Friday, 5 February 2016

Pingchan Beach Resort Opens in Yai



At the start of 2016 Thong Nai Pan Yai welcomed back Pingchan Resort. The resort had been wiped out by a particularly bad storm in the early 2000s. It has taken a long time, but eventually, they have managed to build a new resort where the old one used to be.

Pingchan Beach Resort is located next to Pen's Bungalows. It stretches south and goes in front of the Great Escape Chalets. The most noticeable thing about the new resort is that it has opted to use its beach front not just for its restaurant, but also its bungalows.

So far there are 2 rows of bungalows running parallel to Thong Nai Pan Yai beach. The front row has literally direct access to the beach. Guests don't have to walk through the resort to get to the beach. It is right there, to be enjoyed from the bungalow balcony. Only Rasananda in Noi offers the same level of beach access. There is something wondrous about having an unimpeded view of the beach; and being able to lie on the beach just in front of your bungalow.

The sign on the resort reads 'Pingchan Beach Resort'. However, the internet listing on Agoda has the place called 'Pingchan Koh Phangan Villas Beach Resort'. To add to the confusion, Trip Advisor has named the place 'Pingchan Beachfront Resort'. Well a rose by any other name.

The resort has yet to be finished. So far there is a beachfront pool and a reception and restaurant building. From the look of things there are plans for a poolside restaurant or bar. Considering the high accommodation prices, it is likely that there will also be a Pingchan spa at some point.

Those who can remember the old Pingchan's will remember their bar on the beach. It was a popular, laid back bar that sometimes hosted parties. We imagine the new Pingchan Resort will show the same resolve to provide good customer service and to entertain and engage with customers.

The new bungalows look great. They are all brand new and have no wear and tear. This means these are some of the cleanest and nicest bungalows on Yai. They all come with air-con, hot water bathroom, cable TV, mini bar, safety deposit box and tea and coffee making facilities. The bungalows are made of wood and have tiled floors inside and glass in the windows. While preserving the look of traditional Koh Phangan bungalows Pingchan are providing plenty of luxury.

Families will be interested in the double bungalows for rent. They are two bungalows adjoining and linked by a connecting door. The one half has a double bed for the parents and the other side has twin beds for the kids. Each side also has its own bathroom. One of the family bungalows is on the beach.

Prices for bungalow rental at Pingchan Beach Resort start at 3,800 Thai Baht a night. This is a very new resort; they haven't published their low season or peak season prices yet. So expect discounts and promotional prices over the coming months.

Also expect more bungalows to appear at Pingchan Beach Resort, along with more facilities and amenities.

It should be mentioned they have built a low sea wall in front of the resort to prevent it being washed away in the event of another freak storm. It is good to see that the lessons of the past are being heeded.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Panviman Changes its Website Again



I guess there is a lot of pressure to deliver when you are in charge of a 5 star hotel in Thailand. I suspect Panviman changes its key management team as frequently as Chelsea Football Club. Each new manager seems compelled to commission a new website. The last one for Panviman needed dealing with as it was hacked, and remained hacked for a number of months.

The latest website for Panviman Resort and Spa in Thong Nai Pan is a thing to behold. It is no doubt expensively put together. The opening page uses a series of full screen video clips sewn together to show what the hotel is like. It is very similar to the opening page of PayPal.

The images start with the corner of the beach that Panviman claims, then the speedboat transfer, then the less glamorous minibus transfer, then various clips of hotel rooms, restaurants, spa and fitness room. The site is successful in drawing the viewer in to the 'world of Panviman on Thong Nai Pan'. Pictures speak louder than words; and videos speak louder than pictures. In a sense Panviman has a jump on Rasananda, Buri Rasa and Santhiya in this respect.

The only downside is that the website needs a decent broadband connection (but less so than old Flash sites) and the impact is diminished by viewing the site on a smart phone (which more and more people are doing because they love their phone).

The biggest criticism is that there is a spelling mistake on every page - namely 'Guest's reviews'. The apostrophe needs to be after the 's' since they are referring to more than one guest. In the review section they use booking.com, Agoda and Review Pro. Trip Advisor is noticeable by its absence, as is the fact that the reviews are handpicked and hand coded: the reviews are not in a dynamic feed. The hotel clearly is vetting comments. The hotel also is reluctant to post links to Trip Advisor where people can book on another site.

This leads on to another point - booking.com are notorious gits when it comes to their 'price parity' clause in their agreement. It has been challenged in European courts and is an on-going blot on the reputation of the hotel booking site. They insist hotels cannot offer cheaper rates on their own website.

And yet the Panviman website offers 10% discounts on 'best available rate' for those contacting the hotel directly. It looks like flouting the rules. Booking.com won't take them to court in Thailand but can sabotage Panviman in other ways. We will see.

Other noticeable changes is that the Cool Sands Pub doesn't feature at all on the new website. This surely spells the end for the expensive restaurant on the beach with buffets and live entertainment. It looks like Cool Sands is a flop - the party scene died in Thong Nai Pan Noi and the attempts to instigate a bourgeois, sedate version of the said scene has fallen on its face.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Last Minute Bookings for Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2015

There are those who book their rooms in Thong Nai Pan well in advance, and there are those who for one reason or another wait until November or later to try and get a coveted accommodation in Thong Nai Pan Noi or Yai for the Christmas holidays.

Of the two key days – Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve – the hardest to book is New Year’s Eve. This is no doubt due to the popularity of the New Year’s Eve Party at Haad Rin.

If you are still looking for a room for either of these dates, time is running out. In Thong Nai Pan Noi all the cheaper rooms have gone for New Year’s Eve. Phuwadee and Thong Tapan Resort still have rooms for Christmas. The best you can do for New Year’s Eve in Thong Nai Pan Noi is Buri Rasa. If money is no object (most of us wish) there are still pool villas available at Santhiya and Rasananda.

The situation is a little better on Thong Nai Pan Yai. Both the Four Resort and Starlight Resort have rooms for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Paan Banburi, Nice Resort, Dreamland Resort and Havana Beach Resort have rooms available for Christmas. These will go soon as they are in the mid-range category.

So if you aren’t a millionaire I should book soon to stay in Thong Nai Pan during Christmas and New Year.

For the latest updates on room availability during the Christmas holidays 2015/16 visit Thong Nai Pan Magazine. They have an available rooms update on their front page.