Tonino Lamborghini to launch luxury hotel in Phuket


PHUKET: Tonino Lamborghini, the Italian brand famous for its luxurious products and designs, has unveiled plans to launch its inaugural hotel project on Phuket as part of a landmark collaboration with Utopia Corporation.

Scheduled to welcome guests in 2023, Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Phuket will be a one-of-a-kind luxury resort nestled directly on the beachfront at Chalong Bay, on Phuket’s southeast coast, overlooking the islands in Phang Nga Bay.

The  low-rise retreat is the vision of Alexander Wong, founder of Alexander Wong Architects, whose original avant-garde style has won multiple global awards.

Guests will be welcomed into a world of international glitz, with a Glamour Lobby that features slatted rosewood LED screens to provide a dramatic first impression, said a release announcing the the new hotel.

“Guests can stay in a collection of 39 suites and seven villas, all of which are equipped with cutting-edge amenities and adorned with designer furnishings and abstract artworks.  The Futura Suites and The Glamour Suites are conceived to be aesthetically exciting and provocative without sacrificing functionality,” the release adds.

Alexander Wong considers Phuket to be the ‘Miami of Asia’, due to its international allure and cultural appeal. Reflecting the spirit of South Beach, Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Phuket will feature its signature Red Pool, which will embrace the best elements of a chic Floridian beach club. The Miami restaurant is a multi-sensory feast for diners, with a contemporary menu and a colourful ceiling inspired by the French post-impressionist painter, Henri Rousseau. Guests can also stay in shape at the state-of-the-art Power Gym, the release noted.

“After the opening of our branded hotels in Suzhou, Kunshan and Huangshi, the launch of a real estate project in China, and our latest residence project in Brazil, today I am proud to announce the partnership Utopia Corporation for the development of the Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Phuket, which represents another great milestone for the Tonino Lamborghini Company in the hospitality industry,” said Ferruccio Lamborghini, CEO & Vice President of Tonino Lamborghini Company, and heir of the Lamborghini family.

“Our goal is to bring a branded Tonino Lamborghini experience to the best places worldwide, and soon we will bring the Tonino Lamborghini spirit to Phuket: one of the world’s finest tourist destinations. Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel will be a luxury hotel with captivating architecture, bespoke interior design and top-quality services, with the ultimate purpose to satisfy the top-level requests of international clientele. Together with Utopia, we will strive to offer a new concept of hospitality. Our clientele will feel the values of our family’s DNA and heritage, Italian spirit, extreme attention-to-detail, and the energy that Tonino Lamborghini brand transmits. As my father always says; ‘If I cannot give you Italy, I will give you Its feeling!’”

Hachi Yin, Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne-based Utopia Corporation, said, “We are delighted to form this landmark agreement with Tonino Lamborghini. It is indeed an honour to introduce this famous Italian name to Thailand’s hotel industry for the first time; their brand is recognised around the globe as a beacon of luxury, exclusivity and flair. Combined with Utopia Corporation’s hospitality and development expertise, I am confident that our partnership will usher in an exciting new era for Phuket’s tourism industry, allowing us to attract new markets.”

Utopia Corporation was established in 2015 and has grown rapidly to become one of the largest real estate developers in Phuket, with a collection of hospitality, residential, commercial and entertainment projects across the island, along with architecture, design, development, engineering, construction and hotel operation services, explained the release.

The company operates three own-branded hotels in Phuket: Utopia Kata, Utopia Loft, and Utopia Naiharn, which was named as Asia’s ‘Top Emerging Hotel’ in the Now Travel Asia Awards.

Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Phuket will start construction in August 2021, with completion expected by July 2023. The hotel is expected to celebrate its grand opening in November 2023.

Utopia Corporation was established in 2015 and presently is the largest real estate developer in Phuket, the release noted

“Utopia Corporation contributes to solving fragmentation on the island by integrating and planning for connectivity in its masterplan ­to develop the Utopia Empire: a development portfolio that includes a collection of hotels, apartments, villas, commercial complexes, architecture, interior design, engineering and hotel operations. Under the leadership of its CEO, Hachi Yin, Utopia Corporation, comprises many divisions, including Utopia Construction Group, Utopia Hotel Group, Club Utopia and IPA Finance & Law,” the release explained.

