This Old Tin Mine is now a 5-Star Sustainable Integrated Resort

October 17, 2022 Travel

Who would have ever thought that an abandoned, uninhabitable tin mine that is “too environmentally damaged to have any development potential,” as declared by the United Nations Development Program, could become an idyllic tropical destination?

We know that humans have created enormous messes in the world. And travel and tourism have greatly contributed. But this triumph by Laguna Phuket shows that sometimes, tourism can be the solution.

Laguna Phuket is Asia’s first integrated resort, located on the northwestern coast of Phuket. It spans 1,000 acres with 7 hotels, a golf course, luxury spas, a wide range of dining options, and apartments and villas.

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So how did this happen? When the owners acquired the property, they did not do their due diligence in researching it. It was only after purchasing that they discovered the place was entirely uninhabitable and toxic.


But the good thing is, they managed to bring it back to life.


Together with members of the media from Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon cruising what was once an ecological wasteland and now a thriving community.


It was our second day in Phuket, and we were there to attend PHIST (Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism) 2022, an annual conference rallying the hotel industry and its stakeholders to discuss environmental sustainability and community benefit. Part of the itinerary given to us was this sustainability tour of Laguna Phuket.


Mr. Anthony Lao, Vice President of Laguna Phuket, led the tour of what is considered the heart and soul of Laguna — the lagoon.


Mr. Lao proudly shared that the tree-lined lagoon and its surrounding areas are now home to different tropical birds and monitor lizards that grow up to 3 meters long. “No crocodiles!” he said. “We have lizards. They are the GM’s pets,” he joked.


During our cruise, we spotted some guests kayaking on the lagoon. Mr. Lao said that non-motorized sports are allowed, like stand-up paddle boarding, sailing and kayaking. They also allow fishing.

One of the canals with guests kayaking


The cruise was a good way to see the resort complex’s different hotels. These included Cassia, which is suited for the younger crowd; Banyan Tree, the flagship hotel; and Angsana, which caters to families and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions). 

Cassia Phuket

Banyan Tree Phuket

Angsana Laguna Phuket


Guests of the different hotels are welcome to visit and enjoy facilities at all the resorts, using the destination’s complimentary shuttle bus and boat services. And wherever they are in the complex, they can charge it to their room. 


We were also showed the Canal Village, a community mall; the Atoll, a floating restaurant on a recycled platform; and a charming white chapel. 


It is really laudable how Laguna Phuket transformed the polluted area not just into a transport route for inter-hotel activities but also into a watersports and intimate dining venue. Aside from The Atoll, there are other floating dining areas for more intimate gatherings. 


We boarded and got off the ferry at Angsana, where we were billeted. On our first day, I already had the time to go around the huge resort, which has a very serene atmosphere and relaxing vibe. It was a significant contrast to my recollection of Phuket. My first visit to Phuket was spent mostly on the vibrant Patong Beach.


This beach is known as an “Island within an Island” because of the lagoons that surround the resort. It has six dining establishments, a day spa, gym, conference and meeting spaces, and a white-sand beach. 


On our first day, we had a late lunch at Xana Beach Club, which was also the venue for PHIST 2022’s welcome reception. I had a mozzarella salad, a really refreshing combination of mozzarella cheese, heirloom tomatoes, and balsamic pearls. I paired the dish with fresh coconut. Why is Thailand’s coconut so sweet? 


We had dinner at Loy Krathong Bar, the best place to unwind after a long day. The bar had a food cart set up where guests had two different options for their noodle soup base, plus lots of different choices for noodles and meat. I had a very filling and comforting chicken soup, which I paired with glass noodles, chicken meat and chicken balls. 

Loy Krathong Bar during daytime


Buffet breakfasts were served at Market Place, where a wide range of choices were available. What I loved was the fruit section. Just like their coconuts, Thailand’s fruits are sweet.


Our briefing for the Sustainability Tour was held at the Bodega and Grill. There, we had a traditional Greek salad, white snapper for the main course, and mixed fruit for dessert.


PHIST’s main event was held at ACES (Angsana Convention and Exhibition Space). It was there where I was able to watch my first Muay Thai, Thailand’s high-energy, culturally-rich sport of Thai boxing. It was the theme for this year’s summitThe space was big enough to hold an exhibit of eco-friendly products and a boxing ring, along with enough space for conference goers and Muay Thai fans.


Imagine the speakers in their casual business attire, spewing statistics, strategies, and successes of sustainability earlier that day during the workshops. Then in the afternoon, they’re stepping in the ring in their Muay Thai shorts with their battle faces on, defending their stance on certain topics assigned to them.


One of the topics was growth and impact, presented by Jesper PalmqvistArea Director Asia Pacific, STR, and his daughter, Maylea. 


I think the topic of growth and impact is one we don’t have to fight on anymore, because Laguna Phuket is proof that tourism can both support local economies and also be a champion for sustainable development. There is always a win-win situation!

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