Hotels and accommodation

As we start what we hope will be our final countdown to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic here in Thailand, some of us will be looking for our final getaways to enjoy our adopted country, whilst we still have the beaches and hotels all to ourselves. But before you look to escape our City of Angels for our usual haunts, have you thought of a Phuket staycation?

Phuket I love you. In 2020 I visited Phuket travelling solo, as a couple and with friends. Every time I leave, the yearn to return gets stronger.

As the second wave introduced further travel restrictions around Thailand, we remained in Phuket where my husband and I had been holidaying for Christmas. The island has been deathly quiet, the local expat community launched #onephuket to support those helping feed islanders in need. It’s been grim times for many in Phuket and the surrounding islands.

A handful of hoteliers, unwilling to re close their hotels in such desperate times, remained steadfastly committed to keeping their doors open,

‘If we close we lose money, if we open we lose money, 

but at least we have jobs’

This letter is a testament and a thank you to the hotel industry staff from gardening to the General Managers who, with a decimated tourism industry turned up day after day to greet a handful of guests. Their determination to ‘keep calm and carry on,’ and to provide an outstanding guest experience, when a number of hotels were forced to close their doors some never to reopen, has been a bright light in our continuing Corona virus days, here in Phuket.

I see your pain, I have witnessed your struggle to operate shorthanded of staff, serving food in restaurants and running hotels without your managerial staff. I have seen jobs lost and I hear salaries have been reduced. I’ve seen the empty streets, your empty resorts and rooms with your pillows out for airing awaiting the tourists to return…

Since living in Phuket, I witnessed you stripped bare without your tourist friends. I’ve seen how amazing you are. I’ve stayed in your world class hotels, wandered your incredible empty beaches, swam in your crystal blue sea and eaten in your Michelin awarded restaurants. 

I loved as well a whole host of less grand but equally memorable Phuket experiences. Like arriving on Kata beach a few hours after a Super Mum turtle laid her eggs – the first time in twenty years! Or wandering at sunset along a tranquil Patong beach. 

First some hard talk. Phuket you feel like the popular girl at school who never had to try too hard. You were beautiful, with incredible beaches and people who flocked to you from all over the world. You mingled with ease with this crowd, you were multi-lingual and you had been educated at the best Swiss hotel management schools. You cooked the best food and you were known to put on a great party. You were popular for a reason, you are friggin’ awesome! 

When Covid hit, none of your international friends who adored you could get to you and you were left all alone. The problem was that none of your local acquaintances were that interested. The popular girl of Phuket never had us on her Christmas card list, telling us how we must join her and how wonderful she was. Oh no, she directed all her marketing at her rich friends overseas. 

Some of us remembered Phuket from our teenage party ‘Let’s go to Thailand’ years, it was Phuket and the Patpong ping pong show that stick in my mind from the 1980s. Later in the 1990s and 2000s we returned with our kids and found the family friendly side of Thailand. How many of us have photos with our children and the baby elephant at Laguna Phuket? I know, I know, we wouldn’t encourage that now, but that was then…

We may have ventured back to Phuket when we arrived to live as Expats in the Land of Smiles. But generally we found that your prices were high and your taxis never gave us a ‘local price’. Our indignant few words of Thai never helped either; you wanted real foreigners with deep pockets! For decades, your beaches were packed with party going internationals and quite frankly we live here, and when we holiday we’re not going where the tourists go! 

Phuket I wish you had told us more about yourself before. We never ever knew how amazing you are for the couples and friends market! All those things that make you incredible have always been there underneath the layers of tourist hordes. You are still the beautiful lass that became popular for a reason.

For the past three months, we have enjoyed a hither too unseen Phuket, and I’ve been visiting for forty years. Over the course of the year 2020 I visited three times, I did the same for Chiang Mai and Koh Samui, but Phuket has somehow attracted me to linger.

During our staycationing we have stayed at many Phuket resorts and hotels and we will keep going. You are all that is acknowledged below. This letter is for you! You are doing an amazing job in difficult circumstances. These are the experiences and memories I absolutely treasure from my time with you.

North Phuket (close to the Airport) 

Nai Yang Beach – The Slate, you win the award for the most fun, artsy, luxurious and romantic resort with wow upon wow. We loved all the features Bill Bensley designed into your resort, based on Phuket’s old tin mine industry. Our dinner at your Michelin Plate awarded Black Ginger restaurant and stunning setting will linger with us forever.

Nai Yang Beach – Dewa, You win the prize for having the best and lushest gardens. We were so happy to make this one of our WFB working from the Beach home away from home staycations. Your apartment overlooking the pool gave us everything we needed. In your brilliantly run resort of apartments, villas and suites nothing was too much trouble.

Thalang – Trisara, You win my praise for being of the utmost elegance with your own private jetty and beach and Michelin Star restaurant PRU. Your pool and beachside area are absolutely stunners.

Naithon Beach – Pullman Arcadia, you win my gratitude for the incredible view over the beach, wonderful food and fantastic staff. Your hotel is effortlessly managed by your exceptional guest orientated staff who love to go all out to give them the best experience.

Mai Khao Beach – Renaissance Hotel, we love how popular your resort is and we’re not surprised, as your sales and marketing team are super responsive. Your lagoon rooms are lovely, your breakfast memorable and your activities program from Yogalates to bike riding around the lake wonderful.

Phuket City: 

Woo Gallery & Boutique Hotel: You are a winner for the best owners’ passion project brought to life! You are loved for lovingly restoring your historic storefront building and your Woo Gallery museum. You are fantastically located tight at the heart of old Phuket town.

Casa Blanca: You are a standout in the best for the solo female market. You have a great Phuket city location, new modern styled rooms. Here’s looking at you kid!

Memory on On On: You win the award for the steeped in history stay, go for this if you love history, you won’t get a better location.

Blue Monkey Boutique Hotel: You win for best elegant room with a fantastic bath, above a coffee shop. Your stylish, slightly out of the way location is worth finding, you are good value.