Utopia Corporation has developed and constructed nine real estate projects in Phuket within four years, including apartments, villas and commercial complexes, with a total construction area of ​​120,000 square metres, an investment of B8 billion and a total of nearly 2,000 keys.

Among them, three hotel apartment projects have already started operating. Utopia Corporation is also the winner of multiple property awards, including FIABCI 2020 Prix d’Excellence for Utopia Karon, Utopia Central and Utopia Thalang, 2018 and 2019 Dot Property Winner for Best Development and Construction Company, PropertyGuru 2018 award winner for Design & Construction. In 2019, its flagship property, Utopia Naiharn, won Now Travel Asia Award for Asia’s Top Emerging Hotel.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on November 12, 2020

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Hotels reluctant to apply for ASQ status due to government’s cap on tourist arrivals


With the number of foreign arrivals who can enter Thailand on the special tourist visa limited to just 1,200 a month, hotel owners say they’re reluctant to apply for alternative state quarantine status. Hoteliers say a lack of tourists in sufficient numbers, coupled with the number of quarantine facilities already in existence, means the investment required to gain ASQ approval may not be worth it.

Bangkok currently has 103 hotels approved as ASQ properties. A further 30 hotels in Pattaya, Phuket, Prachin Buri, Surat Thani and Buri Ram are ready to operate as alternative local state quarantine facilities.

Centara Hotels and Resorts currently has one Bangkok property which has received approval to operate as an ASQ facility. The Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel is partnered with Piyavate Hospital, with another Centara property in Phuket going through the approval process. However, chief executive Thirayuth Chirathivat says any decision to apply for ASQ status has to be based on a property’s location, the costs involved, and the number of tourists likely to stay.

“As the country is limiting arrivals, we plan to focus on attracting tourists who already cleared mandatory quarantine instead.”

Should the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration agree to admit more tourists in future, Thirayuth says more Centara properties may apply for ASQ status.

Meanwhile, the Accor group has 6 hotels operating as ASQ properties, while a further 12 are going through the application process. Spokesman Patrick Basset says as more hotels apply to join, so demand goes down. Accor’s ASQ hotels in Thailand recorded overall occupancy rates of between 48% – 68% during September.

Basset says Accor also operates 5 quarantine hotels in Vietnam, 2 in the Philippines, 2 in Laos and 1 in Myanmar. In Vietnam, foreign visitors go through a health-screening process on arrival, after which they can choose from a quarantine hotel or quarantine facilities provided by the Vietnamese government, at a cost of US$5 per day for food and other necessary supplies. It’s understood Ho Chi Minh City has 24 quarantine hotels, offering rooms from between $52 to $216 a night, approximately.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on November 3, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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When hoteliers emerge from 2020, the business will be hard


Is it time re-imagine the guest relationship?

Globally, more than a hundred million travel and hospitality jobs will be lost in 2020 due to Covid-19. Here in Phuket, where I moved in 1988 as the opening general manager at Amanpuri, we have seen as many as 60,000 job losses in the hotel sector alone, which accounts for 86,000 registered rooms, and at this moment there is no light at the end of the tunnel, nor any date for Phuket-bound International flights on the horizon.

More than four months have passed with no local infections on Phuket. Yet passenger arrivals have plunged and there are no imminent signs of recovery, despite the country opening up to domestic air travel and guests from Bangkok becoming our “weekend warriors”.

Thailand deserves high praise for its decisive actions in late March that successfully managed the spread of Covid-19 yet in closing the kingdom to all non-resident foreigners, Phuket island now finds itself at an inflexion point as local demand cannot stem the dramatic losses on Phuket, nor reverse the rapidly escalating financial and social crisis, especially in the tourist town like Patong, Kata and Karon, etc.

From the very earliest days at Amanresorts, founder Adrian Zecha schooled us to make guests feel as relaxed as if they were staying in the home of a friend, which built an experience that wasn’t purely transactional, and I feel we took this even further at Trisara.

