When presenting our properties, we make big efforts to provide accurate and inclusive information for the benefit of our patrons. But of course, there are still many substantial (and sometimes comical) facts left untold which we believe are essentially worth hearing too. These are the insights and stories that only our dedicated villa staff can chronicle -and they do so in such compelling detail.
Every villa has countless stories to tell. Villa Sangkachai, one of our most well-acclaimed holiday rental villas in Koh Samui, is one with evidently much to share. We paid a visit and sat down with Jah, the pleasant yet sharp-witted villa manager and asked her to give us an inside look into what really happens at the frontlines of the business.
TPW:Hi Jah. Thank you again for agreeing to do this interview. To start off, could you tell us about your role as a villa manager?
JAH: I am the main contact for everything that guests will require. Together with my team, we make sure that they are happy at all times while they are staying with us. We can’t promise that everything can be arranged 100% according to their preferences, but we try very hard. We try our best to make them happy throughout their holiday.
TPW:Can you describe to us that unveiling moment when guests arrive and see the villa for the first time?
JAH: Most of them, when they step into our doors, they would say ‘wow.’ Some people would even say ‘wow’ every 5 minutes, with every area they see. We will show them around and they go ‘wow! it’s amazing. It’s even better than the pictures. wow! I could get lost, this place is big.’
The L-shaped infinity pool of Villa Sangkachai overlooking the northeastern coast of Samui.
TPW:What features of the villa do they really fall in love with?
JAH: We have the entertainment area. The red carpet and the cinema -that always receives a big “wow” from guests. Many guests fall in love with it even before they get to actually use it. Our entertainment area is very unique. It’s like an entirely different world. And of course, the pool with this incredible view. It amazes everyone.
TPW:Of course. It never fails to amaze us too. What about the island of Koh Samui? What do visitors usually like to do on the island?
JAH: They always want to go on boat trips. There are three popular boating destinations here: Koh Tao, which is famous for diving; Ang Thong, the national marine park; and Koh Phangan, which is the neighbor island. Guests usually prefer to have private tours, and we make the arrangements for them.
TPW:A good number of guests who re-book the villa remember the staff by name long after their previous visit. What is your secret to instilling a lasting impression on your guests? How do you form strong relationships with them?
JAH: I think it’s sincerity, more than anything, to give sincere service. We try to do everything to make them happy and they can feel it. Even if there is a problem, they would feel that we are doing our best to make things work. They feel that they are in good hands and they feel everything will be okay. We become family, and not just guest-staff relationship, but family. And we have that relationship with all the guests.
” I think it’s sincerity, more than anything, to give sincere service. We try to do everything to make them happy and they can feel it. Even if there is a problem, they would feel that we are doing our best to make things work. “
TPW:Can you recall one of the most difficult requests you received from a guest, and yet you and your team were able to deliver?
JAH: I remember there was one guest who so unhappy as soon as she arrived because there was an ongoing construction in the villa next to us. They were a family who simply liked reading and wanted a peaceful and quiet place. Based on our experience, if a guest feels bad on the very first day, it makes things harder for us for the remainder of their stay.
They wanted to check out right then and there. So I told her that we’ll make sure that there will be no construction while they are here. And at that time, I didn’t know how I did it, to ask an entire construction to stop just for a specific guest. We just had to work harder. I had to listen. And you had to make people cooperate and make everyone work together. I am also lucky that I have our villa owner who supports me as well.
Vintage movie posters hang on the walls of the carpeted corridor leading to Villa Sangkachai’s entertainment room.
TPW:You have worked for a number of 5-star hotels before you became a part of the Villa Sangkachai team. What do you think are the major differences in staying at a villa and staying at a resort or hotel?
I think, first of all, privacy. It makes you feel that you are staying at home. Because for example the pool, you don’t have to share it with other people, only your group, your friends or your family. It is not just a villa but it is your home.
Another thing is the staff, you get to interact with the staff. Because in a hotel, this morning it could be one person, and then the next day it’s a different person. If you stay in a villa you have your own staff and you see them every day. You don’t need to give instructions three times to three different people. Even if you do not talk to them, you feel that they belong to you, that they are there all the time whenever you need them. I think it’s personal touch, you know?
