A recent Harvard Business School study revealed that the presence of Airbnb resulted in a 1.5 per cent loss of revenue for hotel businesses in 10 US cities.

This new threat to the hotel industry is not just about price because the accommodation app also touts authentic experiences in its host cities. So much so, the platform launched its own brand of local tours, Airbnb Experiences, in 2016. At the Buy Tourism Online conference in Florence, in November 2017, Airbnb reported more than 8,000 bookings per week as well as receiving over 1,200 requests a week from hosts for new Experiences.

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Thailand is one of the world’s premier holiday destinations, thanks to its abundance of attractions, and its tourism industry contributes over 17 per cent of national GDP, and generates 2.5 trillion baht (HK$588 billion) for the domestic economy.

According to Krungsri Research’s December 2017 hotel industry outlook for 2018 to 2020, Airbnb has proliferated and accounts for 10 per cent of total keys in the nation’s five main tourist destinations, Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai. However, its impact has not been significant, the research says, although it notes that this is subject to change as customer preferences shift to more authentic, local experiences.

In an age where an accommodation sharing app can take a significant chunk of hotel industry revenues, hotel operators therefore have learned the importance of providing an authentic experience to guests. Large brands are striving to strike a balance between their well-established but uniform image and the authenticity of their properties’ locations. Small and local brands are also improving their competitiveness.

Chalisa Charoensantisuk, sales coordinator of Samujana, a 27-villa property on Koh Samui, says: “There are a lot of individual villas available on Airbnb that also offer amazing views, but we have the advantage of being organised with full-service staff. [If] something breaks down in the individually operated properties, it might take a while to get fixed, but we have maintenance people on site to respond to these requests immediately.”

Samujana is a magnificently designed property with open sea views and provides high-level, tailor-made services for guests. The estate consists of large and lavish villas that all are designed to blend with the slope of their hill. Dwellings range from three to eight bedrooms and are anchored by an infinity pool with panoramic ocean vistas integrated into the property. Designed by Gary Fell of GFAB Architects, the rooms offer contemporary luxuries and use Koh Samui’s natural features such as large rock outcrops and mature trees. The properties’ living areas are open, and with naturally ventilated terraces. Here are more locally operated hotels for your next visit to Thailand.

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Trisara

Trisara was opened in 2004 by Montara Hospitality Group, an organisation owned by the Pattamasaevi family. Billed as Phuket Island’s most exclusive and intimate resort, the property is reached by a picturesque road that passes through small villages, jungles and beaches, and is a perfect introduction to the island. Trisara has 48 pool suites and villas alongside a guest spa, and several restaurants in 40 acres of tropical gardens. The group takes its service so seriously that it has opened its own staff-training centre, the Trisara Academy, which develops entry-level employees’ skills and refines its management’s skills.

Amatara Resort & Wellness

Amatara specialises in holistic wellness programmes with hotel stays. Promoted as the first luxury destination spa in Phuket, the 48-villa property offers programmes such as detox, weight management, Amatara Active, Spa Revive, and a package retreat for couples, Amatara Connect. These programmes include accommodation, organic and nutritional food, and personalised wellness and leisure activities.

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Iniala

Located north of Phuket, in Phang Nga, this boutique property has only four villas, all of which are designed by world-renowned experts. Villa Siam is designed exclusively by Thai interior maestro Eggarat Wongcharit and is a work of art with exquisite home decor for sophisticated souls seeking luxurious relaxation. Its interior details include woven tattoo canopies; bronze lotus leaves; ceiling-suspended sofas and a large deck with a 20-metre swimming pool.

Chiva-Som

This Hua Hin resort offers 54 luxurious rooms and suites, and has been run by the Rojanastien family since 1995. The property combines traditional Thai pavilion structures with a contemporary design. Focusing on wellness and relaxation, Chiva Som has a staff of 80 qualified therapists who provide services and facilities that blend spa cuisine with fitness, physiotherapy and holistic consultations, and over 200 spa therapies and treatments.

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