Over 30 years dealing with guests on Phuket, it’s clear that our is a business built on meaningful human connections, and as travellers start to move again in 2021 we have a unique opportunity to reconsider a few cookie cutter policies that annoy guests.

Its time to get our staff back to work, for restaurants and tourist business to reopen so that Phuket can breathe again.

As President of the Phuket Hotels Association, our 78 members to prepare for the inevitable return of international arrivals. After several aborted plans, the Thai government is considering ‘green bridges’ or “bubbles” that may allow entry to foreigners from countries or regions with little or no Covid-19 infections, hopefully from countries such as New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Australia.

However, It’s going to be a very slow climb back to any reasonable numbers – thus a buyer’s market for years and those hotels that create even more special experiences, and soften some of the policies born in the 1990’s when it was a seller’s market, will emerge with greater guest experiences and social media will spread these in a positive way.

With this in mind, I propose we offer a new “Guest Bill of Rights”.

• Frontline staff needs to be empowered to make more decisions, such as giving guests reasonable refunds or credit when they complain about an actual mistake. We all know felt the irritation as the last impression at check-out, with your flight take-off time looming, as the reception staff disappears to ask an invisible manager about removing an erroneous charge for that Toblerone you didn’t eat.

• Overcharging for cookie-cutter minibars is over. We can and should customise the minibar with healthy (and not so healthy, this is a holiday after all) options including authentic, hygienic and plastic-free packaged local treats. Guests would buy more too, as mini bars are mostly poor investments. My favourite is the totally free local mini bar at The Greenwich, Robert De Niro’s hotel in New York.

• No more ‘nickel and diming’ on the hotel bill. We owe it to our guests to stop profiting off necessary conveniences like bottled water with breakfast, Internet and hotel laundry.

• Goodbye to 50% or even 100% room charges for late check-outs. Let’s be better at allocating rooms. There should always be a private space for guests who arrive before 2 pm and if hotels are not 100% full, guests should be able to leave after midday without being whacked with a half-day charge.

• Breakfast should be included, full stop, and let breakfast finish late. Since there is nothing more luxurious than a long, relaxed breakfast on a holiday, guests should not have to rush down to their first meal of the day simply because the chef wants to start prepping for lunch at 10 am.

• We can and must protect our fragile Island, the planet at the same time. Drinking water should be in glass bottles, plentiful and complimentary. There must be a unilateral end to plastic shampoo bottles and laundered garments shrouded in cling plastic have to go. In Phuket, we challenged our member hotels to remove plastic water bottles in 2018, which resulted in a reduction of six million plastic bottles from our landfills.

Our industry’s humble beginnings offer valuable lessons for any hotel’s future success. What was not optional for a medieval innkeeper should guide the 21st-century hotelier: buy local, being support for our local communities, engagement with and protection of the local environment.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on November 1, 2020 by Anthony C.J. Lark

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COVID impact may still affect Thailand property market through Q3 2021: Knight Frank


PHUKET: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to affect the Thai property market through to the third quarter next year (Q3 2021), a senior executive at Knight Frank Thailand has warned.

Frank Khan, Executive Director and Head of Residential, Knight Frank Thailand, noted his forecast in a release issued today (Oct 30).

Mr Khan explained that his prognosis followed discussion with a number of foreign real estate agents across China and Hong Kong towards the Thailand property market.

Thailand’s property market was hit by a drop in Chinese investors during the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the negative impacts of the disease and the global uncertainty surrounding it. Most buyers have been heavily concerned and slowed their transactions.

A number of Chinese and Hong Kong investors wanted to postpone their balance payments for residential deals for one to two years, and some even withdrew reservations for off-plan projects.

Normally, Hong Kong and Chinese investors tend to visit a site to see an actual residence before making their purchases; the fact that they have not been able to come into Thailand, given the travel restrictions, represents the main cause of deal postponements, Mr Khan explained.

Many new condominium projects have delayed their launches until next year or for a couple of years, and Thai developers are clearing their stocks by expediting balance settlements way before the projects are completed. This, combined with difficult transfer procedures and non-refundable booking deposits for reservation cancellations by some developers, often does not match the expectations of overseas buyers, many of whom have complained, he added.