” If you’re in a hotel.. it’s a hotel, it’s not your home. You cannot invite someone over for dinner, but in a villa, you can do that. You can invite your friends over and you can have a big private dinner. “
If you’re in a hotel.. it’s a hotel, it’s not your home. You cannot invite someone over for dinner, but in a villa, you can do that. You can invite your friends over and you can have a big private dinner.
TPW:How would you describe the hospitality of the Thai people?
Thailand is the Land of Smiles. And it’s true. The Thai people always smile. They are very gentle, kind, and always willing to help. Thai people would smile even in bad situations. Even if don’t speak English, they would smile at you. I wouldn’t say that the service here in Thailand is the best, but I think it is special.
TPW:Being a villa manager, directly interacting with guests, we can say that you are at the frontlines of this particular niche of the hospitality industry. How would you describe the elite market and what is your approach in dealing with them?
To be honest, most of these people are surprisingly not picky or demanding. Most of them are so chill. They are also very easy to understand and communicate with.
I remember there was one guest, he had this secretary who was making the arrangements for him here at the villa. And the secretary was so picky about everything! It gave me a headache, my goodness! (laughs) And I said, oh my, this is only the secretary, how much more when the actual guest comes? But when he arrived here -oh my- he was so chill! He barely even touched anything that the secretary requested us to provide.
TPW:Is there any special treatment that you give for these VIP guests?
We treat them special, not because they are rich or richer, but because they are our guests and we need to treat all our guests as special, you know? We just make sure to give sincere and genuine service. We cannot overact. When I feel that I am over-acting or trying to impress them, I feel awkward and embarrassed.
I always try to read my guests, if they are more open and fun, then I can be like that with them too. If they are very private, then I give them more space. Having a sense of humor also helps. Every guest is different, their budget, their personality, their language, and you have to approach them all differently, but the only important thing really is that I have to make them happy. That’s the key. To make sure that they are happy.
” Every guest is different – their budget, their personality, their language – and you have to approach them all differently, but the only important thing really is that I have to make them happy. That’s the key. To make sure that they are happy. “
TPW:Can you tell us some of your most memorable experiences with guests?
Well, of course, I love all my guests. But there is the group of Jordana from Australia. We have become good friends. They have come back to stay with us a few times already.
They own a company and they were supposed to have a company event in Bali, but then there was a situation that they needed to change venue at the last minute, like one or two days prior. So she contacted me and asked to help her organize the event here in Koh Samui. She had a long list of everything. And we had to coordinate with other villas because it was not only happening at Villa Sangkachai. But the other villa managers said your guest is asking too much in such short notice, we cannot do it. No, we cannot do it.
But I said I can do this. So I told Jordana, why don’t we do it here, at Villa Sangkachai? But I didn’t tell her that the other villas said no because I didn’t want her to feel bad. So yes, they came here, we had the event at our villa and we made it all happen. So I told myself, what did they mean “no, we cannot do it?” We have to find solutions, the best possible solutions. That is our job.
TPW:This is our last question: with every guest that leaves the villa, what for you is the sign that you did a good job?
Well, you are sure to feel it. Because when they are happy, they cannot keep it. It will show – in their words and in their faces. Sometimes you also see how they change during their stay; like during the first day, they don’t talk or smile at you. But when they leave, you could see that they are different. You see that they are really happy.
” When they are happy, they cannot keep it. It will show – in their words and in their faces. You are sure to feel it. “
They will say, I will come back here for sure. Some of them would even book their stay for the next year right then and there. Some guests, after their first night, they would say, I am never staying at a hotel again. Or some of them will write back to us after a few days, and they will say, we cannot stop talking about you! We keep on talking about our stay there every day with everyone we meet!
More about the interviewee
Ramita Promdet, more known to us as ‘Jah’, has been in Thailand’s hospitality industry for more than a decade and since 2014, she has been serving as villa manager for Villa Sangkachai. When she is not entertaining guests or doing paperwork in her office, Jah likes to travel and spending time with her family.
Learn more about Villa Sangkachai, a 4-bedroom hilltop property located in an ultra exclusive villa estate in Koh Samui.
The content of this interview is only specific to Villa Sangkachai and may not be applicable to other villas. Please check the invidiual villa terms and conditions before confirming your booking.