Wake Up In Phuket’s ‘Memory’ Hotel
Before the advent of large resorts and tourism, Phuket was a mining island. Tin was extracted from the hills of Tungka and Kathu. The wealth from the tin trade created an affluent middle class. Shops and mansions were built. Paved streets made an appearance on the island a few years before they did in Bangkok. The local economy thrived.
Traders needed a place to stay while conducting their business in town. A few years after the turn of the 20th century the first hotel on the island opened: The On On. The name derives from the Chinese term un un which means “happiness to visitors”. Located right at the heart of the city on Phang Nga road it was close to the only bank and the police station as well as the harbor, which in those days was in the heart of the city.
For years The On On remained an icon of the city. It was (and is) an imposing Sino/Portuguese building blending some traits of Chinese as well as European architecture, a characteristic found on most of the historical buildings in town.
After the shutdown of the last mining businesses, Phuket town went to sleep: many shops closed, the once thriving city lost its shine. With a focus on tourism, attention shifted to the coastal areas and mining gave way to large resort developments as the main economic activity.
Luckily The On On was saved and after a one-year restoration process it re-opened its doors in early 2013 as The Memory at On On Hotel. As you enter the building you feel like stepping into another time and era: high ceilings, wooden floors, and a lovely patio all work to conjure an atmosphere of times gone by.
There’s more to the island. Khiri has been closely following the efforts of Phuket town to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We have launched the Phuket Town Discovery Walk as well as the Taste of Phuket day tour for those travelers who want to explore beyond the sandy beaches and peek into the past of this fascinating town.
Staying at The Memory at On On Hotel and using it as a base to walk around Phuket town is like lifting a veil into the secrets of Phuket. Enjoying the tastiest local food, visiting the Chinese shrines and browsing along the old shops on Thalang Road. The beaches of Phuket are the main draw. But don’t overlook Phuket town – the living historical soul of the island.
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