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Sandstorm In the Sandbox

Category: Tourism, Posted:03 May 2021 | 09:39 am

All eyes this week locally are on the fate of the Phuket Sandbox which remains a work in progress. The second round of local vaccinations were planned to start this week but given Thailand’s third wave it’s unclear whether the process can move on the expected timeline due to vaccinations being deployed elsewhere in needed areas.

For Phuket hotels, the current situation is a de facto lockdown given the incapacitation of the domestic travel market due to travel restrictions between provinces. Sadly, for the hotel and tourism trade, it’s extremely likely the darkest days remain in the future and not the past. Thailand’s vaccination crisis is likely to trump the sandbox model it seems.

Meanwhile, the success of Kimpton Maa-Lai at Bangkok’s Sindhorn Village has created a strong tailwind for Thai developers in the Kingdom. A second Kimpton in Koh Samui has been signed with an opening slated for the last quarter of this year. The Kimpton Koh Samui is beachfront and has 138-keys.

The Bangkok pairing of Kimpton (an IHG brand) and Kempinski at Sindhorn Village has strong positive sentiment with developers, so expect more signings and similar projects coming in different locations and destinations.

In transaction activity, a notable acquisition is Vietnam’s Fusion Hotels and Resorts takeover of Thailand’s Glow group. Grow is a midscale brand that operates in Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The combined portfolio of the two brands is over 4,000 keys.

Glow’s founder Kevin Beauvais has been relocated to Vietnam in the role of CEO for Fusion. Lodgis Hospitality Holdings is funding the Fusion investment strategy and is a joint venture between Vinacapital and Warburg Pincus.

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