West Coast

Bang Tao Beach – Banyan Tree Lagoon beach: You deserve the everyone is happy here award. This all pool villa luxury resort with spa, 40m swimming pool, lagoon access, close to Bang Tao beach, and with an award winning golf course – a perfect staycation for a golfer and his happy to be left alone wife! 

Surin Beach – The Chava Resort, you win the best two bedroom apartment accolade. Your magnificent pool area opposite the lovely Surin Beach is always appreciated, as is your great coffee!

Kamala Beach – Intercontinental, you win the vibrancy award for being slap bang in the middle of the most lively night time action outside Phuket Town at Kamala beach. Your beachside rooms, your catering team and brilliant Sunday brunch and your activities program offered us a memorable stay.

Kata Beach – The Boathouse, You win my affections for the best food with a view. Your hotel is a firm favourite right on Kata Beach, with our favourite Executive Chef.

Kata Beach – Kata Rocks, You win the award for the ‘pinch me is my life for real?’  Staycation life doesn’t get any better than a stay at Kata Rocks, fun, exclusive and forever in my heart.

Southern Phuket

Nai Harn Beach – Nai Harn hotel you win our highest praise for the best value in a stunning location. Beautiful rooms overlooking our favourite beach.

Rawai Beach – Mangosteen Ayurvedic Resort & Spa, you win hands-down for your wonderful yoga retreat. Love your fabulous bungalow in pretty gardens with a choice of wellness programs.

Cape Panwa – Cape Panwa Hotel, you win our praise for your stylish, away from it all location in southern Phuket, two lovely pool areas and serene small but exclusive beachfront.

Ao Yon Beach – The Cove, wins the tiny hotel award, you take boutique to the extreme with only three rooms. You are quiet and remote, absolute beachfront, with a great bar and restaurant.

Khao Yao Yai and Khao Yao Noi

ParadiseKoh Yao Noi, wins the award for the prettiest beachfront and total Robinson Crusoe setting. Your pool villas are lovely. 

Yes, this, like my Bangkok Love Letter, is a shameless plug and thank you to these hoteliers for wonderful staycations. We have been happy to support you, we know of your struggles without many guests. I know that we’ve been saying this for months but the end of the pandemic IS edging closer. Whether it is October 1st or even better July 1st for Phuket to reopen to vaccinated international visitors, the time is edging towards the return of tourism throngs to Phuket. 

However, please don’t forget us domestic tourists who have fallen in love with you again and supported you when in need. Don’t hike your prices back up so that you are beyond our reach or interest. Now that your natural beauty has been unveiled, try to preserve it when the world returns to normal. This popular girl of Phuket can really have it all, both domestic and international guests, and we ALL will get the best of all worlds!

Little Wandering Wren is an International Travel Writer with her nest somewhere in Thailand. Her writing can be found at www.littlewanderingwren.com and all her staycations found on Instagram and Twitter @littlewanderingwren 

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There is no better pool brunch party on offer in Phuket at the moment, why not make a weekend of it like we did and throw in a weekend staycation?  

Up a nondescript little lane at the end of Kata Beach is an easy to miss driveway up a hill past Mama’s Seafood and SKA bar. Take this road to the oceanfront resort called Kata Rocks. Once there, your buggy awaits to transport you down to the rocks and into a world of infinite luxury.

Here you will find a resort and residences of 34 villas beyond your wildest dreams in this tranquil corner of Phuket. Unless of course, you’re here for a monthly Brunch Pool Party, or for the Ladies Hangout each Wednesday, when cools sounds, and a party vibe attracts.

Kata Rocks is as stylish and as hip and happening as you can get. How would we fit in? Don’t forget I came for Christmas and stayed on when the Thai Government said cancel all non-essential travel. We followed instructions and never returned to Bangkok!

By this stage, I’m looking like a shaggy Covid puppy that needs to go to the groomers. As to what to wear, well forget that! I tell anyone that will listen, that when we arrived, him-who-plays-golf took up half the baggage allowance with a set of golf clubs!

Let’s just say thank goodness Kata Rocks were either so very keen to get a full house, or they have to be the nicest, most inclusive, most welcoming place to stay that I have ever been too

I know it’s the later, as the Brunch Pool Party turned into a sellout event. Remember at this time Bangkok has gone back into tighter restrictions, schools are closed, offices requested to restart home working where possible, alcohol sales are off, and all bars are closed. My family in the UK and in Australia are in even tighter lockdowns.

There never was a truer feeling of living in a bubble, nor a more appreciative ready to party crowd, than those that turned up at the end of January 2021 to fill those empty tables ready to brunch!

The fact that the Kata Rocks Brunch Pool Party was a sellout event when Phuket is oh so quiet says a lot. Phuket ‘peeps’ know the best brunch on the island when it’s offered! The chance to unwind and enjoy the party by the iconic infinity pool overlooking the Andaman Sea at the Oceanfront Clubhouse well, who’s going to miss out on this invitation? Not I!

Won’t you take a wander with me to see our highlights from succulent cuisine to the best cocktails on the island? My favourite drink was rather aptly named The New Splash (Rum, Creme de Cassis and mixed berries).

There is a stylish, friendly vibe amongst the guests, but it was also nicely chill and I’m not just talking my Italian Rose…  We were soon chatting to the tables around us as if we were lifelong friends. Well, in some ways we were.

Would you believe I used to ride my pony through Nick on the next door table’s farm in England? Or that when Richard the Kata Rocks Founder and CEO stopped by to say hello, I was born in the same town he was from?!  I’m a firm believer that if you talk long enough you will always find a connection. Here in Phuket, the connections came as easily as the free flow wines.

All eyes were on the fashion show and the captivating clothes from Endless Summer.  I especially loved seeing a couple of models my age who looked fabulous. Go ladies you rock!

With an endless summer of free flow alcohol, the party was kicking off. It didn’t take long for the first guests to be needing a quick cooling off dip, beer and wine in hand. The music by Armenia the DJ was spot on. It was just the best decadent fun I’d had…. all year.

Ha! Only kidding! This is brunch my style!

