“Our association with Pattaya goes back a long time, as we for many years owned and operated the Central Wong Amat Beach Resort, in North Pattaya,” says Suthikiati Chirathivat, Chairman of the Executive Board, Central Plaza Hotel Public Company Limited.
“When we decided to close that hotel and redevelop the site as the Centara Grand Mirage, we were very much aware that with our theme hotel concept we were attempting something that had never been done before in Pattaya, or indeed in Thailand.
“Centara Grand Mirage opened in late 2009, and its success has been nothing short of spectacular. This has been immensely encouraging, and we now regard Pattaya as being one of the key regions for our growth strategy.”
The concept for the Centara Grand Mirage was to create a destination hotel, built to a Lost World theme and based around a huge water park that stretches down to the hotel’s own frontage at Wong Amat Beach.
With 555 rooms the hotel is one of Pattaya’s largest, and the facilities include a large ballroom, a number of meeting rooms, and a spa village.
General manager at the Centara Grand Mirage, Andre Brulhart, says that the occupancy levels during the high season frequently run close to 90 percent, and that even when factoring in the low season and the knock-on effects of last year’s floods, the overall occupancy for 2011 was close to 90 percent.
“The strongest of our overseas markets are the United Kingdom and Europe, Russia and North Asia,” he says.
“However, our domestic market is also strong, with the number of Thai guests equal to our largest overseas markets. They come here because the hotel has become so well known throughout Thailand for its dramatic Lost World theme, we are family-friendly with our rooms and our facilities, we are one of the less-than half a dozen Pattaya hotels that has its own beach frontage, and we are of course less than two hours by road from Bangkok.”
Mr Suthikiati says that Centara’s fast progress on opening new properties has been greatly helped by working in close cooperation with two local developers, Nova Group and Tulip Group.
“We have two ideal partners with Nova Group and Tulip Group, and between them we have or are developing six properties at present, with the strong possibility of more to come.
“The six properties range across four of Centara’s five brands, and so we can say that this really is a strategic growth pattern.”
The first of the new properties to open was Nova Hotel & Spa Pattaya, in October 2011, closely followed by Centara Pattaya Hotel in December the same year for the first phase and will open the full completion in July 2012. The hotels are within walking distance of each other on a large parcel of land near to the junction of Pattaya Sai Song and Pattaya Klang Road, a prime location where Nova is developing several hotels and residences.
Austin Robinson, who is general manager of both properties, says that the Centara Pattaya has enjoyed immediate success, running at a high occupancy through a combination of Thai guests and overseas tour groups. The hotel, with its second phase having opened in April, has 152 rooms and suites.
“This is a Centara core brand four-star property,” says Mr Austin. “It is ideal for couples and for families, being within a few minutes of the beach by hotel buggy, and surrounded by some of Pattaya’s best known entertainment and shopping venues.
“About 70 percent of our business is Thai, with most of our overseas guests at present from Europe, India and China.”
The newly opened Nova is part of the Centara Boutique Collection, the Centara brand for the independent minded traveller who prefers a quality hotel on an intimate scale, and has just 79 rooms, all overlooking the hotel pool.
Mr Austin says that although the property is too new to have a recorded occupancy level, he is confident that with a combined marketing operation and close physical proximity, the Nova will enjoy a similar level of business to the Centara Hotel, albeit with a different guest profile.
“One of our Unique Selling Points at Nova is the Spa Cenvaree, which is on five levels of the hotel and offers a range of Dead Sea water and mud treatments that are unique to Pattaya,” he says. “Our early feedback from the markets is that this will be a destination spa, and will drive much of our demand.”
Centara’s developments with the Tulip Group include no less than two Centara Grand properties, the top-of-the-range five-star hotel brand.
Mr Suthikiati says that the first, the Centara Grand Pratamnak will open in the second half of this year.
“The hotel is located on Pratamnak Hill, a very upmarket residential area, and the beach is just two minutes away by foot,” he says. “The design is based on low-key luxury, very much in keeping with the style of the area.”
The second Grand brand property with Tulip is yet another ground-breaking project, this time at Na Jomtien, the area at the far end of the Jomtien beach road that has as yet remained largely undeveloped, but with the recent completion of the new Jomtien Second Road, looks set to become a popular high-end area.
The main landmark in this district is going to be the three towers of the new Centara Grand Residence Na Jomtien, which will include the 200-room Centara Grand Pattaya, with the other two towers branded as Centara Grand Residence and containing 283 privately owned apartment units.
The entire area of the development takes up 3 hectares of land directly on the beachfront, with less than 30 percent of the land being used for construction and the remainder being used to enhance the feeling of green luxury on a grand scale.
The apartments are for sale to private investors, through sole agent CB Richard Ellis, and Centara will manage the entire project.
Mr Suthikiati says this is the first time in Pattaya that investors have had the opportunity to own luxurious condominiums enriched with five-star hotel facilities and services, and that the project has already sold out in many categories, with 95 percent of the new owners so far being Thais.
“We have two Centara Residence & Suites brand properties under development with the Tulip Group,” he says.
“The Jomtien project will be five-star residences, while we also have Centara Avenue Residences, which are four-star category, in Central Pattaya. These also are selling very well.
“We are very much aware that Pattaya’s quality residential market is going to keep expanding, so we have our thoughts on further developments in this sector, and the tourism market for Pattaya is also going to continue strong growth.
“Pattaya is a very important part of Centara’s own development growth, and we are very excited indeed about the potential.”
Centara Hotels & Resorts is Thailand’s leading operator of hotels, with 37 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom. A further 17 resorts in the Maldives, Philippines, Vietnam, Bali Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius Indian Ocean, brings the present total to 54 properties. Brands and properties within Centara ensure that specific categories such as couples, families, individuals, and meetings and incentives groups will all find a hotel or resort that is appropriate to their needs. Centara operates 25 branches of Spa Cenvaree, one of Thailand’s most luxurious and innovative spa brands, and the company’s Kids’ Club is available at all the family-friendly resorts to ensure that the youngsters and teens are taken care of. Centara Hotels & Resorts also operates two state-of-the-art convention centres in Bangkok, and one in Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand.
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