Samui Wining & Dining
Why Here?

An insight into what brought James Arbhahirom, Resident Manager at Bandara Resort & Spa, to Samui.


21Next time it rains, take a moment to study the raindrops on a window. It’s fascinating the way they move. One of the more mysterious laws of physics (to my mind, at least) means that every single drop is the same size, give or take a fraction. And, when it rains, there’s a lot of things happening all together. The rain comes in spurts – sometimes harder, now and then slower. The wind ebbs and flows, hurling some drops head-on yet delivering others with the softness of a kiss. Focus on just one of the drops and watch its descent. And then look again. Some run straight, without a break. Others jerk and jump. Now and then one raindrop will stop completely, for no apparent reason. It’s quite mysterious, really. And, in many ways, it reflects the way we go through our lives.

    Imagine those raindrops to be the paths of hundreds of different lives, all meshing and crossing and running through and between each other. I doubt if raindrops have hopes and plans (who knows!) but, if they did, it wouldn’t be an easy ride to get to the bottom of the window. Likewise, some of us begin with an aim in mind and head for it – a calling, a career, a vocation. And others are keen to ride the tide, making the most of the chances and sidesteps that the rainy windows of life flip our way.

      Khun Taywakone Arbhabhiron was born into a Bangkok business family, one of a group of eight siblings who grew up together in the nation’s capital. Right from an early age he recalls wanting to be a chef. There was an allure somehow of being in command of a busy powerhouse behind the scenes, creating dishes fit for emperors and commanding legions of scuttling scullions. But, alas, by the time he was heading for Bangkok’s Kasetsart University, it was to engage in a Bachelor’s Degree in farming and agriculture. However, the best laid plans of men and mice are invariably subject to the fickle finger of fate, and Khun Taywakone (having now adopted the nickname of James) emerged to find himself in the middle of an agricultural depression.

      After some diligent canvassing, his background and qualifications landed him a position at Pattaya’s Royal Cliff Beach Resort, beginning as a management trainee. “I still had a great passion to be a chef,” James expanded, “but it now looked like this wasn’t going to happen. The only way to do this was to begin right at the bottom by washing up and cleaning floors. As a management trainee I spent two years working in every department of the hotel, and after working hard for seven years I’d risen to become restaurant manager.”

       In 1989 James moved back to Bangkok, securing a post as restaurant manager of the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza, in the prestigious down-town business district of Silom. He was to remain there for some time, ascending through the ranks to eventually become an assistant food and beverage manager. “Interestingly,” James continued, “at this time my immediate boss was a man by the name of Tim Cooke, and this was to reflect on my later career.” Tim, at that time, was a man who was becoming increasingly more influential: he was to later forge management consultancy links through his company, ‘Siam Ease’, was being head-hunted to manage London’s prestigious Westminster College, and in the future was to command the position of CEO of the Bandara Group.

       James’ career progressed. He was appointed assistant manager at Bangkok’s Grand China Princess Hotel, in 1995, before being offered, and accepting, the post of manager at TGIF’s new Hong Kong outlet. Following the colony's return to Chinese rule, in 1997, James headed for home, only to be made an offer he couldn’t refuse. He began by managing a hotel attached to a casino in Cambodia. And, between 2002 and 2004, had risen to become the business development manager of The Holiday Group, in charge of their overall marketing and development strategy.

      And then, out of the blue, a phone call and several emails. Another excellent offer. And one which was to bring him to Samui. “I’d been to Samui several times before,” James reminisced. “Just for short holidays. The last time was in 1997 – when you could walk along the whole length of Chaweng Beach Road and still see the sea. I was now being offered the chance to be the resident manager at Bandara Resort & Spa. Bandara is superb. It is one of those large and expansive resorts that you find up on the north coast. Although it’s only 15 minutes from Chaweng, the atmosphere is tranquil and relaxed and it covers quite a big piece of land. There are 22 Standard Rooms, 98 Deluxe Rooms and two palatial Grand Deluxe Rooms together with two top-quality restaurants. My wife, Khun Pear, is busy with a successful business in Bangkok, and my daughter, Nong Fai, is involved with school there, so I am free to put all my time and energy into my work. I have an executive staff apartment here, so I’m on hand all the time. Service is my passion. I love talking with people, and it fulfils me to see people happy and make people happy. I’ve been here now since the end of June 2012 and I’m content. I’m no longer a young man and I can’t see myself dashing off to pastures new any more. I’m happy here!”

      Raindrops. The thing about rainy windows is that you can only ever look at one pane of glass at a time. But below that is another pane, not only catching its own raindrops but picking up all the trickles and runs from the glass above. However, there comes a point when all the tangles and threads of life’s meandering currents start to slow down. And James, for one, has cheerfully and happily come to rest, at least for the foreseeable future. And, for this, we wish him well!

Rob De Wet


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