Editors Note 6th issue KL Magazine
Khao Lak on the move
Towards the end of the 2011/12 High Season, there were four new major developments in an advanced state of completion, the Sentido Gracelands Resort (268) on the northern end of Bang Sak Beach, the Mai Khao Lak (200) on the northern end of Pak Weeb Beach, the Sands by Katathani Resort (316) on Nang Thong Beach and the Sensimar Resort (140) on Sunset Beach. No-one would deny the importance of additional investment in Khao Lak but these new resorts plus others like the Monochrome and Blue Lagoon Resorts would add over an additional 1000 bed spaces when due to the previous world-wide recession and continuing economic difficulties in Europe many thought the existing capacity was more than sufficient.
Come November/December 2012 all of these resorts with the exception of Gracelands which is scheduled to open in July 2013 were open and local views appear to have changed. The new resorts offered attractive opening rates and special offers have continued, along with deals from existing resorts like the Casa de la Flora, J W Marriott and the Le Meridien, targeting other markets during the forthcoming Low Season. This should persuade more restaurants, bars and shops to remain open also throughout the Low Season as it will obviously earn them more money and even if they choose to put their business up for sale an open business attracting customers all year round is better than one that is closed for part of the year.
The end of the 2011/12 Low Season also saw major road works commencing in Bang Niang north from the Bang Niang Beach Road towards Khuk Khak. This involved making the highway four lanes with access roads on either side. Madness, people said! This would result in a speedway through Bang Niang. Well, after completion of the major part of the works, opinions are again changing. Yes, traffic now speeds through Bang Niang and there have been a number of accidents but what the improvements have brought is a visibility of the local businesses that lined either side of the highway and that were largely ignored by visitors. Now visitors can be seen walking along the newly created pavements, enjoying the food on offer in the local restaurants, going into the internet cafes and using the various shops selling electrical and other non-touristy goods. In fact Bang Niang seems more like a town now, a community which offers visitors more of an experience of real Thai life. These highway improvements are set to continue from the Bang Niang Beach Road south and from the Nang Thong Supermarket north. It will be interesting to see whether these road improvements lead to improvements in the quality of life of Khao Lak’s residents and visitors alike.
Because of its strategic position in relation to access to the Similan and Surin Islands and dive sites off the coast, the traditional dive and snorkel based tours and the many local businesses that depend on them remain of fundamental importance to Khao Lak in the future. However, competition remains strong, particularly from Phuket, so continuous marketing and promotion and developing these tours, particularly improving safety standards where that is necessary, is vital. This, the new developments and the access to the natural beauty of the National Parks in the area will ensure that Khao Lak keeps on the move – by land and by sea!