Illegal hotel closes down amid army scrutiny

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The owner of a Pratamnak Hill hotel whose swimming pool was illegally built in the sea demolished the encroaching structure far ahead of deadline and ceased operations at the long-stay inn city hall has known about for two decades.

The owner of the Golden Cliff House on Pratamnak Soi 5 hired contractors to demolish his waterfront pool.
The owner of the Golden Cliff House on Pratamnak Soi 5 hired contractors to demolish his waterfront pool.

Wantanan Yimlamai, operator of Golden Cliff House on Pratamnak Soi 5, said on Nov. 24 he spent a million baht to hire a contractor to remove the natural saltwater pool after being served three days earlier with an order from Pattaya City Hall to demolish it within 45 days.

Golden Cliff House has been located at the beachfront site for two decades, first as a private home, then apartment house and finally a hotel. The owner said city officials happily collected taxes on the pool and hotel for years, but made an abrupt about-face after Pratamnak residents ratted out the illegal operation to the military Nov. 19.

The pool area pool used existing rocks on the beachfront as a foundation and offered guests a chance to relax in a pool-like environment with saltwater waves crashing in on them.

The pool was attached to the hotel, which has 47 rooms with rates ranging from 1,500-5,000 baht a night. However, Wantanan said, he currently only leases out rooms on a monthly basis.

Wantanan said he took over Golden Cliff in 2008 and claimed he was unaware it was not properly licensed as a hotel or that the pool was illegal. Upon finding out, he applied for the proper permits was turned down without explanation, he said.

Wantanan was released on 40,000 baht bail.

Authorities also decided to finally take official measurements of where his private property ends and public land begins.

Until the matter is settled, Wantanan said he has closed down the hotel, refunded guests and canceled bookings made through April, with all those making reservations getting refunds as well.

In addition, he has laid off his staff of 35, but said he paid compensation to all the workers.