NEWSLETTER No 81 – JUNE 2011
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Last month I commented again on the relationship between Bangkok Airways and tourism on the island and the negative
effect their airfares were having. They have been widely criticised in the Press and on-line and to their credit they made an
effort and offered a restricted number of seats on the Bangkok-Samui-Bangkok route at Baht 4,300 return up until the end
of July. Or so it was reported. Nothing on their Web site and nothing in their promotions except ones to increase the
frustration when you see you can fly from Bangkok to Chang Mai or Phuket for around Baht 2,000. I would be interested to
hear from anyone who managed to get one of these fares. Even the Residents Card is of little use with regard to fares.
Discounts are only available on their highest fares and it is often cheaper to ask about their Promotional Fares – but you
have to ask because the booking staff will not volunteer that information.
I have always been very supportive of Bangkok Airways and the risk they took in building the airport. However, enough is
enough. Personally I consider Samui Airport to be one of the worst designed airports in the world. It looks stunning but is
totally impracticable. In every airport you can expect to walk a good distance from check-in to the gate – but not in the
boiling sunshine or torrential rain. Buggies? If you are lucky and forget it on a late flight. I have complained on more than
one occasion when I have been to Bangkok for the day and returned on the last flight and requested a buggy to take me
from arrivals to the departure car park. Even in the pouring rain they were reluctant to help. The response of Bangkok
Airways is to start charging for the departures car park. Baht 200/day. Not a huge amount and I know that all airports
charge for parking but for someone working on the island, having a Residents Card and making a one or two day trip to
Bangkok, you would think they might just provide free parking – but then they would have to provide transport from
The real estate market seems to be picking up somewhat. We have been receiving more serious enquiries recently than for
a long time and interest has moved up into the 10-15 million range whereas previously it was almost exclusively under 10
million. However, before everyone starts putting their prices up, the only properties selling in that range are those that have
already been discounted. What is also noticeable is that with so many agents having disappeared over the last year or so,
there are signs of one or two coming back, unfortunately with little real estate experience. So just be careful who you are
It is also with great sadness that I report the passing of an old friend and past Landlord of The Pub in
Fisherman’s Village – Steve Wilson.
Many fond memories of watching Rugby with Steve.
Condolences to Lek.
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A little slower again last month as you can see from the results below with only a couple of new properties coming onto the
market but quite a number of price reductions. There is still no clear direction to the market at the moment but I do not
think prices will go any lower in the immediate future – except those where the asking price is still at historic levels. In the
past few weeks we have seen reductions in asking prices of between 15% and 41% with an average at 27%
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See also in particular the following New Listing – CTRL + click to follow the link:
4 Bed sea view villa with pool in Bophut
Available at - Baht 38 million
New Condominium Project in Bophut – Available from Baht 1.64 million
3 Bed villa with pool in Bophut –
Originally 19.95 million now available at Baht 15.9 million
5 Bedroom House with pool in Taling Nam - Baht 19 million
New Price - Baht 13.9 million
15 Bungalows Resort south of Lamai – Baht 9 million
Now available at Baht 7 million
6 Bedroom Hillside Sea view House inc. s/c apartment in Namuang – Baht 19 million
New Price - Baht 15 million
4 to 6 Bedroom Ocean View House in Choeng Mon – GBP 610,000
New Price - GBP 520
3 Bedroom detached ocean front villa – Choengmon – Baht 32 million.
New Price - Baht 25 million
For Festivals around Thailand visit the Tourist Authority of Thailand website.
Samui Express is on line and you can find them here
And you can find The Samui Gazette here - http://theSamuigazette.com/
Samui spends B1bn on new roads, water management Bangkok Post 30 May 2011
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Samui Municipality is spending around 1 billion baht to develop a sustainable water management and drainage system, as well as
new roads after the island dealt with heavy floods in April. Around 700 million baht will be spent to expand reservoirs in Chaweng
and Na Muang Samui areas and develop a water drainage system. The remainder is for a new 13-kilometre road connecting the
island's ferry port to the Koh Samui Provincial Court. These projects are expected to be finished by year-end.
