Roland Bleszynski is an unusual man: a mould-breaker who has maintained his core principles while establishing a successful career. He may move in the rarefied air of high-end business contracts, but unlike so many CEOs who have forged stellar careers after taking an MBA, Roland came into property development via a different route – civil engineering. He could have chosen to follow a more lucrative career in a big city atmosphere, but decided 16 years ago to work in the natural surroundings of Phuket.
He loves life here and has no intention of leaving a climate which has, “365 days of summer and an uninterrupted growing season”. Above all, he hopes to assist Phuket to evolve and mature in the right way, without an overdose of “cheap and (not so) cheerful” apartment blocks.
Managing Director of MontAzure, an award-winning resort and residential development at the north end of Kamala Beach, Roland has also long been MD of Abode Developments, a development management consultancy involved in real estate projects for foreign investors and property funds.
But the MontAzure project is massive in scope. In combination with Narai Property, ARCH Capital management of Hong Kong and Philean Capital of Singapore, it aims to develop 454 rai of prime beachfront, valley and hillside land. The integrated scheme will include a hotel, Café Del Mar and five beach clubs, including the HQ Beach Lounge – in which we enjoyed lunch.
In keeping with Roland’s environmental concerns, none of the properties will exceed 16 metres in height, so the tree line will not be compromised. He intends to retain the existing mature woodland and, since the surrounding hills form a natural watershed, to install a system of rainwater harvesting. Planned in three phases, the first two will be Twinpalms Residences and The Estates at MontAzure. The area extends from the shoreline to deeply wooded hillsides – today wreathed in mist
You could say that Roland’s amazing energy, curiosity and zest for life comes from his parentage – a Chinese-New Zealand mother and a Polish father who emigrated to the UK, served in World War II, and then married and settled in Regina, Canada. If you believe in the genetic precept of hybrid vigour, then Roland exemplifies it. At 45, he’s slim and fit.
His doctorate in civil engineering at the University of Toronto, Canada’s leading academic establishment, focused on environmentally sustainable materials and engineering systems, with emphasis on the use of locking away industrial byproducts in construction materials. Such expertise is of particular relevance in his present role. But Roland has a profound interest in so many aspects of living: how things look and work, how we can protect our heritage, how to create beautiful residential spaces as well as how best to use natural and durable materials.
To walk into his ‘HQ’ (as he calls it) is to enter an ambience where everything is on show or to hand for the would-be investor or villa buyer. Nothing is left to chance. There are architectural scale models of all phases of the proposed development along with televisions with touch-screen images and relevant information. Even the living area is designed to simulate how it would look in one of the completed villas.
The use of natural and recycled materials is evident everywhere. Roland has imported matt floor tiles from Italy and what resembles wooden facing on the walls is in fact a durable material, called Resysta, made from rice husk ash. As befits a beachside location, Roland has kept all the magnificent casuarinas trees. Only one, he declares proudly, was lost in the process of HQ Beach Lounge.
The husband of a Thai wife, Daojai, and devoted father of two spirited children, Cleo aged four, and Kye, two, Roland is very concerned about the world they will grow up in. The family lives in Kamala and the children attend the local Shining Stars School. He wants his children, above all, to be sociable and creative, to appreciate music and the visual arts, and to develop the language skills so essential in the global village.
Himself fluent in French as well as English, and with a working knowledge of Thai, he hopes they will learn Thai and Mandarin Chinese as well as English in their formative years. If they inherit the drive of their father, they will…
Despite often inhabiting a world of figures and fine margins, Roland thinks primarily in visual terms; his visiting card is a psychedelic work of art, its golden MontAzure logo has a line across the middle representing the horizon to remind him of its importance. His laptop is packed with images of every conceivable interest – charts and tables about plants and fishes as well as scenery, buildings and people. But what is so remarkable is his capacity to marry these interests to core business practices and to his expertise in marketing, construction techniques and management, sales and negotiation and the thousand and one other daily tasks.
Of course, his specialist knowledge as a civil engineer and architect gives him an advantage over bosses who have risen through the ranks via a different career path, but in any case, Roland has the fl exibility to adapt to every exigency. As he says, “Success is best measured using one’s own metric”. Add to that, his abiding concern for the preservation and enhancement of Phuket and the world’s natural environment, and you have a special person.