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On Saturday 9th January a new order from the Phuket governor that requires a 14-day quarantine for arrivals from Thailand’s ‘red zone’ areas has thrust the island’s hotel and tourism sector into unknown territory.

The impact over the past week, post-New Year on travel to the island has methodically ground down airlift to the point of a staggering level of increased cancellations of flights and hotel bookings. Airlines are groaning under the financial strain of mounting losses.

With the Phuket provincial restrictions now in place until the end of January or to a date as necessary, hotels are facing an absolute cash flow crisis. What is apparent is the national message recommending Thais to stay home equates to a virtual shutdown of domestic tourism.

While the latest string of restrictions now put individual provinces in control of travel limitation and protocols, there is a dire need for the national government to address economic measures to assist employers and employees of hotels.

At this point, a closure order for hotels and tourism businesses would be a welcome move by many given that the national social security system could trigger a 50% subsidy for staff pay similar to what transpired mid-last year. It’s a choice now of either interceding or potentially triggering wide-spread permanent closures and job losses.

Perhaps the most important issue hotels are facing is when can they expect the first domestic business to return and secondly international travelers. It’s unlikely the national government will look to reverse its position on asking Thais to stay at home anytime soon and the only real answer to resolving this is broad penetration of the vaccine, which is unlikely until the mid to later part of the year.

On the international front, as many countries now are actively vaccinating, an urgent protocol needs to be put in place that allows travelers who have been vaccinated and tested to enter Thailand. In fact, this may come sooner than the domestic penetration of the vaccine.

For hotels and tourism establishments, the first half of 2021 looks to be our darkest hour and the industry must continue to actively dialogue within the public and private sector for immediate measures and better information to be distributed on implementation and changes to restrictions.

The first week of the New Year has brought a new sense of high anxiety for Phuket hoteliers.

Despite the island having no reported current Covid-19 cases, the government issued a new set of recommended guidelines yesterday.

For clarity, there is no mandatory quarantine in Phuket for travelers from Bangkok and the airport is operating normally with domestic flights.

That said, the governor has recommended that travelers from ‘red zone’ areas undergo a swab test if there is a suspicion of symptoms and recommends a 14-day optional quarantine.

Post New Year air demand has been reduced considerably back of the proliferation of red-zone issues throughout Thailand and hotel cancellations have been widespread, hence flight reductions are a reaction to this.

While schools on the island have ordered closed from the 7th through the 20th of January, there is no work from home order for businesses at present.

The provincial government is set to launch a digital contact tracing app shortly that will reportedly be implemented on a broad basis. And the expectation is that more protocols will be forthcoming.

Meantime there is no lockdown but for hoteliers, the remainder of January and likely Q1 is expected to be highly volatile.

The vaccine remains a game changer but looks to be Q2 until traction is expected on that front.

Two of the best online resources for tracking Thailand’s Covid-19 tourism issues are:

Dept of Disease Control

Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom

The sustainable farm-to-table trend for hotels is now hitting the island mainstream. Given Phuket’s agricultural heritage, the connection to the land is a natural evolution from the days when luxury hotels touted imported products from abroad.

At the InterContinental Resort Phuket, Executive Chef Marco Turatti has partnered with island establishment Toltec Farms in Mai Khao to produce a steady stream of microgreens, edible flowers, and mainstream products like tomatoes. Entrepreneur Pearl Maneechot operates Toltec, which is increasing its supply of local produce to hotels and restaurants.

Some of the key benefits of going local is creating a sustainable footprint with lower fuel and materials consumption for transport, creating jobs for the community, and giving diversity to chefs in hotels. They can now be more creative and bin the same boring hotel menus to offer more choice and special items that elevate the dining experience? Club sandwiches could be headed off the deep end. You can’t tell me Chefs love to cook the same thing day in and day out.

But even more important is lower food cost for hotels and restaurants and that’s the real kicker.

InterContinental works with Toltec and also brings certain cooler-weather items from Chiang Mai. They now source over 50% of produce locally and aim to increase this to over 80%.

Interestingly the nearby cooler areas of Phang Nga are now emerging as likely premium local produce areas for both Phuket and Khao Lak hotels.

Despite the downturn, there are some strong positives of Phuket hotels taking the pandemic as a chance to change their playbooks.

Check out a brief video talk with Marco Turatti and Pearl Maneechot:

Singha’s Thai-based hospitality group S Hotels & Resorts has made public plans to reflag two Outrigger branded properties in Thailand.

The Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort will change to Saii and Outrigger Koh Samui to the newly launched Nabor brand. Both reflaggings will be done early next year.

In mid-2018 KSL sold the two hotels to Singha Estate along with other properties in Maldives, Mauritius, and Fiji. It’s understood the remaining hotels will remain under management by Outrigger.

For the Outrigger Laguna Beach Resort Phuket, this is the fourth renaming since opening in 1991. Originally the Pacific Islands Club Phuket the hotel then become the Laguna Beach Resort, then Outrigger, and now is destined to be renamed SAii Laguna Phuket.

S Hotels and Resorts will also rebrand the Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort to SAii early next year as well.