“Such factors may ruin the market or contribute to lower investment-related confidence. On the other hand, some Chinese investors have turned towards the Chinese market itself as property prices are growing and the turnover rate is high,” Mr Khan said.

Some Chinese and Hong Kong investors expect the Bangkok condominium market to have significant adjustments. Some developers are cutting down the selling prices of remaining inventories by 20 to 30% from the usual prices; this is a good chance for investors to grab the opportunity for buying their own residences or for long term investment purposes, he noted.

“Most Hong Kong and Chinese people are interested in investing in ready-to-move projects or completed projects in prime areas, while some also consider townhouses in suburban areas for their own occupancy or retirement living. This could be an alternative choice to reduce investment risks, along with a focus on capital gains or high returns when the market recovers,” Mr Khan explained.

“Even if it is early to predict what the post-crisis market would look like, certain international agents believe that the slowdown may endure until the third quarter of 2021 due to the numerous negative impacts of the global economy,” he said.

It is interesting to point out what the criteria is for Chinese and Hong Kong buyers who consider purchasing a second home abroad. Not only does the government handle the Covid-19 situation well, with prevention measures and controls, but the country affords easy access to high-ranked healthcare services, quality children’s education and the ability to return home without relying on air travel, Mr Khan said.

“This could be a huge opportunity for the Thai property market. The result reveals that there are more Chinese willing to invest in Thailand’s residential market for the long term, due to the above mentioned reasons. The relatively low cost of living and friendly relationship between the Thai and Chinese government are important factors for those Chinese and Hong Kong investors to consider about Thailand, as well,” Mr Khan concluded.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 30, 2020

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Phuket luxury resorts become quarantine facilities for travellers on the Special Tourist Visa


Thailand is opening its doors this week after a 6 month ban on international tourists, catering to those on the new Special Tourist Visa who have time on their hands and money to spend. The first group will arrive to Phuket from China on Thursday, but they all have to go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine and it isn’t cheap in Phuket.

Most of the government approved quarantine facilities in Phuket are luxury hotels. The Senses Resort in Phuket offers quarantine packages for their private pool villas starting at 260,000 baht and go up to 590,000 baht for a family of four. While it’s pricey, the resort owner Suppachoke Laongphet says it doesn’t generate much income.

“We won’t make much profit from these special clients because of the expenses involved … We had to find other sources of income to support our staff and the local economy.”

A lot of preparation has gone into preparing the resort for quarantine guests. The resort’s staff were trained on Covid-19 prevention measures such as how to spot infections and what protective equipment to wear when interacting with the guests. The resort also got rid of some cushions to make the disinfecting easier.

Once the tourists are released from quarantine, officials hope they will help boost Phuket’s economy that heavily relies on foreign tourists. Before the pandemic, tourism made up 93% of Phuket’s income. The island province has been in a crisis since the halt on international travel to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now more than 70% of the island’s businesses are closed.

But some say the Special Tourist Visa scheme won’t be even slightly close to enough to save the country’s battered tourist economy. President of Thai Travel Agents Vichit Prakobkoson is pushing to end the 14 day quarantine for foreign tourists travelling from countries classified as a very low risk for spreading Covid-19. He says the thought of quarantine “repulses” many potential tourists.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 5, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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B2.5bn private equity trust launched to target hotels in distress


BANGKOK: A tripartite agreement has launched a private equity trust that will target the acquisition of hotels and resorts in distress due to the COVID-19 economic crisis in the name of renovating, repositioning and relaunching the hotels, and helping to reboot Thailand’s tourism industry.

Bangkok-based private equity firm Destination Capital signed an agreement with KTB Securities (Thailand) Public Company Limited (KTBST SEC) and MFC Asset Management Public Company Limited (MFC) to capitalize and launch the “DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust”, said an announcement issued yesterday (Sept 30).

The trust will acquire hotels in Thailand and target investor returns of up to 15% per year with a five- to seven-year holding period, explained the release.

Destination Capital “will source, acquire, reposition and asset manage hotels acquired by DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust with KTBST SEC acting as Trust Settlor and Trust Manager and MFC as Trustee under this SEC regulated structure” Destination Capital CEO James A. Kaplan said in the release.

