Khao Lak, situated a one-hour’s drive north of Phuket, is shaping to become an up-and-coming destination for corporate groups, but awareness of the coastal city is still lacking on the international stage.
General manager of the expanded and renovated JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort Spa, Abhimanyu Singh, general manager, JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort Spa, is taking the lead in pushing the destination, as the property recently shifted its recent focus to attracting medium-sized groups of around 300 pax.
“Khao Lak is not as well-known as Phuket, which might get 10 times the number of corporate group leads, but I believe it will resonate with the right market,” he said.
For instance, the local government has disallowed motorised sports in Khao Lak, which Singh says helps to position the area as a “serene and organic” destination, and focus solely on the “natural wonders in the area”, instead of becoming a “mass-market, touristy destination”.
Another way to position Khao Lak as a viable business events destination is to highlight it as a place “aligned with organisations’ increasing focus on sustainability”, Ben Schumacher, vice president, operations, South-east Asia and Pacific Rim, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts APAC, said.
The 84-key Ramada Resort by Wyndham Khao Lak is well-positioned in this area, as it is a Level 1 Wyndham Green certified hotel that has incorporated sustainable practices such as a recycling programme and energy efficient interior lighting. Part of Wyndham’s The Meetings Collection, the property is also ready for corporate events, and can accommodate up to 200 pax indoors, and 150 pax outdoors.
Schumacher also highlighted the numerous options outside of the resort, which includes jungle trekking in a national park and whitewater rafting.
Elsewhere, the Avani+ Khao Lak Resort is also ready to welcome corporate groups with a 1,000m2 multipurpose conference centre that can host 350 guests banquet-style, and whose accommodation needs can be served by the 327-key oceanfront resort.
Leandro Cavaco Silva, general manager of Avani+ Khao Lak Resort, told TTGmice that Avani+ Khao Lak Resort also provides corporate groups with a dedicated meeting butler, and encourage them to enjoy the surrounds through outdoor themed dinners, and seaside barbecues.
When asked if there’s a tourism body equivalent to the likes of Phuket Hotel Association, Singh shared there exists Phang Nga Tourism Association that is run by local hotels and business owners.
“We work with them for a few things, but this could be a focus for us in the future as we have two more Marriott properties set to open in Khao Lak in the future.”