These are the strangest of times for Pattaya. A city once bustling with social life, parties, openings or just a gathering of friends and business colleagues for dinner and a few drinks has now become a quiet and deserted town.
Friends and business colleagues who met frequently are now confined to their homes. Once in a while they will meet and chat with each other through social media.
We scroll through various social media platforms aimlessly and stop when we recognize someone on the screen just to see what they are up to and look at some of the pictures they have posted.
Not to say that we have a lot of time on our hands, but some do.
Looking through Facebook the other day I spotted Rony Fineman an old friend who I have known for almost 30 years, someone who can also be considered as one of the pioneers of the hotel and condominium business in Pattaya and the eastern seaboard.
I hadn’t see Rony for quite some time and we started communicating and inquisitive as my job expects of me I asked him to tell me ‘everything’.
Rony didn’t have to tell me much about his life as a businessman and personality in Pattaya. We know him to be an entrepreneur, hotelier and condo developer not to mention a respected philanthropist.
One of his first ventures was the Nova Lodge in the early ‘90s which he took over when the renowned Nipa Lodge closed and ran it for many years making it into an institution in itself.
During the condominium building boom, Rony built many remarkable projects, such as The Cliff, The Palm and the Amari Residence to name but just a few.
Rony didn’t stop there. He later built many hotels which were designated to be managed by hotel chains such as the Amari, Holiday Inn and his latest venture in cooperation with Marriott.
The Holiday Inn Express in Soi Bua Khao was opened in 2019 and his latest venture is the completed Courtyard by Marriott North Pattaya, in Naklua soi 22, scheduled to be open as soon as the situation permits.
A few years ago Rony bought an apartment in London, where he likes to spend a lot of his time. “I love Pattaya” he says, “but recently I got bit by the travel bug. An inner invoice told me to “Go forth and explore the world”.
By now his elder son Eli was just about ready to take over the operations in Pattaya, so Rony and his partner packed their bags and the rest is history.
Now with the coronavirus pandemic restricting all travel, Rony has had to shutter down in his luxury apartment in London. “I love my apartment. It’s actually what I’ve dreamed of all my life. Here I’m close to my family and even though we cannot see each other often, we are consoled by the fact that we are nearby.”
Will he ever come back to live in Pattaya again? “Yes of course, Pattaya is also my home and I have many business interests there. Once the situation returns to normal, you’ll see me again. I might throw a small get together and invite my friends for dinner and a few drinks.”
In the mean time I’m “Staying Home and Staying Safe and wish everyone the same too.”