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Pree Asvaraksha is not a hotelier by trade but rather a musician, photographer, and a product of Mahidol University’s renowned College of Music.When he isn’t on the road, however, he can be found at Mirasierra Khao Yai – Boutique Bed and Breakfast, which his family owns and runs with the help of Pree and his two cousins. Hotelintel.co recently caught up with Pree to learn more about this unique family venture.
Tell us about the concept behind Mirasierra. What’s the story behind building this family vacation home resort?
It all began during the big flood of 2011. The whole family had to evacuate to Khao Yai for 3 months and had to live there like the locals do. By chance, my two uncles and my mother stumbled upon this great piece of land, and they knew this was going to be their retirement place. So they bought the land and decided to build a little retirement village to share with their friends and their families as well.
The current concept came later, simply by trying to utilize the special talents of each of our family members. One uncle is the owner of Studio 54 which specializes in Mediterranean designs and architecture, and he is very fond of horse riding. My other uncle is also a horse lover who already owns Dr. Por’s Farm, so you can see where the passion came from.
The resort was the second phase of the project. After we built the clubhouse and the stables, we realized that there was too little cashflow in this asset, and we certainly didn’t want our clubhouse to look abandoned like some other real estate projects, so we reconstructed half of the stables and turned it into a little boutique hotel.
Khao Yai is mainly known for local travelers, so what are you doing to attract international visitors?
To be honest we haven’t done much to attract international travelers. Mostly we just use social media. Khao Yai is a place where you have to travel by car. Public transport isn’t well developed. There are no taxis except the pick-up truck ones, so this means that people who want to go sightseeing around town will have to rent cars, or hire private taxis from Bangkok. It takes a while to travel from one place to another too, at least half an hour. The result is that our international guests are more of the expat crowd – families who already live in Thailand and have their own personal cars.
One of the main draws is the riding, so tell us about the equestrian scene in Thailand/ Asia. How big is the market?
The equestrian market in Thailand is not that big, and even worse, the competition is high. The important thing is that each place has its own unique character – for example the horse breeds they have, the trails, and the atmosphere. For those of you who wish to ride Andalusian horses, Mirasierra Khao Yai is surely the place for you. For the Asian market, I don’t really know very much but I’ve seen some Singaporeans and some Chinese riders visiting us every once in a while. It would be a pleasure to expand our riders market to the Asian level.
You have a lot of repeat guests, so obviously your service is bringing them back. How do you train your staff? What do you think are the factors behind all these repeat guests?
I’m no expert in hospitality but what I use is a Thai motto which roughly translates as putting on the shoes of others. I try to treat people how I expect people to treat me. It’s simple. Some people might think it’s too casual, but I don’t want the service of this place to treat customers like they are God, but rather that they are visitors visiting your house for a couple of days. How will you treat these visitors? Like friends!
What do you like most about Khao Yai, and what are the best things to do around Mirasierra?
For me it’s the air, the weather, the scent of the forest and the fields and the national park. For things to do, horse riding is the main attraction in Mirasierra. There are plenty of different activities related to horses – you’ve got trail riding, carriage rides, ring riding, and then the chance to take care of the horses, feeding them and grooming them.
There are also other activities for visitors although they need to be pre-arranged, but you’ve got painting classes, photography, trekking in the national park, trail rides, and even yoga classes. We also try to get involved with other special events throughout the year though, things like movie nights or mini festivals, so keep an eye on us through social media – and if you love horses, you know where to come!