We meet at Silk Restaurant at Andara Resort. I arrive early but mistake the precise venue. Rose is serene, unflustered by the delay. Beautiful, elegantly but simply dressed, glowing with health, I recall her resume: “Just turned 40… my heart still feels 24”. What’s more, she looks 24.
Perhaps it’s a question of attitude for Rose is passionate about many things – indeed, ‘heart’, ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘passion’ are three of her favourite epithets. As the “proud mother of two wonderful girls” they represent her most passionate project. Now aged nine and eleven, they attend Kajonkiet International School, where they are already showing exceptional prowess as swimmers. By choosing KISP with its emphasis on Thai culture, she believes her girls will continue to be proud of their national heritage.
As a Thai parent she is convinced of the importance of good manners and respect for others. Nonetheless, Rose would like them to spend time at a university in England or America (as indeed she did in Seattle at the tender age of 16), both to broaden their horizons and to hone their English. Still, that ‘project’ is some way away...
Her enduring love for Phuket is another example of Rose’s passion: after all, the island was where she spent many vacations before deciding to call it home. Describing it as “this beautiful island”, she declares that she “loves to be in a place that surrounds me with inspiration,” adding that she and her family “would never dream of leaving it.” Praise indeed...
Married to a British gentleman, she lives with her family in a modern home she planned in close harmony with the architect. Set on a spectacular rocky promontory, it provides her with amenities key to her well-being: a sense of privacy, close contact with the natural environment and an idyllic location in which to bring up her daughters. It is, moreover, “perfect…for living and entertaining friends.”
When constructing the property, Rose retained the original mature trees, including coconut palms, and included large expanses of lawn in a gar den that slopes right down to the sea. By doing this, and by cultivating local plants, including shrubs such as buddleias to encourage butterflies, she has created a haven for wildlife.
Not everyone in Phuket shares the same concern for nature and repose. Indeed it’s a matter for concern to Rose that the island is being developed too rapidly and without sufficient concern for its future. As she says, they don’t think about “the bigger picture”. She’d prefer the island’s evolution to continue in ways which will not destroy its charm. “The most disappointing thing… is that many people try to change it … in a completely wrong direction.” No fan of big cities, Rose hopes Phuket will not end up as another Singapore. She applauds its “simple lifestyle” and “beautiful scenery”, and hopes it can stay that way.
Apart from her daughters, she has a plethora of other interests. As befits someone who has more than 10 years’ experience of yachting, and as the holder of a degree from Mahidol University International College in Travel Industry Management, she is perfectly equipped for her current positions: Ambassador for Pommery Champagne, and, most importantly, the prestigious role of Official Ambassador for the forthcoming Thailand Yacht Show.
This event, supported by the Ministry of Tourism, takes place from 15-18 December at Ao Po Grand Marina, and combines the “best aspects of yacht charter, boating industry and luxury lifestyle events”. Rose sees her key role as a public relations one: helping to put Phuket on the map as a world-class yachting venue and destination, and “linking people together who share the same passion… to get them to enjoy the same passion”.
You may be sure that she is very good at it… In this connection, she’s recently returned from two celebrated expositions on the Cote d’Azur, the Yachting Festival de Cannes, and the Monaco Yacht Show, where she was able to promote the virtues of this island as a winter Mecca for superyacht owners and charterers.
Rose’s enthusiasms don’t stop there. As befits her artistic inclinations, she’s a painter of some repute, who last year held a one-woman exhibition of her work at The Boathouse hotel in Kata. Her colourful canvasses are in the tradition of abstract expressionism. She’s a keen photographer and holds a student pilot’s licence. Flying gives her a sense of freedom and a confidence which she says comes from believing you can handle anything the elements throw at you.
How does she manage to fit in all these activities? Part of the secret lies in her serene temperament and her sense of initiative; “I’ll never be shy about trying new things all the time.” She keeps fit and alert by going to the gym and working out at least six times a week. It shows… in mens sana corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body. Add the ingredients of passion and pulchritude, and you have Rose Maitland Smith.
Thailand Yacht Show