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    Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

    Eye on Further Growth

      /  HOTELS   /  Eye on Further Growth

    Young CEO Suksit Suvunditkul describes the Deevana group expansion as “not too fast, not too slow” – but a continuing, sustainable one

    by Percy Roxas

    He’s only 32. But, Suksit Suvunditkul — chief executive officer of Deevana Hotels & Resorts Co., Ltd, one of the leading Thai-owned hotel chains based in Phuket – has been taking the family business to greater heights since he took the CEO helm almost two years ago.

    The Deevana group currently operates four hotels: the 232-room Deevana Patong Resort & Spa, the 249-room Deevana Plaza Phuket Patong, the 213-room Deevana Plaza Krabi Aonang, and the 71-room Emerald Garden Resort, with three other hotels currently in the pipeline. The group also runs and operates the Orientala Spa in Patong, and the new, bigger Orientala Wellness & Spa is ready to jump out of the blueprint. Not bad for a 32-year-old eh?

    Suksit has always had a passion for hotels. A scion of a successful business couple from Phuket, he remembers going to the hotel every month as a young boy to enjoy the lifestyle. Early on, he admits to harboring dreams of having a beautiful resort of his own where he can share the good times and experiences he has had with others – although he thought then that it would remain only a dream.

    It so happened that when his elder sister graduated from college, she was interested neither in the businesses of their father’s (construction) nor their mother’s (jewellery). She was more interested in expanding the hotel business that their parents share with relatives. And thus was born their first hotel, Bayshore. Four years later, that hotel became the flagship Deevana Patong today.

    After finishing his studies at Chulalongkorn University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration-tourism management (with honors) and a master’s degree in technopreneurship and innovation, Suksit joined the company as her sister’s deputy managing director (MD). He was 21 then. He was promoted to MD two years later, and eventually to full-pledged CEO.

    Today, Suksit oversees all the operation of the hotels, provides support to all the general managers, and develops new properties for the group. Or, as he puts it, “I am responsible for everything.”

    “For 10 years, we had only one hotel in Patong,” Suksit tells Look East. “Now, we have four in operation and three more are opening soon. Deevana Patong is now 16 years old, while Deevana Plaza Krabi is just 4 years old. We have also just the Emerald Garden Resort in Krabi, but it will undergo extensive renovations to make it a boutique hotel before we re-brand the property next year.”

    Since he joined the group, Suksit says, the company has made it a rule to develop at least one property every three of four years.

    “You can describe our expansion as not too fast, but not too slow – and it will be a continuing, sustainable expansion,” he says. Their search for good locations to develop more properties continues. Timing is important too. “And the concept,” he adds, “as we want our hotels to be distinctive from the others.”

    The group is also launching a new hotel brand called Recenta, in three categories. Most of the hotels are, or will be, located in Patong (and soon Phuket town) for a simple reason: “Phuket is a strategic location. For one, room occupancy in Patong is always good year-round,” he says.

    They have begun branching out to Krabi already but as Suksit admitted, they still haven’t left their “comfort zone” – the Andaman — yet. But that might change soon, as Suksit is keen on really growing the business to its full potential.
    Suksit emphasized that more than just expanding in terms of quantity, Deevana is also focusing on quality. “At this moment, we are engaged in developing our people,” he says. “We have almost a thousand staff already – in both the hotels and spa – and their training and welfare is important to us. In fact, we strongly encourage our staff to become more involved by bringing out fresh, new ideas to support our properties.”

    Suksit has a well-entrenched program for the continuing development of his all-Thai team, and he believes this makes the Deevana group different from other hotel chains in Thailand. “We focus on the development and training of our Thai human resource; even all our top management are Thais,” he says. “Also, I try to push my staff to develop new ways of thinking and working.”

    In the meantime, he tries to learn all he can in his position, and he tries to be as innovative as possible, which is something he also asks from his team. While the job of the CEO sometimes can be too demanding, Suksit says he enjoys it because it allows him to bring new innovative ideas to table and efffect some significant change to the company.

    And he can still dream. “My dream is to make Deevana a well-known Thai hotel brand not only in Thailand but also overseas,” Suksit says.

    “Not in the immediate future perhaps but we are already looking for new properties in Krabi, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pattaya, and maybe Hua Hin. Plans to expand our brand overseas are also not far-fetched. It’s challenging, but there’s no other way to go from here!”