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Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

Travel News – October 2013

  /  DESTINATIONS   /  Travel News – October 2013
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Bangkok seizes top spot as best holiday destination; Phuket, Samui follow
Destinations.” From the results of its 2013 Best in Travel Poll, the travel magazine has disclosed that the City of Angels has been voted as the best city for holiday destination soaring from fifth place last year. Moreover, this city captured fourth place as the “2013 Top Cities for Business.”

“Compared to its rivals, such as other capital cities in Asean, Bangkok is a versatile city, able to capture various needs of travelers and offering a variety of traveling experiences to visitors,” said Sugree Sithivanich of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). “For instance, in the heart of this city, you can enjoy shopping and eating out in upscale restaurants in Siam Square and the surrounding area while in the next 30 minutes, you may find a peaceful moment by visiting the temples along the Chao Phraya River. This is the charisma of Bangkok.”

Smart Travel Asia spokesperson said that according to their survey, people would rather travel to do business here; however, they increasingly prefer to come for leisure like shopping particularly IT items and enjoy the nightlife, too. Moreover, golf and medical packages including spas have become an emerging activity drawing luxury travelers.

Not only Bangkok but also the renowned seaside destinations of Phuket and Koh Samui were a hit on the list as well. Phuket, the Pearl of the Andaman, was ranked as third in the poll while Koh Samui was voted ninth in the 2013 Best Holiday Destination.

Global hotel prices rise to levels not seen since 2006
Bangkok –The average price of a hotel room around the world rose by two percent during the first six months of 2013 compared with the same period the previous year, according to the latest Hotels.com Hotel Price Index (HPI). The rise, although relatively small, maintained a trend of slowly increasing rates seen since the start of 2010, with average prices now close to their 2006 levels, before the global financial crisis began.

Set at 100 in 2004, the HPI tracks real prices that hotel guests actually paid for their accommodation around the world. The Index for the first six months of 2013 stands at 111, eight points lower than its peak in the same period of 2007 and just 11 points higher than at its launch.

Latin America registered its strongest result for more than two years with a seven percent increase in hotel prices. Helped by the strengthening U.S. economy, North America, and the Caribbean outperformed the global average with increases of three percent and five percent respectively.

In the Pacific, the slump in the Australian mineral resources industry led to a fall in the number of business travelers and weaker rate growth of one percent. With the Eurozone only just officially out of recession, hotel prices in Europe and the Middle East remained sluggish, also recording a one percent gain.

David Roche, President Global Lodging Group for the Expedia group, said: “There is no doubt that European hotel prices have been some of the most badly affected since the economic fallout in 2008/2009. The fact that the Eurozone recorded growth for the first two quarters of 2013 is evidence that the economic crisis is easing, although not yet over. However, many of the destinations worst hit by the downturn have seen hotel prices stabilize, with some experiencing healthy rises.”

Asia was the only region to see a fall in prices by two percent in the first half of 2013. Individual cities in the region performed well but the depreciation in value of the yen and the rupee, coupled with a fall in the number of inbound visitors to China contributed to this result. However, outbound travel from China has not been impacted by slowdown in the country’s economy and continued to boom.

TenFace Bangkok re-opens with special rate of 70% savings
Tenface_One Bedroom SuitesFollowing a three-month closure for the construction of a car park, TenFace Bangkok reopens with a special rate on its spacious 61sqm- one bedroom suite until Oct. 31. TenFace is an all-suite boutique hotel with 59 rooms.

The special rate includes breakfast, complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity and use of the 24-hour shuttle service to the BTS Ploenchit and All Seasons Place. The special rate starts at Bt2,600 (US$90)net per room per night, representing a 70% saving on the published rate of Bt9,000 (US$300) per night (plus tax and service).

Tucked away in the residential area of Bangkok’s business district just off Wireless Road, TenFace Bangkok offers the kind of exclusivity that comes with the area while still being within easy reach of the city.

Timeless Tea Trails in the Mekong Region
Bangkok — Tea ceremonies are synonymous with Asian service as the ultimate act of welcome. Through the “SilverNeedle Collection Afternoon Tea Experience,” this timeless tradition comes alive and brings a new era of grace and elegance to the historic destinations of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Luang Prabang.

SilverNeedle Collection’s six premium blends of tea are testament to the bonds that afternoon tea has brought together over the centuries, as well as the long voyage that they took to arrive in South East Asia. Served in the Northern Lanna capital Chiang Mai at 137 Pillars House, on the historic Rattanakosin Island in Bangkok at Riva Surya, and in the former French colonial town of Luang Prabang at Kiridara, the blends chosen reflect the foundation of tea growing in Thailand and Laos, first introduced from China in the 14th century using Formosa Teas.