Seni Puwasetthawon, president of the Surat Thani Tourism Council, said that after the projects are completed, flooding pressure on
the island will be considerably relieved. For instance, flood water will drain in two days instead of 3-4 previously.
Tourism operators still want help from the government to build a second airport on the island. A hotel oversupply is leading to a price
war even as both local and international demand remains high.
However, the number of flights to Koh Samui is limited with 36 per day. Among them, 34 are by Bangkok Airways, which owns the
airport, with two from Thai Airways International. The maximum seats per flight is 130. THAI wants to increase service to four flights
per day, but it cannot because of airport congestion.
The average hotel occupancy rate in the low season is estimated at 40-50%, with the high season 70-80%. Last year, 20 hotels with
300 combined rooms were opened on the island, bringing the total to 17,000 rooms.
Only four or five new hotels are expected this year and room rates will drop significantly this year. For example, a night in a five-star
hotel will drop to an average of 5,000 baht from 5,800 baht last year.
To counter the dip, tourism operators believe promotional tickets during the low season will help attract tourists. At present, the
round-trip air ticket price is around 9,000 baht for both high and low seasons.
"We hardly see any air ticket promotions for Samui. I strongly believe if there were more promotions, the occupancy rate in low
season would increase at least 20% and the price war would moderate," said Mr Seni.
Around three to four investors have shelved hotel projects worth a combined 4 billion baht because the flight limit caps tourism
growth on the island.
He added airlines cannot offer fare discounts to Samui because its privately owned airport charges landing fees as high as 120,000
baht per flight, while state-run airports charge half the amount.
Sarah watched royal wedding on Samui Samui Express 29 May 2011
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and former wife of UK’s Prince Andrew, watched the April 29 wedding of Prince William and
Kate Middleton on TV at a resort on Koh Samui, a reputable magazine reports.
On its website, the US-based magazine Islands said Ms. Ferguson, popularly known as “Fergie,” stayed at the luxury spa resort
Kamalaya at the time of the wedding.
Ms. Ferguson was not among the 1,900 people who received an invitation to the royal wedding. Disappointed at not being invited to
the wedding ceremony, she chose instead to relax in Samui.
In a recent interview with famous American TV host Oprah Winfrey, Sarah said she felt so unhappy not to be invited to the
ceremony, but she admitted that it was all because of herself.
She said that it was very painful because the Westminster Cathedral where the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton
was held is the place where she and Prince Andrew had held their wedding ceremony before in 1986. She was the last royal bride
whose wedding was held there.
Sarah said she had to live her life through difficult time as she desired to attend the royal wedding with her daughters Princess
Beatrice and Prices Eugenie whom she wanted to dress up and join the ceremony with all of the family members.
Fergie, however, agreed that the reason she was not invited was her own behavior. She had felt sorry to what offensive things she
She also talked about Kate Middleton, who has become Duchess of Cambridge, as a “very pretty bride to Prince William and the late
Princess Diana would be proud of her daughter in law.”
The Duchess of York said she had spoken with Prince Andrew and her two daughters through telephone during the morning of April
In May 2010, Sarah was filmed offering access to Prince Andrew for 500,000 pounds by Mazher Mahmood, an undercover reporter
posing as an Indian businessman, who was reporting for the tabloid News of the World newspaper.
On the video made as a documentary source for the story, which is publicly available, Sarah is heard to say that “500,000 pounds
when you can, to me, open doors”. She is seen taking away a briefcase containing US$40,000 in cash.
Publicity surrounding the incident has increased the Duchess’s public profile; Sterling Publishers substantially increased the print run
of Ashley Learns About Strangers, the Duchess’s latest book for children. Sarah said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that she had
been drinking prior to soliciting the cash, and was “in the gutter at that moment”.
Airways slashes airfares Samui Express 29 May 2011
Bangkok Airways is offering a special return airfare priced at Bt4,300 net (US$144) on the Bangkok-Koh Samui route to help restore
confidence on the island, as news of recent rainstorms have continued to affect bookings.
The fare, which took effect May 12, will be good until July 31, with the promotion available for 250 seats per day per sector. The
airline launched promotion at its Ultimate Destination fair in Siam Paragon in Bangkok, which was held May 12 to 20.
