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Let HotelIntel.co takes us through... Up Close and Personal: Vice President of Cape Dara Resort, Pattamon Mekavarakul
by : February 22, 2017

Hospitality is a full-time business which makes enormous demands upon the time of everyone involved. If anything, it is a way of life rather than just a job, so it’s no surprise when hoteliers find other family members following their lead into the industry. Pattamon Mekavarakul serves as Vice President of the city’s Cape Dara Resort, and she recently took the time to tell Hotelintel.co all about her work, her family, and how to avoid conflict when the two are combined.

 

What do you think was the most challenging moment of 2016 in running a hotel?

2016 had everything. It was quite a full year for me in terms of personal life, work, changes in the organization, market challenges, and unforeseen circumstances. Actually this question sends me back through my Facebook photos of 2016 to see what were the significant events and achievements I recorded. Right now I just feel so glad I survived 2016!

As many of you may know, a hotel is a business that once it’s opened, never closes. The same goes for all its problems and difficulties, so it’s a job that keeps me as a Vice President busy almost 24/7. However, the biggest challenge for me in 2016 was about human resources, or people-related issues. The first challenge was to source the most suitable GM candidate, but I still couldn’t find anyone who matched our needs – so eventually I reached the point where I stepped back and looked around and realized that my department heads were strong enough to work effectively and efficiently without a General Manager.

2016 had everything. It was quite a full year for me in terms of personal life, work, changes in the organization, market challenges, and unforeseen circumstances. Actually this question sends me back through my Facebook photos of 2016 to see what were the significant events and achievements I recorded. Right now I just feel so glad I survived 2016!

As many of you may know, a hotel is a business that once it’s opened, never closes. The same goes for all its problems and difficulties, so it’s a job that keeps me as a Vice President busy almost 24/7. However, the biggest challenge for me in 2016 was about human resources, or people-related issues. The first challenge was to source the most suitable GM candidate, but I still couldn’t find anyone who matched our needs – so eventually I reached the point where I stepped back and looked around and realized that my department heads were strong enough to work effectively and efficiently without a General Manager.

I’ve also been re-engineering my organization a little bit. Since Cape Dara Resort started operating from its first phrase in August 2012 right up until today, I saw it was time I stepped forward to do something in the bigger picture. It was also time for my elder brother to come in and handle the General Manager role. So I moved my marketing communication office to the Mike Shopping Mall (our headquarters) and started up my own marketing and branding agency. This was a big challenge, not because running an agency is difficult, but because it was time for all the properties under the Mike umbrella to undergo renovation and retouching or rebranding. In addition, my father had the desire to open a few more properties. But everything regarding marketing and branding is now my responsibility, and Cape Dara Resort has also become one of my clients.

Then we ended the year with the greatest loss for our nation; everyone was in a state of grief, and many visiting groups cancelled in both the leisure and corporate segments, which was understandable. I was having a hard time pulling myself together too, but as a leader, I had to make sure we survived and were still able to provide the most memorable holiday for our guests in a difficult situation.

 

How much involvement do you have in day-to-day operations?

Normally we – and I mean the department heads and my family – have a management LINE group where we share all our updates in real time. So in terms of giving advice, the owners are there all the time. In terms of presence, I used to go to the resort every day but since I started up a marketing and branding agency and moved my office in September 2016, I only visit the resort for meetings, key staff interviews, and welcoming VIPs and VVIPs. My tasks are undefinable. There is no limit or scope of involvement, but everything I do is related to the staff and their roles.

The department I’m most closely involved with as it falls under my responsibility is Marketing Communication. Mostly I make sure we have consistent awareness on media, and we have in-house promotions and co-promotions with other parties going on all the time, so that our name will always be present and active in the market. Besides that, I also sometimes have to choose colors or materials for decorating items, and sometimes I need to get my hands dirty and help my housekeepers clean guest rooms in ad hoc situations.

