Sven talks about his journey, his opinion and his plan for Hua Hin
How long have you lived in Hua Hin or been coming to Hua Hin?
I’ve had visited Hua Hin earlier twice as a guest, and just last month came back to take on the Mövenpick Asara Resort & Spa Hua Hin.
What did you know about Hua Hin before you moved here?
Obviously as most would know, Hua Hin is the Summer Residence of the Thai royal family. I’ve been also able to experience the wine yard with some very decent wines produced, that it is a beach resort destination with excellent accommodation such as ours, well known for golfing, has water parks, lively markets, and all that along a nice stretch of beach while only 3 hours away from Bangkok.
What do you like most about Hua Hin?
Hua Hin is a charming town that has a laid-back Thai feel. Being here just for a short time, I still have to discover much but can say that I feel already comfortable here.
You’ve worked in many countries– which is your favorite and why?
This is not an entirely fair question in my opinion, as I learned that no matter what country you are in, you will always find nice places, wonderful people and mesmerizing cultural aspects that leaves a mark in your memory. And often it is the people that you meet, that will make the difference. Having said that and coming back to Thailand, it has become a bit of a home for me and my wife, as we simply enjoy the way of living here, its people and the many corners that you can explore here, despite the cultural aspects and its cuisine.
What do you prefer as a workplace – resort or city hotel?
I do both. Currently I work in a resort; however, I do enjoy the City hotel work environment too.
Hua Hin is a popular weekend destination for Thais, so how you do you manage mid-week business?
True, the weekend is much dominated by the domestic market but not only. As for the weekdays, we do have a healthy customer mix that helps us not to be entirely depended on one or the other, while additional group business helps to balance the week.
How does Hua Hin rate in terms of affordability?
Hua Hin has in recent years clearly evolved in terms of mid-scale, upmarket, and luxury resorts, making it more competitive in product choice and pricing of which the customer can profit from. Having said that, there are different needs on different levels, and that does not only reflect the price per say.
Any progress on the plans to run regular flights to Hua Hin airport?
I believe an international airport for the region would be hugely beneficial for the destination and the tourism of Hua Hin, that could transform this area to new heights. Unfortunately I cannot comment much on the progress in that regards.
What overseas markets are you focusing on?
As already indicated earlier, it is important for us to have a healthy customer mix, and that means across Asian region, Middle East, Europe, US, Australia or Africa we want to have a footprint of ours. Having taken over the resort just recently under Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, we are still in the building up and establishing our name in certain markets of which I am confident having a brand such as Mövenpick/ Accor behind us will boost our efforts.
Is there a danger in Hua Hin (and elsewhere in Thailand) relying too heavily on the Chinese and Indian markets?
Not for us. Our resort does cater only for Suites and Villas, guaranteeing a very private and exclusive environment, and therefore we do not tap into mass groups of any destination but selective markets. This is one of our strengths, we believe, and where guests can be sure they’ll find a luxury escape they were looking for.
How can Thailand win back European visitors?
While Europe faces its own challenges, it is important not to give up on that market. Thailand remains a preferred Asian destination for the European market, and promoting the destination with quality offers will eventually pay off. As for Mövenpick Asara Resort & Spa Hua Hin, Europe is one of the biggest markets already.
What can Hua Hin do to help itself win more quality visitors?
At the moment the hotels and resorts carry much of the work in promoting not only the property but the destination. Here a strong support from the government is needed to put Hua Hin on the map and to target the right markets. Infrastructure and accessibility (including a possible regional airport) clearly would support this effort.