“Brunch is an opportunity to be a little naughty — or a lot extravagant — at the table.”— Kit Wohl

We just had the chance to strip off ourselves for a quick dip. I mean it had to be done didn’t it? A cocktail in the pool? To view these and more photos check out the Kata Rocks Facebook Page

Come the evening we returned after our wellness treat at the Infinite Luxury Spa (amazing do not miss!) to find the party was still going strong and a singalong happening!

Come to Brunch and stay a while

Welcome to our one bed loft pool villa.

It would be remiss of me to tell you of the joys of a weekend staycation at Kata Rocks without giving you a tour of the villa. I am not surprised Kata Rocks has won over 50 international awards and accolades including ‘Best apartment in the world.’

Starting at the front door don’t do what I did and report your key not working when you’ve pressed the high tech key fob on the wrong panel! It’s a taster of what is ahead. But forgive me for not exactly being on the ball. When we arrived, I was so wowed by the whole stunningly gorgeous apartment that maybe I was a tad distracted…

Our villa was on two levels from everywhere is that view. The one that makes you feel a million dollars. Not to mention the Rock Star service.  Whilst you are at Kata Rocks you have the personal service of the team, cutely called Rock Stars. Oh, the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Who wants some of this?

Your own private indoor/outdoor area greets you. How tempting is it, I just want to jump straight into that infinity pool. The shaded outdoor terrace and padded loungers are perfect to appreciate the beauty of a Rocks sunset.  Be warned it’s hard to leave.

The villa has everything and more. If you just wanted to bunker down and escape from the world, this would be the place to do it. You can come for a night and stay for a month. You could so do WFH here (Working from hotel there is a big work desk if needed) Anyone interested?

The clean, fresh, light, airy space adds to an incredible ambience. I feel so happy here and love the design and artwork.

There is a high-tech experience as I mentioned. The interactive entertainment system for me was the fun of putting the blinds down at night! There is even a TV set into the roof above your bed. That view from the bed is wonderful!

The bathroom is just my sort of place. I’m a bit of a bathroom snob, and I love a bath wow! This was a stunning bathroom with its open ended design to encompass the views.

At breakfast the next day the wow factor continued. We loved our breakfast by the Clubhouse pool and as we did, we savoured the moment reflecting that Kata Rocks really does offer it all.

You have all the seclusion of your own one private villa, and at the Clubhouse, you’ll find a conviviality where you can mix with others if you want.

A couple of things to be mentioned. Kata Rocks dining overlooks the pool, this is what some of us, ok Mr Wren called a posing pool. You’re not exactly going to be best buds with your neighbours if you demonstrate your athletic butterfly strokes here. Equally well, if you don’t want everyone looking at you whilst having their lunch, swim in your villa pool!

Kata Rocks is built on a hillside. You can order a buggy service to take you up to reception or back to your room wherever you are situated. It’s a good fitness workout for the hardy who chose the demanding walk from the clubhouse to the hotel entrance and it’s guaranteed to get your heart rate up. And finally, there is no beach on site. My favourite beach in Phuket, Kata beach is at the bottom of the hill a two minute buggy ride away.

The story of my stay at Kata Rocks has to finish as it started out on the rocks with the very essence, the soul and the heartbeat of this 5 star luxury resort. When you are not partying, I want to share with you the peace, the connection to this world, and to drown in both the wonder of sunrise and the glory of a sunset at Kata Rocks.

Just you, me and a few fishermen who gather on this small cape between Kata and Kata Noi for their catch of the day. Thanks to Magda the wonderful yoga instructor for my Sunset Purification Meditation.

Look closely at these photos, close your eyes and imagine the warm sun on your face, and the energy from this planet, listen to the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks with the ebb and flow of the tides. Picture the glimmering Andaman Sea in Phuket, the paddle boarders gliding past, a yacht moored off the jetty.

Take in that healing light of the Thai sunshine and imagine you are here with me on the rocks or by the pool watching the sunset.

Or better still pick up the phone and make a booking.

The thing about Kata Rocks is the very foundation of the place has energy, that even in today’s quiet and tourist bare Phuket warms the soul. You come for the day, the night, the week, or more, you will find there is infinitely more on offer than you thought, and your memories of the epic times will last forever.  

The pool brunch will return on  27 March 2021

Further details at www.katarocks.com

Disclaimer: Little Wandering Wren stayed as a guest at Kata Rocks.

Little Wandering Wren is a Bangkok Blogger happily stranded in Thailand for the duration. In the past 12 months this Staycation Queen has completed over 100 nights in hotels across Thailand. She knows a good place to rest her weary head when she finds it. More can be found at www.littlewanderingwren.com

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  • The Forestias is the world’s first town purposefully designed for a healthier, happier living lifestyle

  • Utilities and tunnelling work already at 95% completion and residential components being built

  • 1,400 million Baht ‘Forest Pavilion’ with biggest investment ever made by a property developer to showcase a project concept

  • The development has already registered 4,000 million Baht in bookings despite the global Covid-19 pandemic



“The Forestias is progressing to plan regardless of the global Covid-19 pandemic based on our confidence in the project’s concept, the economy and the future of Thailand. Our decision to build the world’s first town with every aspect purposefully designed for a healthier lifestyle has been proven to be in line with global trends, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic has made everyone give even greater importance to a healthier living lifestyle.”

Mr. Kittiphun Ouiyamaphun, Project Director – The Forestias, MQDC



MQDC one of Thailand’s leading property developers has made rapid progress with the construction of The Forestias, Thailand’s largest property development project, valued at 125,000 million Baht, and being built as the world’s first town to have every aspect purposefully designed for healthier and happier living.  

The ‘Forest Pavilion’ is open to the public to showcase residential units as well as offer an immersive experience to demonstrate the overall concept of The Forestias.

Located on Bang Na-Trad Road km 7, The Forestias includes multiple residential components with villas and condominiums aimed at a diverse range of lifestyles and family sizes across 398 rais (64 hectares). The project also includes commercial space for offices, a sports complex, lifestyle activities, retail and food and beverage outlets, family entertainment facilities in a Family Centre, a town centre for community activities and cultural pursuits, a theatre, an events hall, and multiple markets. The highlight of the project is a 30 rai forest at the centre of the development and a 1.6 kilometre canopy walkway that links many of the development’s components and provides a ‘nature-walk’ that weaves above the forest.