The thing I always feel thankful for is that my staff, both front and back of the house, are always willing to give a hand to help in making sure our resort is well presented and to give the best service from our hearts, even if some of the things they do are not listed in their job descriptions.

 

What’s your own specialty in your hotel and how do you encourage people to follow your work ethic or approach?

My specialty is marketing communication, PR, and sales (mostly online). In everything I do I do it with full commitment, so that’s the way to show my staff about my working values. I think the best way is that they learn our values and eventually they share those values. It’s not exactly brainwashing – more about instilling our approach. I also have the chance to write greeting messages in our staff newsletter sometimes. That is also a channel I can use to share my values and how I go about my life. The key is to show them your human side, your personality and wisdom, not just work work work.

 

Can being an owner and working for the hotel be an advantage or disadvantage for the business?

Both. For advantages you can very quickly resolve problems when there are cases which need a higher authority to be fixed. Service comes from the heart because the owners care about their business in the long run and they tend to make sure staff carry themselves in the same manner.

The disadvantage is that when you’re involved all the time, you can be worried sick when traveling away from the property, even though that’s the time you should be relaxing and enjoying life. Another problem is that staff can be unwilling to make big decisions by themselves because the owners are always around to make decisions for them. Staff may doubt the scope of their authority.

 

How can you keep the balance between work and your relationship with your father while working?

I’m very lucky that my father has a big heart to let me do things even when he knows it might not work. He would be an advisor if I needed one, and if not he would try to give advice anyway just to make sure that when I fell it wouldn’t hurt so much. So I listen to him in the manner of a good daughter, but most of the time I’m the kind of girl who would rather give it a go first and accept the consequences because I know I have done my best already. It’s better than being scared of taking chances and regretting it later because the opportunity might not come again. My father might say, “I told you so,” but we know how each individual is. It takes years to grow to maturity, but the important thing is parents do understand that fact and realize they can’t protect us forever; we have to learn from mistakes too. In the end, work is work, family is family. Sometimes we need to respect his decisions as he’s the boss, but we also can’t forget that this is our father, who has feelings and needs our love, care, and respect as well.

 

What would be your advice to other hotel owners who work within a family business?

Respect for each other is the key here. No matter how close your relationship with other family members, never speak your mind too freely especially when it concerns something in their area of expertise. Remember why each member is taking care of a particular department in the first place – with all their experience accumulated over the years, every decision must have had a lot of thought behind it. So even if you just got a degree in their field, you should still avoid interfering in their work.

For those who’ve only just joined the process, try to spend the first year observing how people do their jobs and learn about work ethic and discipline first. Then after a year, you can start to respectfully input your ideas. That is the way you will gain respect as a professional young executive. In the end, though, there is no point in winning an argument over anything that’s less valuable than your family.

Happily Ever After: Thai Wedding Ceremony
by marcomcape : February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day!

When we think about love, besides a good relationship, many girls have their ultimate dream of a perfect wedding. Imagine herself and a charming prince, surrounded by loved ones in such a place that everyone will remember for the rest of their lives. Speaking from the one who had one perfect wedding more than she could every asked for. I remember wedding involves various beliefs from both the bride and the groom sides, the parents, the tradition of each country, and the norm of the society. Whoa! That all together may seems too much but after all it's a sacred event that enchants the beginning of our journey.... as a married couple. Now number of foreigners come to Thailand for their destination wedding and some even get married in Thai ceremony. If you are one of those who are interested right now, here's how.

 

Choosing the right date

Thai people believe the right date would lead to a healthy and smooth marriage. Nowadays you can find perfect dates with explanation on the internet too. Thanks to those who publish this information!

 

Wedding Costumes

Thailand has been known of its rich in culture reflected from our long history. This is also transformed to various Thai costumes. Thai costumes do not only tell you about the era it was invented but also the hierarchy of the society the wearer was in too. In Thai wedding ceremony, the bride tends to wear the most beautiful costumes from prestige level. The royal level costume is however only saved for the royal family members or ones of extraordinary high prestige. The groom is much simpler. They mostly wear trousers or Thai old style of pants called Jong-kra-ben with mandarin collar shirt.  

