The Phuket News recently sat down with Sitikorn Soontornnont, Managing Director of the resort, just weeks after the property was given the official five-star certification from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in Bangkok last month.
Originally from Bangkok, Sitikorn has worked in the family’s construction business all his life. It wasn’t until 1988 that he and his family acquired a piece of land and built their first property: the Sea Pearl Beach Resort.
It was leased to Absolute Group to operate as a timeshare property in late 2004. The beachfront resort was severely damaged in the tsunami but reopened after extensive renovations.
It was this incident that ultimately gave them their biggest selling point: a beautiful resort that is slightly uphill and away from the shoreline, perfect for guests who were affected, traumatised or worry about the natural disaster.
So what makes this resort different from others?
By placing the resort uphill, we offer guests the desire of being close to the sea, but still close enough to explore the city. This hotel is perfect for anyone with a fear of a tsunami, or anyone that just wants the best of both worlds. We wanted to create and combine rooms for families. The huge space we acquired, 40 rai, was substantial for the 25 villas and 213 luxury en-suite bedrooms we wanted to build.
Villas aren’t that easy to come across in Patong. Sea Pearl Villas are, in fact, in the top three resorts with villas in the area.
How do you retain its reputation?
I want my hotel to always look new. It gets a touch up every month, sometimes every week. Whether that’s replacing the carpets or repainting the walls, we will do whatever is necessary.
We are still building another resort in Kalim, so we can use the workers there whenever we need to. But even after it’s completed, we will still continue to use our workers to help around the hotel. The good thing about the hotel is that it always stands out and looks new, modern and contemporary, while still retaining its character.
Even if a hotel was three-star to be honest, with new furnishings, it can look like a much higher class [establishment]. That’s why these days, the newly built hotels are sometimes more popular than hotels with a brand reputation.
Aside from traditional marketing strategies, how do you ensure your hotel is promoted?
We know online marketing is key. Before, say ten years ago, when booking a hotel you never knew what they really looked like online.
You just knew the facts. But now, you can see exactly what the resort looks like, through social media, tour operators and more.
So we make sure that our advertising, magazines, brochures, social media sites and photos are up-to-date.
With two Tripadvisor awards under your belt, what’s your aim for the future?
I want the hotel to represent the loyalty we have to our guests. I would like people to recognise our success and how reliable we are. We always respond to our guests’ comments, including any complaints we may receive, and solve any issues.
Hopefully the fact that we have won the Tripadvisor award for the last two years, and also an award from TAT, people will trust and want to stay at our hotel. And, hopefully keep coming back.