Mr. Kittiphun Ouiyamaphun, Project Director – The Forestias, MQDC, said, “The Forestias is a new global prototype for a town development.  It has been designed and is being built by some of the world’s most respected experts and organisations to ensure that every aspect promotes a healthier and better quality of life.”

“We invested a record amount of 1,400 million Baht in the ‘Forest Pavilion’ to let visitors experience life at The Forestias.  It’s the most that any property developer in Thailand has ever invested in the creation of a facility for visitors to see sample residential units as well as experience the total project.”

The Forest Pavilion, with a functional area of around 6,500sqm, was created through MQDC’s collaboration with a group of partners that are among the best in the world in their respective fields.  It was designed by world class architect Foster & Partners Thailand.  

One of the highlights inside the Forest Pavilion is the ‘Chamber of Secrets’ in which the project’s vision is presented through an animation created by DEC Media that is projected around viewers using ‘The Wall’ screen technology. ‘The Wall’ is a modular microLED display that gives a revolutionary viewing experience utilising AI picture enhancement for ultra-realistic experiences.

“Getting families closer together across multiple generations is one of the most important ways of promoting greater happiness and better health. That’s why we have designed The Forestias to have many different residential components that can suit the particular lifestyles and needs of different generations and age groups, whether they be first jobbers, newlyweds, young families, or older parents.  Whilst each group can live in different parts of The Forestias that best suit their needs, all the various components are still seamlessly connected so that families across multiple generations can come together easily, whenever they wish.” Mr. Ouiyamaphun said.

The wide range of residential components at The Forestias includes ‘Whizdom’ condominiums, ‘Mulberry Grove’ condominiums, ‘Mulberry Grove Villas’ residences, ‘The Aspen Tree’ residences, ‘Six Senses Residences’ and a ‘Six Senses’ hotel. There is also a large medical centre with state-of-the art facilities with eminent medical specialists.

One of the most unusual features of The Forestias is a 30 rai forest area that has been planted at the centre of the development. Its purpose is to bring nature into an urban environment as one of the most important factors to promote good health and happiness.  

“It is the first time anywhere in the world that such a large forest has been integrated into a town development,” said Mr. Ouiyamaphun.

Other ‘firsts’ at The Forestias include facilities to help the elderly live safely and more conveniently, a clubhouse for their daily activities, and trained caregivers.

The Forestias is strategically located in the Eastern Economic Corridor which is predicted to be the fastest growing development corridor in Thailand, and has easy access to major highways and mass transportation systems.


www.theestate-thailand.com

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BANGKOK: As fragments of light appear on the tourism horizon and to get you and your hotel in the best shape possible for when you re-open there are many factors to consider as markets around the world now slowly ease off travel restrictions. Ensure you have everything covered so you’re ready for a successful re-opening. 

As you start to prepare for next year’s budgets it is imperative that hotels make their budget work harder for them. With the challenges presented by Covid-19, now more than ever will be the time to review your hotel technology solutions to create an agile environment that sets a higher bar of technological excellence moving into the future.

I have cherry picked and summarised the best advice which may prove a useful ✔️check list in our new world. Bereft of so little knowledgable advice to hoteliers and tourism stakeholders, I hope my 40+ years as a hotelier can sort some of the wheat from the chaff.

In the beginning 

•To ease anxiety of both the staff and guests, additional training of front-facing employees is encouraged. With hotels re-opening simultaneously, a focus should be on the uniqueness of the hotel brand and offers, to allow differentiation between hotels emerging from the lockdown. When bringing an establishment back to operational standards, after closure – partial or otherwise – travel partners and their customers need to be sure they are entering a safe and reliable operation that has maintained standards and offers competitive value for money. 

•Ensure that all stakeholders – such as banks, operators and suppliers – are aware of, and on-board with, the re-opening plan.

•A safe environment with SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and precautions in place are on the top of your trade partners’ lists. Agents may want to inspect your property before placing their clients in your rooms. Yes, they’ll want to see plenty of hand sanitisers, masks, social distancing and controls at the pool. They also need to know your front-line staff have been trained on safe hygiene procedures. 

One Step at a Time

•No one expects you to be able to re-open the doors and return back to 2019’s numbers immediately. A slow climb will take place. As hotels gear up to welcome their guests back, re-opening plans should be more conservative (and realistic) rather than hopeful and expectations will have to be constantly adjusted.

•Everyone needs to take precautions, be aware of your environment and ensure you protect your manpower, yourself, and your clients.

•Keep an eye on the quarantine requirements at both ends of the travel journey and the opening of air bridges (if any), to ensure adherence as well as the guest’s seamless experience.

•Recovery will take place one step at a time. Hotels need to plan for the future and work closely with local and overseas travel partners. Touch base with your partners today to keep the harmony you had going from disappearing. There is a need to rekindle relationships from both sides. You need to say “hello” today and send a more informative email next week. Keeping your establishment alive in their minds is of great importance. Be the first seen, not the last. They may have been wondering where you have you been all this time. You need to keep your name out there to ensure you still have friends once international business returns. 

COVID Policies and Procedures

•Hygiene standards will no doubt change, permanently. That said, the guest experience must not be sacrificed while the hotel ensures the high health and safety standards. 

•F&B will also change and continue to evolve. 

Buffets are now discouraged; guests’ expectations and hotel service levels will need to be managed accordingly. In-room dining will pick up, with a preference toward contactless room delivery. 

•There are numerous COVID hospitality policies. Discuss with your travel agents and tour companies what they are expecting. A few hotels have created their own policies based on 2020 updates. Ensure that you transfer travellers Covid-safe from the airport to their hotels and back again. Having a solid policy should keep you in line with expectations, and people will have trust in hotels that are ready and have prepared for the future.

