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New Beachfront Shopping Mall to Open in Phuket

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The owners of the Patong Hotel and Banana Disco in Phuket have unveiled their plans for the new lifestyle shopping mall they are developing, scheduled for a May 2012 opening, on Patong Beach.

Aptly named Banana Walk, the 3-level beachfront shopping complex will feature a modern, tropical design concept which, according to Smith Obayawat, the project’s architect, will help to change to the face of street-shopping on Patong Beach.

The location couldn’t be better. Banana Walk is situated on the beachfront of Patong Beach Road, just 100 meters south of Soi Bangla and next to the Banana Disco.

Construction crews broke ground last week on the 4,500 m² land plot to build Banana Walk and its estimated 30 boutique retail outlets, five restaurants and rooftop nightclubs. The final building design will depend on the space requirements and design ideas of the new tenants.

“With Banana Walk we have designed architecture to create a shopping experience that’s a complete departure from the typical Thai neighborhood or community malls,” said Obayawat, the founder of The Office of Bangkok Architects (OBA), one of Bangkok’s leading architects. “This is a very special location so we need to remember that more is not always necessarily better. We believe street level mall design in Thailand needs to allow for more freedom of movement and flow for these types of spaces ... We’ve done that with Banana Walk with low density designs that provide ample outdoor lounge areas where travellers can mingle and gaze at the shops and restaurants that semi-surround them. It also makes common sense that when you have a lovely beachfront setting like Banana Walk that every living space in the complex faces the waterfront.”

Banana Walk is configured for 50% core retail space and 50% for food and beverage outlets. The anchor food and beverage outlet will be Baitong Seafood, which is owned by the Banana Walk developers. The complex is separated into blocks A, B and C, each with three floors and a roof top area facing the inner courtyard and beach.

Banana Walk’s architectural design has a natural and elegant approach but still has a beach feel with construction elements that include stone, wood, glass and bamboo. Special design elements also create a less air-conditioned environment for Banana Walk by using natural ventilation in common lounge areas. The exterior design uses extensive sun and rain shielding with natural materials to protect the glass and exposed areas from the elements.

 Phuket passenger arrivals in the first 6 months was up 30% over the same period in 2010 and domestic arrivals increased by 11%, breaking the one million mark.

According to research conducted by C9 Hotelworks, a Phuket-based hotel and real estate consultant, mainland China tourists were the top travel producers for the first half of 2011, growing 103% compared to 2010. China holds the number one spot providing 13% of the source market, Russia is second with 12%. South Korean visits also rose 30% over the first six months of last year.

“When you talk about pure tourism numbers on Phuket, Patong is still king,” said Bill Barnett, Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks. “Patong room occupancy was an amazing 82% in the first half of this year. With a new supply line of 6,968 rooms coming to Phuket by 2014, 68% of which will be located on the west coast, Patong is in for a huge growth spurt.”

Banana Walk is also following sustainable retail practices, banning plastic bags and all Styrofoam products and is supported by a strong recycling program and efficient energy usage system. It is also a supporter of the Phuket’s local Government ban on all single use plastic bags starting from the HM the King’s birthday on 5 December 2011.

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