Following an evolution in the tea trades through the first Western contact with the Portuguese, the Europeans and the British gradually took to drinking tea in the 17th century, culminating in the exquisite experience of the afternoon tea.

In launching its Afternoon Tea experience, SilverNeedle Collection Hotels have crafted menus with a combination of local delicacies and regional teas, to showcase the service that has become a hallmark of excellence throughout the brand. They extend the graciousness and warmth of diverse Asian cultures to create lasting memories for guests.

The SilverNeedle Collection Afternoon Tea Experience is available to hotel guests and visitors of SilverNeedle Collection Hotels. They can indulge in a three-tier-curate stand filled with freshly prepared savory sandwiches and pastries paired with sweet desserts and cakes. During the introductory period from now till Oct. 31, guests staying a minimum of three nights on SilverNeedle Daily Rates will receive a complimentary Afternoon Tea Experience during their stay.

Windsor appoints Asia-Pacific rep
WindsorWindsor Suites Hotel Bangkok has announced the appointment of Elite Representation Asia Pacific to complement the sales and marketing activities of the hotel in Australia and New Zealand.

Based in Sydney, Elite Representation Asia Pacific, will service the separate and different needs of these very important and growing markets. Elite will be instrumental in continuing already established relationships as well as developing new opportunities for the hotel within the Leisure, Corporate, MICE and Online segments.

Commenting on this important step in the international sales and marketing growth of the hotel, Bundit Bosereewong, CEO of Windsor Suites Hotel Bangkok, said, “Under the guidance of Elite Representation Asia Pacific’s managing director and founder Pat Monneron, a well respected industry professional very familiar with Thailand, we are confident that we can raise the awareness of our hotel and increase the level of training provided to key agency partners in growing markets for our hotel.”

TripAdvisor introduces management center for Thai hospitality biz
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, has announced the launch of a new Thai-language Management Center for hospitality business owners. According to the recent TripBarometer study, 93 percent of people booking travel are influenced by online reviews – TripAdvisor’s new Management Center enables business owners to monitor and manage their online reputation with a suite??? of free marketing tools and services.

The Management Center (http://th.tripadvisor.com/Owners) features a dashboard providing owners with a snapshot of their property’s performance on TripAdvisor, including the number of reviews they have, their current ranking and rating as well as top comments from reviewers. Once an owner has registered for their property in the Management Center, they are able to sign up for notification emails, to make sure they always know when a guest or customer has posted a new review. They can also respond to these reviews using the Management Response tool.

“With the growing importance of reviews, we’re delighted to be launching our Management Center in Thai, and would encourage all Thai hospitality business owners to register for their properties,” said Lewis Ng, commercial director of APAC, Business Listings, TripAdvisor for Business.

“With this launch, we are putting free tools and resources at the disposal of Thai owners, enabling them to monitor their property’s performance on the site and use the information provided to develop the best possible marketing strategies, thereby building a great reputation online.”

Oasis Spa celebrates a decade of success with emphasis on CSR
Chiang Mai — Oasis Spa Thailand recently donated some Bt50,000 to an orphanage located in the mountains of Mae Chan north of Chiang Rai to commemorate the company’s 10th anniversary of providing exceptional day spa services in Thailand.

The cash donation came from revenues generated by the first 10 customers who visited Oasis Spa on August 20, the company’s anniversary date. In addition, Oasis Spa doubled the funds. The funds were presented to Simon Chaiwongyen, pastor of the Kaodee Home that cares for more than 100 disadvantaged orphans in Mae Chan, Chiang Rai.

Also to celebrate this milestone, Pakin Ployphicha and Toby Allen, Oasis Spa managing directors, thanked all those who believed in them and helped Oasis Spa to reach its pinnacle of success over the past decade. Both led their more than 20 employees in donating blood to Thai Red Cross Society, Chiang Mai on Rachapakinai Road, again, as part of the celebration that emphasizes CSR. The company also is planning other CSR activities in December this year.