 

Engaging Ceremony

After the agreement of dowry from 2 families, the groom together with his family, and friends would begin the ceremony in a very early morning by marching with Khan - Maak (The tray with dowry including cash, jewelry, and meaningful fruits and desserts according to Thai belief) to show the groom’s wealth and that he can surely take care of his wife-to-be financially. During the parade, they would sing, play Thai traditional instruments and dance, starting from outside the bride’s house all the way to the bride who is hiding in her room. This is the fun part of the ceremony where the groom will have to go through each stage where a series of bridesmaids and relatives block his path with gold necklaces or flower chains. They will ask him to do anything they want. Literally anything! For example, to speak”I love you” in 4 different languages, or to do push ups for 100 times, or give answer to the most secret and humiliating questions, etc. Once they are satisfied with his effort then he has to hand them few envelopes with cash inside. All of the activities in this phase is to either show his love to the bride that he would go through any obstacles to conquer her love, or just to provoke some laughter and joy in an atmosphere.

When the groom reached to the bride’s home, he would present the dowry to the bride’s family. Then the couple would exchange rings and beautifully pay respect to each other.

 

Wedding Ceremony

Here is the most important part. The bride and the groom would sit next to each other. Their arms would rest on small pillows, their hands would be held together in praying position, and the holy thread would be on their head representing the linking destiny. Then the guests in the ceremony would line up to pour blessing water from a selected shell over both’s pressing hands. While pouring water, the guests would bless the couple and the elderlies would also give advices on living and being together.

After this ceremony, all guests would be welcomed to enjoy sweets and savories together

 

Post Ceremony

After their big day, the bride and the groom would be escorted to the well-arranged bedroom. A big tray with a bag of beans, a bowl of water, a mortar, a squash, a figure of cat and rooster, and a cane would be set on the bed. Those have symbolic meanings as prosperity, harmony, solid love, happy marriage, comfortable home, aliveness, and longevity. The newlyweds will then be left in the bedroom alone throughout the night.

Thailand’s cultures and beautiful nature draws a number of foreign couples to wed on the beach as their destination wedding among the bright blue sea or a gorgeous sunset. Very soon, there will be an exciting event to exhibit beach wedding trends and launch wedding collection which is a collaboration project between Nhoo Matthews and Cape Dara Resort. This is for the first time in Thai hotel and wedding industry that the two significant establishments join their hands together. There will be a fashion show, talks from guru in wedding industry to give advice in choosing the right dress and suit for the bride and groom, choosing jewelry, catering, estimating cost and many more. The event will also gather vendors that would make your life easy either you are the bride, the groom, or the family and friends.

Where: Cape Dara Resort, Pattaya
When: 25 - 26 March 2017

For more information, please contact our event team 038 933 888 or event@capedarapattaya.com

CHINESE NEW YEAR : Let’s welcome the New Year with firecrackers
by marcomcape : January 26, 2017
Photo credit: http://www.bangkok.com/whats-on-events/chinese-new-year.htm

January 28, 2017, Chinese New Year, marks the start of the year of the fire rooster. It is known as the most important event in Chinese calendar. However, Chinese New Year’s celebration is not only held in China but also other countries where Chinese population has migrated to. Although Chinese New Year is not a public holiday in Thailand, the celebration is widely arranged across country since many Thai people have Chinese root.

In Thailand, Chinese New Year usually celebrated for 3 days. The first day is the day for buying food such as chicken, pork, or fruit to use in worshiping ancestors and in the evening the whole family will enjoy splendid banquet together at home. On the night of New Year’s eve, adults will hand red envelopes called “Hong Bao” (Hong means red and Bao means pocket), contained pocket money inside, to their kids to ensure good fortune in the coming year. On the second day, the whole family will get together to pay respect to ancestors. It is also an opportunity to strengthen family relationship by spending time together. The third day is the time to travel and visit extended family in order to wish Happy New Year.

