Vietnam’s First 100% Foreign Investment Golf Course to Be Closed Down

By: Phuong Tran

Vietnam’s First 100% Foreign Investment Golf Course to Be Closed Down

Ocean Dunes Golf CourseRang Dong Joint Stock Company has decided to close down the 20-year-old Ocean Dunes Golf Club next month amid plans for a high-end, multi-purpose complex.

The golf course has not been a great business success since it first opened to the public in 1996. In fact, in the 10 years since 2004, it generated a loss of 115 billion VND. There have been too few paying golfers to offset the huge maintenance cost of more than 62 hectares of what could well be the most beautiful garden area of Phan Thiet.

That is a shame for a golf course that was once ranked among the top ten most beautiful golf courses in Asia, designed by none other than one of the greatest golfers ever, Nick Faldo.

The Ocean Dunes golf course was funded by American billionaire Larry Hillblom, a co-founder of the giant express delivery service DHL Worldwide Express, who died in a plane crash in 1995. Ownership passed on to a consortium of four investors and since the end of 2013, the provincial People’s Committee licensed the course to the Rang Dong Joint Stock Company – which also owns Phan Thiet’s Sea Links Golf and Country Club.

Ocean Dunes Golf CourseThe government is expected to gain 1000 billion VND from the conversion. At the same time, the new urban development would help streamline the coastal highway system.

The plan has not been without its critics. Nguyen Van Thu, former chairman of Binh Thuan Province, believes that demolishing the Ocean Dunes golf course would cut green space from Phan Thiet which already lacks parks and tree areas. Nguyen Van Thanh Binh, chairman of the Binh Thuan Architect Association, agrees and says that Phan Thiet has only one beautiful park, so Ocean Dunes should be converted to parkland to improve the green environment here.

While waiting for approval, Rang Dong will close the golf course on April 1 to cut losses. Current members are given the opportunity to transfer their membership to the Sea Links Golf and Country Club.


Tourism Activities Shift in Phan Thiet

By: Patrick Gaveau

Tourism Activities Shift in Phan Thiet

activities in phan thietI am often careful when interpreting the feedback received from local actors about the status of their business activities for the season - this year was no different. In November, December and late January, some well known restaurants on the “Muine Strip” rang the bell stating that their business was down substantially, and Santimati restaurant said, “it was down 40%,” at some point. I did wonder if everything mentioned was factually accurate.

To clarify the situation, I picked a panel of chosen owners and managers working in well-known restaurants (international and local), mid-level and high-end shops as well as small and large hotels and resorts in the three to five star category. Following these interviews, visits and discussions, I realised that opinions varied per activity and that the most stable estimations came from hotel and resort professionals.

In terms of markets, most hotels and resorts recorded a steady flow of FIT (Foreign Independent Travellers) Russians originating from a wider range of destinations than ever before. Most resorts also documented growth for the UK, French and Chinese market - the latter being up 400% at some resorts. Most others recorded double digit growth.

activities in phan thietPandanus Resort, who is tracing substantial growth in this market as well.

Apart from Germans, who mainly travel in large groups at a lower price point, Phan Thiet still remains a FIT driven destination. This is good news for the many small businesses on the “Muine Strip”.

Even the Chinese travel individually for the most part, and the documented booking growth is largely channeled by OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) such as Booking.com and Agoda.com. This is good news as it positively affects the bottom line of resorts.

Private small business owners of restaurants, shops and bed & breakfasts, on the other hand, had mixed feelings about their business activities status. Pascal from Jibes recorded good growth in the last three months for his shop and restaurant while Kim Shop reported a 25% decreases in average spending year on year.

To better understand the market situation of these actors (restaurants, shops and activity providers) in Phan Thiet; allow me to list some of the key influencing business activity factors that were reported by many of the interviewed parties.

  1. The number of travellers in Phan Thiet is stable or growing.
  2. Market diversification is increasing.
  3. Behavioral and consumption pattern for each market may differ.
  4. The number of qualitative outlets is on the rise.
  5. The quantitative growth of small outlets out-numbers the increase in demand.
  6. Native Russians tend to spend money at places with Russian speaking staff/owners.
  7. Some Russian travellers do follow instructions given by their travel operators.
  8. Trip Advisor reviews affect the turnover of many travel related businesses.
  9. Travellers are wiser with their shrinking leisure budget.

