Looking back at the time when I moved to Pattaya thirty five years ago, I recall that the ‘village’ boasted just a handful of bungalows, guest houses and hotels to cater the fledgling tourism market.
Amongst them were only a few of what could have been termed as first class hotels.
I remember names such as Nipa Lodge, Orchid Lodge, Pattaya Palace, Ocean View, Wong Amatya, Grand Pattaya Palace, Asia Hotel, Siam Bayshore Hotel and the Royal Cliff Beach Resort to name but just a few.
The GM Gang pose for a commemorative picture. (Front Row l-r) Craig J Ryan, Holiday Inn Pattaya; David Cumming, Amari Resort & Tower Pattaya; Prayudt Thamdhum, Montien Hotel Pattaya; Chatchawal Supachayanont, Dusit Thani Pattaya; Andre Brulhart, Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya; Nijaporn Marpresert, Siam Bayview Pattaya. (Back Row l-r) Peter Malhotra, Pattaya Mail Media Group; Harald Feurstein, Hilton Pattaya; Michael Gangster, dusitD2 baraquda Pattaya; Nicholas LeRat, Mercure Pattaya; Philippe Delaloye, Pullman Pattaya Aisawan; and Michael Delargy, Sheraton Pattaya.
Look around you today! Pattaya has really grown in leaps and bounds.
Not only have we developed into one of the topmost holiday resorts, but we have also become the hub of industry and sports in Thailand.
Not anymore are we known only for being the playground for single men, but now families from all rungs of the social ladder spend their vacations and quality time in our city by the sea.
Pattaya has also become a home for thousands of Thais and foreigners who would rather spend their days of retirement in the comfort and beauty of this vibrant city.
As tourism boomed, so did the need for accommodation, including hotels and resorts, as well as homes and condominiums for long term residents.
From local brands to the top international chains, entrepreneurs vied for prime locations to set up their establishments. This brought on a construction boom of high and low rise buildings which began to spring up all over the landscape.
With them came new and young administrative talent. Men and women from Thailand and many countries known for producing top class managers for the hospitality business were hired to run these quality hotels and resorts.
There are a few old-timers though, who are still hanging around playing big brother and mentor to the young ones. One of these veterans is Chatchawal Supachayanont, the ever-young and effervescent general manager of the Dusit Thani Hotel Pattaya. A man of vast and profound experience in the hotel business, having served as the president of the Thai Hotel Association (THA) Eastern Chapter for many terms. He has also held many positions of high responsibility in the tourism and travel industry on the national and international levels.
As a symbol of goodwill and camaraderie, Chatchawal has kept up a long tradition of inviting general managers of the various hotels in and around town to a regular get-together. These fellowships are held at various establishments operated by members of his ‘GM Gang’ as he fondly calls the informal group.
This month the reunion was hosted by Craig J Ryan, general manager of the Holiday Inn Pattaya on Tuesday December 21.
In attendance were many of the new blood in the hotel business, plus a not so new blood veteran, Philippe Delaloye, the general manager of Pullman Pattaya Aisawan Hotel.
Cocktails were held at the Havana Bar where some GMs met each other for the first time and you could feel a sense of brotherhood amongst them as if they had known each other since childhood. To them it didn’t matter where the other person came from or where they were employed, for each and every one of them had one thing in common… they are dedicated to their professions and are committed to uphold the highest standards of being a hotelier as was their pledge when they first attended hotel schools in their respective countries.
All spoke in one voice saying that they are in Pattaya to run their hotels with the highest of dedication and professionalism for the benefit of their valued guests and for the advancement of the standing of Pattaya in the family of ‘the best of the best’ hospitality businesses in the world.
At dinner held at the Terrazo Ristorante, colleagues wished a fond farewell to Nicolas LeRat, long serving GM of the Mercure Pattaya who will be moving on to experience new horizons in the hospitality business.
Chatchawal proposed a toast to one and all wishing them good health and happiness during the festive season and that everyone’s hotel business will experience the most successful and profitable year in 2011.