Can you briefly outline what Thanyapura is all about?
Thanyapura is located in an area of natural beauty amidst the foothills of a national park in Phuket’s north-east. It comprises three centers – Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club, Phuket International Academy Day School and Thanyapura Mind Centre. It offers a state of the art, sustainable facility that focuses on education, sports, arts and wellness for the enjoyment of the local Phuket community and for visitors from around the world.
We are also building two boutique hotels – the 77 room upscale Thanyapura Resort and the 38 room mid-market Thanyapura Retreat. In addition we also have the Thanyamundra Organic Resort situated adjacent to Khao Sok national park which has an organic farm and yoga retreat facility.
How and why did you become involved with Thanyapura?
I worked initially in private equity, investing in and working to build companies, which was a fantastic business experience. Over time, it became clear to me that my aspirations lay elsewhere. I grew more and more involved with social entrepreneurs – individuals who took hard business skills and applied them to social problems.
Then I met Klaus Hebben the founder of this extraordinary Thanyapura enterprise and experienced a true meeting of minds. I saw in Thanyapura a way to apply my business and entrepreneurial experience towards a very innovative “triple bottom line” enterprise, one that helps people of all ages improve body, heart and mind, and so I accepted the position of CEO.
What do the various component parts of Thanyapura aim to achieve?
Overall Thanyapura seeks to “awaken the best in the hearts, minds and bodies” – as our tagline puts it – of the individuals and families who come to our campus. We have the Sports and Leisure Center which is attracting top level teams from around the world and local residents of Phuket alike into its programs. The sports facilities and coaching are Olympic-class and the facilities are built on an all-weather basis. We are creating a “one-stop-shop” for athletes that includes great coaching, nutrition, a physio clinic, mental training and more. We also seek to foster creativity in the arts as part of our balanced approach.
Phuket International Academy Day School is pioneering an expanded International Baccalaureate teaching program combined with evidence-based programs for developing Emotional Intelligence.
Our Mind Centre is chaired by an internationally- renowned scholar and teacher, Dr. Alan Wallace. The Centre’s programming is being built up this year and will conduct meditation and psychology-related retreats, conferences, corporate leadership training programs and sports mindfulness programs for athletes. We see the Centre becoming a clearinghouse in the region for these cutting-edge programs. And of course, the teachings at Centre support the work of the school.
With the opening of our 77-room resort in the fall 2012, we will have 115 rooms on campus and we have DiVine organic restaurant which uses produce from our organic farm at Thanayamundra near Khao Sok national park.
How do you balance the business and philosophical goals of Thanyapura?
The school itself is a not-for-profit entity and the other entities are for profit. The key is to balance this drive for profitability with our objectives of being good for the individual, society and the environment. I don’t see them as being opposed. Ultimately, they are aligned. It’s about taking a longer term view and targeting a customer who sees value in this approach.