Let’s get into the spirit of Chinese New Year by wearing red and observing these activities set on Chinese New Year

 

Attractive Features on Chinese New Year

 

Fire dragon and lion dancing - a highlight of the festival is the dragon and lion dance. The dragon refers to a mystical creature bringing prosperity and good fortune. The lion refers to symbol of bravery and stability. The dragon and the lion are typically made of bamboo, paper, and silk. During the show, several numbers of dragons and lions will be held aloft by young men who dance as they direct those colourful artificial creatures along the streets.

 

Lighting firecracker - lighting firecracker is a major custom performed to drive away evil spirits and celebrate the coming of the New Year. As legend is told from ancient time, there was a monster called “Nian” which annually appeared to destroy homes and farms during New Year’s eve. One year, while villagers were burning bamboo to keep themselves warm, “Nian” invaded the village and was scared by the cracking noise of the burning bamboo. The villagers finally discovered a way to drive away the evil spirit. After time passed, firecrackers were invented to replace the burning bamboo.

 

Feasting with family - The heart of Chinese New Year is a celebration of home and family. Therefore, gathering with family around the dining table is a strict etiquette. On the day, family members rush back home in order to share this important meal of the year with loved ones. All of the food served also has symbolic meanings such as fish means prosperity, spring roll and dumpling mean wealth, and noodle means longevity.

 

Giving red envelope - Red envelope or so called “Hong bao” filled with money is traditionally given from the married to the unmarried or the older to the younger. The amount of money in the envelope varies, but normally is the amount that ends with even number. The banknotes put in red envelopes must be the brand new ones.  

 

Those are the things usually do on Chinese New Year. By the way, there are also some prohibitions; for example, don’t wear black clothing because it is the colour of mourning, don’t break any dish otherwise the fortune will be driven away, don’t say the number “four” which is Chinese homonym for death, and so on.

 

On the occasion of Chinese New Year, Ming Xing restaurant, Cape Dara Resort Pattaya, invites you to experience a superb range of modern Cantonese cuisine both in a la carte and buffet style. The delicate flavours coupled with top grade ingredients make Ming Xing one of the best restaurants in town. Dining here is not only to taste the relishing meal but to absorb the sumptuous atmosphere. Here we are waiting for your visit!

 

Precious Old Memory of Pattaya
by marcomcape : December 14, 2016
Photo credit: Getty Image

In the eastern region of Thailand, there is a city which is greatly popular among Thais and foreigners as a remarkable mixture of resort and urban city filling with people from all around the world: Pattaya is the city which is worth spending your holiday with your family, dating with your sweeties, hanging out with your buddies, or even resting by yourself in tranquil area. Besides modernity and variety of cultures, Pattaya also has its own historical side. Now, I am going to take you back to 249 years ago.

In 1767, the invasion of Burmese army caused the old capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya, collapsed. Phraya Tak (Later King Taksin), as a Thai army’s leader, gathered the survivors and evacuated to Chantaburi, an eastern province of Thailand nowadays. Right after the refugees had passed through the area, which is nowadays Pattaya, the army was obstructed. Mistaken as the invaders, Phraya Tak’s army and survivors are subjected to be attacked by Klom, who was the local leader ruling the area at that time. With his powerful army and full-handed weapons, Klom firmly believed that he would absolutely conquer the army of Phraya Tak. However, when Klom confronted Phraya Tak’s army he was suddenly beaten by Phraya Tak’s respectful manner and sharpness. Finally, Klom decided to join Phraya Tak’s army without hesitation. The exact place where 2 armies faced each other was named after as “Thap Phraya” which can be defined as “The army of the prince”. Later, due to sound link “Thap Phraya” finally called “Pattaya” which also relates to the name of the wind blowing from the south-west to the north-east at the beginning of rainy season.