If small businesses begin to understand how each of the above listed factors can affect their business activities, they may choose to adapt accordingly, adjusting the way they operate in order to tackle challenges and potential business available in their destination.


The 5th Suoi Nuoc Sunrise Surf Competition - November 2015

By: City Pass Guide

In November 2015, the 5th annual Sunrise, Surf contest will be held. With a one month waiting period to ensure best surf conditions at Suoi Nuoc, Mui Ne, the competition will feature a men’s and women’s division. Discipline will be short board and/or long board.

With competitors from Vietnam, Australia, France, Russia and the USA, the competition has a friendly international vibe. Organizers and judges will make a decision on the date of the event 72 hours prior to the start of competition. The decision will be based on weather, wind and swell forecasts. Maximum size, best wind direction and weather conditions will ensure all competitors get to showcase their skills in the biggest and best waves possible. Video of previous event:

The judges will be from different countries and surf outlets, all will have between15-30 thirty years of surfing experience, ensuring expert judging and unbiased results. Our event will attract competitors from Vietnam, Australia, France, Russia and the USA; they will ensure an amazing competition. This Sunrise competition reaches different audience segment and provides fun, entertaining.

The competition is not just about winning. It's about having fun with family and friends, celebrating the surfing lifestyle, the beach and building a community.

 

 


Sea Links Golf Course - Heaven or Hell

By: Simon Stanley

Since it’s opening in 2006, Sea Links has been the topic of conversation of many golfers in Vietnam. Located in the popular tourism area of Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Sea Links has been voted on many occasions as the most challenging golf course in Vietnam.  The writer has been involved with Sea Links since the appointment of the golf architect, Ron Fream of Golfplan. 

Ron reckoned that this was one of the last golf courses he would design – he was well into his 60’s by then and had already designed over 150 golf courses world-wide – and would make it the most challenging he has ever designed.  And he certainly has achieved that!

As a golfer who has played this links style golf course on many occasions, I can tell you I have lost many golf balls and for sure played well over my handicap most times.

So what makes this championship course so demanding?  When you first arrive at Sea Links, you have no idea what you have in front of you.  Your first view of the golf course is undulating fairways with beautiful views of the ocean.  The impressive club house and welcoming receptionists greet you with a smile.  You change in the large, well equipped locker rooms and then meet your caddie, waiting for you by your buggy. 

The driving range is to hand and provides the opportunity to warm up before you set out on your adventure.  The caddie will automatically take you to the blue tees, because, regardless of playing ability, these are the “Asian” tees – the ones which all Asians play off.  You do not want to appear inadequate and you make no indication to go to the fairer and more enjoyable white tees.  The forward or red tees are the least demanding, by the way.  You see in front of you fairways the like of which you have never seen before.  Severe undulations, huge bunkers and then the fear factor comes in.

Your caddie will tell you where to aim and you do your best.  Having got over your nerves, you then view the enormous greens, with awaiting bunkers.  And the greens are huge!!  The distance from the front to the back of the green can be a difference of two or three clubs.  But it is the bunkers that can destroy your game, especially the monster on the right hand side of the second green. 

When you arrive at the seventh hole, you will be amazed and delighted at the view over the East China Sea and with clear visibility, you can see the famous Ke Ga lighthouse.  The views will take away the difficulty of the hole, a dog leg right with out of bounds on the right and a bunker just where you would like to hit your drive to.  The eight hole, a par 3, has been voted as best par 3 in Vietnam and the sea breeze makes club selection very difficult.

There are no easy holes at Sea Links but I have to say, it is well worth the experience of playing.  Forget the rows of villas that make it look like a housing estate, ignore the condominiums that block the views and let yourself in for the challenge of a lifetime and I bet you will do like everyone else – come back and play the golf course again.

Because the next time you know you will do better, the same as everyone else.  One day I am going to tame this course and afterwards raise a glass of beer to the devil himself, Ron Fream.

It is heaven or is it hell?  Play the course and decide.  Let us know your thoughts!

Sea Links is located in Mui Ne and is part of the Sea Links City Group, with a hotel, villa and condominium complex.
www.sealinkscity.com


Kitesurfing Distributors and Shops in Mui Ne

By: Michael Mahe

Shop and Surf!

