Thailand resort with an Aussie flavour
SINCE leaving Lismore as a keen young hospitality worker 26 years ago Brett Wilson has made his mark in an industry that can be known for its ruthlessness.
If you are good you will succeed, and Brett's latest position as the general manager of the new Pullman Phuket Acadia reveals that the lad who grew up in the Northern Rivers has earned the highest respect in his chosen profession.
Few Australians have ever been handed the keys to a multi-million dollar five-star Thailand resort with the simple instructions to make it a special place.
"I don't know if you ever reach the point where you say this is the pinnacle of my career, but I feel very proud and honoured to be looking over this magnificent new property," Brett said.
The Pullman opened its doors earlier this year and features 277 rooms including seven luxury pool villas built into the cliffs overlooking Naithon Beach. It's just a short 15-minute drive from Phuket airport.
Brett is still making some small tweaks to the resort, but his influences are everywhere to be seen.
"We employed 250 staff when we opened the door and even though there are few job vacancies in the Phuket hospitality industry more than 1500 turned up looking to come and work here. That showed me that even before we welcomed our first guests we had built something special that locals wanted to be part of."
While Brett says he didn't interview all staff members he said he was heavily involved when it came to employing his front office staff and his "welcomers".
"The welcomers are the staff who meet you at the airport when you arrive or meet you at the steps to the resort when you first pull up," he said.
"They need to set the mood straight up and make you feel welcome and comfortable. Many guests arrive tired and jet-lagged and this is a very important first step."
I spoke to Brett on the second morning of our short stay at the Pullman and I commented that our welcomer, Moo, achieved exactly what he had expected of her.
She spoke English well, was clear in telling us what the resort had to offer and had us in our room with our luggage shortly after we arrived.
I also mentioned to him that the breakfast on offer was one of the best we had ever experienced. That brought a wry smile to his face. "Just brilliant, it's one of the first things we focused on," he said.
"Almost every guest will come along to breakfast and when they do it's our chance to show them what we can do on the food and service side. It will then encourage them to try your restaurants. A poor breakfast will do exactly the opposite."
His philosophy certainly worked and encouraged not just us but most of the guests to line up that night for an authentic Italian meal cooked by Chef Falvio Monzoni.
It was better than the breakfast, if that was possible.
The resort industry in Thailand is a tough market and will get even tougher in the coming years with more than a dozen new projects underway.
Last year Thailand welcomed 10 million tourists. The prediction is this number will double in just a few years.
*The author was a guest of Pullman Phuket Acadia and Escape Travel.