersive lifestyle experience that combines the fun of water sports, family activities, retail and relaxation in one strategically located destination that will cater precisely to this demand,” he added.

Facilities within the 11ha first phase, which opens to the public at the start of 2019, includes a water and entertainment park, a four-storey vertical Beach Club, Fitness Zone, Kid’s Club, restaurants and food outlets, and multiple retail spaces.

The complex’s centrepiece – the 17,000 square metre man-made Blue Tree Lagoon – is flanked by artificial beaches and offers an experiential aquatic playground for families, with spaces ranging from a splash zone for young kids to adrenaline-driven activities such as Slip N Fly water slides and cliff jumping.

Ayling envisions Blue Tree to be an “accessible destination” that will appeal to “middle class Thai families and Amanpuri guests” alike. Admission fees will be kept “affordable” with a pay-and-use concept, while full access to all activities will be priced at around 1,000 baht.

Acknowledging the competition upcoming water parks like Vana Nava Phuket and Kata Water Park will bring – both of which are currently in development – Ayling thinks there is still “a lot of space for competition” in Phuket. “We will likely have the (water park) market to ourselves for a few years,” he commented.

“Blue Tree Phuket will also suit the seasonality of the destination and make a great low-season product,” he added, referring to the island’s monsoon months from May to October when the seas experience rougher surf and strong currents.

When asked about the absence of accommodation at Blue Tree Phuket, Ayling stated: “Do we need a 120-room hotel when we have 12,000 rooms in the (Cherngtalay) vicinity already? Phuket’s hotel scene is very competitive, but what isn’t competitive is entertainment.”

STORY: ttgasia.com

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