Man On A Mission
A chance visit to a small church in Krabi town centre has set five-star hospitality expert Patrice Landrein on a new course in life; a man on a mission so to speak. Having graced the halls of acclaimed hotels such as The Savoy in London, The Ritz Paris and the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in New York, the Frenchman is now on a business and personal mission to make his time as the new General Manager of Pimalai Resort & Spa on Koh Lanta as productive as humanly possible.
Having taken the reigns from the long-serving previous general manager, Franck de Lestapis, Patrice says he fell in love with Pimalai the first day he visited the luxury, beachfront property. He compares the resort to Cinderella, the fairytale princess kept from view by her mean aunt and spiteful stepsisters, who would one day surprise the world with her astounding beauty.
Man On A Mission – A Fairy Tale Life
“I am super excited every day I arrive at the resort, it’s very much like I’m coming home. I often think of Pimalai as Cinderella, in the sense that there is this beautiful princess but nobody knows about her. I plan on changing the future for Pimalai and the actions I am putting in place today will soon see the whole world getting to know about this beautiful Thai princess.
“Pimalai Resort & Spa is communicating through various channels here in Asia, plus I am using my network of sales representatives in Europe and the US to push the message further. We’re doing a sterling job in communicating the positive vibes about Pimalai and we’re reaching out to European destination management companies (DMC) to make them aware of our future plans. Since my time here, I have contacted all of them and I believe I may be one of the few GMs to have done this,” said Patrice.
After wrapping up his stellar career in Europe, Patrice moved to Thailand in 2016 to take up a role at Amari Vogue. However, his time with Amari would be short-lived as his future was about to change in the strangest of circumstances. “After I arrived in Krabi I decided to get familiar with my surroundings, so I hired a motorbike and began to explore the area. I came across a church called St. Agnes, my late mother’s name. At the back of the church were two small, rather dilapidated, buildings; one named St. Agnes and the other St. Joseph; my late father’s name. Now, what a coincidence is that?” he asks, palms upturned and held out.
His personal goal is to raise funds to renovate the two buildings to firstly help the local community as well as to humbly honour his parents. He says he plans gather voluntary financial contributions by talking to businesses – including his own – and ordinary individuals. “Creating a school in an empty building is part of my personal vision in life. However, my professional life will see me utilise my five-star hotel skills and my 6E management concept to make Pimalai the best hotel in the world. Since I arrived, we have managed to increase guest numbers, revenue and the feel good factor is coming back again. In fact, I believe I have the best job in the world.”
Weathering The Covid Storm
When Pimalai Resort & Spa closed its doors on 10th April, Patrice didn’t just sit around waiting for something to happen; he made something happen. Initially, the resort decided to retain its staff and structured pay and time-keeping accordingly. From managers to gardeners, staff were invited to stay at the resort, dine there and generally remain part of the tight-knit family at Pimalai. During this time, plans were put in place to begin renovations of the resort’s luxury villas, improve internal procedures and to pay attention to the minor details.
“I feel my character and resilience helped me through the early days at Pimalai when we had to close our doors to guests; after all I was the only person staying at the resort. During the lockdown I had ample time to get to understand the essence of Pimalai, what it means to the owner, staff and our valued guests. It was also the perfect opportunity to begin renovations as well as refining other parts of the resort. We’ve done a terrific job with our alterations and I look forward to the day when we can welcome back our friends from around the world to our little slice of paradise,” he continued.
Part of the reason why the good-natured GM gave up the luxury trappings of five-star hotels in the west was to finally put his own fingerprint on a five-star resort. Working for an international corporation it’s almost impossible for a manager to put their own stamp on a property, but he found the opposite at Pimalai.
“The owner of Pimalai Resort & Spa has placed his trust in me to make changes as I see fit. It’s a huge responsibility for me, but I plan to take it step by step. We need to put a strong foundation in place before we welcome back any guests. Small things like making sure the air-con works, TV channels are available and the golf cart is ready for guests.
“Moving forward, we have some very exciting plans in the pipeline such as our onsite wedding chapel, which will be right on the beach and a new hotel on the mainland. With an institution like Pimalai, my mission is to maintain the world-class nature of the product while at the same time incorporating the best technologies for our guests. To that end, our new 108-key hotel at Tub Kaek will be a digital, hi-tech hotel geared towards modern travellers,” he says.
Like hotels the world over, Patrice and his management team at Pimalai have laid down strict hygiene and sanitation procedures. A dedicated manager has been appointed to oversee health and safety practices, the hotel has received “Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA)” certification and hospital-standard sterilisation protocols are in place. To totally eradicate all bacteria and viruses, the hotel has invested in a state-of-the-art ozone decontamination machine and rooms are left vacant for 24 hours between guests.
And like many other beachfront hotels in Thailand, the natural world has started to find its way back to the luxury resort. For example, one Colugos has been spotted, a rare sight when these shy, nocturnal and solitary specimens can hardly be seen these days in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. Harmless monitor lizards have also begun making the occasional visit.
Next up for the Cinderella resort are international visitors.
Source: Punch Media Digital