Patrice Landrein is the General Manager of Pimalai Resort & Spa, the luxurious beachfront retreat on KOh Lanta, Thailand. A French national, Patrice has 25 years of experience on three continents, including roles with some of the world’s leading hotels, such as the Ritz and Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, The Savoy in London, and Hôtel Plaza Athénée in New York. He was also the youngest general manager of a Parisian palace when he was just 30 years old.

Patrice has a deep understanding of Southeast Asian culture, having overseen the opening and operations of hotels and resorts in Thailand and Vietnam. His management is based on the “6E” concept: Envision, Empower, Enlist, Embody, Encourage, and Evaluate. Driven by this philosophy and his passion for hospitality, Patrice is now focused on creating exceptional guest experiences and elevating Pimalai as an iconic resort on the global stage.

How do you plan to welcome guests back to Pimalai? What do you have in store for them?

First and foremost, the safety of our guests and staff is our highest priority. That is why we are stepping up our precautionary measures to be in line with the advice given by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Thai authorities. A dedicated Hygiene Manager has been appointed to implement the new protocols and monitor our entire action plan, so guests can now book in confidence. We look forward to welcoming guests back from 9th July.

Privacy and social distancing are already guaranteed thanks to the location and layout of the resort. Accommodation is spread throughout the estate and villas are separated by lush vegetation and spaced by at least two meters. There are no corridors and elevators. All public areas, pools and F&B outlets are in the open-air and have enough space to respect the new rules, and outdoor activities can be organized in total safety on our 900-metre-long private beach.

In terms of sanitation, we have decided to take drastic measures. For example, we will leave a 24-hour vacancy between two bookings. During this period, a deep cleaning following hospital standards and ozone sterilization of guest rooms will take place. The same protocols will apply in all public areas, using hospital-grade sanitizers. In the kitchens, Pimalai will disinfect all electric burners. All staff, visitors and guests will have their temperatures checked upon arrival at the resort and before entering the spa. In case of any emergency, Pimalai’s private boat and car can quickly reach the main hospital in Krabi. All employees will wear masks and kitchen staff will have face shields. Hand gel dispensers will also be available in public areas and masks will become a standard amenity in every room.

In your experience, what is the most important thing in running a successful luxury property?

First of all, it’s important to have a five-star background. The success of a luxury property is a long journey; time and hard work are needed to reach this level. My predecessor contributed to Pimalai’s success during his 18-year tenure. GMs needs to use new management techniques to adapt to a new generation of staff, and I have created and successfully implemented my own method based on 6Es: Envision, Empower, Enlist, Embody, Encourage, and Evaluate. The most important pillar is “Envision” because it spreads your message to the team and helps them understand where you want to take them.

How do you manage your relations between your associates, owners, guests, and media?

I think that each person has to be at the right position. Owners have to empower GMs and let them run their properties without any interferences while defining clear targets and goals. The GM is the ambassador of the owner to the guests, and the leader of his team and stakeholders. Regarding public relations, I am very oriented toward sales & marketing, even though I don’t like personal exposure. The star is the product; it’s Pimalai.

What's the future of luxury resorts in Asia? What's the difference between luxury in Europe and Asia?

The success of luxury resorts will depend on the collaboration between owners and management; they must have the same vision. At Pimalai, it’s a family business and I am fortunate to be able to communicate with my owner easily. We are proactive and the decision-making process is smooth and fast. This explains our success.

During this trying time, I think that companies – in hospitality and other industries – that have cut their sales & marketing expenses cannot expect a quick recovery. Business that have remained active will rebound more quickly. Technology has played an important role during lockdown and its use will continue to grow. We have proved that it is not always necessary to travel around the world to motivate our associates. Sales reps, travel agents, guests and wholesalers can be contacted and effectively managed from our offices, even during a difficult time.

I worked in several five-star hotels in Europe and the US, and I am happy to be in Thailand now as I think the 21st Century belongs to Asia. Being located here, next to a country like China and its 1.4 billion inhabitants, gives us a huge opportunity to be creative and adapt ourselves to the high and diverse demand. But it’s important not to forget our authentic Thai hospitality and warmth, which Pimalai has always promised. That’s why I love Thailand. My Thai team  has demonstrated a wonderful positive attitude, faith and loyalty, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I cannot succeed without them. We are Pimalai!

Visit Patrice Landrein at Pimai Resort & Spa