By all reports, Krabi is about to experience a boom in the property market. Out of curiosity I set out with a map, a small list of developments, and three days to find out more.
The search was not an easy one. Unlike Phuket, there are no offices of internationally affiliated property agents such as CBRE or Knight Frank, or any large local agencies.
First stop was Robert "Gus" Reynolds of Krabi Consultants, who, with 12 years in the area, proved to be a great resource.
Tourism is an excellent demand generator for property so I checked out two of the newest branded resorts in the area: Central's Krabi Resort, which has been open a year and the newly opened Sofitel Phokeethra Resort.
Together with the Sheraton ' Krabi Beach Resort, which has been operating five years, these are the only brand-managed properties in the area, as the long standing, upmarket Rayavadee, formerly a Dusit, is now independently operated.
According to General Managers of hotels in the area, annualized occupancies are now around 60 % with average room rates at upper-tier hotels surpassing similar products in Phuket. While Ao Nang and Railey beach are well established with the heaviest concentration of hotels in Krabi, Klong Muang and Tub Kaek are emerging with a number of upmarket boutique hotels such as the Tub Kaak Resort and Nakarnanda Resort & Spa.
There are also new entries opening this year such as Phulay and the Vogue Pranang Bay Resort and Spa. The Phulay designed by renowned Thai architect Lek Bunnang is reputed to be in the same league as the Amanpuri and Trisara.
Major investment in this area is with significant groups such as MBK and Boon Rawd Brewery.
Talking to hotel owners and managers, I heard two overriding themes. First is the desire to learn from Plunket's mistakes, which is evident in the underground power lines along the beachfront, the ban on jet skis and sun lounges on public beaches, and the emphasis on maintaining a natural environorment.
>Second is the sense of pride you hear in discussions about assets that make Krabi a unique destination. Among them is the new airport. It's modem, well planned and in many ways superior to Phuket's.
With direct international flights from Singapore on Tiger Airways, along with THAI