About 200 years later, Pattaya as a fisherman village became a resort to American soldiers and G.I. (Government Issue) serving in the Vietnam War. They usually rented houses and chillax at the beach on weekend. Because of the great time they had in Pattaya, their experiences were carried from one person to others and finally spread around. Not so long after that, the fisherman village turned into a famous touristic city. Nowadays, the fisherman village is filled with grand shopping malls, lavish hotels and resorts, world class restaurants, and fancy bars. It is an amazingly massive change which took only less than a half a century.

Nowadays, Pattaya is one of Thailand’s major travel destination since there are almost everything to offer everyone that leave you the feeling of relaxing and comfort like home. Starting from the white sandy beach where deck chairs, various kind of foods, and drinks are readily provided. Meanwhile, it is also possible for teens and kids to go on water activities such as banana boat riding, jet skiing, or kite surfing. For the people who are into island lifestyle, Koh Lan, would take only 45 minutes by ferry from Bali Hai pier (the main pier of Pattaya). There you can indulge the pure nature, stroll along the beach, or dive into the sparkling blue sea. Of course, shopping malls are also available in case that you need necessary stuff or souvenirs. If you slow down a bit and spend some more time to take a look at this city closely, explore it thoroughly, you will find this multicultural city with great history, beautiful sceneries, great food, and of course, kind people.

Apart from those busy streets of Pattaya, hiding a place, settled at Dara beach; Cape Dara Resort, “The land where once upon a time is now. The yesteryear is found”, always welcomes you to the peaceful, pleasantly warm, and private place. Enjoying the exotic pools or watching the sun goes down from the private beach would totally make your holidays be completely perfect.

 
 

In Remembrance of Our Beloved King
by marcomcape : November 14, 2016

October 13, 2016, the whole Thai nation wept. The most shocking news, that no one did not want to hear, in 74 years since the assassination of King Rama IX, was officially announced - our Greatest King Bhumibol had passed. The next morning, in the black-wearing crowd, we saw those swollen eyes, the unique Thai smiles obviously disappeared.  This tremendous loss evoked unity among Thai people as they march towards the capital to see and say goodbye to His Majesty who slept peacefully in the royal coffin. The Royal Duties, the King’s moral sayings, also his old photographs were widely publicized on social media and broadcasting which led to overwhelming impression in general. Not only were Thai people deeply grateful for His Majesty’s divine grace, but also people all around the world as he was praised to be the King of all Kings.

 

Myself, as a member of Cape Dara family, would like to share some impressive stories about King Bhumibol. Although, I was not born when His Majesty was young that he could be able to make journeys throughout the country to make sure that his people lived well-off, I have heard about His Majesty’s stories since I was a kid from my grandmother. One of my favourite stories is that once when His Majesty went to a rural area to visit people as usual, there was a 90-year old woman arranged water-full buckets floated with jasmine (Thai style greeting)  to serve His Majesty’s followers. His Majesty, however, asked for a glass of water from the bucket. The old woman then answered him that it was rain-water, she was afraid that it was dirty. Anyway, His Majesty insisted to have the glass of water and he was appreciate for the pureness of rain-water and the scent of jasmine. Some people say, King is like a living God, but to us, Thai people, our King is a father figure who is a good role model of humble life. Therefore, there is no doubt that why we do love our King so much.

 

One more story which is worth sharing is about His Majesty’s high responsibility. His Majesty had worked all life even during he was hospitalized in his final years. At that time, His Majesty asked his personal assistance to set a working station with a country’s map in his ward so that if there was a good chance he would spent time to observe water level to make sure that we are nowhere nearly having flood or draught. His Majesty had never stopped working because he was always concerned about his people’s being. 

 

Yet, I work in Pattaya, Chonburi, there is also a significant story about His Majesty sailing skill. Sailing is one of his favourite sports. His Majesty once sailed across the ocean from Huahin to Sattahip in Chonburi which took 17 hours. Moreover, His Majesty joined Laemthong Games (SEA Games) and won the gold medal in International OK Sailing. During the games, His Majesty stayed at the Sailing Club Pattaya which, nowadays, situates at the beachfront, right opposite to Mike Shopping Mall. On top of that, His Majesty even built his own a sailboat named after as Super Mod which later got a copyright.

