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One of the keys to enjoying your vacation is making sure it doesn’t take too long to get to your vacation. And that’s the beauty of the recently refurbished Garden Beach Resort in Pattaya. Using the new expressway, you can be there in as quick as an hour-and-a-half from Bangkok. And once you are there, all you have to do is: relax and then relax some more.

ImageFirst, the resort is not in central Pattaya, it’s located on Soi Wongamart, in Pattaya-Naklua, or North Pattaya. So there aren’t rows of beer bars, throngs of tourists or hordes of vendors to bother you. There also aren’t any horses or Jet Ski and banana boat operators to hassle you. There are vendors, and masseuses, but they will politely move on, if you say no. So you can just go for a walk without being constantly harassed by people trying to sell you stuff. This can really help your piece of mind.

Last year, the Pattaya municipality launched a THB1.8 million project to clean up the seawater in the surrounding area so people can now see fish in what was once very murky water. This gives the Garden Resort’s guests another option as they don’t just have to just stay in their room, or hang about the pool, they can enjoy the pleasures of Naklua Bay worry free.

It’s hard for one person to be able turn a hotel or property around single-handedly. But Kurt Wachtveitl did it, taking the Oriental from being a standard hotel and turning it into one of the finest properties in the world. Sophon Vongchatchainont is in turn revitalizing the Garden Beach Resort and in the short time he’s been GM, he’s already upgraded it from a three star to a four star property. Having worked at thirteen properties, including three hotels in China, in his nearly three decades as a hotelier, Sophon has a great deal of experience to draw upon.

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He has an ability to mix and mingle with any of his Thai, farang or Asian guests. As his wife is a Mom Luang, Alissra Vongchatchainont, he understands Thai high society very well, but he is certainly not scared to get his hands dirty, and the man never seems to rest as every time you see him, he is working. I have no doubt that the next generation of Thai hoteliers will look upon Sophon in much the way that today’s generation looks on Khun Kurt.

Sophon actually has a four-point policy he employs to make his hotel successful. First, he has to make his staff happy by giving them proper training, benefits and incentives. The staff can receive up to THB6-10,000 a month in extra cash from service charges. This is one of the highest returns in Pattaya, and the service charge revenue alone is more than many people make in a month.

Second, Sophon has to make his guests happy and he usually does this by following rule number one, for if his staff is happy they will then take good care of his guests. Third, he has to make his owners happy, for they must see a return on their investment. And fourth, he must make himself happy because if he’s not happy he can’t motivate his staff to take care of the guests, so the resort can prosper, make money, and make the guests and owners happy.

There’s always been discrimination in awarding Thais the plum hotel GM jobs in this country. It’s not only unfair, it’s simply wrong. But with more qualified people like Khun Sophon around there simply won’t be any need to rush off to Europe for a new GMs. After all, it is crazy to think that the farangs can teach the Thais about hospitality in Thailand.

But getting back to the Garden Beach, the hotel is undergoing a transition in the type of guest it caters too. Before Sophon arrived, the guests were primarily Asian and mostly Chinese, now the resort is seeing more and more farang guests particularly German and Russian tourists. You will even see hotel PR material printed in Russian and the hotel is probably the only one in the country with a Kazakhstani Guest Relations Officer, Ms. Zamira Pirzhanova, who can easily handle any problems the Russian guests may have.

ImageThe resort is only a ten-minute drive from central Pattaya, so if you want to enjoy Pattaya’s famous nightlife you don’t have far to go. The air-conditioned bus terminal is also a short ride away and it has buses going to both Mochit and Ekkamai stations every twenty minutes.

The resort is currently finishing renovations on its Royal Suite on the twelve floor for a total of Bt1.5 million. What’s amazing about this suite is that not only does it have its own Jacuzzi, but also has its own sauna, can you imagine?

The 382-room resort (95 garden villas and 287 rooms in the main building) has sunk Bt100 million into renovations altogether. There are two – not one, but two – beachside swimming pools. And a group of masseuses have set up shop on the beachfront so you can have all your troubles easily and blissfully rubbed away. And next year the resort will open a fitness center on the second floor of the main hotel so guests can better meet their exercise needs.

The resort’s Bay Leaf restaurant offers up delicious Royal Thai cuisine, while the Terrazzo serves a wide range of international delights and barbecued seafood. The other eatery, the Sea House, prepares authentic Thai food and continental favorites. There is also twenty-four hour room service and a mini-mart, where you can buy snacks.

If you do stay in one of the Privilege Floors (9-12), you get a buffet breakfast at the gorgeous Bay Leaf, which has a wondrous balcony where you can read your paper, sip your coffee and watch all the beach life go by.

ImageAnd, just in case you do need to get some business done, there is a Business Center; a Grand Hall holding 400 persons; the Vaetiya1 and Vaetiya2 rooms holding 200 persons each; and the Wannaporn, Pornchalee and Anchalee rooms each holding 40 persons.

And it’s probably no coincidence to compare Khun Sophon to Kurt Wachtveitl. You see Sophon already has his staff memorizing guests’ names, their preferences and what type of service they prefer. This is what made the Oriental famous: not its location, the design of its building, its F&B, or its rooms, but its service. In the middle of nowhere, a bellboy, waiter or maid could recall a guest’s name and this goes a long way in making someone feel at home, and making them to come back to your hotel.

Summing up: the Garden Beach provides good value for your money; the GM knows what he’s doing; the staff is friendly; the beach is clean and a great place for long walks; the vendors don’t hassle you too much; the food is good; the views from the upper floors are spectacular; the sunsets are superb; the suites and garden villas are luxurious; it’s close to Pattaya and only a couple hours from Bangkok. Put all that together and what have you got: a perfect place to spend the weekend, take the kids or have a romantic holiday.

Ed note: The Garden Beach Resort is now called Aisawan Resort & Spa


Contact Info

Tel: (038) 411-940-8

Fax: (038) 411-949


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