Towards New Horizons With Best Western
As the General Manager of Best Western Plus Carapace Hotel Hua Hin, Jay Penno’s infectious warmth and affable nature have become the cornerstone of the hotel’s success since it opened late last year. With a twinkle in his eye and a wealth of experience etched upon his face, Jay is leading his dedicated team towards new horizons with Best Western, intertwining tales of resilience and adaptation into the fabric of their young careers.
Leaving home as a 20-something-year-old, Jay spent years in Japan where he not only became fluent in the language but also a skilled snowboarder. As fate would have it, an unfortunate accident led him to reassess his career. Having grown up in a family-run restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, Jay returned to his hospitality roots and worked in several F&B roles while he gained his Advanced Diploma in Hotel Management.
“I’ve had the privilege of working in various locations and hotels throughout my career. For example, I spent four amazing years in Papua New Guinea where I managed three hotels. However, when a former colleague offered me a managerial position in Thailand, I decided the time was right to move on. In the summer of 2015, I arrived in Thailand and immediately took over the Best Western Patong Beach Hotel,” he says.
“My career journey with Best Western has continued to develop as I opened two new hotels in the resort city of Pattaya, namely the Best Western Premier BayPhere and the Best Western Premier Collection BluPhere. Unfortunately, soon after the opening of these hotels, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Like many others in the hospitality industry, I took some time off but I didn’t sit around, I spent the time renovating my home.
“Once the situation began to normalise, I rejoined joined Best Western and spent months preparing for the opening of Best Western Plus Carapace Hotel Hua Hin. This was September 2022 and we welcomed our first guests on Christmas Day of the same year. I really like the feel of Hua Hin and it reminds me a lot of how Phuket was 10 years ago. The area of Baan Koh Tao, in particular, is an up and coming district of Hua Hin, and it offers a quieter ambiance compared to the main town.
“One of the standout features of this property is that we are the only hotel in this part of Hua Hin that offers a daily buffet breakfast, which has been incredibly popular not only among our hotel guests but also with locals. We are exploring the idea of starting a champagne Sunday brunch, but this will only happen once we get our beach club fully opened, so stay tuned for that announcement. In fact, we have a lot of plans in the pipeline, which I can’t really discuss now but they do include a new dining facility and the prospect of a dedicated beach club,” he teases.
With 380 guest rooms in half a dozen different categories, the beachfront hotel has the capacity to welcome a wide range of guests, including those who want to holiday with their pets. Hua Hin has always been popular with Thai travellers, especially those from Bangkok. Adding to the resurgence of the town since Covid-19, the Thai government’s We Travel Together campaign has been instrumental in boosting the number of visitors to the coastal town. Additionally, Jay instructed his marketing team to run internal promotions utilising social media platforms as well as participating in local travel fairs to attract additional guests from the local market.
“At Best Western Plus Carapace Hotel Hua Hin, we strive to accommodate all types of guests with a range of accommodation options from one and two-bedroom suites to family rooms with bunk beds. We strive to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and well taken care of during their stay. We are also a pet-friendly hotel so guests who want to bring their furry friends with them are most welcome. For families, we have an Aqua Play Zone with water slides and a large lagoon, while those who want to relax can head to the beachfront pool and bar.
“We are definitely witnessing a rise in international arrivals, although it hasn’t quite reached pre-Covid levels yet. However, I’m confident that we will achieve our high-season targets this year, as people are eager to resume their travel plans. The opening of outbound travel from China, with over a million visitors to Thailand already this year, has been particularly encouraging. While there are still some uncertainties surrounding the Russian market, I believe that with the ongoing development of transportation infrastructure, such as the new road from Bangkok and the upcoming high-speed railway, Hua Hin will see significant growth. In fact, our hotel will have a train station almost right outside, which will be a great advantage.
“Looking ahead, I expect international travel to continue its upward trajectory, and by next April, I believe we will be back to the numbers we saw in 2019. Hua Hin has immense potential, and I’m excited to be part of its growth story.
“As a hands on manager, guest satisfaction is my top priority. I focus on the smallest details to provide the best quality for our guests. From our DreamMaster pillow top beds and bed linen to in-room amenities like locally-made natural soap dispensers and shower products, I strive for excellence in every aspect. As a guest touch type of manager, I make myself available at the hotel to address any guest concerns and ensure their needs are met promptly.
“I strongly believe in proactive guest service and addressing any issues before they escalate. Drawing from my experience and the hospitality legacy passed down by my parents, I can instinctively tell if a guest is not happy. This is something I try to impart to my staff as well, teaching them to look out for certain body language and other indicators. By paying attention to our product and continually improving our offerings, we can create an environment where guests want to return.
“We are deeply connected to the local community and actively engage in various corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Apart from our locally-sourced bathroom amenities, we also provide guests with welcome features such as a complimentary dish of fruit and cookies, sourced directly from the Royal Project. At this year’s local marathon, we are providing water stations and a staff member and his wife have entered in the race. Also, our outreach programme means we regularly welcome disadvantaged kids, including deaf children, and provide them with special discounts.
“Being involved in the community and making a positive impact is essential to us. It’s a way to give back and create a meaningful connection with our surroundings. I’m excited about what lies ahead and confident that we will continue to provide memorable experiences for our guests while making a positive impact on the local community.”
If you would like to experience a weekday or weekend break at Best Western Plus Carapace Hotel Hua Hin, call +66 (0) 3251 – 2888.
Source: Punch Media Digital.