Samui Wining & Dining
A Day in the Life of

Khun Kwanchai, the busy Executive Assistant Manager at Nora Chaweng Hotel.

 

11Someone once told me that there are only two ways to do a job of work – you either put your heart into it or you don’t. And that’s probably not so far from the truth. Working in a busy hotel can be demanding. But at least you get breaks every now and again, can stop for lunch and can look forward to going home the same time each night. Well – not in all cases. For some of the cleaning staff or the gardeners, maybe. But if your name is Khun Kwanchai Sapprapai and you’re in charge of the day-to-day running of two hotels, then the chances are you just don’t have time to watch the clock!

Khun Kwanchai is the Executive Assistant Manager of both Nora Chaweng Hotel, towards the northern section of Chaweng Beach Road, and Nora Lakeview Hotel, by Chaweng Lake. In a way he’s fortunate as well as hardworking. He’s a part of that formidable collection of employees who work for the Nora Group. And this group has forged a formidable reputation for itself on Samui. It all began with Chaweng’s upmarket Nora Beach Resort & Spa. With ‘Nora Lakeview’ following some years later and then ‘Nora Chaweng’ in 2008 (and their flagship, Nora Buri Resort & Spa, in 2010). But the group’s harmonious well-established relationship with overseas tour operators meant that the new Nora Chaweng was fully booked for its first Christmas high season. And, even in these financially depressed times, advance bookings have already now confirmed another full house for the corresponding high season this year.

Khun Kwanchai was born in Nonthaburi, a little northwest of Bangkok. Right from the word go he had decided to work in the hospitality industry in one capacity or another. And on leaving school he was quick to secure a busboy’s job in a small Bangkok hotel. But Khun Kwanchai is not only intelligent, he’s determined, too. He began an intensive study of English and 18 months later was working at the reception desk of a 4-star hotel. He stayed there for five years, by which time he had been promoted to Chief Receptionist and Cashier.

The Night Auditor there was Lloyd Maravilla. And when Lloyd secured a management position on Samui he invited Khun Kwanchai to join his team. He came to work on Samui in 2003 and over the next three years advanced upwards, working under the umbrella of such prestigious names as Six Senses Hideaway Samui and Le Royal Meridien en route. In the meantime, Lloyd had progressed to become the General Manager of Nora Beach Resort & Spa and Khun Kwanchai joined him there as Night Manager in 2006. And in June this year he was promoted to his current position at Nora Chaweng.

The word ‘assistant’ is misleading. The structure of a group of hotels is complex: often the overall General Manager of one of them will delegate responsibility downwards and sideways into other hotels in the group. And this is the case with Khun Kwanchai, as he’s responsible for the running of both the Nora Chaweng and Nora Lakeview hotels, and highly instrumental in keeping his General Manager, Lloyd, continually in the loop. “I phone him every day,” Khun Kwanchai explained, “to verbally update him on the financial status and the bookings. He needs to know the daily income from the restaurants and our Anodas Spa, too. And once a week, on each Saturday, all the managers meet with Lloyd to submit and discuss written breakdowns and summaries of all these things.

Khun Kwanchai arrives at work each day at 7:30 am. He alternates between the two hotels, spending three days a week at Nora Lakeview and the rest of the time at Nora Chaweng. And the first thing he does is to make a round of all the different departments checking for their status and smooth running and taking on board any problems that might have arisen overnight.

And then it’s into the office for a couple of hours with the accounts. The previous day’s cash flow needs to be recorded and an ongoing cross-check compiled between the corresponding incomes from the previous day, previous month and the same day one year ago. This is a lengthy process and he doesn’t emerge until it’s time for the daily briefing and staff meeting with the departmental heads at 10:30 am.

This finished, other staff are looking forwards to a break and spot of lunch. But Khun Kwanchai heads straight back to his desk again to deal with the correspondence. There are internal memos to handle and also ongoing mails between the many tour operators to consider. And then, together with the Duty Manager, Khun Jantana, he has a very careful look through the bookings. With reservations coming from three directions (tour operators, private online bookings and transfers from other hotels in the group) dovetailing each of the guests into place with no overlaps is an exact science.

The afternoons are more varied but just as intensive. The food and beverage department (F&B) needs careful attention as he runs an ongoing analysis on which dishes are popular and which might need to be dropped and also their detailed production costings. And this all needs to be recorded for inclusion in written reports later. The same goes for the spa. And he then spends time in each of the hotel’s other departments in a like manner.

And whilst he’s occupied doing all of these things, he’s also constantly on call to resolve guests’ problems, attend to trade visitors or simply be available for any senior management staff, should they drop in. It’s a rare day that Khun Kwanchai gets to go home to his wife, Khun Wannasiri, and his young daughter, Cookie, much before 7:00 pm.

But, in spite of all this, Khun Kwanchai still finds the time and energy to pursue a course of Open University study for a BA degree in Information Science. Does he want to be top of the tree? Go for an overall General Manager’s position? No. His ambition is to be a teacher one day and to pass on all his awareness and knowledge to others. But then that’s probably just what you’d expect from a person who does his job ‘straight from the heart’!

 


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