From Rebuilding Lives to Building Luxury Lifestyles
In the wake of the tsunami disaster that has crippled Phuket’s tourism economy, Laguna Resorts & Hotels is currently devoting more time to giving away money than making it.
Following the December 26 disaster the Phuket Tsunami Recovery Fund was quickly established as a channel for Laguna Phuket’s guests and supporters to help affected villagers, mainly in the Bangtao and Kamala coastal communities where much of Laguna’s local workforce comes from.
The Fund has attracted 20 million Baht, mostly from past and present guests, and much of it will go towards restoring the severely damaged Kamala Temple complex and Kamala Childcare Centre, as well as repairing and re-building homes and long tail boats, and supporting other humanitarian causes.
Having survived the wrath of the tsunami relatively unscathed Laguna Phuket was rapidly dealt another devastating blow – mass cancellation of reservations. After reaching all time lows in occupancy levels during January, occupancy has since been slowly climbing at the 1,500-rai resort which encompasses five luxury hotels. Over the Chinese New Year period, the resort booked 50% occupancy which is half of what is normally expected during this peak period.
"It will take time for the situation to return to normal," states James Batt, Managing Director. But he is confident that Phuket will bounce back over the longer term. "Asians are reluctant to visit for superstitious reasons. Westerners are not coming for sentimental reasons. Only time can overcome these obstacles, so for now the island needs to breathe in, rebuild and heal".
One area, however, where Laguna Resorts & Hotels has not had time to ‘breathe in’ during the current tourism downturn, is its real estate division where 77 units of exclusive villas, luxury residences and town homes worth more than 1 billion Baht, are being constructed. To date this year, Laguna -- in its quest to provide luxury lifestyles -- has sold 8 properties with a combined value of 154 million Baht.
Laguna predicts that the demand from residential property investors experienced in 2004 will not be adversely affected by the tsunami disaster and will continue to grow in 2005. Laguna’s popular Residence and Townhome products have benefited greatly from this strong demand with 42 semi-detached Townhomes, priced from 13-16 million Baht, and the second phase of 18 Laguna Residences, priced between 21–23 million Baht, being completely sold out. The good news for investors is that the third phase of Laguna Townhomes, priced from 18-20 million Baht, and Laguna Residences has been released and inventory is currently still available.
A further 14 luxurious Banyan Tree two-bedroom villas, with 345 square metres of usable space and a private swimming pool, will be completed this year, each priced at 32 million Baht and guaranteeing 6% rental returns.
In addition, some new and exciting residential designs are being developed for future release ranging from smaller town homes to be launched later this year priced at around 10 million Baht, to the opulent 3-bedroom Grande Residences measuring a massive 1,214 square metres which are still in design development phase.