The airline’s corporate communications vice-president, Nandhika Varavarn, said the fare would be available to all markets, as well as
to agents and hotels that want to offer attractive packages to entice bookings. “More special airfares will be launched in the coming
months,” Varavarn said.
2 ships to be sunked as dive sites, reffs (sic) Samui Express May 2011
The royal navy was set to sink two decommissioned warships off Koh Tao and Chumporn on May 19 to serve as artificial reefs and
wreck destinations for divers.
The navy decided to make use of the two ships, both 70 years old, as artificial reefs to help preserve the country’s marine ecology
and promote southern Thailand as a prime diving destination.
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The project is being supported by the PTT Public Company Ltd., the local authorities of Chumporn and Suratthani provinces, the
Fishery Department, among other organizations.
Tourism officials in Suratthani said the sinking of the two ships in the waters not far from Samui would help the island’s dive tourism.
A few years back, the Navy launched the same project in Pattaya, which is also a popular diving destination.
HTMS Khram was sunk off Koh Phai in Pattaya in February 2003.
The Khram is now a thriving artificial reef and Pattaya’s most-popular dive site.
The Navy sunk another decommissioned ship near the area on Sept. 16, 2006. Since few extra holes were cut in the decks of this
latest wreck, it has become a much more challenging dive site around Pattaya and an ideal training ship for the advanced technical
wreck courses, dive operators say.
Navy sources say that each ship is about eight meters wide and 50 meters long.
One of these ships, the sources add, will land on the seabed off Ngam Island in Chumporn province.
The second ship will be sunk on a flat seafloor off Koh Tao, about 300 meters from natural coral ridges. The precise depth, the
sources say, would be between 25 to 28 meters.
Popular Samui chef Jeffrey Lord is dead Samui Express 29 May 2011
On May 7, the day he and his family were to leave Samui, Jeffrey Lord died in his home surrounded by his family and friends.
Jeffrey, one of Samui’s best known international chefs, was severely injured in a motorbike accident in August 2009, and had been
incapacitated since then. His wife Samruay, who has become the family’s breadwinner since Jeffrey’s accident, decided to move the
family – Jeffrey, she and their daughter Jennifer -- to her home town of Wichianburi in the southern part of Pechabun province where
she planned to open a small restaurant with her niece.
But during that week that the family was packing and preparing to leave, Jeffrey contracted pneumonia and taken to the hospital in
Nathon for a few days.
Someone said he loved the island so much he often called it “my Samui” and probably wanted to die here.
A few days after his death, Jeffrey was cremated at Wat Sawang Arom in Chaweng.
On April 29, his friends and colleagues made a fundraiser for Jeffrey with a dinner at the Beach Republic in Lamai. The event raised
more than Bt250,000 from door donations, silent auction and many off-Samui friends sending money transfers.
More than 200 people turned up for the dinner which had a cover price of Bt500 a plate. The event was also meant to be a tribute to
Jeffrey’s passion for life, food, art, and music.
Jeffrey’s enthusiasm for fine food and his cooking skills inspired many others chefs to creative heights, said Shelley Poplak, who had
known Jeffrey since he moved to Samui.
Jeffrey’s first job after moving from California to Samui was at Poppies, where he established a reputation for fine dining on the
beach. Jeffrey later opened his own California-Thai blend of cooking at Betelnut in Soi Colibri, and in 2008 moved this famous eatery
to Buri Rasa in central Chaweng.
He also worked with Beach Republic, Coral Bay Resort, Tamarind Springs, opened Toga near the IT Centre in Lamai, and traveled
extensively to consult, cook and open restaurants for clients in India, Singapore and Pakistan .
After Jeffrey’s motorbike accident, when he swerved to miss a dog on a quiet backstreet in Chaweng, he was discharged from the
ICU three months later to the care of his wife. Insurance did not cover nursing at home, but Sam, his wife and co-chef has been
fortunate to keep her job at Betelnut at Buri Rasa.
However, working full time, raising a four-year-old daughter and paying for a full-time nurse to care for Jeffrey was proving too much
for her. After more than 20 months, Sam felt her best chance was to take Jeffrey to her home province.
A foreshortened Newsletter this month for many reasons – more next month.
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