Unlocking a business model, giving customer happiness with Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco

Hospitality is one of Thailand’s most important industries with strong competition in both places and services. Even though there are a lot of new hotels popping up in the beach-front city, Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco is still famous due to its beauty which is worth the name of the first Nice Boutique Resort in Hua Hin and has been in service for 17 years. Mr. Chusak Pichitthanarak, General manager and CFO of Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco, talks about the heart of their service which attracts customers, and adaptation of the business model to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The charm of Boutique Resort among chain hotels

Ten years ago, most of the accommodations in Hua Hin were either well-known chain hotels or bungalows operated by the locals. Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco started with the thought of Chusak and his friend renovating their beach house into a restaurant. After the restaurant, the construction continued for accommodations which became a small nice boutique resort focusing on the charm of Hua Hin with its unique character and theme. The hotel was designed to keep the guest close to nature. Every room in the hotel is comfortable. The hotel is well known for its 120-m long pool with the pool-access rooms surrounding and providing the canal-house-like vibe which the guest can easily join the pool. The layout was designed that rooms are overlapped to provide privacy. The rooftop is utilized for partying, wine dining, and gazing at the stars. The word Al Fresco means outdoor, hence, vacationing at the hotel is definitely an escape from guests’ routine and resting among the sea, sun, and natural breeze. Moreover, the hotel is environment-friendly, power-saving by utilizing natural light. 

The heart of service at Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco 

There are various types of guests, how Let’s Sea manages their needs? Chusak explained his 3 core values which are 1) understanding the guests’ needs 2) designing the service to suit their needs 3) Catching up with the guests’ needs which are changing at a fast pacing rate. He gave an example of their European customers who prefer their room-services in the morning, the service is provided when the guests are out for breakfast. Meals are important for Asian guests; therefore, the hotel prepares decent meals for them. For those who prefer non-odor dairy products, the hotel also serves their needs. In the early years of operation, the guests preferred to stay close to nature, later, the needs changed to a group attracted by the promotion of golf clubs.

Normally, Hua Hin is a place for all ages. The westerns tend to be in their senior life, lately, there are many groups of customers emerging apart from the wealthy couple, for example, younger guests, the families with kids (the hotel is not suitable for kids under 12), ex-pat in Bangkok/Thailand and Hua Hin, the people which normally travel internationally but are not able to this year. More of the mentioned guests are staying at the hotel and directly book with the hotel. Business guests and tourists with tour operators also come as the tour operations also need to find a new partner. 

Regarding the question asking if guests’ behavior has changed during this period, Chusak replied that customers are gathering more information, paying more attention to the promotions. Let’s Sea has no growth in number wise, however, the occupancy rate is growing. The hotel is booked throughout the year. The strength of the hotel is customer profiling and branding. Despite many accommodations joining the market on the sharing economy online platform, Chusak is confident that different guests expect different experiences which the hotel is ready to provide a unique experience. 

Model adaptation during the New Normal

During the lockdown, the hotel was following the situation closely and was financially prepared. However, a critical situation arises after lockdown. The hotel management has their strategy ready which are:

  • Resilience:  Under the lockdown, the hotel prepared itself hygiene wise and safety-wise for the guests and its employees. The safety and hygiene procedure had been revised by the management. 120 more guidelines were added to prioritize the contact precaution contamination prevention and hygiene. The updated procedure has been used to train employees. Let’s Sea was the first hotel in Hua Hin to come back to its operation.

  • Rediscovery: The guests’ expectations have changed after the reoperation. They expect more on cleanliness, thus, Let’s Sea needs to show them the elevated service.

  • Relaunch: Chusak shared his opinion that the Thailand tourism industry shall rely on international travelers which the relaunch is expected to be around sometime later this year. It is still uncertain if there will be a bubble and which group of tourists will be the first to come back. In the meantime, the best thing that can be done is being ready, having the best reputation, and preparing a working standard. Moreover, it is worth noting that accepting foreigners means risking another pandemic. Finally, taking care of the employees and their family is also important.

Staffs deliver happiness to guests

Staffs are the most important part of delivering services to customers. An important principle of Let’s Sea is taking care of employees as they are family members, being sincere to them will pass the sincerity to the guests. They will want to deliver happiness to guests and would expect the guests to be happy which aligns with the brand manifesto “We will harvest from making customers happy, and others happy too”

Chusak mentioned that normally the management communicates with staff. Let’s Sea focuses on educating its employees which includes personal issues, for example, saving, investing. This is due Chusak’s belief that the staff needs to have good morale as a basis for their career growth which is expanding to cover their surroundings and eventually results in a positive outcome to the hotel. In the COVID-19 pandemic, boosting the courage of the staff is one of the priorities, the hotel has directly communicated with its staff on their situations and the measures provided as the hotel needs to be confident that the staff can survive.

Moreover, team building activities have been conducted to get the staff ready for new tasks with new causes in order to provide their service. It is the way to unlock the staff’s mindset and to adapt by focusing on teamwork, cross-function work, aiming to provide ultimate happiness to the guests. When the staff starts to help each other across the department, they will find happiness and the working environment shall be satisfactory. 

Lesson learned from COVID-19

According to Chusak’s opinion, the lesson learned from the pandemic is taking care of oneself and the close ones. The elevated hygiene standard during Resilience has been continually used to complete the management cycle which includes customers, staff, and organization, which all of them need to be responded to in a balancing way. This will smoothly drive the organization. Finally, Chusak mentioned that the operators need to focus on hygiene and safety of staff and place so that Hua Hin shall become a safe place to vacate. This will strengthen the Thai tourism industry for both domestic and international guests.


Watch SCBTV series “The Next Destination” episode Resilience/Rediscover/Relaunch: Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco -here-