Nickname: ‘Loong Oo-an’ – Thai for Uncle Fatty. When I was at the Anantara Hua Hin 20 years ago, I weigh 12 kg more than today.
Born: Gothenburg, Sweden. Grew up in Africa - Zambia and Ethiopia – and then to Kuala Lumpur in the early 70s. That was the best time to be an expat in Malaysia. My Dad was head of World Health Organization in Southeast Asia.
Education: Boarding school in England. Diploma in French from Lausanne in Switzerland, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Hotel Management from the University of Hawaii, USA, and a Master in Marketing from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
Present Position: Chief Operating Officer, 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts.
Family: Swedish mother, Australian father, a US citizen, who fought for the United States in WW2 because the Americans paid better. I have a son, 31, in Sweden and a daughter, 30, who is about to get married in London. My wife of ten years is a Thai national.
Where do you live?
A wonderful condo in Soi Yen Akart.
How long in Thailand? 19 years.
Favorite restaurant: Rendez-Vous Au Lys.
Brexit or Remain: Against it but part of me for it. I’m thinking about the future, and what opportunities there will be for today’s grandchildren. I am concerned. Europe is struggling. But I also understand why UK voted for Brexit. The UK and the countries of Northern Europe should re-establish the European Free Trade Agreement.
What languages do you speak?
Swedish and all the Nordic languages, French, English and German. Worked in hotels in nine countries. Ananatra for a long time, 137 Pillars for seven years.
Favorite weekend getaway: Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai. Also Polo Escape in Pattaya.
Horse and elephant polo. I founded and created the Anantara King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in 2001 to assist Thailand’s domesticated street elephants enjoy a better life.
Has Thailand changed for the better or worse? Thailand is definitely one of the best places in the world, but it has changed and is becoming a place of two centres – Bangkok and the rest of the country. Bangkok is less welcoming than before. I enjoy Songkla, where my wife is from. There’s something soft and authentic about the city.
Exercise: Yoga and I also work out a lot otherwise I’d get fat. I used to compete in polo games. I’ve ridden horses all my life. I love polo.
Best person you’ve met?
Jimmy Carter – I met him twice. Sophia Loren – she was my idol. What a lady. Sean Connery and Bob Hope.
Most disappointing: John Howard, prime minister of Australia. He was giving a speech and 800 of the audience left, it was so boring.
Most overrated thing in Bangkok? Shopping centres.
Can you imagine living anywhere else? Six months in Europe, and the rest of the year here.
Where did you work before Thailand?
The Raffles Town Club in Singapore before joining the Anantara Group in 2000. Former GM of the Regent Bangkok, Bill Bank, was responsible for me coming here.
Where else have you worked?
Hawaii in Honolulu and on the island of Maui. Also Tahiti, which was fantastic. No social media, an island of conversation, which I’m encouraging here.
Best project you’ve ever been involved in?
It’s a draw between 137 Pillars Chiang Mai and Naladhu in the Maldives, an Anantara project twice voted the best hotel in the Indian Ocean. It’s Roger Federer’s favorite hotel. Also the Anantara King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament the King’s Cup Elephant Polo which I ran for 16 years in Hua Hin, Chiang Rai and Bangkok. I founded and created the Anantara King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in 2001 to assist Thailand’s domesticated street elephants enjoy a better life.
Raffles Town Club in Singapore.
Best friend in Thailand?
Bjorn Richardson, GM of 137 Pillars Bangkok. We were born in the same hospital in Sweden, though 12 years apart.
What’s next for you?
Building 137 Pillars in New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands – but not finalized yet. Also possibly in Greece, Switzerland and two more in Thailand. I’d like to go to Myanmr, though Vietnam is more likely.
Should Thailand rethink its policy of quantity of tourists over quality?
There’s no other option for Thailand.
How can Thailand improve as a destination?
More sensible planning. Take Jomtien Beach as an example. With proper planning, it could have been another Nusa Dua in Bali, or Laguna Beach Resort in Phuket. They’re wrecking Thailand by allowing uncontrolled building. The people in charge grew up with a different lifestyle – they love the street markets, the street food etc.
But they’re clearing away the street food vendors?
That’s a huge mistake.
Is enough being done to improve Bangkok?
They’re trying with projects like the BTS and MRT. Potentially it’s getting better, but there’s still a long way to go.
Active in several charities, including the Kiwanis and the Beaumont Foundation. Christopher is a 37-year veteran of the hospitality industry in Europe and Asia. He began his career in 1980 at the Westin Hotel Scandinavia Oslo, Norway, before moving to The Regent Sydney’s Don Burrows Supper Club in 1982. His first position as General Manager was at the Hotel Bali Hai Moorea in Tahiti at the age of 30. From 2000 to 2007, he headed the Anantara Resort Group in Thailand and the Maldives, opening six properties for the group. Most recently he was the Vice President of Hotel Operations & Development for South East Asia for the SilverNeedle Hospitality Group. He took up his present position in October 2015.