Samui expected to pass Phuket as most expensive resort destination  

Samui expected to pass Phuket as most expensive resort destination

The 10 or so luxury resorts planned for Koh Samui over the next five years will make the island the most expensive destination in the Kingdom.

The Mandarin Oriental, the world's top chain of luxury hotels, is considering building a resort on the island. It will be its third property in Thailand, following Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Banyan Tree, Intercontinental, Conrad, Sheraton and W Hotel of the Starwood Group are also at different stages of development.

Local chains like Amari will not be left behind. It will launch the Sirimaya Resort next year or in 2010, along with an X2 Resort this year.

Tourism Association of Koh Samui president Seni Puwasetthawon yesterday said more than 10,000 guestrooms would be added over the five years to the 14,000 rooms available today.

International arrivals have been increasing gradually since the December 2004 tsunami hit the Andaman Coast, he said.

The recent opening of a direct route from Bangkok to Koh Samui by Thai Airways International is another factor making the island boom by bringing in 300 tourists a day.

The island is welcoming a million tourists a year now and expects 1.5 million in a few years.

The association predicts average room rates will surpass those in Phuket, currently the most expensive resort destination.

Amari Palm Reef Resort Samui general manager Viranat Silananda said several four- and five-star hotels had already opened, such as the Buri Raksa, The Library and the Four Seasons, while others were undergoing upgrades.

"I say Koh Samui is now entering its third generation," Viranat said.

The first generation was locals, and they have already closed their doors. The second wave was outside investors settling in some 10 years ago, such as Bangkok Airways, Imperial and Amari. And now the latest group consists of international hotel chains, convenience stores and hypermarts.

However, Koh Samui also faces tougher competition this year, because at least two resort islands - Phuket and Bali - are staging recoveries and could take guests away.

Klaus Rauter, group general manager of X2 Resorts, said X2 Samui was the latest in a series of new developments of the stunning X2 Resort properties situated on the southeastern coast of the island. It will open in June.



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