#unCOVERED – Meet the Man who set the benchmark for Luxury Resorts in Sri Panwa Phuket.
Perched on one of the globe’s most majestic coastlines, Sri Panwa Phuket sets the benchmark for luxury resorts in Thailand. The brand is the brainchild of a veritable real estate entrepreneur in his own rights and his audacity to choose the road less travelled.
Though the audacious entrepreneur hails from a family of one of Thailand’s most established real estate developers, the Charn Issara Group, Wan Vorasit Issara was determined to forge his own footprints and ventured into the luxury hospitality industry. At the age of 23, Wan Vorasit Issara rode against the odds to conceptualize, build and manage Sri Panwa Phuket Resort to be the benchmark of luxury villa residences in Phuket.
COVERED: Hailing from a family of one of Thailand’s most established real estate developers, the Charn Issara Group is well known for developing iconic residential and commercial real estate in Thailand. What inspired you to forge your own footsteps to venture into the hospitality industry instead of following your grandfather’s and father’s footsteps to focus on residential and commercial real estate?
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: I grew up surrounded by my family members, who were all somehow involved in the industry. My family is a well-known developer and owns some of Bangkok’s most iconic buildings. I grew up on the construction site. The first construction site was at Charn Issara Tower 1, and I was about 2.5 years old. Every day after school, I spent time in my father’s office.
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: I started my first job as a trainee in the hospitality business when I was 15 years old, cutting paper. I normally worked every summer. Other people chose to work at McDonald’s or shops, but I always preferred to work in a beautiful hotel and a beautiful place. I am a diva like that. I like beautiful things and beautiful properties, cars, restaurants, and clubs. I have also worked in restaurants and clubs since I was 17 years old.
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: While studying in Switzerland, I always took an interest in researching for the best hotel around and enjoyed driving every weekend. When I was young, my mission was to own a restaurant or a hotel. Thus, when I first saw Sri Panwa, I felt like I had achieved my goal and uncovered a gold mine.
COVERED: At the age of 23, you were tasked with the responsibility of setting up and managing Sri Panwa Phuket Resort to be the benchmark of luxury villa residences in Phuket. At that point in time, we understand that the plot of land included merely a few pools. How did the idea of Sri Panwa come about?
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: We started with 4-5 people; they are my friends from DCT International Hostel and Business Management School in Switzerland. At the very beginning, we talked to all the brands, and they had plenty of ideas. But they weren’t developers. My family has been in the development business for more than 30 years, so we had our own ideas. For the resort, I wanted to apply our own concept and be free to choose key elements, like the design, the music, the food, etc. You never know what will happen if you give your baby to others.
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: Back in the day, when people booked through travel agents, brands had the advantage, but now online is king, which suits our business model, as we appeal to that independent spirit.We had complete trust in each other as well as a shared vision of what we wanted Sri Panwa to become. When you know you can count on your team, you will run into a lot less problems. We all had the full support of our parent company and their expertise in development. We wanted Sri Panwa to be a five-star resort with lots of fun rolled into one.
COVERED: We understand that Sri Panwa Phuket Resort was the first property fund converted to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in Thailand. What made you decide to convert from a property fund (Sri Panwa Property Fund) to a REIT?
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: It has been a very proud couple of years for all of us. We unveiled our new baby, Baba Beach Club, in both Phuket and Hua Hin and laid down the plans for the next exciting project, Sri Panwa in China as well as two IPOs. Last year, Sri Panwa was marked as a major milestone for Thailand’s capital market development, as Sri Panwa became Thailand’s first REIT. The conversion to a REIT ensures that our company will run it professionally and officially.
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: The purpose of its conversion is to facilitate the acquisition of new assets and increase the size of its asset portfolio to enhance returns and liquidity. We believed that Sri Panwa’s assets had great potential, with its management team highly experienced in hotel management.
COVERED: What are your future plans for your hospitality development arm? Are you planning to create another product of a similar asset class to Sri Panwa Phuket Resort?
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: Baba Beach Club, Phuket and Baba Beach Club, Hua Hin are our newest babies that are managed and developed by Sri Panwa. This brand is a luxurious music lovers’ hotel that will open this October in two of the most popular destinations in Thailand. We also run private residences just like Sri Panwa. Another one is in Hainan, China, which is under construction now and will be managed and developed through a collaboration between a leading Chinese property development company.
COVERED: Since the opening of Sri Panwa Phuket Resort , there has been an emergence of multiple five-star boutique hotels in Phuket. How do you stay relevant in the competitive five-star hotel industry in Thailand?
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: I believe in the importance of being a team player and being personable. With all of my projects, I like to incorporate aspects of my passions, including boutique hotel design, great food, music, and even my passion for cars.
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: A unique location, views, quality of workmanship of the villas, design, a spacious layout of villas and the entire resort allows for utmost privacy and a young and trendy brand image, which appeals to a growing young audience that wants luxury service without too much formality and stiffness.
COVERED: What is the future of Sri Panwa Phuket Resort ? Will we be able to witness a new dimension of Sri Panwa Phuket Resort?
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: Sri Panwa is an internationally recognized brand and we have been through many challenging and have made it successful. As for Sri Panwa’s REIT, we are also looking into hospitality assets abroad, including the UK, Italy, and other European countries, as prices are quite cheap at the moment.
COVERED: This is my fifth time at Sri Panwa Phuket Resort and I am still enchanted by Sri Panwa and the panoramic ocean views of the Andaman Sea. Will you bring these concepts to other islands around the world?
WAN VORASIT ISSARA: Yes definitely, for both Baba Beach Club. in both Phuket and Hua Hin. I’ve already laid down the plans for the next exciting project – Sri Panwa in China is now under development, and it will be open next year.
Planning your next getaway?
Baba Beach Club is located at 88 Moo 5, North of Phuket ,Natai Beach, Thailand, Takua Thung, Khok Kloi, Phang Nga 82140, Thailand.
For more about the Sri Panwa REIT, read more here.