“The guests will know what they want to eat and drink before they even book it,”
Chiang Mai has over a thousand boutique hotels, each claiming its own uniqueness. Hotel Sensai Nimman Chiangmai is another, but with a lot more to offer.
Just before Sensai opened its doors to the first guests this month, I had the opportunity to visit the hotel and have a long conversation with Julian Bruno, the General Manager.
Julian Bruno is no stranger to the industry; in fact he was familiar with hotelintel.co and myself long before he was appointed to his current role. If there is one word that continues to describe Julian, it would be ‘passionate’ … and that’s before we mention that he’s also the youngest GM we have interviewed.
Sensai is the brainchild and creation of Unicorn Hospitality and Julian. The vision he has is to make Sensai the best boutique resort in Chiang Mai, which might sound ambitious, but Julian and the team already have a plan in place, ready to be executed.
F&B Forward, and Experience Forward
Sensai pushes F&B forward as a driving force. “Yes, at least for the first three months of the opening, we want to use our F&B experience as part of the strategy to bring guests through the door. After all we only have 24 rooms, we believe that our Omakase could be a great attribute to support the overall strategy,” said Julian.
Why Omakase, and why Japanese, you may ask. A simple answer is, “There is no other Omakase like ours,” Julian explained. “We bring the best of the Japanese ingredients and dishes while creating a little bit of a twist. There is no other Omakase restaurant that is like ours in Chiang Mai.”
Julian also commented that people follow chefs, which is true for the industry. I, for one, follow people more than bricks and mortar, and I had a quick chat with Chef Sek who is leading all of the F&B operations at Sensai. A short description of Chef Sek would also include the word, ‘passionate’, especially when it comes to fish. Throughout my whole journey in the hotel industry, and after talking to a lot of chefs, nobody has ever shown passion and enthusiasm for fish like Chef Sek.
Apart from a really good F&B experience, what else could bring success for Julian? He paused and said, “We have really great staff,” before he paused again, to allow me to finish his sentence with, “They all come from different brands.” While this may sound like a joke, there is an important underlying truth. This means they are already well-trained, and some are industry veterans. They also see something in the Sensai brand, and of course they believe in their management.
So What is Sensai Hotel?
Sensai is ‘pattern lines’ in Thai, and also means ‘precise’ in Japanese. The two elements are demonstrated through the hotel’s DNA. A very beautiful interior design and decoration of Thai art patterns, combined with the art of being precise in the service offering, as well as the Japanese influence in F&B.
While Sensai fits into the boutique hotel category with its attributes of ‘unique’, ‘small’, and ‘design-oriented’, it also offers plenty of quirks. For example, Omakase and Champagne in its penthouse. Sensai’s penthouse tops almost any other penthouse in its own category. The two bedroom penthouse has its own entrance and offers ultimate privacy. It’s even spacious enough to hold a meeting. The penthouse was already booked while I was there, and that was before its official opening.
“People found us on social media,” Julian said. “Thanks to the Internet!”
Although the penthouse is a must, the other room types are no less appealing. Situated in Nimman, where space is at a premium, Sensai offers more than most. Room sizes range from 32 sqm to 155 sqm, and some of the rooms offer direct pool access. Having no gym doesn’t mean compromise where guests’ health and well-being is concerned; a room gym by TechnoGym and a massage service are available upon request.
If the hotel is all about giving guests good experiences and memories, Sensai is ready to create plenty for its guests. “Our staff know you before you arrive; we profile our guests and make sure we deliver what they need at the right time. We know what you like and what you don’t like. And if we do not know it now, the moment we learn more about you we will get to know you,” said Julian, as he told me that he wouldn’t ever offer me ‘Khao Soi’.
Sensai will be your home away from home. It’s cozy but not too impactful. It has a character but not a crazy one. It has the heart and soul of the people. It feels like they know you, and you know them.
“The guests will know what they want to eat and drink before they even book it,” explains Julian as he reveals his marketing strategy.
As far as I’m concerned, I’d like to stay at the penthouse, try the full course of Omakase, and have a Sirinimman while chatting with the staff.
Visit Hotel Sensai Nimman Chiangmai here