Royal Phuket

Thailand's new luxury marina

By: J.L. Erickson

A luxury lifestyle marina on Thailand’s island of Phuket is nearing completion with 350 berths, 400 luxury villas, penthouses and condominiums, and a waterfront boardwalk with dozens of international restaurants and cafes.

The Royal Phuket Marina is the island’s first high-end residential marina as Thailand tourism authorities look to boost the number of visitors to the region, which has dropped as much as 70 percent over the same time last year.

A five-star boutique hotel, luxury Ayurvedic spa, swimming pools, tennis courts and state-of-the-art fitness facilities are to be integrated into the $150 million development on Phuket’s eastern seaboard in Phang Nga Bay.

The development is the brainchild of telecom tycoon Gulu Lalvani, founder of Binatone, the world’s second largest manufacturer of digital cordless phones. The first boats have already started arriving at their moorings, with the first condominiums ready for occupancy in September. The official opening of the first phase of Royal Phuket Marina is scheduled for early December 2005, with the entire project due to be completed in 2007.

With foreign freehold ownership of condominiums and villas now possible in Thailand, residences are being snapped up by investors as prices for a 1,700-square-foot two-bedroom condo start at $280,000.

Meanwhile, other hotels in the area are also being developed or upgraded. Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc. is developing a new five-star hotel in the heart of Bangkok. The Millennium Sukhumvit Bangkok, scheduled to open in late 2007, will feature a sail-like glass facade, atrium and concept floors. The 326-room hotel will have seven suites, offer 17,000 square feet of meeting and banquet facilities, three restaurants offering international and regional cuisine, a full spa and fitness center, business center and swimming pool.

The JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa is currently undergoing an expansion program with its second phase of development scheduled for completion by March. In addition to 84 new luxury two-bedroom villas for the vacation club, the resort will add a third multi-level swimming pool with views of the Andaman Sea. The second phase of the expansion will add an up-market cooking school, a Thai Restaurant and six more spa suites.