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The long game: Trisara MD Anthony Lark says sustainable tourism is the future

Sitting on the gorgeous outdoor terrace of the luxurious Trisara Resort overlooking the Andaman Sea and enjoying their wonderful Sunday brunch, I feel that this is exactly what all of Phuket would be like if it existed on some exalted celestial plane.

tourism
By Baz Daniel

Saturday 26 August 2017, 10:00AM


The surroundings are gorgeous, the environment is pristine and well cared for, the service is impeccable and the cuisine is delightful and healthy.

There’s even a cool jazz quartet serenading your gormandising, and on our visit a happy guest got up to croon an old favourite number with the band, so relaxed and convivial is the atmosphere.

Somehow the languorous afternoon drifted serenely onwards in a haze of hedonism into the sun-downer hour, and then a perfect sunset erupted over little rocky island out in the bay.

A great deal of the credit for creating and maintaining this slice of that over-used Phuket cliché “Paradise” right here on the island’s north-west coast is owed to Trisara’s Managing Director Anthony Lark, with whom I had the inestimable pleasure of sharing just such a lazy Sunday afternoon brunch recently.

Born and raised in Chatswood in Sydney, Anthony’s first brush with the hospitality industry came when he travelled through Europe with his family after he left school, staying in small and mostly family run hotels, observing (subconsciously) true hospitality in its basic form.

Upon returning to Australia he took a job as a busboy in a five-star Sydney hotel, while studying Architectural Drafting at college.

He enjoyed this work so much that he soon gave up his studies to become a full time staff member at Sydney’s Wentworth hotel, spending four years building his skills and knowledge in every area of hotel operations.

In 1982 he joined Regent Hotels prior to the opening of the Regent Sydney (now the Four Seasons). In 1988 he made the move to Asia and at just 27 years old, Anthony was hired as a General Manager by the legendary luxury hotel developer Adrian Zecha to open Amanpuri in Phuket, the first Aman resort and the cornerstone of what would become an international boutique resort empire.

Anthony had found his perfect job as his love for Asian hospitality, design, landscaping and people all came together on Phuket, running Amanpuri and going on to open four other Aman resorts properties as GM in Bali and Myanmar over following 12 years.

In 2000, Anthony decided to leave Aman Resorts International to join the Montara Hospitality Group, where he helped co-design and open Trisara, as well as selling 30 of its luxurious villas to private owners from around the world.

Since opening in 2004, Trisara has received many accolades and awards, including ‘Resort of the Year’ bestowed by the Robb Report, and Best Leisure Resort, Worldwide 2014 by the readers of the Gallivanter’s Guide, as well as Condé Nast Traveller’s Gold list for 2017.

Trisara has also secured the top position on TripAdvisor. Yet despite such ringing success, the Trisara team are never ones to rest on their laurels, and have now embarked on a three-year plan to totally upgrade and remodel this superb resort.

Anthony is part of the team overseeing this and has also taken on the initial design concepts and planning for a second Trisara, scheduled to open in 2019.

QSI International School Phuket

Anthony, now 56, is married to a local Phuket lass and has four sons who were born and raised on the island.

He has spent 30-plus years in resort management in Asia and he is also the recently-elected President of the Phuket Hotels Association.

To say that Anthony is an authority on Phuket who is well worth listening to about its future, is a massive understatement.

So, taking a deep breath, I asked him where he thought Phuket was heading. In answer, he pointed me to the 52-member Phuket Hotel Association (PHA) – a non-profit organisation dedicated to three key aspects of Phuket’s sustainable evolution.

Firstly, a concerted effort to clean up the environment and reduce the negative impacts of tourism and resort development, as well as educating its members and employees about world’s best environmental practice.

For example, Trisara curtails the use of plastics, glass bottles, aluminium and re-cycles wherever possible.

They have also installed a reverse osmosis water filtration plant which now provides all its drinking water without recourse to plastic and glass, a huge win-win for the environment and the resort’s bottom line.

Secondly, the PHA is mounting an educational program for present and future hotel staff members in order to upgrade their skills and indeed provide jobs and scholarships to aspiring employees in the thriving hospitality sector.

Finally, the PHA is working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and other government branches in a major effort to redress the negative aspects of Phuket’s international image through a major Brand Phuket marketing and communications campaign.

The excellent PHA website itself (phukethotelsassociation.com) is a superb example of their approach.

Anthony admits that the actual substance of Phuket’s environment and administration is beyond the capability and remit of the PHA to address.

Yet, one has to applaud all the positive endeavours of the PHA aimed at helping Phuket meet its myriad challenges.

In conclusion Anthony says, “Far too much money has been invested in Phuket for the powerful private sector elite to allow it to decline, so I remain optimistic about our island’s future.

 

 

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Timothy | 28 August 2017 - 08:57:29

Dear Editor, you surprised me by posting my comment. Thank you. One  question I have for Mr. Lark, who is so very proud of the fact that they are now purifying their drinking water. Please tell us where all Trisara waste water goes? If Trisara was really "green" first it should not have been built in (allegedly) a national park. Secondly, they would have water collection and storage capa...

Christy Sweet | 27 August 2017 - 12:47:22

Yes, what has happened to all the (alleged) encroachment investigations  along route 4018 in Layan?  One developer has been building away  and has a worker camp housing 1000 workers in what has to be the most inhumane housing I have ever seen, consisting of 30 to 50  meter long tin sheet warehouses with  no windows. 

Timothy | 27 August 2017 - 09:30:21

Was it not written in many a news story that Trisara is (allegedly) built within the National park on a "flying" land title? It is also alleged that the Pullman in Nai Thon is built in at least partially in a protected forest reserve. We have all read the stories, so I hope the editor will post this comment, unlike the last comment I made regarding Trisara a couple years back when they...

Sir Burr | 26 August 2017 - 12:26:42

All very commendable, but, it isn't these internationally recognized hotels that are, polluting, dumping, over-developing, building over the 80m contour, slashing forest and mangrove, encroaching etc.
What's the plan to stop the real offenders?

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