Cha-am gets a new attraction

Santorini Park in Cha-am, a 500-million-baht venture that had its official opening last Saturday, is the latest addition to tourist attractions in Phetchaburi province.

An architecture in Santorini Park Cha-am.

Belonging to the Pena Group, one of Thailand's leading fashion retailers and manufacturers of garment, Santorini Park is the province's first themed shopping complex and an extension of Outlet malls and Premium outlets the group operates in several major cities.

According to its managing director Nasvera Tantichirasakul, an increasing number of tourists were now visiting Cha-am so it was only prudent to open an outlet there.

Located on 60 rai of land off Phetchakasem Road around marker KM 198, Santorini Park has a catchy design and an architectural theme dominated by colours blue and white, like the buildings on Santorini Island of Greece.

The company spent 50 million baht in park decorations and ambience including pop and modern art sculptures, dancing fountains and manmade waterfalls.

Inside, it houses more than a hundred gift shops and outlets for fashion, accessories, art and decor and handmade products. Also available are restaurants, coffee shops, an outdoor zone for concerts, a weekend mart, and an amusement zone boasting facilities such as a ferris wheel with 40-metre high double-decker carousel and G-Max reverse bungee, a giant swing and wall climbing.

Santorini Park opens daily from 10am to 9pm and there is no entrance fee Monday through Thursday, but Friday to Sunday it charges a 50-baht entrance fee and stays open until 10pm.


Tourism forum

The Mekong Tourism Forum 2012 in Chiang Rai next month will have "20/20 Vision: Building on Two Decades of GMS Cooperation" as its theme. It will focus on the challenges of human resources, pro-poor sustainable tourism, product development and marketing in the Greater Mekong Sub-region over the next two decades.

"Multi-country holidays are now common in the GMS, but we still need to reduce red tape, increase cross-border flows and boost sustainable tourism in rural areas where incomes are still too low," said Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office executive director Mason Florence.

The forum, he noted, will assess how the attraction, retention, training and development of the Mekong workforce has progressed and what needs to be done.

There will be speakers from Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and donors such as the Asian Development Bank.

The venue for the forum, scheduled June 13-14, is Dusit Island Resort Hotel. The registration fee is $375 (about 11,625 baht), but there is a discount rate of $275 (about 8,525 baht) if you register before May 15.


Jet airways adds flight

Jet Airways will add one more flight between Kolkata and Bangkok starting May 10.

At present the airline already offers daily night flights but it will add a daily morning flight in response to enhanced demand during the oncoming holiday season, said Jet Airways chief commercial officer Sudheer Raghavan.

"We are confident that this would meet the needs of the corporate, MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions] and leisure travellers," he noted.

Hotels update

Accor hotel chain has launched Planet 21, a sustainable programme, for its properties worldwide and called on employees to care for the environment.

It has set itself a three-year goal under which it plans to achieve 15% reduction in water consumption, 10% decrease in energy use, introduce balanced meals at 80% of its properties, promote use of eco-labelled products, and provide staff training in the prevention and spread of diseases.

"With the Planet 21 programme, we are putting sustainable hospitality at the core of the group's strategy, development and innovation," said Accor chairman and CEO Denis Hennequin.

Accor will also invite customers and partners to contribute to these efforts. At present, Accor operates and markets 4,400 hotels in 90 countries and employs 145,000 people worldwide. The brands under its portfolio include Sofitel, Pull-man, Mgallery, ibis and All Seasons.

In Thailand, Novotel Bangkok Platinum and V Villas Hua Hin by Accor have taken the lead by launching a so-called "Hug a Tree" campaign to raise funds for a green cause.

At the Novotel Bangkok Platinum there is a tree guests are invited to embrace and make a donation of 100 baht, for which they receive a seedling which they can plant in the hotel compound. The hotel plans to give away 49 seedlings.

V Villas Hua Hin by Accor, on the other hand, invites guests to hug and pose for pictures with a particular tree in its compound and make a donation of 100 baht. Money thus raised will be used to encourage the planting of trees in Khao Yai National Park.

Centara Hotels & Resorts have introduced services and facilities specifically for Arabic-speaking guests winging in during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims observe fast and take no food, no liquids, nor do they smoke and abstain from sex dawn to dusk.

The hotel chain is recruiting Arabic-speaking staff, setting up prayer rooms with mats, offering a choice of halal food, Arabic newspapers and TV channels, while Spa Cenvaree will open late into the night, and there will be a separate section for women.

Every evening during Ramadan the Centara Grand at CentralWorld will reserve its lounge for guests from the Middle East.

Rose Garden in Nakhon Prathom has been rebranded to Sampran Riverside to celebrate its 50 years of operation.

It has also invested 10 million baht to renovate its six traditional Thai houses and the Thai village cultural centre, which from now on will be marketed as a place for learning the traditional Thai way of life.

Founded in 1962, the family-run resort started as a rose plantation that supplied rose flowers to Bangkok. The resort occupies 177 rai of riverside property that includes a 160-room four-star hotel, four restaurants, 10 meeting rooms, a spa, a row of Thai houses around a lake, a 25 rai organic farm and a cultural centre.

The resort plans to host more activities related to rural life such as growing rice, raising buffalo and teaching how to make herbal balls. It will also improve all facilities, including the electronic system in meeting rooms, as well as offering wi-fi service.

The resort badly needed a facelift after being inundated for a long period in last year's flooding.

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