Erawan Group helps conserve marine eco-system
PIC - The Erawan Group Helps Conserve Marine Eco-SystemThe Erawan Group PLC leads the team from two hotels under the Erawan Group’s ownership, Holiday Inn Pattaya and Ibis Hotel in recently organizing ‘The Second of Conserve Marine Eco-System’ to conserve the rich marine life in the coastal area of Pattaya Beach. Usanee Muttaharuch (2nd row, 11th from right, standing), senior manager at the Erawan Group, together with 120 volunteers inclusive of representatives from Pattaya city, Marine and Coastal Conservation Center 1 (Rayong), students from Baan Nongyai school, and Naklua residents, participated by planting an imitation of coral reefs to promote the growth of healthy marine eco-system in Pattaya area as an act of responsible business to Pattaya city community.
Latest Le Meridien in Bangkok set for 2014 opening
Latest Le Meridien in BkkStarwood Hotels & Resorts recently held a kick off executive preparatory meeting with the owning company: Summit Corporation, in preparation for the opening of Le Méridien Suvarnabhumi Golf Resort & Spa slated to open in June 2014. Lothar Pehl (seated left), senior vice president operations and global initiatives of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Asia Pacific, together with Nattapol Jurangkool (seated center), executive director, Summit Windmill Golf Club, and Prarob Mokaves (seated right), adviser of Summit Windmill Golf Club attended the preparatory meeting. Starwood Hotels & Resorts executive management team as well as the newly appointed general manager of Le Méridien Suvarnabhumi Golf Resort & Spa, Martin Wuethrich (standing in the middle) was also in attendance. Le Méridien Suvarnabhumi Golf Resort & Spa is a low-rise resort situated between Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Bangkok’s city center. Each of the 223 generously appointed guestrooms and suites feature contemporary furnishings and a large balcony overlooking the shaded greens of an 18-hole, Nick Faldo golf course. The unique setting amidst one of the best golf courses in the region makes it the perfect place for meetings and city escapes as it is the closest five star resort to Bangkok’s International Airport and only minutes away from one of the largest shopping malls in Southeast Asia; Mega Bangna.
Holiday Inn Pattaya welcomes Thailand’s leading MICE group
PIC - Holiday Inn Pattaya Welcomes Thailand Leading MICEGarth Solly (3rd row, 2nd from right), general manager of Holiday Inn Pattaya,
recently welcomed delegates of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) on “Meetings Industry Day 2013.” Holiday Inn Pattaya is a contemporary 367-room hotel located at Pattaya Beach road. They feature a panoramic view of Pattaya bay with private balconies, is close to CentralFestival Pattaya Beach, Southeast Asia’s largest beachfront shopping complex; and just 90 minutes by taxi from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
PEACH hosts 21st world confab on health promotion
PEACHThe “21st World Conference on Health Promotion” was recently held at the award-winning Pattaya Exhibition And Convention Hall (PEACH), a prominent flagship of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group. A huge turnout of delegates consisting of policy makers, academics and medical practitioners made the event with the theme “Best Investments in Health” a resounding success.

It was the first time that this significant event was held in a developing country in Asia with the objective of sharing health industry knowledge and understanding among industry professionals and providing a perfect platform for exchanging strategies, policies and research across all key sectors.

The five-day event was filled with educational sessions concocted for global health researchers, advocates, academics and practitioners topped with beneficial networking events and educational forums. All throughout the vast exhibition space utilized for this event, healthcare exhibitors also assembled to showcase the latest innovations and products now currently available in the healthcare market.

Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra unveils limited promotion
Sofitel Krabi PhokeethraKrabi — Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort has just launched a special limited promotion: stay three nights in Superior room and pay for two nights only. Prices start at Bt3,900+++ including daily breakfast for two. Discover the peaceful chic of Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort amid the dramatic beauty of the Andaman Coast with this promotion. For more information and reservation, call 075-627-800, or e-mail: rsvn@sofitelphokeethrakrabi.com
Aquariums ready at Centara Grand Phratamnak Resort Pattaya
CGPX_AquariumPattaya — The aquariums that will form a dramatic part of the lobby at the new Centara Grand Phratamnak Resort Pattaya are now fully functional, with their collection of exotic fish species. In photo with the hotel’s general manager Dominique Ronge is Patricia Campos Salaberri, the Spanish aquarist who is responsible for stocking the aquariums and for the health and wellbeing of the marine life. Centara Grand Phratamnak Resort Pattaya is located in the most exclusive residential district of the city, Phratamnak Hill, where it is only a few steps away from the beach. The hotel has 161 rooms and suites, and a selection of dining venues that includes a signature restaurant on the rooftop, with spectacular views of the bay. It opens in October.

>Beyond Thailand</strong>

Khiri Travel offers new Myanmar-Thailand tour options
Myanmar — Khiri Travel has announced new destinations and personalized tour options following the opening of the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border last month. The opening of the border facilitates land travel between Bangkok, central Thailand, and the Kayin and Mon States of Myanmar and on to Yangon and the rest of Myanmar for the first time in over a hundred years.

Khiri Travel has already surveyed attractions and set up facilities and services along the route. They have created many travel options linking Sukhothai and Mae Sot in Thailand to the remote and rarely visited Hpa An and Mawlamyine areas of upper peninsula Myanmar.

