AlumniFulfilling a Lifelong Passion for Hospitality

Despite the obstacles and risks involved in starting a resort, DCT alumnus Vorasit Issara took up the challenge, and today runs one of Phuket’s most popular luxury resort Sri panwa. In 2015, in recognition of his achievements, he became the first recipient of an Honorary Master’s Degree from Cesar Ritz Colleges Switzerland.

Thai-born DCT alumnus Vorasit Issara, more commonly known by his nickname 'Wan', is the Managing Director of Sri panwa a multi-award winning, luxury resort in Phuket. A family-owned and managed estate, Sri panwa was started by one of Thailand’s most established developers, the Charn Issara Group, which takes its name from Wan’s grandfather, Charn Issara. Despite his family’s reputation, success did not come easy for Wan as this was the Group’s first venture into the hospitality industry and thus posed many risks which Wan took up with considerable relish.

With Wan at the helm, Sri panwa has since gone on to receive numerous hotel, culinary and spa accolades, including being voted one of the top three best beach bars in the world in CNN International’s Top 50 Best Beach Bars list. Today, it is a favourite among celebrities, socialites and anyone seeking a chic and stylish luxurious getaway. In 2015, in recognition of the success he achieved with Sri panwa, Wan became the first recipient of an Honorary Master’s Degree from César Ritz Colleges Switzerland.

How did the idea of Sri panwa come about?
When given the task of creating what was to become the resort side of Sri panwa in 2005, I knew the best place to look for a team would be amongst my friends and former classmates at DCT School of Hotels and Business Management. We had worked together in the past and I knew we shared a common vision and passion to create something that was fun and luxurious, yet with a focus on service, good food and music. We wanted to create elements that would allow Sri panwa to be distinct from other traditional luxury hospitality brands seen in Thailand.

 

“It was by leveraging on our collective knowledge and experience from what we learnt in Switzerland, together with my family’s expertise in the development business that we were able to achieve what we did with Sri panwa.”

 

You trained with acclaimed hotel industry veteran Robert Burns during your internship at Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli. How did that impact on your understanding and experience about hospitality?
My internship at Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, where Robert Burns was the General Manager, truly shaped my philosophy about hospitality and the things I learnt there will always stay with me - attention to detail, providing excellent service and executing this all in a way that makes you stand out.

I worked as a pool boy and looked after Robert’s son on many occasions. There was once when he invited me onto his yacht to watch his child and I had the opportunity to pick his brains. We talked about my family’s business in Thailand and he gave me advice on opening a hotel.

 

“He told me that running a hotel isn’t rocket science; it’s all about providing incredible service and it’s the little details that goes a long way into creating memorable experiences for guests.”

An example of how we do this in Sri panwa is by offering complimentary minibar that is replenished everyday.

Coming from a family of property developers, what made you decide to study hospitality and why Switzerland?
I have always loved the hotel industry. When travelling as a child I wouldn’t be interested in the museums, shopping or landmarks, I would be fascinated by the hotel and would spend all my time exploring every corner of the hotel.

The day that I realised I could combine my love of food and hotels and turn it into a career was when I knew I wanted to study hospitality.

 

“Choosing to study in Switzerland was a fairly easy choice for me as Swiss hospitality schools are world-renowned and I knew that if there was one place to study hospitality Switzerland would be it.”

 

You were the first recipient of an Honorary Master’s Degree from César Ritz Colleges Switzerland. That’s quite an achievement!
To be honest I was quite shocked that this was going to happen. To be the first of anything is always a big achievement and this was something I am very proud of till this day. I believe it not only reflects on my performance, but also that of my family here at Sri panwa. The team has truly helped build our reputation as a Thai brand that has attained worldwide recognition.

How was your overall experience at the school?
Studying at César Ritz was great! It was an eye opener and taught me that I could use my passion and energy to create something exciting. I was part of the team that managed the student bar where we organised social events and parties. That experience solidified what I knew would work in the hospitality industry - combining attention to detail with cool and creative concepts.

What are three important characteristics people should have if they want to succeed in the hospitality business?
To succeed I believe everyone should have these characteristics; you should be driven and know exactly what your end goals and objectives are, you should have an open mind and an open heart as everybody can teach you something and you must always be ready to learn and finally in the lesson that Robert Burns taught me, focus on the details and deliver incredible service.

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