PMS

•Given the current pandemic, many elements of your operations will have been adjusted so this maybe a good time to look at Property Management Systems (PMS) and update software or shop around to see what’s available. A time maybe to renew or replace? Also if your guest contact technology is outdated or simply does not meet expectations, the cost of ignoring could be critical to the long-term bottom line of the business. The virus has taught us that contact-free technology is here to stay. Digital commerce, home delivery and food-to-go for instance lead the way in cash-free transactions. They adopted  their customer-facing and operational payments processes to the current environment, optimised the customer payment experience and built reliability and trust. 

•Hotels will now have to look at cloud-based and integrated solutions and the possible use of a non-human interface mechanism. With that said, keep in mind that the use of technology should not compromise on the personal touch and guest experience. 

Vehicle Safety

•Agents will question whether transportation providers – public or private – are insured, and have done regular safety checks on their vehicles?

OTAs and Marketing

•OTAs witnessed a huge drop in revenue and will try to make this up, as would any company in the world. They have huge marketing budgets, and will entice you to join them. Be careful, and make sure what they offer covers your costs and a lot more. Trying to fill rooms is one thing; keeping your cash flow alive is another, and most properties will not have an adequate cash flow for a while once doors open. OTAs may attempt to revise previous contracts that only fit their agenda. Remember this, plenty of properties went with prepayment schemes and now they are looking for their money back but due to Covid and by crying, “force majeure” the OTAs have been found lacking. Meanwhile, establishments still have to pay their staff and stay alive.

•Those who remained open, have been working with domestic agents and DMCs. These are the partners, who helped you during the hard times, and with whom you should build a stronger bond looking towards the future. 

•Sales and marketing efforts should be based on travel and booking trends, as well as the opening of the travel market. Marketing teams should be quick to adapt to the changes and new trends, and embrace the use of digital platforms for both sales and marketing efforts.

Summary

Your goal during re-opening is to reduce your losses. To do this:

– Work with local travel agents and DMCs, and create a lasting bond.

– Do not expect room rates to immediately return to 2019 levels, as you may find yourself with no partners or contracts. Raising rates must be mutually agreed upon from both sides. Increase rates over time, and check with your partners on what they are selling, and at what rate to prevent unnecessary losses. Seek a win-win for both sides during re-opening.

– Build your occupancy step by step.

– Control your manpower and budgets. 

– Emphasise your uniqueness 

– Check all licences and insurance are in order and renewed where applicable. Include vehicles. 

– Take a look at technology use in the workplace and F&B offerings. 

– Communicate clearly to all stakeholders of your plan to re-open. 

– Review regularly your COVID hygiene policies. 

– Look at cloud-based and integrated solutions and review PMS. 

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Living abroad for travel, career or family is still the norm, for 310,000 Aussies. However, with coronavirus sweeping the globe, expats are flocking back home to Australia from Europe, US, the UK and Asia to a relatively normal lifestyle despite the pandemic. 

While Covid-19 restricted Australian residents from returning during the height of the outbreak, around 398,000 Australians have returned since mid-March 2020 [2] and numbers of residents have been steadily increasing since October 2020.[1]  Australia continues to have one of the lowest worldwide infection and mortality rates from the virus and the Australian Government has invested more than $3.3 billion into four separate agreements for the supply of proven, safe and effective vaccines. At the time of print, Australia has already received over 25,000,000 does of Covid-19 vaccines, sufficient for 50% of the population to receive a 2 dose regime with more on the way. [3]

It seems the vaccine rollout is spurring on confidence in the Australian property market as well as gleaning interest from overseas buyers. Sean Hughes, director of one of Australia’s top performing real estate offices, Realmark Coastal, recently reported a dramatic increase in the number of buyers bidding on unseen properties in an effort to beat future price hikes. “Quality Perth properties are still in high demand and people are increasingly comfortable with buying homes they’ve only inspected online and we’re still seeing offers above market price and fielding multiple offers on residences.” Sean says. [4]  

According to a survey undertaken by Knight Frank[5] 64% of expats, said the global lockdown had influenced their decision to buy a property in their home country. With real estate prices set to rise over the next year and property demand only increasing, many may even consider a return to the land down under to prepare for a more secure future in a post-Covid world. 

One development Sean and his team are very much looking forward to helping buyers capitalise on, is a stunning over 55s strata title opportunity in Scarborough, Western Australia. Altum is the epitome of luxury, tailored to suit those who value a lock and leave, maintenance free lifestyle less than 450 meters from one of Perth’s best beaches, Scarborough Beach. Boasting an indoor heated pool, concierge, gold class style cinema, gymnasium, yoga and Pilates studio, a massage treatment room, lounge, private dining, wine room and so much more. “If another lockdown comes, I would like to know my parents are not only safe but thriving in a luxurious setting where they can still exercise and enjoy their lifestyle with minimum disruption” says Altum owner builder Michael Lawson. 

There are only 43 apartments across the two towers still available. With no exit fees, and stamp duty rebates of up to 75% available until construction starts, there is real incentive to join your fellow Aussies choosing to return home to live the resort lifestyle, that luxury apartment living provides and indeed a lifestyle that many have become accustomed to living abroad. 

The McGrath Report 2021, analysing trends in the Australian property market, observes expats taking up new opportunities to work remotely from Australia and predicts others will come home for the health benefits post vaccine rollout, with expats returning home likely to drive the demand for owner occupied premises.[6] While the world hopes a vaccine will restore a sense of normality, perhaps it’s also a window of opportunity to consider what you envisage the future may look like for you and your family. No matter how far or wide you roam, we look forward to welcoming you back home. To learn more about Altum’s over 55 luxury apartments, click here.