“The investment strategy is to acquire urban and resort hotels and then renovate, reposition and rebrand to increase value of the properties in order to generate meaningful returns to investors utilizing the experience gained by Destination Group with its 24-year track record in Thailand of buying, managing, and selling hotels particularly during times of distress,” he added.

“We are pleased to play such an important role to support the rejuvenation of the Thai travel and tourism industry with the announcement of DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust,” said Mr Kaplan.

“This trust will invest in strategic hospitality assets to facilitate re-employment and hotel re-openings to re-launch Thailand as a preferred global travel destination. This could not have been done without the support of our advisor and trust manager, KTBST SEC and MFC as trustee,” he added.

Mr Kaplan also noted that the DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust will afford investors the opportunity to participate in the rebound of the Thai hotel and resort industry.

“During [the] covid-19 pandemic, with tourism significantly affected, tourist arrivals collapsed from approximately 40 million visitors in 2019 to an estimated 7 million visitors in 2020 which represents most arrivals through March 2020. There will be a gradual rebound in 2021 provided there is a meaningful vaccine and flight schedules restart to pick up the anticipated demand,” said the release.

“The trust will acquire freehold hotels and resorts located in prime destinations and locations including Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Phuket, as these locations are expected to be the fastest rebounding destinations,” it added.

KTB Securities CEO Natthapong Na Ranong stated that the fund raising for the trust has two main target investor groups “including Institutional investors and High Net worth individuals who are interested to invest in the recovery of the Thai hotel industry by participating in the trust”.

“KTBST SEC will raise funds and act as trust manager to support this important initiative and we look forward to establishing additional trusts and investment vehicles going forward to recapitalize the tourism industry which is such an important part of the Thai economy,” he said.

The trust units which are subject to SEC regulation will be available to both foreign and domestic investors for subscription of the units in October with the target trust capitalization of B2.5 billion. The trust has a five-year investment period extendable subject to market conditions by two years targeting annual returns of up to 15%.

“KTBST SEC has received inquiries about the trust from fund management and securities firms to act as the selling agents, which is a validation that  investors see opportunity in the travel and tourism industry in Thailand through a regulated structure backed by the  proven track record of the asset manager,” the release noted.

Although private equity trusts are new in Thailand, they are common and widely accepted in other jurisdictions and serve as an easy and flexible way to invest in alternative asset classes with higher investor returns, it added.

“Under the collaboration among KTBST SEC as the trust manager, MFC as trustee, and DC as the Asset Manager, DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust will facilitate a needed financial boost for the hotel industry and serve as an alternative asset class within investor portfolios. I believe this as the opportunity for investors who seek an investment in the Thai tourism industry which offers a degree of flexibility with full accountability,” Mr Natthapong said.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 1, 2020

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Holiday Inn Phuket reopens in Patong, ready for guests


PHUKET: The Holiday Inn Resort Phuket reopens today (Aug 28), with a focus on ensuring guests’ wellbeing as the island prepares to start receiving foreign travellers under the government’s ‘Safe and Sealed’ policy.

The resort, which has been a mainstay of Patong’s tourism landscape for more than 30 years, has implemented science-led protocols and service measures to ensure a safe, secure stay, said a release announcing the reopening.

“Holiday Inn Resort Phuket looks forward to welcoming back guests to a wonderful vacation experience with peace of mind. In preparation of the reopening, Holiday Inn Resort Phuket enhances the guest experience with new cleaning protocols and service standards.

A partnership with industry-leading experts Cleveland Clinic, Ecolab and Diversey has led the Resort to integrate the global IHG Clean Promise. This includes deep cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants, contactless processes, sanitisation of high touch point areas and social distancing policies throughout the entire hotel, the release explained.

In addition, Holiday Inn Resort Phuket has also been awarded the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for its comprehensive guidelines, the release added.

The certification confers that Holiday Inn Resort Phuket has met the health and safety standards the SHA programme requires, which ranges from hygiene of the workplace and its facilities, guestrooms, meeting rooms, public areas, restaurants, staff hygiene and guest safety protocols.

