Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Game Bar

Game Bar has long been known amongst travelers to Thong Nai Pan Yai as a late night haven for those looking to party the night away. Situated on the main street, just past the 7-11, Game Bar is now the only destination away from the beach that hosts since Funky Buddha went 'dormant'.

Recently, the establishment overhauled its look and feel, making it more family-friendly by day and expanding its menu. The new Game Bar has comfortable booths, pillow-covered mat seating, plush couches, and picnic tables on a street-side area where diners can enjoy their food in the sun.  The owner Keio has made the effort to make the Western food more as it is 'back home' for a lot of people. Ranging from savory ham and eggs on toast and a variety of pastas, such as the indulgent blue cheese penne (xxx baht), and standard Thai fare, the extensive new Game Bar menu will take time to navigate.

Management has put some time and thought into changing the feel of this place and they’ve been successful in creating a bright, welcoming day-time space, while retaining the evening party trade by night. At lunchtime, you’d never know that come sundown, it’s also the place to party.
Game Bar still stands as a night-time haven for those looking to cut loose without the worry of closing times or disturbing the peace. It’s the regular parties that make this place a must on your Thong Nai Pan checklist if you enjoy a fun night out. On a busy night, the small dance floor spills across the bar, tempting even the most timid of dancers into the fold while listening to the wonderfully quirky DJ Lye,and sometimes, a lucky DJ from afar, spinning mostly dance beats. Expect to have a lot of fun with a lot of happy people.

Game Bar opens bright and early for breakfast and remains open until the last customer standing.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

End of an Era

It was always going to happen. Well ever since Santhiya was finished in 2006. That was the second hotel on Thong Nai Pan Noi. When it was discovered that Santhiya was filling its expensive rooms and pool villas the writing was on the wall for the budget backpacker places in Thong Nai Pan Noi.

It should be considered a good thing that the urge to ‘up-grade’ Tapan Noi bungalows was resisted until 2013. They haven’t been upgraded yet, but they have been shut down; meaning that there aren’t any bungalows for less than 1,000 Thai Baht a night left on the beachfront. That is a bit sad.

Tapan Noi or Baan Tapan Noi attracted lots of people, including many loyal customers who came back year after year. The bungalows on the rocks were simple wooden structures. The ones at the back didn’t have a bathroom. None had air-con. Instead they had a lot of character. The bungalow on the headline point was a gem – with lots of pointed plants outside and access to two beaches. Another bungalow had a bedroom and an entrance area big enough to install a basic kitchen. There were also a couple of bigger bungalows directly on the sand that were highly coveted and usually only let by the month.

The people running Tapan Noi are a friendly bunch. They got to know their long-stay customers and were always ready for a joke and a smile.

The northern end of the beach was ideal – it was free of the nasty early morning drone coming from the Jungle Bar and Hideaway Bar. Instead there was the relaxed I Sea Bar for a drink. Until 2011 there was the excellent Krua Tapan restaurant to enjoy authentic Thai food as well as the Tapan Noi restaurant.

Now that idyllic set up has gone. The Tapan Noi restaurant is still there as is the I Sea Bar but the cheap bungalows – the life blood of that part of the beach – have been taken out of the equation.

At the moment they are just standing there rotting. No doubt in the low season they will be pulled down and will be slowly replaced with air-con bungalows that will make their way onto the Thong Tapan website. It makes business sense I suppose but in terms of culture and pluralism the beach is a poorer place for their closure.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Thong Nai Pan Room Prices for 2013

Now that the peak season is over the hotels and resorts in Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai are revealing their prices for 2013 up to the rainy season. Naturally, the Christmas and New Year prices change as the year goes on and a number of factors are considered.

The thing to remember about prices in Thong Nai Pan as with many resort areas in Thailand is that they are not governed by inflation. The currency exchange rates don’t fluctuate very much. The resorts go on the principle of charging as much as the market will stand. They are apt to raise prices if they had high occupancy rates the previous year, and to lower rates if occupancy was down the previous year.

The notion of competition driving down prices often doesn’t apply in Thailand. Rather the resorts have an unspoken agreement to keep to their price niche. Thus, the cheapest place remains the same and the hotels don’t get into price wars.

The fact that most of the hotel rooms, bungalows and villas in both Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai have gone up in price this year reflects the growing popularity of TNP, and that business has never been better.

In Thong Nai Pan Noi Phuwadee Resort and Spa has raised its prices by 200 Thai Baht; Thong Tapan by about 300 Thai Baht; Sandee Bungalow and Tapan Noi by 100 Thai Baht and both Santhiya and Panviman by a massive 2,000 Thai Baht.

The exceptions are Buri Rasa which is offering discounts of 1,000 Thai Baht and Rasananda that has frozen its prices. Buri Rasa has been open for less than a year and is still trying to establish itself in the hotel market. Rasananda started out massively over-priced and has no need to further raise prices.

In Thong Nai Pan Yai Central Cottage has made small increases (about 50 Thai Baht); Nice Beach Resort is 100 Thai Baht more; Dreamland Resort costs 300 Thai Baht more; and Candlehut Resort 400 Thai Baht more.

The surprises are that Baan Panburi prices are unchanged. Also Starlight Resort prices are mostly unchanged. Havana Resort has also kept the same prices. Longtail Resort doesn’t use booking engines but it looks like it has increased prices by a modest 100 Thai Baht. Indeed I suspect the popularity of Longtail Beach Resort is forcing the neighboring resorts of Baan Panburi and Starlight Resort to refrain from big price hikes. Baan Panburi is part of a bigger chain of resorts and so there is less pressure to squeeze every last Baht out of the place. It still seeks to become the main budget option in Yai.

Private villas in Thong Nai Pan are outside the pricing rubric guiding prices in Thong Nai Pan. The prices remain unchanged in general. Sunrise Villa is offering a discounted week every month for 4,000 Thai Baht a day instead of 6,000 Thai Baht. Due to high running costs a couple of private villas have stopped opening their doors.

Current Promotions

At present Thong Tapan is offering a 5% discount for bookings more than 40 days in advance. Santhiya has hiked up its prices but is offering 4 nights for the price of 3 to soften the blow. Buri Rasa is also offering promotions.

Use the links below to check promotions:

Thong Tapan
Buri Rasa
Sunrise Villa