[1] Media Release: 18/01/2021 Australians continue to return home https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/australians-continue-return-home 

[2] Media Release: 16 October 2020 DFAT More flights helping Australian return https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-release/more-flights-helping-australians-return

[3] Australian Government Department of Health 17 February 2021 Australia’s vaccine agreements | Australian Government Department of Health

[4] FEATURE ARTICLE: Feb 7, 2021 Lockdown sparks 37 offers in one day – new level of Perth property demand https://www.therealestateconversation.com.au/news/2021/02/07/lockdown-sparks-37-offers-one-day-new-level-perth-property-demand-says-realmark

[5] Research Article: Knight Frank June 10,2020  COVID-19 sparks expat re-evaluation https://www.knightfrank.com.au/blog/2020/06/10/covid19-sparks-expat-reevaluation

[6] McGrath Report 2021 https://issuu.com/mcgrathestateagents/docs/mcg013_mcgrath_20report_202021_digital_all_fa_2_sp

Kindly visit the page for more information – https://altumliving.com.au/home-is-calling

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Top rated tourist destination in Thailand

Phuket as a resort island is probably one of the most attractive and commercialised tourist destinations in Thailand. Its strong appeal comes from the sandy beaches with clear blue water for excellent snorkelling and diving experience. Its abundance of fresh seafood encourage local and expatriates tourists to flock to the island annually for relaxation and favourable cuisine. Viewing breathtaking sunsets on the gorgeous beaches under the all year round warm climate, to be followed by the vibrant nightlife in Patong allure to all visitors. One of the latest hot trends over Instagram in Phuket is a “Floating breakfast with a view”.

Taking a family trip last December to Phuket, we were looking for a rejuvenated vacation. With our previous visits, we have enjoyed the friendliness of the southerners. The history of Phuket as a trading place has encouraged the local communities to foreigners. With this trip, instead of visiting the famous landmarks, we had the sense of adventure to explore some unbeaten tracks.

According to Ms. Nopparat Aumpa, SAVP & General Manager, Banyan Tree Phuket and Banyan Tree Bangkok, “Phuket has so much to offer, that even those that live here try something new almost every weekend, we still do not know it all! Our island has so much more to offer than the 10 attractions that pop-up on internet searches, yes those are still a must to visit, but we always recommend our travellers to submerge themselves in the local community and traditions and not just visit attractions for a photo or as a check on their list. In my opinion, it is only when you understand the local heritage that you truly understand the destination.

Scot Toon, Managing Director of Asia corporate office from The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts also recommended, “There are many different beach experiences, hidden beaches to larger bays with lots of water activities or go shopping in the boutiques at Boat Avenue in Cherng Talay, all worth coming back repeatedly for. Additionally, there is old Phuket town with beautiful galleries and local boutiques, or visit the Little Bukit Organic Farm, organic produce, goats and other farm animals for the kids to play with and a little cafe.

Cycle tours or trekking the hills, with so many places to explore, means you can’t do it in one trip.”

Arthorn Vanasantakul, Managing Director Hotel and Tourism Business from MBK Hotel & Tourism Company Limited echoed, “As a world famous destination, Phuket has so many attractions that will always entice both international and domestic visitors; beaches that are amongst the best in SE Asia; a vibrant nightlife and top quality restaurants; scenic mountains and forests. And, of course, the island is renowned for its golf courses, and our Tinidee Golf Resort Phuket and Loch Palm Residence is located alongside two of the most famous – Red Mountain and Loch Palm. So, apart from miles and miles of white sand beaches and the azure waters of the Andaman Sea, Phuket offers a plethora of activities that keep visitors entertained.”

Krating Cape (Laem Krating viewpoint) 

In Phuket, one of the new popular destinations to see the sunset in Phuket with a 360 degree panorama view is at Krating Cape. The starting point to Laem Krating viewpoint is Baan Krating Phuket Resort. The walk takes around 30/40 minutes to the final destination. The walk along the beach path requires crossing the rocks and climbing up the hill slope, hence, proper hiking shoes are highly recommended. The compensation for the trekking route is the chance to take memorable photos of the gorgeous view. We suggest going there two hours before the sunset, and then to start hiking back before the sky gets dark. There is a rock that looks like a sailboat where the locals refer as “sailing rock”. This marks the sunset viewpoint, where the Nai Harn beach, Windmill and Promthep Cape are in full view.

Pa Hin Dum (Black Rock viewpoint)

Pa Hin Dum is high up to the mountains that overlook Nai Harn beach and Yanui beach with an outstanding view. There is a dirt road that leads to Black Rock viewpoint. A sign for Nui Beach sits opposite to the entrance. Parking is available near a big rock with the painted words “Pa Hin Dum”. It takes a walk of around 20 minutes along the long trail about 200 metres to the viewpoint. As the pathway to the viewpoint is quite steep, safety hiking shoes are highly recommended.  

Hidden Rock ond

The Rock Pond is located in Kamala area. This place is a calm and peaceful spot that should be experienced with the sunset over the sea in the distance. There is a short hike down to the pond, so again proper walking or hiking shoes should be worn. To enjoy the sunset fully and taking remarkable photos, the best time is around 5pm.  Another option to appreciate the clear water and relax in the pond is to spend a few hours and arrive early at 10am. However, on the days with strong winds, the visit to the Rock Pond should be avoided as the high waves pose danger.

Big Buddha (Pra Phutta Ming Mongkol Ake Nakiri)

Pra Phutta Ming Mongkol Ake Nakiri or Ming Mongkol Buddha is one of the most famous landmarks in Phuket. The 45 metre tall white marble statue on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata is visible from far away. A panorama 360 degree view of the island covers Kata, Karon beaches, Chalong Bay and more. As with all visits to other Thai temples, foreign visitors should remember to dress respectfully and avoid beachwear, shorts and miniskirts. The suggested time to view sunset is around 6pm.

Phuket Old Town

The history of Phuket Island was one of the major trading routes between China and India, with assembled from Arabs, Chinese, Indian, Malay and Portuguese traders. Phuket Old Town, for its architecture, museums, shops and restaurants is a “must see”. The Phuket Town weekend night market is popular with both locals and tourists, offering all sorts for sale from fruits and street food to clothes and old curiosities. When we wandered around the old town, the Sino-Portuguese influence is visible everywhere even until today, with construction of many large mansions or shophouses that possess interesting combination of Chinese and colonial architecture. Colourful Chinese shrines and Thai temples are scattered around the town. 

Phuket community is creative with new concepts of cafes and restaurants to events, markets or shops constantly emerging. There are always fresh delicious treats to bite into. The streets seem to evolve and at each corner, there is new street art to upload on instagram.  

