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Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

Travel News: March 2013

  /  DESTINATIONS   /  Travel News: March 2013
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Latest news and happenings in the travel industry from Bangkok, Koh Samui, Phuket, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Pattaya and more..

Thailand is 2nd ‘Best Long-Haul Destination’

Thailand ranked second best long-haul destination – and also among the Top 10 in other categories — in the 2013 Travel Trends Report issued recently by UK tour operator Kuoni.

“That Thailand occupies the No. 2 slot in our Top 10 Destinations is no surprise, says the report, which listed the Maldives, Thailand, and Sri Lanka as top three selling destinations for 2013. “The country offers holidays for everyone, from captivating cities such as Bangkok with its floating markets to small island hideaways to languish in, overlaid with a friendly, open culture.” Kuoni has been undertaking the annual Travel Trends Report since 1980.

Figures in the 2013 Report are based on statistics from booking patterns made between January to December 2012 for holidays during 2012 and 2013, actual passenger numbers, customer behavior, and feedback. The figures are based on holiday bookings made until December 2012.

“The trends indicated in the Kuoni report proves that the entire Thai tourism industry has got its marketing and product-development strategies right, “ said TAT Gov. Suraphon Svetasreni. “Keeping a watch on lifestyle trends and demographic changes has helped us to ensure that we target our customers correctly. We are very happy to see the results.”

Thailand and its various tourism products were also cited by the report in Top 10 Destinations, Top 10 Wedding Destinations (6th place), Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations (3rd), and Top 5 Holidays for Singles (no. 1) categories. This ranking is the latest in the string of honors Thailand has been garnering as remains a preferred holiday destination of travelers from many parts of the world.

PATA Launches Crisis Rapid Recovery Taskforce
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) officially launched its Rapid Recovery Task Force (PRRT) at the association’s Engagement Hub at its head office in Bangkok recently.

The PRRT is a standing task force of the PATA CEO and seven volunteers who will collectively try to help PATA member destinations during and after times of crisis, such as SARS, floods, tsunamis, disease outbreaks and terrorist incidents, all of which have had a massive impact on Asia Pacific destinations in the last 10 years or so. The objective is to help destinations return to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible.

Led by Bert van Walbeek, managing director of Thailand-based consultancy The Winning Edge, and chairman of PATA Thailand Chapter, the fledgling PRRT has already been instrumental in relaying important travel advisories, contending biased media reports, and helping rebuild consumer confidence.

The Japan earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 and the Thailand flood crisis in 2011 are two examples.

Members of the taskforce include, in alphabetical order: David Beirman, senior lecturer, University of Technology, Sydney; Emma Cashmore, managing director, Axis Travel Marketing, London; Martin J Craigs, PATA CEO, Bangkok; Walt Judas, vice president marketing communications, Tourism Vancouver; Alexander Kesper, security and safety executive, Bali Hotels Association, Denpasar; Ken Scott, managing director, ScottAsia Communications, Bangkok; and Rick Vogel, president, Include Ltd, Tokyo.

The PRRT will receive direct updates from the afflicted destination(s) and PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Center during a major crisis.

Luxury Collection Expands Thailand Portfolio with Vana Belle Samui debut
Koh Samui – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has announced the opening of Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui.

This newly built resort joins Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit in Bangkok and The Naka Island Resort & Spa in Phuket as The Luxury Collection brand’s third hotel in Thailand.

Growing its portfolio to 20 distinctive properties in Asia Pacific and over 85 properties worldwide, The Luxury Collection continues to lengthen its lead as a leader in luxury hospitality with plans to debut in exotic destinations around the world, including The Castle Hotel in Dalian, China; Palacio del Inka in Cusco, Peru; and the Ajman Palace in the United Arab Emirates.

