Seven GMs and Managing Directors give us the latest updates from their individual properties.
“The reopening of Phuket to international visitors this July marks a milestone in our island community’s journey through the pandemic period. If there’s one thing that we have learned to believe in as operators, it is the importance of resilience. The challenges we have faced since the outbreak began has also forced us to tackle things with greater creativity and increased awareness for new lifestyle behaviour, strengthening our bodies as well as our minds. Even during periods where we’ve had to pause primary operations, our resort team have continued to work on developing services and upgrading our facilities with the wellbeing of our guests at heart—our newly developed Spa Botanic Garden as well as our Herbal Garden will now greet guests with new opportunities for healing knowledge, continuing our commitment to enhanced experiences. Phuket is ready to open her doors once more.”
—Wipa Nareerak, General Manager
“We’ve been preparing to welcome back our valued international guests for some time now by offering eye-catching, innovative and attractive offers to stay at either of our Anantara Phuket resorts.
“We’re also ensuring that all of our packages are price-competitive as we know that some of our customers have suffered economically in the face of the pandemic and so we want to offer a good price but without any impact on their experience with us.
“In addition, since the closure of Thailand’s borders, we have been very busy, both serving our domestic bookings and also working on significant renovation projects at Anantara Layan and Anantara Mai Khao. By high season of 2021, all of our projects will be available to both in-house guests and external customers and we feel that our new offerings will not only significantly enhance our guests’ experience but will also be a game changer for Phuket as a whole.”
—Frederic Varnier, Managing Director
“The Phuket Sandbox program is a big step forward for Thailand and we look forward to doing our best to contribute to its success. Last year, we implemented the Centara Complete Care safety and hygiene program developed in partnership with Ecolab and SGS — this will continue to define the guest experience. Our staff in Phuket have all been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and our resorts, including Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket and Centara Villas Phuket, are SHA+ certified, an award which validates our commitment to following strict safety precautionary guidelines. In the past few months, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket has refreshed its facilities and guestrooms, as well as retiling the main swimming pool next to the beach.”
—Kamal Chaoui, General Manager and Corporate Director of Operations (Greater Phuket & Indian Ocean)
“At COMO Point Yamu, our commitment to live well and to make a meaningful difference to the lives of our guests and employees has been at the forefront over the last 12 months. The team has spent this time rethinking every touchpoint to ensure that we continue to create memorable experiences in a safe environment. All of our rooms, suites, and villas have had a refresh, menus have been revamped with focus on locally sourced produce and herbs from our garden. We have added new and exclusive experiences, encouraging guests to deepen their journey in proactive wellness with our immune-boosting cuisine, targeted fitness, and results-driven treatments at COMO Shambhala spa as well as to discover the natural environment with a variety of activities from cycling and hiking with our knowledgeable guides. Guests can also explore Phuket’s cultural heritage through an Old Town tour and cruise around Phang Nga Bay with COMO’s own private boat. With Phuket reopening to international travelers, we at COMO Point Yamu are ready to welcome guests back home.”
—Andy Kunz, General Manager
“We are very excited about the Phuket Sandbox project, myself and my fellow GMs across the island. We have been waiting for this moment when we can open our borders with confidence and offer a safe way for international tourism to resume. In the past few weeks, we have seen an increase in searches, inquiries, and bookings from the international market. This is a very good sign for us that overseas travelers have the confidence to travel again.
“Working closely with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and local authorities, we ensure to take the new Amazing Thailand Safety & Health Administration Plus (SHA+) certification system seriously. Leading with Marriott’s position of strongly encouraging our associates to be vaccinated, a large majority of our associates are vaccinated against Covid-19, and DMHTTA measures (Distancing, Mask Wearing, Hand Washing, Temperature Checks, Testing for Covid-19 and Alert Application) are strictly adhered to in all our resorts.
“We have also opened the world-famous Japanese steakhouse Benihana, which is the newest addition at JW Marriott Phuket. Launched in December 2020, the restaurant offers a wide range of authentic Japanese dishes including steaks, sushi, and sashimi. Guests here can experience the ultimate showmanship in Japanese tableside cooking from their personal chef; it’s the one and only “eatertainment” venue in Phuket and six months since opening, Benihana is on its way to becoming the no. 1 Japanese restaurant in Phuket on TripAdvisor.”
—George Varughese, General Manager
“As an industry leader, Laguna Phuket with its seven deluxe hotels was the first major integrated destination in Thailand to have all associates vaccinated against Covid-19 and have also been accredited with the SHA Plus certifications. Over the past year, in line with the new norm post-Covid, its seven hotels have respectively strengthened their service culture in readiness for guests’ return.
“Amidst Covid, associates at the Banyan Tree Group of four hotels — Banyan Tree Phuket, Angsana Laguna Phuket, Angsana Villas Resort, and Cassia Phuket — have been enrolled in an “I Am With You” service culture and wellbeing training, with the aim of instilling self-care and building resilience to better serve future guests.
“Banyan Tree Phuket completed a resort facelift through key maintenance and refurbishment of numerous pool villas and its award-winning Banyan Tree Spa. It has innovated new restaurant concepts and guest experiences in line with the brand focus of sustainability and wellbeing, which will soon be unveiled.
“Meanwhile, Angsana Laguna Phuket has launched new Lagoon, Beach View, and Beachfront Pool Suites, along with destination dining concepts such as Floating Donut Boat Dining and Camping On The Beach BBQ Dinner. It also offers sea sports activities on the beach.
“The rebranded SAii Laguna Phuket features a new Mediterranean restaurant, Thai beachfront restaurant and bar, and a standalone meeting facility. It has introduced a multilingual resort digital app and the “Let’s Be Well” concept to its dining, recreational activities, non-motorized water sports, and spa.
“Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket has focused on overall preventive maintenance, refresher service training, and operational cross-training. Besides refining its services and products, it has stepped up its sustainability efforts with an organic garden, hen farm, and little garden for kids’ activities.
“Besides the “Stay Safe with Laguna Phuket” campaign, Laguna Phuket has been working closely with local government and tourism associations throughout this pandemic. Bangkok Phuket Hospital Clinic will be operating an onsite PCR test center for all international visitors during their stay. In readiness for the Phuket Sandbox, our hotels have been continuously enhancing safety and service protocols to ensure that we safeguard the health and wellbeing of our guests, associates, and the wider community.”
—Ravi Chandran, Managing Director
“Having two hotels, Twinpalms Phuket next to Surin Beach and Twinpalms MontAzure (launched in 2019) right on Kamala Beach, we always pride ourselves on offering an excellent choice of dining outlets that are not inside the hotels, giving a more independent feel to our guests. We opened a beautifully designed Wagyu Steak House at the beginning of 2020, timing it so that we could have the entire year to apply for hotlists and so on, but little did we know what was to come. So, Wagyu still feels very new and exciting to us.
“The shape of tourism will most certainly change for the time being, so we created a revamped menu at Palm Seaside to showcase some of Southern Thailand’s most beloved and authentic dishes. As well, it was clear that the majority of people, including our local residents, wanted to enjoy the beach more in a relaxed and unfussed environment, so we opened a rustic beach venue, The Lazy Coconut. On weekends, we have a small farm-to-table section at our patisserie and coffee shop, BAKE. We sell artisanal cheese, pasture-raised eggs from local farmers, and the best French bread available outside of France.”
—Olivier Gibaud, Area General Manager, Twinpalms Hotels & Resorts