The development of Mui Ne from a remote fishing village to one of Vietnam’s famous beach destinations is closely linked to the ever-growing kitesurf crowd. There are a few schools and shops of international standard that accommodate kitesurfers who come from around the world to harness the power of the wind in Mui Ne.

KitesurfingThe oldest kitesurfing shop is “Jibes”, owned by Frenchman Pascal Lefebvre, one of the early pioneers of the kitesurfing scene in Mui Ne. Jibes not only offers a choice of kitesurf equipment of the French brand F-One, but also windsurf boards and sails. 

Perhaps the biggest kitesurfing shop in Mui Ne is Kiteboarding Ananda, located at Ananda Resort. This shop has a wide selection of kitesurf equipment and accessories from leading companies such as North Kites, Cabrinha Kites, Mystic harnesses and other travel gear.  Kiteboarding Ananda also has a specialised team that repair kites and boards, something that comes handy with the strong winds and high waves during the high season. Prices here tend to be significantly lower than anywhere else in the world. Thus, many kitesurfers come to Mui Ne without gear and will kit up with new kites and boards at Kiteboarding Ananda.

Rip Curl has a large shop in Mui Ne (near Phan Thiet) as well as Nha Trang. While they sell mostly beach and swimwear, they also have a small selectionKitesurfing of surfboards.

There are smaller kiteboarding shops such as Africa Surf and Bombora, which cater mostly to surfers, and Sailing Club Kite School (former Storm kiteboarding) which sells mostly kiteboarding accessories. 

All in all, should you come to Mui Ne and need a spare part or a new kite or board, you will be in good hands at one of the many kite shops!

Adresses (all on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street):

- Jibes: 90 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://www.windsurf-vietnam.com

- Kiteboarding Ananda: 8 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://www.ananda.vn

- Rip Curl Kite School: 103B Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://ripcurl.com.vn

- Africa Surf & Kite Test: 44 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://africa-kiteschool.ru

- Bombora: 68 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://www.bomboragroup.com

- Sailing Club Kite School (former Storm) : 24 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://www.stormkiteboarding.com


Annual Beach Volleyball Tournament 2015 hosted at Jibes Watersport Centre

By: City Pass Guide

Saturday the 4th of July saw the 5th Annual Beach Volleyball Tournament, hosted at Jibes Watersport Centre, Full Moon Village Suoi Nuoc.

This year, seven well trained teams participated in the competition: Pandanus Resort, Jibe’s Water Sport Center, Ball Slappers, Victoria Resort, French Team, Takalau and Princess D’An Nam.

After a briefing from the referees on rules and regulations, the competition began at 10:00 am to the delight of the competitors and spectators under a sunny tropical sky.

A beautiful lunch was organized for competitors to get their strength back and relax, before completing the heats and starting the semi-finals and final.

Against all odds, Victoria team, great winner from last year, were knocked out by Takalau, and took 4th place in the ranking. Takalau, determined to honor its first participation, played hard and made it through each heat to eventually find themselves at the final. After defeating Princess D’An Nam, Takalau played the grand finale against Pandanus.

After a finale full of suspense and rebounds, Pandanus was finally the winner!!

Enthusiast volleyball players, professional, expat or Vietnamese ensured an amazing tournament. The 5th competition was full of emotion and suspense until the end, all the teams fought hard to win. 

After a great day of competition, the teams, spectators and sponsors gathered to give huge applause for all the effort put in by the competitors at the Awards Ceremony.

The day’s activities concluded with a Beach Barbeque and After Party where everyone dined and danced the night away. The perfect end to a great sporting event.

The 5th Annual Beach Volleyball Tournament was a great success with motivated and well trained teams. Congratulations to the winners, Pandanus and all the teams who competed.

We would like to thank our referees, our speaker who animated the event, and all our sponsors for their generous contribution: Sea Links Golf, Whale Village Guest House, Full Moon Village, Coco Beach Resort, Marou Chocolate, Coco Cola, Le fruit, The Warehouse, AHI Co LTD, Tropical Mini Golf, Jibe’s Water Sport Club, Takalau Resort, The Cliff, and SEL company. 

We hope to see you all there again next year on the 2nd of July 2016 for the 6th edition of the Beach Volley ball Tournament.

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