Patong remains Phuket’s epicenter of development, as it attracts seven new hotels to its shores.
Hoteliers investing in Patong see the non-seasonal beach as establishing a stable market, while some believe that other beaches such as Kata and Nai Thon are perceived by visitors as being more seasonal, explained Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks and Phuket Gazette columnist.
However, Mr Barnett warned that while Patong is becoming a much bigger catchment area, it does face challenging issues.
One glaring issue is greater congestion, and, on top of this, several beachfront hotels are not full-service, thus greatly affected by the recent no sunlounger rule.
According to C9 Hotelworks’ latest research, the seven new hotels being built in Patong – Fisherman Harbour Luxury Hotel and Spa, Ramada Phuket Deevana, X2 Vibe Phuket Patong, Patong Bay Hill Hotel and Resort, Hyatt Place Phuket, Four Points by Sheraton and Centara Grand Moringa Resort and Spa Phuket – will collectively add 1,880 of the 4,727 rooms entering the Phuket market by 2018.
This would substantially increase the current supply of 46,803 registered accommodations in 750 licensed establishments.
Moreover, property developers too are gung-ho about Patong, with major Thai developer Sansiri Plc having launched The Deck condominium project, which consists of two seven-storey buildings with a total of 270 units, while Proliving Company has introduced The Charm Residence condominium, comprising four buildings with a total of 246 units.
Luxury projects are also appearing in Patong with Rosewood Hotels and Resorts moving to unveil its second Asian property after opening Rosewood Beijing in 2014. The new property, Emerald Bay, is situated on the headland just south of Patong, comprising 87 villas, 20 residences and five hideaway homes.
The Amari Residences is already situated on the southern end of Patong Bay with a total of 148 apartments and 12 villas.
However, Jean-Christophe Nager, general manager of the five-star luxury resort The Pavilions, Phuket, said that the island attracts two kinds of travellers, with the younger set who are seeking a happening place with lots of restaurants, bars, nightlife and shopping mostly heading to Patong, while the mid- to up-stream vacationers are generally wanting something quieter and more secluded.
“I think they will go to Patong once and are happy to be back. So they will gladly spend an evening during their holidays there or shopping in the afternoon,” Mr Nager said.
Mr Barnett pointed out that other markets, such as Waikiki beach in Hawaii, have developed urban beach areas. He also pointed out that it will be interesting to see if there is any re-development of existing buildings in Patong, similar to what land scarcity has propelled in the center of Bangkok and Singapore.
“The point is the height restriction – there is still debate whether they should allow high-rise buildings to come up in that area,” Mr Barnett said.
“There are a few legacy buildings … I think if you go to Cha-Am today and see how everything has been built there – that makes some sense in terms of getting high-rises.”
This article first appeared in the March 28 – April 3 issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper. Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking here.