“Ebullient” is a word that springs to mind when you talk to the energetic GM of the Sala Phuket Resort and Spa on Mai Khao Beach. After his first 16 months in the role here’s Jon’s perspective on the tourism scene from the northwest corner of the island.
What sort of background do you bring to your role at Sala Phuket?
I have 22 years of hospitality industry experience, 14 of them offshore out of Australia where I was brought up. I started my career with a Hotel Management degree working for InterContinental Group in properties all over Australia and the South Pacific. Initially I worked on the F&B side of the industry then moved into hotel and resort openings and re-branding for such employers as the Sofitel in Central Vietnam, the Le Meridian Group in Vanuatu, Bill Heinecke’s Minor Group in the Maldives and corporate division in Bangkok and most recently the opening of the Anantara Phuket Villas on Mai Khao Beach.
How has the Sala Resort been performing since its opening?
We opened in December 2007 and in our first three years of trading we’ve survived a very tough period for Thailand’s tourism industry. We have a total inventory of 79 pool villas and suites, 63 with their own private pools and yet we managed to get through the various health and political crises that have plagued the industry and last year achieved the best trading results we’ve had since opening.
What have been your key priorities since taking over as GM?
Introducing structure and defining management principles within Sala to ensure individual business units are operating both profitably and efficiently. We have focused on training, development and growing our own senior and mid-management employees through clearly defined succession planning and career advancement for the staff. We now have Key Personnel Initiatives in place for various staff levels and we are tackling language competency with our full-time Training Manager & English teacher.
We’ve also implemented a resort preventative maintenance plan last year on all of our 79 villas and suites and public areas to ensure brand identity and standards are maintained.
What initiatives are you putting in place to sell Phuket’s northwest corner?
Our beautiful destination has wonderful resources and is completely unspoiled, so we decided to form a coalition of northern hotels and resorts in the region under the North Phuket Resorts (NPR) alliance since October 2009 to promote the destination within Phuket. We meet fortnightly and I am the Secretary of the alliance which incorporates brands such as JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa, SALA Phuket Resort and Spa, Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa, and the Anantara Phuket Villas with the new Holiday Inn Mai Khao also opening soon.
We focus on the exceptional beaches with breathtaking sunsets and natural wonders including Sirinath National Park and the gateway to Phang Nga, or the Similan Islands and Khao Sok areas. In addition we have Blue Canyon Golf Course, the Yacht Haven and the long planned Convention Center and so this part of the island is a very exciting and unspoiled alternative to the southern regions of Phuket.
We’ve made culinary arts and wine a central focus of the Alliance’s promotional events such as last December’s North Phuket’s Culinary Arts Food Festival with the longest dining table in north Phuket, Jim Thompson silk fashion show with International DJ Charles Schilling and the Biggest Sunday Brunch. In July we are staging a Grapes and Grazing Week with four world-famous wine experts including Peter Rawling from Spy Valley, Howard Duncan from Peter Lehmann’s Winery, Erika Ribaldi
from Marchesi di’Frescobaldi and owner Peter Lynn from Majella coming in and providing wines to complement sensational cuisine provided by the group’s creative
Executive Chefs. At just 2200 baht net per person, it will be great value! ‘Go North’
SALA Phuket Resort and Spa
333 Moo 3, Mai Khao Beach,
Thalang District, Phuket, Thailand 83110
Tel. +66 (0) 76 338 888
Fax. +66 (0) 76 338 889