Anyone who has driven past the new Terminal 21 shopping mall can’t have failed to be impressed by its appearance. It dominates the local landscape with the Grande Centre Point Hotel standing majestically above every other building in the area. The two planes positioned outside, the larger one close to the Dolphin roundabout in particular, adding some real character to the area. The theme of airports is certainly evident from the outside although this doesn’t necessarily carry through to the inside.
Once inside, it is the large Eiffel Tower that initially grabs your attention and as you move up through the floors you will see other things closely associated with certain countries such as a small traditional red London bus and a miniature Leaning Tower of Pisa. The range of shops on each floor is impressive with around 30 units on each floor. Each floor has restaurants associated with that particular country and there is also a large food court. On the first weekend after opening, it is fair to say that these were all packed.
The initial first impressions are that this is a shopping centre that appeals very much to the tourist market with the large number of hotels in the near vicinity including naturally, Centre Point, the Amari, and the Marriott. It is quite apparent that with the abundance of restaurants in the mall is targeting this market and indeed this would be a major boost. It may have been the novelty value of the opening weekend but somehow I got the impression that this was a trend that would continue into the future. On the first weekend the mall was also full of those who had travelled down from Bangkok but it seems unimaginable that this is a trend that will continue.
There are lots of positives about the new shopping centre. It is spacious, easier to get between floors that many of the competitors who seem to have escalators randomly placed, and has the aforementioned wide range of shops. The Foodland is something that many living in the area are delighted about but this could spell the end of the Best supermarket located at the bottom of North Pattaya Road. The copious amount of restaurants could also be a serious threat to local restaurants in the area but all in all, the first impressions were generally positive.
Very attractive 2 bedroom for rent in a residence not far from Terminal 21
However, now onto the negatives. The roads around Terminal 21 were packed and chaos ensued. Whoever was responsible for traffic management had clearly not given this proper thought. The road network and their design simply can’t cope with the numbers and the decision to close the right turn to go behind the shopping centre if travelling up North Pattaya Road seems ludicrous as is the decision to close all the U-turns between Dolphin Roundabout and 3rd Road.
The other downsides are more family orientated with the noticeable lack of a children’s play area which you can find in both Central Festival and Harbor Mall on Pattaya Klang. The cinema, in spite of being the fourth in the city, is considerably smaller than the ones in both Central Festival and Central Marina and the bank of banking facilities could also potentially act as a deterrent.
It is this traffic chaos and its potential impact on the area that could adversely affect the shopping centre long term. What can be done about it now is hard to say and it is something that should have been put in place prior to the centre opening. North Pattaya Road was supposedly altered to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion but that notion now seems quite frankly meaningless and laughable. The only quick fix would possibly be to open Dolphin Roundabout again and install traffic lights but this is not an ideal option by any stretch of the imagination.
So, what impact will it have on the competition? Probably the two main rivals to the Terminal 21 are Central Festival and Central Marina. On the first Saturday after Terminal 21 opened Central Festival was deserted – a first surely since they opened their doors. Parking was relatively easy and the shops were empty, a dream for many men who simply hate the idea of spending their weekends going around a shopping centre.
However, it seems hard to believe that Central Festival will suffer for long. It is in a great location on Beach Road and although there is definitely traffic congestion it doesn’t appear anything like that on North Pattaya Road. Central Festival has great shops and plenty of entertainment facilities and restaurants so there is plenty to still attract people once the newness of Terminal 21 has started to wear thin.
Also very close to Terminal 21, spacious studio for sale in Markland
That leaves Central Marina, having recently undergone major refurbishment they still look like they will be the biggest losers. They simply can’t compete with Terminal 21. It is far smaller, even after renovation it is still slightly aging and the range of shops simply doesn’t compare. It has the advantage of lots of parking but how easy that will now be to get to remains in question. It seems hard to imagine Central Marina really being able to offer any genuine resistance to its new noisy neighbour.
So then we move onto the other major shopping centres in Pattaya, Royal Garden Plaza and Mike Shopping Mall. In reality, both of these shopping centres have been in the doldrums for a few years in terms of shopping. They were hit hard by the opening of Central Festival and although the restaurants still do reasonably well as does Ripley’s in Royal Garden, the shops are sadly lacking in customers.
Mike Shopping Mall has recently undergone refurbishment and offers something slightly different to the other shopping centres aiming for a different market and managing to survive with the major high-street stores. Will this be enough to ensure its future? Well, that is a hard question to answer but you do get the feeling that it does have a fighting chance – certainly more than Central Marina and Royal Garden Plaza.
So, to conclude. Terminal 21 is without a doubt impressive in almost every respect it is just the road network around the area that could lead to its downfall. Is this down to poor planning by the centre themselves or City Hall? Regardless, the problem is there and could impact as heavily on Central Marina as much as Terminal 21. This is the last thing that they need and in my opinion, their long-term future and that of Royal Garden Plaza looks bleak. Central Festival, one would imagine in a few weeks or month will regain the upper hand and Mike Shopping Mall will just do what it has always done – survive. Harbor Mall is aimed more at children, so will probably remain unaffected.
Looking further into the future, it seems hard to imagine that competitors won’t respond and there are already rumours that Central are considering building a new mall in Jomtien. There may also be some new entrants coming into the market and this must surely be a good thing as it will help to further stimulate Pattaya’s commercial landscape.