Accessible only by boat and surrounded
by majestic mountains and cobalt seas, Hoa Van
village used to be a refuge for the unfortunates
who had contracted leprosy.
area was their only escape from the social prejudice
inflicted on them in the cities and towns of the
was then, and this is now. And now dictates that
the thatched huts will likely be torn down to
make way for luxury hotels and the whirr of the
number of developers are eyeing the long stretch
of powdery beaches and rolling hills as the next
tourism hot spot, complete with luxury hotels,
brand name stores, golf courses and casinos.
the economic windfall on the horizon, Danang’s
authorities are planning to evict the lepers to
pave the way for the building of the resorts,
some 10 kilometers from the city’s CBD.
Capital Management is the latest company to come
up with a plan to pour $4-$5 billion into Hoa
Van with a resort boasting 5,000 rooms, a golf
course and casinos. A few kilometres away toward
Thua Thien Hue province, Banyan Tree last year
received an investment certificate for a $276
million integrated resort. Those plans have since
changed as the Singapore-based company said it
would raise enough capital to roll out a larger
and more expensive $1 billion complex.
Oaktree talks with Danang’s decision-makers
for Hoa Van, other American investors are scouting
a beach front site a few kilometres away in Quang
Nam province. Global C&D and Tano Capital
are hoping the government will give the thumbs-up
for a $10 billion resort on 460 hectares on one
of the world’s most luxurious beaches. The
blueprint foresees nine 2,000 room casino hotels
are asking the government for permission to establish
the project before seeking an official investment
licence,” said Tong Ich Pham, general director
of Global C&D. Developers are also looking
beyond central Vietnam, planning multi-billion
dollar resorts in Ba Ria Vung Tau province and
Phu Quoc island.
its location next to Ho Chi Minh City - a large
tourist feeder market - and a future international
airport in Dong Nai province, Ba Ria Vung Tau
has also been on the hunt for tourism developers
as local authorities dished out certificates to
three resort complexes worth nearly $6 billion.
list goes on and on. Asian Coast Development LLC
has received permission for a $4.2 billion, 9,000
room property and Greg Norman designed golf course
on the Ho Tram strip in Xuyen Moc district.
Good Choice has plans for a $1.3 billion theme
park on 155 hectares, featuring a “Wonders
of the World” site, 6,500 four and five-star
hotel rooms and shopping malls and restaurants.
Investment LLC is clearing a 300-hectare site
for its $4 billion project in Chi Linh-Cua Lap.
the sleepy fishing village of Phu Quoc island,
hundreds of investors are queuing up for permission
to build giant resorts, including Trustee Swiss
Group with a $2 billion plan and Rockingham Asset
Management with a $1 billion proposal.
Starbay Holdings became the first to obtain a
licence a fortnight ago to build a larger complex
on the island, which has beautiful pristine beaches
but is currently home to just a few small resorts.
Starbay Holdings CEO Martin Kaye is confident
Phu Quoc will be turned “into Asia’s
number one resort destination”, it has laid
out an ambitious blueprint for 2,400 rooms, 650
villas and 1,300 condominium units.
developers are looking to cash in on Vietnam’s
rising hospitality industry which has recently
seen a serious lack of hotel rooms and room rates
increasing 30-50 per cent year-on-year.
country last year attracted 4.2 million foreign
visitors and it expects to draw in five million
this year. The figure is expected to go up to
six million in 2010. Tourism revenue is estimated
to reach $6-$7 billion in 2010.
have long been familiar with Thailand and Malaysia
and they want to look for new destination like
Vietnam,” said Michael Bischof, vice president
of Swiss-belhotel International.
tourism has enticed great investment in hotels,
particularly mega resorts. Ho Chi Minh City has
recently proposed 23 sites for luxury hotels while
Hanoi is in need of around 13,000 additional rooms
in the next few years.
new generation of hotels has begun to take shape.
New World is currently the biggest hotel in Ho
Chi Minh City with 550 rooms, Vin Pearl in Nha
Trang with 500 rooms and Daewoo in Hanoi with
many others under construction have more than
500 rooms such as the 770-room Lotus Hotel, 560-room
Keangnam Landmark Tower in Hanoi and 500-room
Crowne Plaza in Danang.
numbers at the proposed integrated resorts of
Ho Tram Strip and Vung Tau Wonderful World Theme
Park are from 2,000 to 9,000. Yet, mega resort
developers like Oaktree, Global C&D, and Asian
Coast Development will not only look to cash in
on room sales revenue but want a share of the
gaming industry. All of them want to add casinos
to their hotel projects.
Coast Development said on its website that in
the first phase it will build two luxurious five-star
hotels with a combined 2,300 rooms and Vietnam’s
first Las Vegas-style casinos - featuring approximately
180 tables and 2,000 electronic games.
construction is on a roll in Asia with Macau being
the gambling hub that recently launched the 3,000-suite
Venetian while Singapore has given the green light
for two mega casino resorts.
is still exploring the lucrative gambling industry
and so far the government has been cautious about
licensing casino projects. Gambling is illegal,
Do Son is the only casino while a number of hotels
are allowed to provide “electronic gaming
services with bonuses” to foreign and Viet
Kieu passport holders.
International Corporation, which is operating
a “club” in Halong Bay with 17 gaming
tables and 70 slot machines, said 66 per cent,
or $6.57 million, of its revenue last year come
from gaming services.
is more than doubling its gambling space to 7,200
square metres and expects to reach $20 million
in revenues this year.
as the government is still considering legal framework
for casino operation in Vietnam, it remains unclear
whether proposals for casino hotels in Danang,
Quang Nam and else where will be approved.
C&D’s Tong acknowledged that it would
take time for the government to consider gaming
and it would also take more time to bring American
casino operators to Vietnam that does not have
legal frameworks in place - a prerequisite for
US authorities to allow operators to go overseas.
resort developers will also face chronic problems
of the tourism industry, such as poor aviation
infrastructure, poor transportation systems and
a lack of qualified staff. New terminal airports
are planned for Danang and Phu Quoc but construction
has been slow at best and a lack of flights is
a bottleneck to tourism development in these areas.
Tan Vinh, deputy general director of Furama Resort,
said a lack of qualified staff was one of the
biggest weaknesses facing the tourism industry
in central Vietnam. “There will be a serious
shortage of hospitality staff in the central region
as thousands of rooms will be opened in the areas
in the next three to five years,” said Vinh.
roadblocks foreseen on the way to mega resorts,
Hoa Van’s colony of lepers have a respite
from the affects of the all mighty dollar. For
the time being at least.
James Packer is going to try his luck in the Philippines,
after recently writing of a loss of some 42 million
dollars in Macau. James Packer, the travel and
tourism industry is risky enough without betting
the house on a casino, when the market is flooded,
and the best games are found online. Horses for
courses. Packer, your throw of the dice - Greg