Tri-Asia, LaTour Eye Asian Expansion
The Phuket Gazette.
Globalization and localization sometimes offers the best of both worlds, and this is never more evident than the hospitality business. The recently announced joint venture between Phuket's Tri-Asia and US-based LaTour Hotels and Resorts looks set to use the island as a platform for expansion.
In a marriage of East and West, the North American management group, understanding the significance of having local experience and expertise on the ground, have tapped leading professional Lars Ydmark to provide a platform for Asian expansion.
Having worked with international chains such as Shangri-La and French chain Accor, along with his own development of hotels in Kata, Patong and Grove Gardens at Yamu; Lars has, over the years, consistently demonstrated a track record of exceptional entrepreneurship.
At the cornerstone of the new partnership, is the inclusion of Nai Yang's boutique property Dewa into the mix. LaTour already operate Kalim's rising star IndoChine Resort and Villas and have created a development pipeline in Asia with more hotel deals set to be signed.
Phuket as a destination has acted as a catalyst for the growth of groups such as the Banyan Tree and Aman Resorts in years past. More recently, North American chains such as Hawaii's largest operator, Outrigger, have recognized the importance of the island as a tourist hub, and have invested in a regional office to serve what it views as the fastest-growing marketplace in the world.
In Nai Yang, the location has continued to see renewed interest, bolstered by the redevelopment of one of the island's pioneer resorts into its present award-winning Indigo Pearl incarnation. High-profile Thai investor TCC acquired the Adamas Resort a few years ago and since then Dewa has opened, altogether elevating area's profile considerably.
Further north, hotel development continues with Nai Thon surging back with the luxury Malaiwana and Istana villa project along with a planned Pullman resort by the Arcadia group. In Mai Khao, recent openings include the Renaissance and under construction are a Holiday Inn and the Mai Khao Dream.
A planned expansion of Phuket International Airport looks set to double the passenger handling capacity from its present 6.5 million to nearly 13 million. The proposed private jet terminal
similar to the facility set up at Bangkok's Don Muang Airport is in the works, according to Airports of Thailand (AoT).
Back at Tri-Asia, Lars is upbeat about the potential of the management arm moving forward. Hospitality-led residential projects in Asia continue to flourish and cashed-up property development firms are looking to create more mixed-use projects.
All too often the larger institutional players lack the focus or experience in creating hospitality components and this creates low-hanging fruit for the new group's ambitions.
The trail of tears of conglomerates who have come to the island over the years lacking both the cultural awareness and business acumen needed in this part of the world has resulted in many "here today, gone tomorrow" epic stories.
The future for LaTour bodes well, and tapping into a valuable resource like Lars, is a sound decision.
In these trying days of political and economic turmoil, which in time will pass, it is encouraging to see homegrown companies like Tri-Asia move forward and create a larger Phuket presence.
It's too easy at times to forget that through all the challenges in the market of the past decade, Phuket possesses such considerable cartel that can be sustained not only here, but exported as well.