A hotel as we all know it is a commercial establishment that provides lodging, meals and other services amenities for the comfort of their guests during their stay. To an average person living in the comfort of their homes, the need to spend a night in a hotel is almost non-existent. Even when they travel out of town to visit family and friends, they would probably be provided with accommodations in the homes of their kin.
Yet there are millions of people all over the world who travel frequently, either on business trips or for pleasure that need accommodations during their sojourn away from home.
(L to R) Rene Pisters greets Chatchawal Supachayanont and Hans Banzinger.
Commercial accommodations are wide and varied, in size and services provided. One may have heard the term ‘stars’ used in describing the categories of hotels. The star rating can usually give one an impression of what to expect of the hotel where they choose to stay.
The Business Directory gives a rough idea of how the rating system works. A 1-Star hotel provides a limited range of amenities and services, but adheres to a high standard of facility-wide cleanliness. A 2-Star hotel provides good accommodation and better equipped bedrooms, each with a telephone and attached private bathroom. A 3-Star hotel has more spacious rooms and adds high-class decorations and furnishings and colour TV. It also offers one or more bars or lounges. A 4-Star hotel is much more comfortable and larger, and provides excellent cuisine (table d’hote and a la carte), room service, and other amenities. A 5-Star hotel offers most luxurious premises, widest range of guest services, as well as swimming pool and sport and exercise facilities.
Ingo Raeuber (right) meets up with old friend Holger Kroninger.
Although hotels are classified into ‘Star’ categories, there is no standard method of assigning these ratings, and compliance with customary requirements is voluntary. A US hotel with a certain rating, for example, may look very different from a European or Asian hotel with the same rating, and would provide a different level of amenities, range of facilities, and quality of service.
Needless to say every business needs an administrator to oversee the day to day management of their operations. The hotel business employs general managers to do just that. Here again the competition is very high and only the most hard working and dedicated hoteliers are able to make a name not only for themselves but also for the hotel where they work.
The next generation of Pattaya entrepreneurs, (l-r) Tony Malhotra (Asst. MD Pattaya Mail), Prem Busarakamwong (Managing Director of Fairtex Sports Club & Hotel) and Nopporn Kanchanamanee (District Sales Manager of Thai Airways, Pattaya).
Hotels, whether privately owned or part of a chain, expect their GMs to ensure high occupancy rates thereby increasing revenue. To that end the GM must also be aware of what the other hotels in every category are up to in regards to room rates and services.
But it doesn’t end there; the GM is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the hotel as well. Chores like inspecting rooms for cleanliness and making sure that all amenities are in working order. This goes for practically every square inch of the property including the landscape and parking facilities.
The “notorious” GM Gang poses for a commemorative photo. (l-r) Tony Malhotra (Pattaya Mail), Michael Muszumanski (GM Pinnacle Koh Tao), Nijjaporn Marprasert (GM Siam Bayview Hotel), Phillipe Delaloye (GM Cape Dara), Rene Pisters (Thai Garden Resort), Chatchawal Supachayanont (GM Dusit Thai Hotel), Clinton Lovell (GM Pullman Pattaya Hotel G), Peter Malhotra (Pattaya Mail), Holger Kroninger (RM Siam Bayshore), Hans Banziger and Nicolas LeRat.
In Pattaya most of the GMs and hotel executives belong to a group light heartedly called the ‘GM Gang’. The gang was the brainchild of Chatchawal Supachayanont, GM of the Dusit Thai Hotel, who many years ago saw the need to bring together people in the hospitality business for an evening of fellowship where they got a chance to meet and discuss the various aspects of the business in an informal atmosphere. The event has proved to be very popular and dinners are held on a monthly basis hosted by various hotels around town.
