Back in 1974, after graduating from Assumption Commercial College where he studied general business, Danai Wansom went in search of work. Most of his friends were seeking jobs with either ESCAP (hoping for an international posting), or the up-and-coming CP Group, but Danai tried a different route.    


Hoping also to get posted abroad, he applied at the Siam Intercontinental Hotel and the Hyatt Rama Bangkok (now the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza). He had success with the latter, even though he admitted he didn't have any experience in the hotel business. He won them over with his pleasant manner and English skills. His first job was as a front desk clerk, but he really had no intention of staying in the business for twenty-six years.


After working at the hotel for a few years, he was offered a position with Singapore Airlines in reservations and ticketing. His boss at the Hyatt Rama called his bluff, however, and told him that if he hung around until the end of the month he would be promoted to assistant manager. And he was, so at the tender age of twenty-three, he held a position, that in those days were usually reserved for farangs or Asians from either Singapore or Hong Kong.


The Rama Group, for whom he was working for then decided to expand its operations and they established a hotel in Hat Yai called the Rama Hat Yai. So in 1980, at the age of twenty-six, Danai became that hotel's general manager. But while there, during business trips to Singapore and Malaysia, he discovered that he enjoyed the sales and marketing aspect of the business and he thought it he would like to give that a try for awhile.


So he found himself back in Bangkok in charge of sales and marketing for the new Rama Gardens Hotel, located near the airport. But in 1983, Danai's former boss at the Hyatt came back to Bangkok to run the new Hyatt Central Plaza Hotel and he asked Danai to join him. Danai did, and stayed with the hotel for eight years as the director of sales and marketing and then as the resident manager. The Hyatt managed the property for five years, giving it up in 1988, but Danai stayed on until 1991 when he took a posting in Hong Kong.


In Hong Kong, Danai joined a management company called Century International Hotels, but he went back into marketing becoming the company's vice-president for marketing & sales and eventually its senior vice-president. The group started with one property, the Century Hong Kong Hotel, and five years later, it had twenty hotels, and just before Danai left the company it had twenty-six properties in eight countries in Asia.      


In 1996, Century International merged with the Laisun Group, a publicly listed company in Hong Kong, and as Laisun owned the Delta hotels in the Asia/Pacific region, Century assumed management of these hotels including the Delta Grand Pacific in Bangkok.     


Danai moved back to Bangkok from Hong Kong in August of 1998 as temporary caretaker and general manager of the Delta Grand Pacific, while at the same time still holding positions as senior vice-president for marketing & sales for both the Century International Hotels and the Delta Asia/Pacific Hotels & Resorts. 


In March of 1999, Laisun and Century International split and Danai was forced to make a decision. Was he going to return to Hong Kong and assume his position as senior VP of sales & marketing with Century or was he going to remain in Bangkok with Laisun and look after Delta? Danai chose to stay in Thailand with the objective of developing the hospitality industry in his home town.     


Laisun then bought the Furama Hotel in Hong Kong and established Furama Hotels & Resorts International, which assumed management of the Delta Grand Pacific in August of 1999, changing the name of the property to the Grand Pacific Hotel.


Why did he choose to stay? His job in Hong Kong saw him traveling more than seven months of the year, as he had to visit all of Century's twenty-six properties in eight countries, constantly be on the outlook for new properties and always travel to important trade shows and conventions. He was traveling nearly every other week.     


Danai says, "In the head office, you deal with policy, planning and promotion and you deal with distributors, the people who make the bookings. But as the GM of a hotel, you have the opportunity to talk to your customers, the guests who stay in your hotel."


During Danai's stint with Century, he was acting GM in Hong Kong and other cities, and combined with his previous experience in Hat Yai many moons ago, running a hotel is not new to him. But he does realize he is carrying the torch. First, because he was promoted from a marketing position, as in the old days ninety percent of hotel general managers graduated from the food and beverage industry.


And second, even though its absolutely ridiculous to think that farangs can teach Thais anything about hospitality, the erroneous perception is that farangs make better hotel GMs than Thais. Danai realizes people are watching him and he knows that he must manage his hotel at an international standard to prove that Thai GMs are just as capable as their foreign counterparts.


Danai, who is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of the School of Hotel Management at Cornell University, says its imperative for Thais thinking of entering the hotel business to try and get more international training at premier hotel schools because it is from these elite institutions that international hotels recruit their staff.


Why does Danai think the Grand Pacific is a good product? "Hotels are all the same, they are in a building, they have a lobby, restaurants, guest rooms, beds etc. These are all the tangible products - what you can see and touch. But then there's the intangible products, which is what you feel, the service. Our staff is part of this second product, and they are what distinguish us. Because they are excellent, our customers keep coming back. 


"We have always had a standard of excellence. The hotel was planned and built by ANA, a five-star brand in Japan. And just before it opened, it was taken over by Delta, the Canadian chain, and another superior hotel, so it has had an international standard from the beginning.


"Our guest rooms are over 40 sq.m, so they are very large, and our bathrooms are very large too with separate shower and bath facilities. We also offer things like coffee-and-tea making facilities in the room. We have four restaurants (Chinese, Thai, International and Japanese), a coffee corner in the lobby, a piano bar on the 8th floor, and a sky lounge and karaoke on the 25th floor.


"We also have a beauty salon, a health club and fitness center with an outdoor swimming pool, a sauna, Jacuzzi, state-of-the-art exercise equipment, massage facilities and we also have top-flight meeting, ball and function rooms as well.


And for the guests who stay on the top three floors, the Signature floors, they receive free breakfast, high tea and an evening cocktail as well."     


The hotel also has a wonderful Sunday buffet, where one set price of Bt480 for adults allows guests to partake in any of the culinary delights offered up by the International, Thai and Japanese restaurants (the first child is free, and itys Bt270 for the rest). Danai adds, "It's a real dine around. We also focus on children's activities with our kid's club, games, toys and giveaways. And the first Sunday in every month, we will have performances by children including magic shows."


And what about the Grand Pacific's guests? "We are very close to so many embassies, but especially the Japanese mission, so as a result we get many business travelers from Japan. And we also have many guests from the USA, the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore, but I don't necessarily mean natives of Hong Kong and Singapore, but people who are residing there. We have many repeat guests, one of our guests has even stayed here 148 times."


Located right smack dab in the middle-of-town, the hotel is close to everything, bars, restaurants, the Central Business District and now it also has a Skytrain stop right outside the hotel (Asok). 


Danai personally interviews all of the hotel's prospective employees. "I hire people at the lower positions, so that they realize they have a future here, and they do not think that they will hold the same position forever. I also believe attitude is much more important than work experience, so I am willing to take a chance on student with an eager attitude." he says. I guess everything does come full circle.  



Contact Info:


Tel: (662) 651-1000


Fax: (662) 651-1132






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