“While we have adopted new protocols, our team is committed more than ever to deliver the same warm, welcoming service and personalised care,” says Bart Callens, General Manager of Holiday Inn Resort Phuket. “We see it as an opportunity to provide a place for guests to relax and reconnect with loved ones in a safe, carefree setting.”

The release also marked the reopening of the resort’s Busakorn Wing, which underwent major refurbishment in a US$$4.6 million (about B143.545 million) renovation of the resort that was completed in December last year.

“With the re-opening of the newly refurbished Busakorn Wing we offer a fabulous resort within a resort experience, where tropical sophistication meets traditional Thai luxury. Offering a fresh guest experience for our new and returning guests, the beautifully appointed Studio Rooms and Villas combine heritage-inspired décor but with Modern Thai elegance,” the release said.

“As a We Travel Together participating resort, guests will receive up to 40% savings and complimentary breakfast,” it added.

“The resort’s all-day dining restaurant Charm Thai features a revitalised menu that includes a new Phuket Speciality menu. Sam’s Steaks and Grill will re-open every Friday and Saturday night from Sept 4. Take advantage of the new Sam’s Staycation offer. If you spend over 5,000 baht per couple in Sam’s, you can stay that night for free, including complimentary breakfast for two the next day in the newly renovated Busakorn Studio rooms,” the release noted.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on August 28, 2020

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Thailand’s retail and property markets adapt and move online


Tourism, property, retail – 3 sectors of the Thai economy that have taken a huge hit from the impact of lockdowns and border closures. Whilst most of the lockdown provisions are now lifted, the borders remain mostly closed and the economy ‘sluggish’ at best.

The first half of 2020 has been one of the most challenging periods that Thailand retail industry has faced, probably ever. CBRE, an international property consultant, reveals that the degree of uncertainty in the second half of 2020 remains high. Retailers and developers alike must be adaptive and boost their e-commerce penetration to survive.

Thailand’s Covid-19 measures were put in place to contain the virus, but retail, the property market, along with tourism, has taken a significant hit.

“What we have been seeing in the past three months are brand-new challenges that took everyone by surprise. For around two years, we have been saying that those who cannot adapt quickly enough to the shifting retail landscape will not survive, but this is on another level. Retailers have to change their business operations not only to match the drastic drop in footfall but to accommodate a new way of shopping” – Ms. Jariya Thumtrongkitkul, Head of Advisory & Transaction Services, Retail, CBRE Thailand.

The retail sales index in May 2020 has dropped by 34% year-on-year, mostly from the decline in sales of cars and fuel. The Consumer Confidence Index dropped to the lowest point since 1998 at 47.2 in April but has managed to stumble back to just over 50 in July. While Thailand’s same-store-sales growth for Q2 has not been released, it is expected to indicate negative figures from both food and non-food retailers, as this period represents the time when most of Thailand was in some degree of lockdown and retail closure.

After the easing of business restrictions started in June 2020, CBRE notes that many landlords continued to restore their businesses by stimulating customers’ purchasing power via a variety of sales and marketing strategies, grand sales events and setting up frequent mall activities to help both permanent and temporary tenants. A few provided more flexible rental terms to retain existing tenants.

CBRE also witnessed that retailers who used to rent a bigger retail space turned to online platforms and are now refocusing their businesses online after the crisis, resulting in resizing or cancelling their current rental spaces in many retail centres. The move ‘online’ was simply accelerated by the impacts of the pandemic.

According to the Asia Pacific Retail Flash Survey conducted in May 2020, the majority of F&B and other experiential retailers will be focusing on opening fewer stores or focusing on smaller footprints for the second half of the year.

“Once the situation returns to normal, resizing existing rental space will become a more and more important approach that tenants take to be more cost-effective, especially for small and medium ones. Shopping mall operators thus need to revise their trade and tenant mix allocation more granularly and carefully.”

Thailand’s Covid-19 experience has accelerated the changes of traditional retail businesses and accelerated the growth of online retail business at the same time. CBRE notes that developers could reconsider the development concept of new malls to better suit the changes in shopping behaviour and better adapt to any unexpected events in the future. Convenience, hygiene, flexibility and online will be emphasised more for future retail developments.