The latest get-together was hosted by Rene Pisters, the long serving GM of the Thai Garden Resort, on May 23. Sitting around the humongous free-form pool under a starlit sky, Rene spoke of his pride and joy. “We will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Thai Garden Resort next April,” he said. “Right now the resort is undergoing major renovations and we have closed 30% of our inventory for that purpose. We have been here so long and are one of the major landmarks of Pattaya; therefore it is our responsibility not only to our guests but also to help improve the image of Pattaya as a top class family destination. Ten years ago, no one asked for free internet, but now the service is expected free of charge in every hotel. With all these extras that we give, I wonder when we can get a little more for our services.”
Rene went on to say that, “Pattaya now has 704 hotels and more are being constructed all the time. This is a good sign for Pattaya and the tourism business. I just hope that these new establishments also hire quality staff.”
Having casually inspected the premises Chatchawal said, “I must compliment Rene on the way he has maintained the Thai Garden Resort in its impeccable state after 25 years of operation. By renovating the property on a regular basis, he has managed to keep it in tip-top condition. I must also say the free-form pool is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen anywhere. And he is right when he says that the rooms around the pool are in high demand. I remember when I worked at the Siam Intercontinental Hotel in Bangkok many decades ago, we also had rooms round the swimming pool and they were the highest in demand and were also the most expensive to rent.”
He went on to say, “There are many hotels being build every day, but the difference in their standard is the way they are managed and operated. Some are run by owners and some by professional hoteliers. You can see that the better hotels are the ones run by professional hoteliers. Owners who manage their own hotels are only interested to make more money in whichever way they can, while professional hoteliers care more for the high standards and quality of service for the comfort and pleasure of their guests.”
Ingo Raeuber, Group General Manager of Pinnacle Hotels, Resorts & Spas commented on the presence of some veteran hoteliers saying, “Between Khun Chatchawal, Rene and myself we have at least 50 years of hotel service as GMs between us. We must be the three longest serving GMs in Pattaya.”
In response to the admiration everyone had for the Thai Garden swimming pool, he said, “You’re lucky that the Pinnacle Jomtien is 150 meters outside the Pattaya City limits otherwise I could boast that my swimming pool is the biggest in Pattaya. Our pool is 145 metres long, lined with bungalows on both sides. Our guests have to only to walk out the door and jump into the pool.”
In regards to accommodations, Ingo said that his resort had 350 rooms until recently. “We have just added 60 more rooms to our inventory. We built the rooms in 5 and half months. That’s a record for Thailand. Our group of hotels and resorts is growing, with properties in Bangkok, Satun, Koh Tao, and Pattaya.”
Holger Groninger, resident manager of the Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa, said that he was quite excited to join the GM Gang dinner. “I have met so many good old friends and the same time I am making some new ones. The Siam Group has 3 hotels and 2 more are planned, one in Bangkok and one in Pattaya. So much is going on in Pattaya so it’s good that we meet to share ideas and information so that we all work together for the benefit of the hospitality business in Pattaya.”
Adding to Holger’s comments, Nijjaporn Marprasert GM of the Siam Bayview Hotel said that renovations were ongoing at the hotel until October. “We will be fully operational again in November.”
Phillipe Delaloye, another veteran of the hotel industry said, “In regards to what Ingo said about the collective age of veterans, you can add my years of service as GM in Pattaya too. We would have a total of 77 years. When I first came to Pattaya in 1985 there were only 11 hotels. In 1993 the number rose to 380. Presently the number has grown to 704 hotels. I can assure you that as far as I know the number will reach 720 hotels in Pattaya very soon.”
Speaking about his new baby, Philippe said, “The construction of Cape Dara is progressing very smoothly and we expect to be open before the next high season. The new luxury high rise is situated between Pattaya and Naklua bays offering panoramic views in both directions, complemented by a superb outlook on the islands off Pattaya Beach. When finished we will have 264 rooms in 7 categories. We will specialize in a variety of F&B and entertainment outlets and look forward to hosting one of the next GM dinners at our venue.”
A vote of thanks goes to Rene Pisters, GM of the Thai Garden Resort for hosting an excellent German Bar-B-Que along with an array of fine wines and German beer not to mention inimitable Gemütlichkeit.