“We are thrilled to debut Vana Belle as part of The Luxury Collection, offering our global guests access to exceptional and indigenous experiences delivered with the personalized service they have come to expect from this brand,” said Paul James, global brand leader, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis and W Hotels Worldwide. “With the region’s unmatched natural surroundings, intimate atmosphere and welcoming Thai hospitality, Koh Samui is certainly one of the world’s most coveted destinations, and Vana Belle is poised to become Thailand’s most idyllic address.”

The 80-suites and villas Vana Belle is located 80km off Thailand’s southern coast in Koh Samui. Inspired by the Thai definition meaning “beautiful forest,” Vana Belle is enveloped in lush foliage and tucked away in the white sand cove of Chaweng Noi Beach.

Amari Orchid Pattaya has new GM
1Amari Orchid New GM. Brendan DalyAmari Orchid Pattaya has a new general manager (GM), Brendan Daly. An Australian with over 21 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Daly has been working in Thailand for six years and most recently as opening GM of the Aloft Bangkok. Prior to this he was the resident manager at Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit and GM of Sofitel Riverside Chiang Mai.
Marriott signs landmark deal with TCC group for 7 hotels
2Mariott Signs Landmark Deal with TCCMarriott International has announced the signing of seven management agreements with TCC Hotels Group, which will see the US hospitality company operating seven TCC hotels across Thailand. These agreements make the TCC Hotels Group the largest owner of Marriott International hotels in Asia Pacific.

The seven hotels are: The Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, Bangkok to be rebranded as Bangkok Marriott Hotel Queen’s Park; Imperial Adamas Phuket Beach Resort to be rebranded as Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Nai Yang Beach; Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa; Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa, Jomtien Beach; JW Marriott Pattaya Resort & Spa; Bangkok Marriott Hotel and Executive Apartments, Surawong; and The Ritz-Carlton, Bangkok.

This landmark agreement will add 3,000 rooms to Marriott International’s existing 12 hotels of 3,110 rooms across Thailand. The TCC Hotels Group will represent a variety of Marriott International’s brands including
The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and the company’s signature Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand. It will see Marriott International take on the management of two existing hotels and five new build properties across the country in the strategic tourist destinations of Bangkok, Phuket, Hua Hin, and Pattaya.

TCC Hotels Group expects to invest approximately US$500 million for the seven hotels.

New GM for Anantara Rasananda
3New Gm for Anantara rasananda Patrick BothPatrick Both has been appointed general manager of Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villa Resort & Spa. Patrick, a German national, brings with him 18 years of international hotelier experience, including over three years of noteworthy management positions for Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas in the Maldives and Vietnam. He has worked with Hilton, Intercontinental and Langham hotels in Germany, England and China as well as Kempinski (China) and Mövenpick (Holland). He joined the Anantara family in 2009 and prior to this was GM of Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa in Vietnam.
Kantary Bay Hotel Phuket gets Multiple Honors from TripAdvisor
4Kantary Bay Phuket Trip Advisor awardKantary Bay Hotel, Phuket has again won two prestigious 2013 “Travelers’ Choice” Awards by TripAdvisor: as a “Top 25 Bargain Hotels in Asia” and “Top 25 Bargain Hotels in Thailand.” In 2012, the hotel received the “Traveler’s’ Choice” award for “Best Relaxation & Spa in Thailand” plus a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel review website.

“It is extremely rewarding to have Kantary Bay Hotel, Phuket recognized by TripAdvisor travelers as one of the Top 25 Bargain Hotels in Thailand and Asia,” says Kasemkij Hotels Group director, Poomipat Navanukroh, “The awards serve as recognition of our dedication to providing a high level of service excellence and it’s a satisfying vote of confidence for our staff because the awards are purely based on the satisfaction of our guests.”

Now in its 11th year, the annual TripAdvisor “Traveler’s’ Choice” Awards is a distinction bestowed upon hotels by those who know them best: real travelers. Unlike any other hotel honors, TripAdvisor “Travelers’ Choice” winners are based on millions of real and unbiased reviews and opinions from travelers around the world.