CBRE believes e-commerce penetration will not be an option but a must for both brick and click businesses to survive. However, the Thai retail sector will be slow to fully recover unless tourist arrival figures reach a similar level to the pre-crisis period as many large-scale shopping malls, especially in downtown Bangkok, are fuelled by foreign tourists.

For property, sales have seen a sharp decline in demand from customers and agents report a risk-averse market. The price of new opening units from many developer companies has dropped significantly in line with the lack of customer demand at this time.

• Ananda Development, a leading company in the property market, is offering special prices on projects near BTS and MRT lines. The price reduction campaigns include a free transfer of ownership and five years of free common expenses.

• Lumpini Development is another leading company offering special prices. Their campaign includes a special discount of up to 50 per cent on existing projects.

• Supattra Kaewkwang, a property agent in the Bangkok area, says that she has been facing hardship since mid-February as both Thai and foreign customers are afraid of the travel restrictions throughout the country. The ongoing border ban and widespread economic recession, in Thailand and overseas, has caused a decline in her sales of up to 50%, compared to 2019.

But Brennan Campbell, CEO for FazWaz, notes that there is also considerable pent-up demand and searches on their website are still strong, along with reliable enquiries still coming through their office.

“In the early stages of the Covid disruption, we saw strong enquiries from, particularly, the Chinese and Hong Kong buyers. In recent months, despite the lack of tourist traffic, we’ve also started to see more European and SE Asian customers start to look at Thailand as a safe and reasonably priced market to invest in as the world starts to re-open.”

Thailand's retail and property markets adapt and move online | News by The ThaigerThailand's retail and property markets adapt and move online | News by The Thaiger

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on August 25, 2020 by CBRE

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Hotel bookings bounce back for long weekend holiday


The long holiday weekend is reportedly seeing heavy bookings at hotels and resorts, reigniting hopes of a revival of domestic tourism, which has been battered for months by the Covid-19 outbreak. Accommodations in the southern provinces in particular have been receiving a good rate of bookings with holidaymakers for the 4 day extended weekend.

The tourism authoritiy of Thailand says hotels and resorts in coastal provinces in the East and seaside provinces in the South are reporting a surge in bookings to 80% and 90% occupancy over the 4 day weekend, which kicked off yesterday. It should be noted that not all resorts are open and than many have opened a select number of rooms, skewing the TAT’s rosy picture for the holiday break.

Tomorrow is a substitute holiday for Songkran and Tuesday is the birthday of HM King Maha Vachiralongkhorn.

In the eastern Rayong province, where an infected Egyptian airman stayed and sparked a public scare 2 weeks ago, a large banner was put up in the central business district thanking people nationwide for supporting the province through the crisis. It’s now been 14 days and none of those who came in contact with the Egyptian airman have tested positive for the virus. After testing thousands, authorities have declared Rayong is now free of Covid-19… again.

In Pattaya, several large beachfront hotels say their bookings have jumped to a strong 90% from July 24-28. Pattaya is one of the most popular seaside destinations as it is close to Bangkok. The heavy hotel bookings are believed to be a result of sales promotions and the Rao Thiew Duay Kan (Let’s Travel Together) tourism campaign, in which the government offers subsidies for holidays.

In neighbouring Trat province, hotels and resorts on Koh Chang and Koh Kut islands were nealry booked out. The province’s 2 ferry piers were jam-packed yesterday with cars waiting to board a ferry to the islands.

In Phuket, the director of the TAT’s provincial office said about 6,000 mostly Thai tourists visited the resort island during the previous long weekend from July 4-7, when more than 30 million baht was injected into the local economy. She says she expects the current long weekend will bring even more tourism money. Despite the positive outlook from the TAT, the island’s main tourist town of Patong has been very quiet with fewer than 30% of the shops open.

The Phuket province also expects about 50,000 medical and health workers to visit and take advantage of the government-sponsored Kamlang Chai (moral support) tourism program, which provides a discount for 1.2 million medical and health workers nationwide as incentive to travel.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on July 26, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Phuket Property Guide: Covid Crash – The real deal


In this series of articles we have presented detailed, reasoned and logical explanations for why we believe in the buoyancy of the Phuket property market, but our interpretation of real-life trends and data has been dismissed by some as self-serving propaganda for the property industry.

