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Community at the core of success for Natthakanya ‘Apple’ Saengpho

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Community at the core of success for Natthakanya ‘Apple’ Saengpho | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: It’s been a stellar year – and then some – for Natthakanya ‘Apple’ Saengpho, CEO of the Paradise Group.

Andara Signature – the latest project from Andamandara Development, the company she runs with Dr Allan Zeman – won best Phuket villa development, best Thailand villa development, best residential architectural design and best landscape architectural design at the Thailand Property Awards in September.

Then, in October, she was honored by the United States Agency for International Development as one of the Outstanding Women Business Leaders of Thailand for Green Growth – an award designed to encourage environmental development.

The awards come as Apple and her team reach the zenith of a learning curve Dr Zeman set them on seven years ago, first with the development of Surin Plaza, then the Andara resort and villa developments – each new project expanding their skills and knowledge of how best to accommodate the ultra-high-end international market.

The latest iteration of this is Andara Signature. Spread across 30 rai of Kamala hillside, the new project features just eight luxury villas.

Beyond the input of Dr Zeman and his international partners, all of these projects have been designed and built by Apple’s team of Thai specialists – all of whom can now justifiably take those skills to the international market without any doubt that they can compete with the best the world has to offer.

“I have the development team, architects, engineers, surveyors – a full team – and I’m looking for projects for that team,” Apple says. “I’m looking for investors. I really hope that they are coming. I have a very strong team and we can do much more.”

What Apple’s team has that their international counterparts cannot claim, is inside knowledge of how to create these mighty projects within Thailand’s legal and social framework – the latter having been the downfall of many international developers who tried their hand in the Thai market.

Beyond her development team, Apple commands a 400-plus-strong staff, running the resort and taking care of guests.

“Most of our staff are local – more than 50 per cent are from Kamala, so the community is very important to me,” Apple explains.

“We manage the resort as a family. Everyone here works as if they are at home: they try to save; they try to get things done properly; they try to make sure the guests are happy and love to come back.”

With half of her staff quite literally working on their own doorsteps, Apple places particular emphasis on developing community relations.

“If there are any difficulties, they will be the people that can make me take action to solve problems quickly. These people are very important to me. And, of course, whatever I can return or help them back with, I will do it,” she says.

“I’m in a position where I have better opportunities, as well as the ability to do more. So, before I do anything, I always think: how will my people support this?”

Apple sees improving Kamala, keeping the beach clean and working to improve the community as a benefit to her business – after all, who would want to stay at a five-star resort if they have to stumble through piles of trash to get to it?

As such, her team is active in the Kamala Green Club helping with beach cleanups and joining the Friday afternoon town cleanups that are organized by local teens. “[This is] not just to help with the cleanup, but to get to know the teenagers in the community,” she explains.

Apple is also pushing to get all of the Kamala hotels and other local businesses involved in the cleanups.

“That will be a very lovely community gathering,” she smiles.

— Simon J Hand

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social.

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told.

The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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