Phuket’s natural beauty is undeniable. All visitors will certainly activities that suit themselves. Enthusiasts of scuba diving and snorkelling can enjoy a full day with only a short boat ride to any of the less known islands which offer perfect bays and amazing scenery.  Alternatively, lazily hanging around any hotel pool to wait for the gorgeous sunset is a pleasing option.  For me, getting up at 5am in the morning it took only five minutes to a beautiful lagoon golf course, to experience an incredible sunrise sealed for a memorable trip!

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The majority of Thais have no plan to travel during the long weekends, a recent poll showed.

A Bangkok Poll survey by Bangkok University on “Thais’ travel plan during long weekends” found that more than half — 54 per cent of respondents — have no plan of travelling in December, while Chiang Mai is the most popular destination among travellers.

he poll, which surveyed 1,137 respondents nationwide and was released on Thursday, found that among the reasons for not travelling during long weekends were: Having to work/study (20 per cent), having financial restrictions (11.7 per cent), and having health problems (8.8 per cent). Some 25.2 per cent of respondents, however, said that they planned to travel during the long weekends in December, while 20.8 per cent said they were still uncertain.

Chiang Mai is the most popular destination among respondents (25 per cent), followed by Chiang Rai (9 per cent), Nan (6.6 per cent), Phetchabun (6.4 per cent) and Loei (5.1 per cent).

When asked about the government’s measure to stimulate tourism, 67.9 per cent of respondents said they were aware of the “Rao Pai Tiew Gun” (Let’s travel together) campaign, while 32.1 per cent said they were not aware; 61.4 per cent of the respondents said they had not registered under the campaign, the main reasons being: Do not know how to use the app (18.5 per cent), the registration process is too complicated (15.5 per cent), the room reservation process is too complicated (3.5 per cent).

When asked about their opinion on the effectiveness of the government’s tourism stimulus campaigns, 55.2 per cent of respondents said that these measures were effective and would result in more people travelling, while 44.8 per cent said that they would have only a minor impact on the tourism industry.

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Exclusive for Expat Life Readers FREE
Cash Voucher 500 Baht for 2 nights stay

Booking & holiday period: 1 Dec 2020 – 31 Mar 2021

Conditions:

Applicable for 2 nights stay
at Junior Suite Pool View

Room price based on regular rate on hotel website

Cannot be combined with other special promotions

For reservation,
please contact:
032 616 777
www.marrakeshresortandspa.com

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As the story goes, teatime began in 19th century England when trendsetter, Anna the Duchess of Bedford, invited her friends to a clandestine snack to quell their hunger before dinner. Since guilty pleasures are hard to resist, every society lady was soon hosting her own afternoon tea. 

This upper-class indulgence eventually became an everyday tradition which made its way from Britain to Bangkok, complete with pastry laden trays, fine teas, and savory delights galore. After all, teatime turns an ordinary afternoon into a celebration, so it’s easy to see why we love this indulgent affair. 

Since Bangkok offers a dizzying array of afternoon teas, choosing the perfect one can be tricky. Luckily, we’ve gathered Bangkok’s Best Hotel Teatimes to suit various occasions and moods. This popular British pastime has gotten a fresh spin thanks to Bangkok’s talented chefs and beautiful locations. Each tea service has its own unique vibe, so you’ll always enjoy a new experience. Pinkies ready? Discover where to sip in style. We are sharing tea services with the finest flavors, newest offerings, and most inspiring ambiance.

Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel – Three Teatimes in an Enchanted Garden

Where: Fancy an indoor picnic? Well, you are in for a treat! The Lobby Lounge evokes an airy urban greenhouse where decadent tea services make bustling Bangkok seem worlds away. Relax amongst cascading greenery and arched windows which bask you in oodles of natural light. Afterwards, walk off each delicious calorie strolling the gardens. 

Website: www.kempinski.com/en/bangkok/sindhorn-hotel/ 

What: Choose between three distinctive tea sets: Classic. Vegan. Thai. Each concept shares thoughtfully prepared bites such as an indulgent Caramel Praline & Chocolate Plaisir, vegan Grilled Asparagus & Chickpea on Beet Chips, or Thai Steamed Fish Dumplings. 

When: 2pm-5pm, daily. Friday-Sunday you can order the classic Chevaa Afternoon Tea presented in a handcrafted tree and served in two styles: The Indulgence (think innovative updates on European pastries) and the Guilt Free (vegan set) for all you plant-based foodies. The Thai Afternoon Tea is served all week with gourmet bites from Michelin-starred Saneh Jaan.  

Why: “Teatime in the Lobby Lounge is a wonderful place to connect socially or meet for a classy business meeting. It truly is a culinary journey. I loved escaping within the lush landscapes, chic décor, and architecture. It’s an oasis in the heart of busy Bangkok.” – Amy Patcharaporn Anantasuk, Real Estate 

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“What a breath of fresh air! We started with an eye-catching lemon sorbet. The bright flavors introduced this extraordinary experience. I would recommend it because of the beautiful setting, high standard of food, and value-for-money. You also can’t beat perfectly baked scones with cream and jam.” – Nicky Kim, Chef

How Much: 750++ Baht per person 

Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel – Afternoon Delight: A Teatime & Spa Retreat

Where: The Anantara Siam invites you to pamper yourself with their Afternoon Delight package. In addition to a 90-minute massage at the world-class spa, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous Mariage Frères Afternoon Tea nestled within the Lobby’s plush couches, frescoed ceilings, and floral arrangements. Did we mention the live piano music? You might just float out. 

Website: https://www.anantara.com/en/siam-bangkok 

What: Pssst… this is an amazing deal! Choose to spa before or after your tea service. The self-care continues with a classic English spread featuring dainty finger foods and Mariage Frères tea with Thai-inspired blends made exclusively for the Anantara Siam. Sip an Eléphant Blanc black tea as you pluck blueberry crumble tarts and tuna ekura blinis from the tiered tray. Bliss!

When: Afternoon tea is served daily from 2pm-6pm. The Afternoon Delight promo continues through December 2020.

