As Rachadapisek Road transforms into Bangkok’s new CBD, Chao Phaya Park Hotel embarks on a repositioning with a new general manager at the helm: Thai-American Viranat Silanandaby Percy Roxas
Chao Phaya Park Hotel Bangkok is set for a repositioning of sorts. No, it’s not a rebranding as in a big change of name, a massive renovation, or anything similar. It is rather a re-alignment of priorities, a fine-tuning of existing strengths, and maybe a re-thinking of marketing strategies – overall, an effort to keep up with the times. The man at the helm to carry on the job at hand is Viranat Silananda, who assumed the position of General Manager (GM) at the hotel in December last year.
Viranat, or “Vern,” as many fondly call him, seems to be the best man for the job, indeed. And why not? He has a strong rooms background, a solid understanding of standards, and specialized skills in revenue management systems, e-commerce, social media for F&B, guest satisfaction, and employee engagement. Vern also boasts a wealth of pre-opening hotel experience, and is known for his strong understanding for finding a balance between establishing what environment is best for employees, customers, and owners in the properties he has worked with.
The 45-year-old hotelier, the first Thai-American GM of Chao Phaya Hotel Bangkok, started his career with Holiday Inn Brentwood Bel-Air (in Los Angeles, California) in 1984. Here, as guest services manager/area pre-opening support (room division), he was able to reduce guest complaints by 50 percent and was responsible for working out the incentive program for the department.
Next, he was contracted to do the pre-opening for the MGM Casino Group, and stayed with the 509-room for the pre-opening of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada (six months). He did a very good job there but he was not able to resist an offer from the Westin Group U.S. to do the pre-opening for Westin Chiang Mai, which was his first stint in Thailand. He saw it as a chance to return to his home country and reconnect with his roots. Indeed, he says the experience helped him to rediscover his own country and paved the way for his eventual decision to stay on.
He was with Westin Chiang Mai for five months during the pre-opening stages. By February 1994, he went on to become acting executive assistant manager/front office manager at Holiday Inn Green Hills, where he was mainly responsible for operations of the Front Office Division. By December of that same year, he moved to the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket, where he was promoted from room division manager to executive assistant manager. Vern successfully completed the re-branding of this hotel from a core brand to a resort brand, and helped develop a business plan for the hotel to achieve its financial goals in 1997 and 1998, among other achievements.
His next move was to the Amari Palm Reef Resort in Koh Samui, where he became General Manager in July 1999. He stayed there for nine years and two months. Vern was at the helm when the resort planned and implemented a successful renovation in all areas of the hotel, and he oversaw the addition of 84 deluxe rooms, an Italian freestanding restaurant, and spa. He also developed and implemented service concepts and standards for the PREGO Italian Restaurant, as well as managing the serviced standard for the resort, for which the hotel won TTG’s “Best Beach Resort” in 2006 and 2007.
But by 2008, he was back at the Holiday Inn Chiang Mai, where he stayed for one year and six months. He did return to the Amari fold in February 2010, when he became GM of the Amari Atrium Bangkok. After three years and 10 months, in October 2013, Vern moved to the Oriental Residence Bangkok also as GM where he developed sales strategies and branding for the property as a combined hotel/long-stay residence. This was done through a marketing company and they worked together to develop a free-standing restaurant concept, and F&B marketing strategies for Cafe Claire through social media.
Vern brings all the experiences and KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) of his long, checkered career to the Chao Phaya Park Hotel Bangkok.
He describes his main challenge at the Chao Phaya Park Hotel, as “keeping up with the fast-changing infrastructure.”
He went on to explain: “Because this part of town is transforming into the new Central Business District (CBD) of Bangkok and with the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and many corporate companies relocating here, we have to make the hotel ready for developments. These changes are not only in the hotel’s facilities and services, but also in technology and on the internet. We have to make the hotel cutting-edge.”
Specifically, his plans for the hotel this year revolve around repositioning and strengthening the existing Chao Phaya Park brand and fine-tuning its existing strengths in the MICE market. “We are also repositioning our culinary offerings in all of our six Food & Beverage outlets, and positioning them among the well-known hotspots on Ratchadapisek Road,” he adds.
It is still probably too early to assess his achievements at Chao Phaya Park Hotel, but already Vern is making both the industry people and the market give the hotel a second look. Occupancy numbers are strong, and F&B revenues are rising up to their potential. But he wants to do more.
Obviously, the hotel is making him use the strengths that made him a successful hotelier. Always a hands-on manager and with strong communication skills, he provides exceptional contributions to customer service. He strives for continued excellence in aspects such as marketing management, concept management, and financial management; and he is a leader who believes in developing people and leading by example.
While Vern looks every inch a nice guy, he also admits he is tough to work with: “I always demand the best and nothing less from the people I work with. You’ll probably hate me when you’re working for me.”
Hate him? Well, we don’t know about that, as his present associates at the Chao Phaya Park Hotel Bangkok all seem to disagree.