Some highlights of Khiri Travel’s new itineraries and travel options include:
Sukhothai to Yangon (or vice-versa) for four days and three nights, with kayaking, Golden Rock and insights to 7th century Buddha images in the holy Kaw Goon Cave; Soft Adventure Mon and Kayin States for four days and three nights, for higher-end luxury clients and include Bago, Golden Rock, the colonial city of Mawlamyine, Mon villages (sarong weaving), monasteries, a Thanlwin (Salween) river cruise, and kayaking in rivers and rice paddy fields surrounded by dramatic karst scenery; and Adventure in Mon and Kayin States, which are for adventurous clients and involve train travel, a visit to the wonderful Seindon Mibaya monastery, Ni Paya (where Orwell and Kipling lived), kayaking for three to four hours, Golden Rock, and travel by public bus.

“The opening of the border crossing between Mae Sot and Myawaddy is hugely significant,” said Edwin Briels, general manager of Khiri Travel Myanmar. “It allows us to create pre-scheduled or tailor-made excursions in culturally and geographically fascinating areas that rarely, if ever, receive international visitors.” Khiri Travel starts a join-in bus trip from Yangon to Sukhothai on Oct. 1.

Starwood Debuts the Ultimate New Travel App on iOS7
Stamford, Conn. – Starwood Preferred Guest, the award-winning loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. introduced an innovative and inspiring new app for iPad as well as an exciting new design to support iOS 7. The SPG App for iPad joins the SPG App for iPhone, extending SPG’s digital suite of products and gives today’s connected traveler a visually rich, personalized experience on every step of their journey from imaginative destination exploration to the details of their trip before, during and after a visit. Each new, native iOS 7 app builds on the operating system’s latest features and designs and provides guests with the beautiful, immersive travel experience Starwood is known to deliver.

“Travel is inherently mobile and the rapid advancements in technology enable us to extend the personalized experience guests receive in our hotels to their most personal devices,” said Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President, Starwood Preferred Guest & Digital. “Following our success with the SPG App for iPhone, we built the SPG App for iPad using insights we have gained from our members. The relationships we’ve built with our guests put us in a unique position to lead and win with digital by delivering the experiences they seek.”

Today’s travelers are increasingly using mobile devices to search for and explore destinations, as well as book rooms and other travel services. Industry wide, 40% of travel searches occur on mobile devices up from 25% in 2012. Starwood’s mobile bookings are growing at an annual rate of 1,000% –five times greater than the annual growth rate of the web channel 10 years ago. The new Starwood apps deliver both the convenience and speed mobile travelers desire while highlighting the SPG lifestyle.

Club Med Sahoro opens in December
Sahoro-skiHokkaido — One of Club Med two ski resorts in Asia, Club Med Sahoro in Hokkiado, is set to open in December. The resort is more than a typical ski resort. This premium all-inclusive ski resort is prompt with expert facilities, ski tuitions with professional, Japanese style accommodations, all-day refined cuisine, challenging indoor and outdoor sports and activities, spectacular entertainment, Club Med Spa and Clubs for children.

Furthermore, its climate guarantees the best snow powder on the slopes situated between 3280 and 1380 feet. What make this place more remarkable are privileges that GMs will receive once they are at the resort. Roundtrip transfer to airport, Ski in & Ski out, best powder snow, unrestricted lift pass including the Gondola up to 17 slopes, up to 6 hours ski tuition per day, English speaking instructors, a resort for all: welcoming couples, families and kids and an unforgettable experiences.

The 4 Trident ski resort has 181 rooms with the art of Japanese hospitality, elegantly designed and well-equipped with amazing view of mountain or valley. The other side of East sensation here, Club Med Sahoro also nails its multicultural identity in the restaurants. The Daichi, the main restaurant, serves international and local buffet throughout the day or make it special at Mina Mina specialty restaurant, selects only best ingredients for your “Nabe” experience in traditional style. Explore more kicks at The Wakka; the main bar gives you time for bar and snacking in pleasant decoration. In the evening, enjoy a serene piano atmosphere along with snacks and beverages of your choice; alcoholic or non-alcoholic ones. Likewise, sports and activities are never missed at Club Med.

The right one for GMs is on the list: table tennis, Club Med Gym, snooker, squash, cardio and weights room, activities with professional tuition; Alpine skiing and snowboarding. After all these energy-consuming choices, you can choose to relax yourself at indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, Canadian bath or Club Med Spa.

Additionally, Club Med also creates excursions for escaping into a new experience such as Shikarlbetsu-Kotan day trip, horse riding in the snow and Kuttari Hot Springs.