* Indonesia hoteliers eye emerging middle class

By Susan Cunningham
HotelNewsNow.com correspondent

BANGKOK—Fueled by steady economic growth exceeding 6% annually, the rise of Indonesia’s middle class and its impact on the hotel landscape were prominent themes at Travel Trends’ No Vacancy conference in Bangkok last week.

Of the 248 million people in Indonesia, approximately 20%–50 million–now belong to the middle class, said Sonia Kapoor, client service director for Nielsen Singapore. Now compiling between $4 and $20 each day to save or spend on leisure activities, members of this group will comprise 50% of the population by 2030, she predicted.

The number of new hotels being built or in the pipeline is unknown. The breakdown of travelers also is hazy, but Scott Blume, group CEO of PT Raja Kumar International, provided an estimate: “At least 25% is probably business travel and the travelers are staying in the 3- to 3-and-a-half-star range hotels. That’s 400,000 to 500,000 rupiah, or about $40.” … MORE

* Thailand: Data suggests supply/demand mismatch

By Susan Cunningham
HotelNewsNow.com Correspondent

BANGKOK—Tourism in Thailand has bounced back strongly since the global meltdown of 2009, despite continuing economic doldrums in Western countries and Thailand’s continuing political instability.

New source markets have momentum, tourism revenue was up 8% last year and more than 18,000 hotel rooms will enter the market within the next three years. Yet the mood in Bangkok earlier this month at TravelTrends.biz’s “No Vacancy” conference was cautious—even somber.

“There’s a disconnect between luxury hotels and growth in mass tourism,” said Bill Barnett, managing director of Phuket-based consultancy C9 Hotelworks. “There’s a disconnect when it comes to infrastructure … MORE

* Bangkok by Night: three lively neighborhoods

It’s a shame that Bangkok’s “notorious nightlife” has been so profusely publicized. Many visitors probably confine themselves to their hotels in the evening and then flee the city the next day. Actually, Bangkok nightlife is so extensive that prostitution and sex shows occupy only a dreary corner.

From all walks of life, Thais take their food, fun, music, drinking, dancing and conviviality very seriously. Nightlife venues run into the thousands. So don’t conclude that the following glimpse of three very different neighborhoods is in any way exhaustive. The surface has been barely nicked. What can be said is that these are three long-running neighborhoods that will deliver sanuk (fun) wanderings and meetings with ordinary, chatty Thai people.

Upper Silom Road

It’s impossible to pinpoint Bangkok’s coolest neighborhood. The trendsetters are just too fickle. But Silom Soi 4 and Silom Soi 2–two lanes jutting off the east end of Silom Road–somehow endure while more fabulous spots are fuzzy memories. These two small lanes are great for people-watching and Continue reading