They don’t come any rarer than Ranjith. Not only a luxury hotel management consultant with oceans of experience in several continents, but able to speak nine languages (he was born in Sri Lanka) and talk expertly on food and beverages, especially fine wines. His wife Chitra has a similar background in hotel consultancy and is currently director of Sirius Hospitality Consulting with her husband as chairman. The company offers a full range of services to turn under-performing hotels and restaurants into profitable assets and market leaders.
His professional beginning was as food and beverage outlet manager at the Steigenberger Hotel, Frankfurt. After a top position in Australia, he opened the five star Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh in 1996 but is most famous for his resident and general managerial roles at the Royal Cliff here in Pattaya from 1998 to 2012. He was the founder and president of Asia’s leading wine associations, namely the deVine and the Royal Cliff Wine Clubs. He was also for seven years the chairman of the panel of wine judges in the Food and Beverage Association of Thailand.
Ranjith has witnessed the development of Pattaya over many years. “In some ways the city is under-promoted,” he says, “as there are far more facilities here than in Phuket, for example, which seems to get far more credit.” But he thinks the post-Covid recovery in Thailand will be rather slow as the high cost of airtickets, inflation and the war in Ukraine will deter long distance travel and encourage some people to vacation nearer home. But Pattaya is currently benefitting from a boom in domestic tourism, especially weekenders from Bangkok.
He notes that Pattaya has made some progress in encouraging international high-end spenders. “About 15 years ago, we began to see Pattaya expand as a conference and exhibition center under the government’s MICE program. Indeed, the state-of-the-art PEACH convention hall within the Royal Cliff has hosted many such events.” He adds that there have also been several successful niche markets, such as Indian weddings in the top hotels, and the present policies of the government in offering 10 year visas to rich foreigners or those with work-related skills to boost the country’s technological future.
As chairman of Sirius, Ranjith is committed to improving hotel quality. His professional team covers operations, finance, IT solutions, sales, marketing and corporate management in order to provide the ultimate in guest service which in turn results in increased revenue and profitability. His personal experience as chairman of The Penthouse Above Sea and group general manager of Jetwing Hotels, based in Sri Lanka, have been extremely valuable. Amongst his other achievements have been honorary presidency of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Pattaya chapter, and high level academic qualifications in Germany, Australia and the United States. “I don’t just want Pattaya to survive but to be profitable,” he concludes. “But to achieve that, there has to be professionalism across the board.”