 

The most important memory about growing up is that we always had King Bhumibol. His Majesty was a significant father figure to Thai people. He played various roles of a caring king, a religious king, an artist, a musician, an athlete, a photographer and so many rolls more than words can describe. There was more than 4,000 projects initiated by His Majesty during his reign, but if you cannot imagine how many of them, just try to think about daily posting Facebook statuses for 12 years long. Despite his death has created distress, his great contributions and determination will be continuously passed from a generation to another generation according to his once interview “If they want to write about me in a good way, they should write how I do things that are useful.”

 

 

 
   

 

The First Chapter
by Admin : November 11, 2015

As the emerging world runs by so fast, I want to do something to keep records for how nice, sweet, dreamy, exciting, or touching Cape Dara Resort is in my memories. I, thus, put my pen to paper to express my feeling that every day and moment here are precious and meaningful to my family as a founder.

 

My name is Pattamon Mekavarakul (Beau), the Vice President of Cape Dara Resort and also the owner’s daughter who spend most of my recent years running this resort (mostly in marketing communication and PR sectors).

 

Let me take this brief opportunity to share stories of our resort before your visit and perhaps if some of my team members are not too shy, we might get to read their stories as well.

Let’s start with how Cape Dara Resort has come about.

 

Back in 2006, my father, Mr.Surat Mekavarakul was doing his land shopping on the weekend. At that time, our big family already owned 2 shopping centres, a few hotels, and some other properties in Pattaya. However, we had never had a five star hotel. Most of our properties are in middle market. My father found this piece of land in the alley on Pattaya-Naklua road. It was nice and peaceful, unlike any other areas of Pattaya City that we all know of. There were old condominiums and few houses in this small alley (Soi 20, Pattaya-Naklua Road). It must be vacation homes of some wealthy families here. By that time my father had been living in Pattaya for over 30 years and surprised to find a haven that is so close yet so well hidden on a private beach. He managed to find the landlords and negotiated the deal. The negotiation went on for months until the landlords agreed to sell this land and the vacation home to us.

Upon seeing such beauty, something changed a young girl like me who didn’t quite find a beauty of this city and always dreamt to move out when she grew up. At that time I was still a freshman at a university. My parents allowed me and my friends to stay over night at this house and have a bbq party. It was like a mini camping trip of ours. A group of young and carefree friends and one dog, in a one storey house with eight bedrooms, four on the left and four on the right. There’s a huge living room in the middle attached with a humungous terrace overlooking the beach. Huge enough that we could do few rounds off. From the terrace looking down you will see the beach and a smiley monkey rocks that today has become signature of our resort. We were on a cliff. Yes, this house was called ‘Baan Cherng Pha’ means a house on a lower level of a cliff. The atmosphere is unbelievable.  The terrace (where today is the lobby) was already 4-5 levels from the sea.

On that day, we took speed boat to Khon Larn, the coral island nearby. We soaked ourselves in the sea and ceaseless sunshines of Pattaya. We came back to the beach house and found fresh seafood and bbq equipments at the house. Thanks to the magic of my mother. We lingered on the terrace with gentle sea breeze constantly touching our face. We grilled the seafood as we ate during the sunset, until we couldn’t see anymore whether they were cooked yet. It was a great experience and I wish this house were not demolished and replaced by a hotel. I even negotiated with my father to keep the house as long as possible before we build a hotel. Then I negotiated again to make a low rise building instead of a high-rise because I’d like to keep this low key atmosphere for this piece of land. The beauty I saw that day is still imprinted in my mind. The herons standing on the rocks, the little crabs dig in the sand leaving mole crabs everywhere, the most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen in my life. The most importantly, the beach that has nobody, nobody at all! We stayed the whole night and saw no one on the beach. Never before in any corner of Pattaya that was empty. That was the first time I witnessed the charm of Pattaya City, on this beach in particular.

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