Sunday, 16 December 2012

Buri Rasa

Buri Rasa opened for business early 2012 but it was not until late 2012 that they actually finished the resort or put up a website. Cheekily put up a website masquerading as the official website. It is a cheap looking site with minimal content and over-priced booking.

One look at is enough to clearly see it is the genuine article. Now that we have the website and a more completed resort we are in a position to offer a review of Buri Rasa in Thong Nai Pan Noi.

For all of those folks who haven’t heard the sad news, Star Huts was torn down in 2011. The owner of Baan Panburi and the Anantara brand bought the land. He moved Baan Panburi over to the southern end of Yai beach and used the space to create ‘Buri Rasa Village’.

From this background it is clear that we have a big player flexing his corporate muscles. He owns Buri Rasa and Baan Panburi and his management group runs Rasananda. How long before he buys Rasananda? His name is William E. Heinecke. He is an American with a Thai passport and one of the richest men in Thailand. 

Although Panviman and Santhiya have branched out, they were conceived as one-off unique resorts. In contrast Buri Rasa from the very outset was designed to belong to a corporate entity and to be heavily branded. There is a Buri Rasa in Koh Samui. It had its ‘soft opening’ in June 2012. It is very similar to the one in Thong Nai Pan Noi. It is beachfront, uses a similar interior design and is aimed at the same 4 star market. The branding is deliberate as the 2 Buri Rasa resorts share the same website!

The Buri Rasa in Thong Nai Pan Noi occupies the corner of the beach between the stream that separates off the Panviman bit of beach up to the public road leading down to the beach. There is a small infinity pool on the beach complete with decking. Next to this is the ‘Beach Club’. This reminds me very much of the Baan Panburi Beach Club but just a bit more up-market. It has the same layout with large open plan restaurant with lots of seating on the beach. The menu is similar too – Thai food and barbeque, only more expensive. They even have a small bar hut to the side, like the old Baan Panburi used to.

As you walk up the road away from the beach you encounter the ‘Village Square’. This is a slightly ambitious or pretentious venture. It depends on your point of view. There is cobbled road, seating under a large tree, cafes, shops and what feels like an English style pub. The architecture is deliberately European rather than Thai. Bright colours, upholstered seating, colonnades and wall murals have transformed this part of the village into a 4 star enclave. If you were kind you would say it is sophisticated; if not you would be inclined to see something that resembles Koh Samui in all its pomp and glory trying to pull in the tourist bucks.

The rooms at Buri Rasa have air-con, en-suite bathrooms and balconies with sea views. It is hotel style accommodation in the sense that it is all in a large multi story building rather than in bungalows or villas stretched out across the beachfront. Building upwards and making the rooms fairly small means that they can offer rooms for as little as $100 a night compared to the minimum of $250 a night it costs for a Rasananda villa.

It is interesting to note that the Buri Rasa is still using computer generated graphics for the rooms. Because of the expansion of Rasananda building of Buri Rasa fell behind schedule. They opened in 2012 with only a few rooms functional and obviously not looking good enough to feature in promotional material.

The original meaning of boutique was a shop that was small and sold unique items. No doubt Buri Rasa will be promoted as boutique. It is not that small and its style is derivative. The rooms offer comfort but not luxury and the restaurant is just a re-make of the previously successful Baan Panburi Beach Club. Buri Rasa is a safe corporate bet to increase revenue from a prime piece of real estate.