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Monday, 31 December 2007

Koh Samui New Hotels and Tourism 2008

First of all may I wish you all a very prosperous and Happy New Year. I have no comment on the result of the General Election as yet until we can see how the Coalition negotiations turn out and what proposals that come out of that.

You will see that in February we are supporting the Matt Hampson Trust. (see For those of us who have been involved in Rugby at various levels over the years and continue to support it even as spectators, this is a very worthwhile charity and any assistance or help will be much appreciated. More specific details in next months Newsletter. So far we have attracted intriguing sponsorship including signed boxing gloves from Steve Collins, Enzo Macrinelli and Joe Calzaghe, Leicester Tigers shirts signed by their international players and our local champion Mr Lawrence Fay of Sabai Properties who has offered to have his head shaved on the 23rd February live in Coco Blues if we can get Baht 40,000 in sponsorship. I do not see that as a major problem - please email me for sponsorship foms!

More and more investors are coming to Koh Samui for the purpose of investing in the hotel scene. We have already seen announcements by Conrad, Park Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental, Hard Rock Hotel, Dusit D2, Alila Hansar, W, X2 and more recently a joint venture between Lehman Brothers and the Malaysian YTL Hotels and Properties of a site in Choengmon which they claim will be managed by a “renowned name”. We recently were instrumental in bringing to the island a famous name in hotels which is known internationally but which we cannot yet disclose. We have also received an enquiry from a major hotel group who wish to establish themselves here in Koh Samui as well as another foreign investor with a significant budget with the same idea. These are all 5-star hotels, a commodity in which the island has been severely lacking, but it is indicative of the way Koh Samui is moving up market and the faith major investors and international hotel operators have in the future of Koh Samui as a tourist destination.

There are very few large hotels on Koh Samui, and of the 264 hotels in our survey there are only two which can boast over 200 rooms and only 13 which have over 100 rooms. None of the new hotels planned exceed 200 rooms, and half have under 100, but a common feature to many is the combination of hotel rooms and villas for sale, not a new concept by any means but one which is becoming more prevalent as investors work to recoup their capital outlay quickly whilst still providing the required accommodation for the hotel management as the villas for the most part remain in the rental pool. It has been a common philosophy that for a hotel management company to provide the necessary Return on Investment (ROI) to the owner, a very minimum of 130 keys is essential and that still probably holds true for hotels in the 4-star category. What we are seeing here is the required ROI being achieved by higher occupancy and higher Average Daily Rates (ADR). This is achieved by good marketing, and of course the international chains have established worldwide marketing arms, but above all by providing exceptional service. The travelling public is becoming more discerning and demanding but is prepared to pay for quality. The United Nations World Tourist Organisation (UNWTO) report that tourism world wide is on the increase with 5.6% more people travelling in the first eight months of 2007 than same period in 2006 and that this growth is likely to continue for the rest of 2007. Regionally Asia Pacific is expected to grow by +10% whilst a slow down in the Americas, the Middle East and slightly in Europe. The Average Daily Rate for the new hotels planned for Samui is predicted at ca. $650/ night or Baht 22,000.

The good news to support this increase in tourists is the approval by the Environmental Authorities to allow additional capacity at Koh Samui Airport which should allow flights by Thai Airways to start and provide some competition although I will not be holding my breath to see significantly cheaper air fares. See the article below.

Once again I need to highlight the Thai Baht onshore/offshore rate issue. I am still seeing companies offering to buy and transfer Thai Baht at better rates than can be achieved at high street banks. For instance one company was quoting the Pound at Baht 65.6 against Baht 64.8 at the bank. The rate onshore here in Thailand at the same time was Baht 68.08 which would gain you Baht 124,000 on a £50,000 transfer. It was the same against the US Dollar – Baht 31.8 against Baht 31.4 when the rate onshore was Baht 33.49. A difference of Baht 84,500. They will even offer to transfer the funds without charge – well with transfer costs of less than Baht 1,000 I am not surprised. So you can see where they are making their money and none of them will tell you that you will not get the Foreign Exchange Transaction Certificate this way. ALWAYS send funds in your home currency, never in Thai Baht. In my experience you will always get a better rate here onshore and you will get the FETC. Also see the article later in this Newsletter re the future of the offshore/onshore rate divide.

For those of you who know him, Crispin Patton-Smith has at last been cleared of all charges and released from prison – see the story below. That he had to spend the last eighteen months in custody due to the unsubstantiated ramblings of a madman is a travesty and we all wish Crispin well on his return to civilisation.

The full Newsletter can be obtained by emailing me


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