Luxury's Big Bang
Word in from the leading global chic travel event LE Miami is that Phuket luxury is seeing a strong challenger in Samui.
LE Miami is now on, and is the brainchild of the founders of the ILMT (International Luxury Travel Market)- Pure Life Experiences.
Pure Life was founded by Serge Dive and Sarah Ball, who twinned events in Cannes and Shanghai.
While the group sold off the Cannes event they are back with high-end invitation only shows in the US and in November heading to Marrakech.
Thailand's exhibitor's include Bangkok's The Siam, Amanpuri, Metropolitan by Como, Samujana and Iniala (remember this name as the ultra luxury private hotel coming soon just over the Sarasin Bridge).
Feedback from the show is that product fatigue, jet skis and mass tourism are pushing some luxury travelers over to the other resort island Samui.
This comes on the same day that the major sporting event the 2013 Phuket ITU Long Distance Triathlon Series in Patong which was slated for November was cancelled.
Despite a polite press release, word on the street is that concerns over water pollution levers in Patong and safety for participants were determining factors in the event being pulled.
There is little doubt that Samui's impressive hotel roll-call which includes Four Seasons, W, InterContinental, Conrad, Starwood's Luxury Collection and strong independent's like The Library has created a positive vibe with trendsetters.
Talking to Samui's villa rental crowd, bookings are up in this sector as well given the strong USP's for ultra properties which are oceanfront or offer dynamic views.
And yet here in Phuket the pipeline includes names like Rosewood, Park Hyatt, Como, and perhaps even some iconic beach club brands.
Can Phuket hold on for the reinforcements to come?
One thing for certain is that pollution, infrastructure, and the urban sprawl are hitting the island's image similar to our Indonesian counterpart Bali.