Best Western is in planning stages for hotel development in Laos.
Generally I don’t discuss hotel development plans since I am more concerned with the present opportunities for hotel travel. This headline caught my attention today due to seeing a TV travel show a couple of weeks back and its mention of the absence of western corporate development in Laos. The country looked gorgeous, quite similar to the Pacific Northwest with mountains and forests.
Intrigued I looked at the major hotel chains and was surprised not to see any hotel properties in Laos. There may be some, but I didn’t find them in my inexhaustive search.
As a California teacher in Eureka back in 1997 I had the opportunity to work with an incredibly talented young 5th grade Hmong girl from Laos. The small city of Eureka had a Hmong community located there and I enjoyed the cultural exposure to these southeast Asian mountain people and their traditions. The colorful vibrant clothing was a delight to see. The community was tightly linked and I think most of the Hmong left the area as a group the next year to relocate with another community in California.
In this era of corporate globalization I will reserve judgment as to whether corporate hotel development in the developing world is a good or bad thing.
I think back to a trip I made to Bali in 2003, one year after the terrorist bombing in the Kuta District, when I stayed at the Luxury Collection Nusa Dua Laguna Resort and the hotel had fewer than 20% occupancy by my estimation. I saw as many police and guards around the resort as I did tourists. My poolside room looked out to a poolside bar and all day long a young Indonesian man wiped down the counters, swept the pool area, and diligently worked, despite not a single person coming by for a drink. Eventually I felt compelled to go over and order a beer and engage him in conversation.
He commuted 90 minutes each way every day from the other side of the island on a motorbike. He told me about his family and how he was the money earner for the extended family. He was deeply concerned about being laid-off. Our hour of talking was the most memorable and touching part of my trip to Bali.
I love to travel and Laos looks like a beautiful place to visit. A traveler once asked me the most exotic place I have ever visited. Safety is a big concern of mine and I really don’t venture frequently into exotic locales. I have Laos on my “bucket list”.
And by the way I answered that Guayaquil, Ecuador was the most exotic place I have visited. Unfortunately, exotic tends to also correlate with poverty and having homeless children follow me along the streets is a bit sobering. I stayed at a Best Western in Guayaquil and the staff were armed and dangerous and watched over me. I felt like I had my own Denzel Washington “Man on Fire” escort.