We expect 2021 to be a frenetic year of musical chairs for hotel brand changes both in Thailand and across the globe.

Thailand S Hotels & Resorts (Singha Group) is launching a new lifestyle midscale brand Nabor (meaning neighborhood).

First off the blocks is an owned property in Samui’s Bophut area, that will open next April.

This is the second brand, with SAii being the first for the hospitality group that has 39 hotels globally.

Expect more rebranding news for the group’s hotel portfolio soon.

In the news today is Thai development group Veranda Resort PLC developing a reported THB1 billion oceanfront hotel branded residence project in Panwa Phuket.

Currently, the project is under EIA and planning process with construction expected to commence later in 2021. According to the Bangkok Post, the 20-rai project has 150 hotel keys operated by Veranda Resorts.

There will also be hotel residences in low-rise condo buildings and villas for sale.

Veranda’s footprint continues to grow with hotels in Bangkok, Chaing Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Koh Samui.

In the Panwa area in Ao Yon, the boutique V Villas Phuket MGallery by ACCOR will open next year with 25 pool villas and a wellness-focused offering.

Meanwhile, there is another ocean fronting site in Panwa currently under planning as part of an expected mixed-use offering by a well-known Phuket developer.

We expect to see an increasing number of hotel residences projects coming to market in 2021. In case you missed the C9 Hotelworks and Delivering Asia Communication virtual Masterclass on Branded Residences: view the session here.

Tomorrow, C9 Hotelworks and Delivering Asia Communications will hold a virtual masterclass on Hotel Branded Residences.

Tune in on Wednesday 9th December, 2:00 pm Bangkok | 3:00 pm Singapore/Hong Kong for the one-hour event.

Register for free

This is a hospitality-focused virtual event that provides learnings for developers, owners, operators and others in the industry who want a deeper understanding of how the sector is moving ahead.

Our speakers include development executives from Aman Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, ACCOR and Ascott.. We will have a special segment on Europe and the state of branded residences across this space. There will be a legal expert providing insights into t key learnings in this complex environment that merges hotels and real estate.

This is part of a continuing series of virtual hospitality events from Delivering Asia Communications and C9 Hotelworks which is intended to create forward looking conversations, promote a critical rethink and offer learnings for the hotel industry.

Speakers

  • Shan Tjio– Chief Development Officer, AMAN Resorts
  • Jeff Tisdall– Senior Vice President, Development, Residential and Extended Stay, ACCOR
  • Ananth Ramchandran– Head of Branded Residential, InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Chris Graham – Managing Director, Graham Associates
  • Lada Shelkovnikova– Partner, Withersworldwide
  • Andrew Corkery– Group Chief Executive Officer, Selo Group
  • Pekka Hirvi– Assistant Vice President – Franchise (Global), The Ascott Limited
  • Bill Barnett– Managing Director, C9 Hotelworks

Moderator

  • David Johnson– CEO, Delivering Asia Communications

Register

Pavilions Hotel and Resorts has signed a deal for a 59-key eco resort in Krabi, Thailand.

The property is a conversion of the Anana Krabi Ecological Resort and will be fully operational in February 2021.

Currently Pavilions operates nine properties in Asia and Europe with another 5 in the pipeline.

The group recently launched a new franchise program to accelerate their growing network.

C9 Hotelworks and Delivering Asia Communications have organized a virtual masterclass on Hotel Branded Residences – Insights into a key driving force in new hospitality and real estate developments.

The webinar will be held on Wednesday 9th December, 2:00 pm Bangkok | 3:00 pm Singapore/Hong Kong

Register for free

Look at any hotel development pipeline and you will see how branded residences are a prolific   global trend. While the legacy of the offerings has been most often in the luxury tier, today we are seeing more traction in upscale, lifestyle and even serviced residence offerings.

This is a hospitality-focused virtual event that provides learnings for developers, owners, operators and others in the industry who want a deeper understanding of how the sector is moving ahead.

Our dynamic set of speakers include leading global chains focusing on Asia markets. We will have a special segment on Europe and the state of branded residences across this space. There will be a legal expert providing insights into contracting issues and highlight key learnings in this complex environment that merges hotels and real estate.

Hear from a developer who opted to grow an independent brand in the resort space and their journey. We will close out on the evolving path of service apartments and residences emerging into property offerings.

This is part of a continuing series of virtual hospitality events from Delivering Asia Communications and C9 Hotelworks which is intended to create forward looking conversations, promote a critical rethink and offer learnings for the hotel industry.

Speakers

  • Shan Tjio – Chief Development Officer, AMAN Resorts
  • Jeff Tisdall– Senior Vice President, Development, Residential and Extended Stay, ACCOR
  • Ananth Ramchandran– Head of Branded Residential, InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Chris Graham – Managing Director, Graham Associates
  • Lada Shelkovnikova– Partner, Withersworldwide
  • Andrew Corkery– Group Chief Executive Officer, Selo Group
  • Pekka Hirvi– Assistant Vice President – Franchise (Global), The Ascott Limited
  • Bill Barnett– Managing Director, C9 Hotelworks

Moderator

  • David Johnson– CEO, Delivering Asia Communications

Register