Why: “The Afternoon Delight is a relaxing, joyful retreat for both women and men. It’s worth noting that the spa uses Total Body Tonic massage oil known for its antibacterial qualities and a beautiful niche brand, Biologique Recherche, for facial services. I will definitely return.”  – Tina Derkse, International Makeup Artist www.savourbytina.com 

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“I loved the calm atmosphere as I entered past the lily ponds. The teatime was a fun mix of colorful flowers, attentive service, and elegant presentation of treats.” – Neeranuj Wongwasin, Jewelry Designer 

How Much:  Afternoon Delight Package is 1,800 Baht net per person (90-minute massage + Afternoon Tea Set) // Classic Afternoon Tea Set (Mon-Fri) is 850++ Baht per set for two people // 

Afternoon Tea Buffet (Sat – Sun) is 950++ Baht per person

Rosewood Bangkok – Teatime with a Fancy French Twist

Where: Bring your cravings for exceptional French pastries to the Afternoon Tea at Rosewood Bangkok. This “English affair with French flair” features a rotating selection of delectable creations from their award-winning Executive Pastry Chef, Florian Couteau who recently won Iron Chef Thailand. The Rosewood’s stylish serenity provides the perfect backdrop for standout bites that are both chic and scrumptious. 

Website: www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/bangkok 

What: Gather your besties for a degustation menu filled with goodies like Mandarin Sorbet with Candied Citrus and finger sandwiches stuffed with blue crab, preserved lemon, and smoked salt. If you’re still parched after the extravagant service, champagne is on offer. Oh, how civilized!

When: Wednesday – Sunday from 3pm-5:30pm. Nan Bei is the weekday venue. Lakorn European Brasserie is the weekend setting.  

Why:  “This was the perfect afternoon. I loved the exquisite sweet to savory options. Each confection introduced a new taste and texture. The melt-in-your-mouth Rum Baba cake with Chalong Bay Rum and fresh matcha and vanilla cream was unbelievable. The charming bottle of coconut syrup that accompanied my ginger tea was a simple, thoughtful addition. Details create memorable dining experiences.”-  Ellyn Louise Ahlemeyer, Author & Acupuncturist

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“This sophisticated, but relaxed teatime felt like being in a Parisian hotel with an Asian twist. The city views are impressive while the artwork from notable Thai artists was the perfect complement to the edible art that were served.” – Rachel Pickel, Lawyer

How Much: 950++ Baht per person 

Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit: History, Flavors, & Flowers Tea Service 

Where: You’ll have plenty to talk about as you explore Bangkok’s vibrant history at the Sukhumvit Gallery Afternoon Tea. The past meets the present through vintage photographs, modern art, and bold flavors. Wander the photography exhibit to learn about the fascinating history of Sukhumvit Road, the city’s most important thoroughfare. Tea is served amongst historic images. Compare the sights of old Sukhumvit Road with the new as you gaze through big windows at today’s cityscape overlooking the most modern thing Sukhumvit has to offer – the BTS skytrain. 

Website: www.hyatt.com/hyatt-regency-bangkok-sukhumvit/bkkhr 

What: Take a tasty peek into Bangkok’s history at this Thai-inspired teatime. It was designed by renowned floral artist, Sakul Inthakul, who cleverly infuses contemporary Thai art into the tea trays and flowers. Sample savory throwbacks to Thai childhood favorites including curry puffs as well as new takes on Thai tapas such as sa-koo-sai-moo. Save room for sweets like mango-based petit fours which are served with organic coffee or tea from farms in Chiangmai and Tak.  

When:  2pm-5pm, daily

Why: “This experience stands out for blending traditional Thai roots with modern influences. Teatime is served on a custom-made tray depicting a bridge along Sukhumvit Road, which you’ll see in the gallery’s photos. The traditional Thai “mali” flowers represent Sukhumvit’s bustling energy. Each detail shares Sukhumvit’s story. I want to bring my parents here. It’s also a great deal for the price.” – Swita Charanasomboon, Marketing Director APAC

How Much: 950++ Baht per set for two people

Banyan Tree Bangkok: An Oriental High Tea in the Sky  

Where: Make your way to the aptly named Vertigo Too on the 60th floor where an expansive skyline provides a dramatic backdrop to the Orient High Tea. Delightful delicacies riff on Chinese flavors. If possible, snag a window seat for a birds-eye view of Bangkok.  It gives a whole new meaning to the term “high tea.” Enjoy the groovy, live acoustic music.  You might just find yourself singing along. 

Website: www.banyantree.com/en/thailand/bangkok 

What: Teatime begins with bottles of tea leaves to awaken your senses. Simply smell and select your blend. Get ready for a light-hearted tea service with a sense-of-humor that extends throughout the East meets West theme. Numerous dishes arrive in a BIG dim sum basket that’s sure to put a smile on your face. The playful presentation continues with a menu tucked inside a lucky, red hong bao envelope. What fun! The distinctly Chinese nibbles include Pork Dumplings with Seared Foie Gras, Crispy Duck Salad Rolls with Beijing Sauce, and Red Bean Belgian Waffles with Chantilly Creme & Black Sesame Paste. 

When: Saturdays & Sundays from 1pm-4pm

Why: “Come for the peaceful surroundings, picturesque views, and exotic teatime. The presentation in  the massive dim sum steamer was a nice touch. It switched-up your average teatime to a creatively engaging meal. I especially enjoyed the egg tart which wasn’t too sweet and had a lovely pastry crust. The entire experience was fantastic.” – Amy Wondurack. Senior eCommerce Manager

How Much: 888++ Baht per set for two people.

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For lunch at the Siam Anantara on Rajadamri Rd such a civilised place to have Sunday brunch. As ever the restaurant is full… fresh seafood oysters, rock lobster, salmon, tuna washed down with Champagne – gosh I love living in Bangkok!
So many choices and alternatives – from each of their signature restaurants plus their street food special. I shall follow with Peking Duck, rare roast beef and various sides. Staff excellent and very attentive thank you Daniel Simon GM oh and in case you wondered I am a paying guest!
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