We accept that it is impossible to reach everyone, but we hope people will have read these articles with an open mind and recognise that a lot of thought has gone into dissecting the arguments for and against a “Covid Crash” in Phuket property. We have never claimed that 2020 is going to be a banner year for real estate on the island, but we also do not believe that the market is going to be offering historically deep discounts any time soon.

We would like to use our final segment in this series to address some specific arguments which have been presented to us by those convinced we will soon be able to find bargains galore. Some of our responses will obviously revisit what we have already written, so if you think you’ve read some of this before, well… you probably have.

1. The job of property professionals is to talk property up not down. That may be, but we have not simply said: “things will be fine because we say so.” We have devoted almost 5,000 words to explaining what we believe to be an informed position.

2. Another agent has told me to be ready to snap up bargains. Is this just sales hype? Yes and no. There will be some bargains, and some lucky buyers may pick up properties at discounted prices. But for the most part, our instinct tells us yes, a market offering bargains galore similar to some Western markets after a property crash is just sales hype.

Wherever most property markets have collapsed in the past, a lack of liquidity has almost always been a factor. Rising interest rates, banks not lending, foreclosures – these create imbalances in property markets which can lead to widespread bargains. Because properties in Phuket are almost entirely bought for cash, the market is far less susceptible to a crash.

Further, property sales here are driven by tourism. There have been nearly a dozen events in the past 25 years that have caused tourism in Phuket to suffer, and which people at the time thought would negatively impact the property market. The only one which may have had an impact was the Asian Crisis in 1997 because there was greater borrowing at that time. But the property market in Phuket was in its infancy then, and foreign borrowing is almost non-existent now.

3. We’ve not yet seen the full economic implications of a protracted lockdown (e.g. the consequences of job losses, rental losses, bankrupt businesses, higher taxes to claw back government handouts, depreciating property values in other countries, negative equity, mortgage default, negative sentiment, fear).

No we have not, but let us address each of the above:

Job Losses – If someone is still paying the instalments for a new build budget condo, and their finances are extremely tight to begin with, then this could happen. It is a point we have conceded already. But most people buying condos in Phuket already own property elsewhere, and are liquid enough to buy a property for cash. Unless that person’s only remaining asset in the world is their Phuket condo, a job loss will not force them to sell.

Rental Losses – the vast majority of people who own rental properties in Phuket have them to augment their income, not as their sole source of income. In a pinch, they will be selling their far more liquid stock and bond portfolios before any properties.

Bankrupt Businesses – Anyone with a business that goes bankrupt will have their personal assets legally separated from their business assets. Bankruptcy would not force the sale of their Phuket condo, unless it was owned by the company. Apart from that, the same would apply to anyone who lost a job (see “Job Losses” above).

Higher Taxes – raising taxes on those who can afford it in order to recoup some of these stimulus payments will not damage the economy. Vast wealth inequality is far more destructive to an economy than forcing the wealthiest individuals and corporations to pay higher taxes. The notion of taxes as an economic evil is a supply-side myth which has sadly come to be accepted as gospel.

Depreciating Property Values in Home Countries/Negative Equity/Mortgage Default – the assumption here, we can only gather, is depreciation sends the property into negative equity, which leads to mortgage default. Again, this has zero impact unless their Phuket property is the only thing they have left to sell.

Negative Sentiment/Fear – we’ve never known masses of people to sell their properties because they were scared.

4. You refer to Phuket returning to normal. It will in time, but this economic damage is unprecedented and the full implications are as yet very unclear.

It is widely accepted that this economic downturn will be the worst since 1929 (if it is not already), and we do not dispute this.

But if someone’s life is turned upside down financially, and they decide to put their property on the market, they will not immediately reduce their price if the property is not selling. Eventually, they might drop the price by 5% or 10%, but this is not Marbella, Las Vegas or Florida. Phuket has never been a boom-and-boost market, and we don’t expect the COVID-downturn to turn it into one.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on July 25, 2020 by Thai Residential

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