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From Mexico to Phuket - club style

PHUKET: Jody Houton sits down with long-term Beach Complex Operations Manager at Angsana Laguna Phuket, and long-time clubber Christian W. Roth, to discuss his plans for Xana Beach Club.

By Jody Houton

Tuesday 14 August 2012, 01:09PM

1. Where are you from originally? Was there a vibrant night life there?

I was born in San Luis Potosi, northern. It is quite beautiful, but there is nothing much going on there. It is still a very conservative place. Luckily, I had the chance to grow up in Mexico City, which as any other major city in the world, has everything to offer in terms of night life.

2. Can you remember when you first became interested in clubbing?

When I was 14-years-old I started going out with my friends in Mexico City.

A friend’s father co-owned a couple of nightclubs, one of them being the most popular nightclub in the harbour of Acapulco at the time. We used to go to Acapulco very often, where the nightclub scene has always been (and still is) very vibrant.

Because of my friends, I had access to the nightclub scene from a very early age, an age when other kids would only dream of going to clubs.

At the same time I also got a chance to know the workings of a nightclub, as well as the opportunity of being invited to many other clubs and parties, therefore gaining interest in the world of DJs and club music.

During my time in Mexico, the club scene with international DJs, the rave scene, and the electronic music festivals were gaining momentum and I can say I was there when it reached its peak.

Out of my group of friends, a couple of huge DJs were spawned (I want to bring them soon), and two of my childhood friends now own the biggest nightclub operating company in Mexico, with more than 17 nightclubs and bars throughout Mexico, and continue to develop new concepts for night clubbers.

3. When did you become involved with nightclubs professionally?

Part of my family is of Swiss origin, and it has been a long-standing tradition to study at the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. I grew up surrounded by the hospitality industry, and I have worked in restaurants since I was 15-years-old.

I am also somewhat of a beach bum and love the beach and all kinds of watersport. I now have all the things I love to do in one place!

4. Where did you work before Xana?

After graduating, I started to work for Banyan Tree. I was part of the opening teams for both Banyan Tree hotel operations in Mexico, Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, and Cabo Marques in Acapulco.

I then opened a third hotel for Rosewood hotels and resorts in San Miguel de Allende before heading to New York, where I opened a restaurant with a couple of friends in New York, they were all great experiences.

5. The opening night at Xana was really quite something. There are still parts of it that are a blank... How did it go from a managerial perspective? Were you happy with the turnout and logistics of the event? Is there anything you will be doing differently in the future?

Like any other opening, it was a major challenge to get everything into place. We still have many growing pains to go through before we reach maturity, but we have a great team and the base work has been laid.

We did get a lot of feedback from the opening party, and one of the major issues that was raised and solved right away is our pricing. Just so everybody knows, our house beers are 140 baht net, and the glass of house wine (both red and white) are 260 baht.

Splash Beach Club

We have very competitive prices, and I invite everyone to see for themselves. We are also working very hard on staffing and training, as it was also one of the comments going around about the opening party.

I am now hand-picking our staff and also started a trainee programme with international hotel schools, so we are keeping an interesting mix of local and international staff in our team.

As for the turnout, we are definitely very happy as we received around 1,500 people, which means that 1,500 people got to see XANA as a whole and what it has to offer. The rest is what we will make of it.

6. DJ Paul Harris was huge. Do you have any plans to bring other superstar DJs to the island?

We surely have. But I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for you.

7. Besides a great DJ and great music, what else makes a good night?

Good ambiance, and more importantly the two universal constants in hospitality; good service and good food.

8. What do you think of the current Phuket night life scene?

I think that for an island it’s pretty well balanced, and there is a little bit of everything.

There are new beach clubs on the way and I think this is great, as it will raise Phuket to a new level, most surely attracting new market segments while spicing up the already eclectic nightlife.

9. Okay, so we know what you think makes a good night out, but what's your idea of a perfect night in?

A good movie, a good bottle of wine and pizza.

10. The Phuket nightclub scene is notoriously competitive. How do you plan on ensuring Xana becomes synonymous with partying in Phuket?

Its simpler said than done, but we already have a great venue.

Now what we have to do is to raise all other aspects that encompass the XANA experience to that same level, so obviously our food and beverage offering, our service, our music, our entertainment and our DJs need to happen seamlessly and consistently.

We need to be perceived as an unique offering with unique features that represent our originality and concept through experiences that keep our guests coming back for more.

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