Dusit Thani Hua Hin Welcomes UK Nobel Laureate
5Dusit Thani Hua Hin welcomes Nobel laureateUK Nobel Laureate for Chemistry, Sir Harold Kroto, and his wife Margaret, stayed at the Dusit Thani Hua Hin (DTHH) recently for a leisure visit. The couple received a warm welcome from the hotel and its management team led by Victor Sukseree, general manager. Photo shows (from left to right): Diana Moore, DTHH executive assistant manager, Victor Sukseree, Prof. Kroto, Mrs. Kroto, and Willem Hagedoorn, DTHH director of rooms.
Regent Cha Am re-flags as The Regent Chaam Beach Resort
6Regent Chaam reflagsNukul Pornsomboonsiri (4th from left), mayor of Cha-am, officiated in ceremonies marking the new name and the refreshing new blue logo of The Regent Chaam Beach Resort, Hua Hin-Cha Am recently, held at the hotel’s spacious lobby. He was warmly welcomed by Uthorn Tejapaibul (5th from left), president of The Regent Group; Piyaman Tejapaibul (6th from left), managing director of The Regent Group; ands Prachoom Tantiprasertsuk (3rd from left), the new GM, along with the management and staffs. The resort has been operational for 31 years of service and the reflagging announcement promises to deliver a cozy and friendly tropical environment that exemplifies Thai hospitality. Because of its legendary services, the property has earned recognition as one of the landmarks in the province. The new and refreshing concept is expected to appeal to all ages. The resort caters to various business and vacation groups as well as luxury travelers and couples. The new website for information and reservations is www.regentchaambeach.com
Pattaya mayor opens 'Amari Loves Weddings' at Central Festival Pattaya Beach
7Pic - Amari Loves Weddings at Central Festival Pattaya Beach LAmari Orchid Pattaya in cooperation with Central Festival Pattaya Beach recently inaugurated the ‘Amari Loves Weddings’ fair in time with the Love Festival 2013 at Central Festival Pattaya Beach. The opening ceremony was attended by Ronnakij Ekasingh, deputy mayor of Pattaya City, who presided over the ceremony. In photo (from left to right) are: Latiporn Tongkhunna, executive assistant manager of Amari Orchid Pattaya; Sarun Tuntijumnun, vice president property area 3 and shopping center general manager of Central Festival Pattaya Beach; Ronnakij Ekasingh, deputy mayor of Pattaya City; Brendan Daly, general manager of Amari Orchid Pattaya; and Theeraporn Chitnawa, shopping center general manager of Central Chonburi
Centara launches loyalty program, appoints brand ambassador
8Centara  Launches LOyalty Program The 1 Card.Thirayuth Chirathivat (4th left), chief executive officer of Centara Hotels & Resorts organized a press conference to launch the Centara The 1 Card loyalty program on Valentine’s Day and to appoint a brand ambassador for the program, Panadda Wongphoodee (3rd left), “Miss Thailand 2000” at M23, Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Center at CentralWorld. Photo shows Supatra Chirathivat (4th right), senior vice president for corporate affairs and social responsibilities; Chris Bailey (2nd left), senior vice president for sales and marketing; Thirakiati Chirathivat, (3rd right), vice president for procurement; Marvin Bemand (far right), director of loyalty marketing of Centara Hotels & Resorts; Rawee Puaphornphong (2nd right), vice president for customer relationship management, Central Retail Corporation Co., Ltd.; and Bernard Quek (far left), CEO of Global Hospitality Solutions.
Exclusive Launch of All-New Range Rover in Thailand
9Exclusive Launch of Land ROVERH.E. Mark Kent, British ambassador to Thailand (5th from left); Sanpong Chuenroj, managing director of City Automobiles (4th from left); Danai Chandrangam, GM of City Automobiles (6th from left); headed the distinguished line-up of guests who joined the launch of the All-New Range Rover in Thailand. Other celebrity guests include: Chamanun Wanwinwasara (far left); Wongsathorn Kwanthum (2nd from left), Onchuma Durongdej (3rd from left), Sinjai Plengpanich (far right), Patinya Kyokong, designer (2nd from right), Repeeporn Pratum-Anon (3rd from right), Viroj Kwanthum (4th from right), Kornkanok Yongsakul (5th from right), and Chalita Feung Arom (6th from right).
Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel Bangkok unveils signage
10CWB opens signageMichel Horn (2nd right), vice president for operations at Centara Hotels & Resorts, Wim Fagel (far left), general manager of Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel Bangkok, together with Pattana Prompat (2nd left) and Nakarin Prompat (center), representing the owners of Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel Bangkok; unveil the signage of the hotel as the team prepares to welcome the first guests on April 1. Also seen in the photo is Sanon Wilaiwongs (far right), executive assistant manager. Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel Bangkok, a four-star property located at Rachaprarop and above the Watergate Pavilion shopping complex, is the third hotel to be opened in Bangkok by Centara Hotels & Resorts.
Fam Group from Hong Kong Welcomed
11HongKong FamTrip-Jan17Ambassador Hotel Bangkok led by Danai Wansom, general manager, welcomed a group of key travel agents and tour operators from Hong Kong recently. Bu Wen Qiang, general manager, Sales & Marketing-HongKong Airlines, organized the Familiarization tour to mark its inaugural flight to Bangkok. The fam group stayed at Ambassador Hotel Bangkok. Photo shows: Wansom (5th right, front row); Bu Wen Qiang, (4th right, front row), Daniel Chan, deputy GM Hong Thai Travel (extreme right); and Chutibhapaa Chongsathien, the hotel’s director of sales & marketing (2nd right, front row)
Trip to Paris Winner
12winning a trip to Paris_resizeDavid Baldwin (2nd from left), general manager of Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square, together with Kirk Albrow, general manager Thailand of Etihad Airways and Prim Panyasereeporn, vice president–Travel & Leisure (Hotel) Marketing, KTC; presented Anotai Worasunthararom with two return tickets to Paris. Anotai was the winner of the hotel’s “Sparkling Festive Celebrations.” The two return tickets to Paris, via Etihad Airways, go with 4-nights accommodation at Novotel Paris Les Halles.
TAT Hits A Million Indian Travelers
13TAT-a-million-indian-travelers2To celebrate the 1-million Indian arrivals to Thailand in 2012 and to thank the Indian travel trade and stakeholders, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) New Delhi organized “A Million Thanks Evening” recently. TAT governor Suraphon Svetasreni; TAT deputy governor Sansern Ngaorungsi; TAT director ASEAN, South Asia, and South Pacific Market Division Phanom Kaributra; TAT Mumbai director Sethaphan Bhuddani; TAT New Delhi director Runjuan Tongrut; and other officials from TAT Thailand head office flew to New Delhi, India for this special occasion. The Thai ambassador to India, Pisan Manawapat, was guest of honor. From the Indian side, Amitabh Kant, the former joint secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India who is now CEO and managing director of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation, graced the occasion.

13TAT-a-million-indian-travelersMore than 200 guests including those from the Thai private sector (from 54 companies who participated in SATTE), travel agents, corporate, wedding planners, and media enjoyed the evening with the famous Koh Mr. Saxman, flown in from Bangkok. The evening ended with several lucky draws with trips to Thailand.

India is a huge market for Thailand with approximately five percent of the market share. In 2012 Indian arrivals to Thailand were 1,015, 865, an increase of 11 percent from 2011. These were mainly from the segments of family, wedding and celebrations, golfers, luxury women travelers, film shooting as well as MICE. Average spend of an Indian traveler is also higher than the average spend of international tourist to Thailand. As Indians now prefer to stay in luxury hotels and villas especially in the increasingly becoming popular destinations of Krabi, Samui, Phuket, Khao Yai, Hua Hin, Koh Chang, Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya.