Where were you born and where are you living now?
I was born in Bangkok and I’m still living here.
Could you tell us more about Cape Panwa Hotel?
Cape Panwa Hotel was founded in 1987 on a beautiful hillside location on a secluded beach. Last year, we completed a renovation that reduced the number of rooms and converted them all into large suites.
We’re currently renovating the pool villas and Panwa Lodge, and in August we’re opening a new two-bedroom penthouse suite that has its own private spa, a big pool and butler service. It’s like a private villa.
Could you tell us more about your work in general?
In my role as Business Development Manager, I’m more involved with new Kasemkij properties. We have 15 properties and are now opening two more. I start them off then turn them over. One of our latest projects is the Cape Nidhra resort in Hua Hin, which opened last year. It has 59 rooms, all with pools. This was the first project that I developed myself from scratch, and I was involved with everything from designing the uniforms to selecting the chopsticks. My dad (Kasemkij owner and Managing Director Khun Tirapongse) asked me to help develop the project, which is on land that once had my grandmother’s house. It’s a sentimental piece of land for us, so I wanted to do it myself. But I’m not sure if my dad wants me to get involved in any more because of the budget! Lately I’ve been getting more involved with operations and marketing.
In a typical week I spend around three or four days in Bangkok, then two or three days at one of our properties around Thailand, either to check a site under construction or visit a finished project. We have meetings at every hotel three times a year, so I spend at least three months a year outside of Bangkok. When I’m in Bangkok I’m at the office or in meetings, or checking suppliers such as furniture factories. We also operate two serviced apartments in Bangkok. Serviced apartments are the main focus of our business, as well as warehouses and offices for rent.
What’s your view on how to be successful in business?
I don’t see myself as successful yet. I’m learning from my dad, who is teaching me by example. When he teaches me things, it’s usually not related to business directly but more philosophical. He’ll give us books and videos about how to live your life. What I’ve learned from him is that in this business you need to have a very hands-on style. You can’t just invite your hotel general manager to have a meeting at your office.
We go to every hotel and look around, taste the food. When you’re in the office you can see the financial side of the business but you won’t know how the tom yam goong tastes, or how the uniforms look, unless you go there. Tell us about your style of leadership.
Again, I follow my dad’s example. You have to be hands-on, go as deep as possible, and ask a lot of questions. We have quite a strong team. Some of our staff have been there since day one of the business, so it’s often more about them teaching me how to lead; it’s a two-way learning process. I bring some new ideas and they have the internal knowledge.
Cape Panwa Hotel is the main sponsor for this year’s Phuket Raceweek regatta. What made you decide to get involved with this event?
When we got a proposal from Phuket Raceweek we could see that this is a good thing for Phuket and Thailand. It was also a good match with our hotel because we have yachts for charter, speedboats and a jetty. We thought it would be a good opportunity to promote the hotel and showcase our new rooms and restaurants, as well as show off our location, which is on one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket. This is about Cape Panwa – we want people to come and see this part of the island.
When you’re in Phuket, where do you like to go?
I like to go to Raya restaurant in Phuket Town, and I love just relaxing on Cape Panwa Beach, or having a cocktail and a walk along the beach. Sometimes I’ll take a boat out to nearby islands. We’ve done overnight trips to Koh Lipe.
When you’re not working, what are your favourite things to do?
I love travelling. I like adventure such as rock climbing on Krabi's Railay Beach. One of my brothers is in London, so we go there once a year. I’m planning a trip to Botswana and Mozambique this year. It’s interesting to see different cultures, and I always get new ideas when staying at different hotels. It’s an eye-opener. Some of the most amazing hotels in the world are not the big chains.
How old are you?
I’ve just turned 30, which seems like a lot! At this age you feel like you have to be an adult, you have to be mature.
We’ve heard that you recently married. How is married life so far?
It’s good. We’re planning to travel more this year.
Can you tell us more about your family?
I’m very close with my family. I have two brothers, twins, who are 11 years younger than me. One is studying at Cambridge in England while the other is at Princeton in the US. I’m not sure if they'll join the family business after they graduate. My dad's great – he says he doesn’t mind if they do something else. He tells us that he worked hard so that his kids could live comfortably and do whatever they want. If they want to be an artist or a writer or anything else he’ll give them his full support. My mother has not been involved with the business since having kids, but she still gives us a lot of good opinions. She’s busy with charity work these days. I’m very close to my grandparents as well – we have lunch together five times a week.
I love what we have, and I hope my own family will be this way, too. It’s about the effort you put in. You try to visit everyone and get involved. It’s not out of obligation. I want to do it. My family members have become my best friends.
What do you think the future holds for you?
I hope to continue doing what I love. I want to see the company grow in the right direction: firmly, strongly, maturely. In about five years I'd like to take the business beyond Thailand, especially the serviced apartments branch. I’d like to have children, too, but we'll wait for at least a year. I’d first like to travel to some more weird places!
For further information about Kasemkij Group
Tel: +66 (0)2 233 3433