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Profile: Sebastien Tronchet – No stranger to the land of smiles

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Profile: Sebastien Tronchet – No stranger to the land of smiles | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Hailing from Marseille, France, 38-year-old Sebastien Tronchet is the General Manager of the Grand Mercure Phuket Patong. He is no stranger to the land of smiles; he took his chances in Thailand 15 years ago and never looked back. His only regret is that he didn’t take the leap 10 years before he did.

With a bachelor’s degree in law and accounting, a master’s in hotel management and international tourism, and an aptitude for learning Thai language, Sebastien was able to settle into the managerial seat with aplomb.

“Learning to speak Thai has helped me professionally as well as personally. It’s good to be able to chat with locals and gain a deeper understanding of the culture here,” he says.

Born and raised amid a multicultural mix of nationalities in Marseille, he recalls that he was not always this easy going.

“As kids fresh out of college, my friends and I just wanted to be directors and managers at some big company,” says Sebastien. “When I came here, however, I noticed that things were done at a much slower pace and that I actually liked it better.”

With several high ranking hotels on his hospitality resume – including Sofitel Hua Hin and Novotel Siam in Bangkok – Sebastien learned to deal with a multitude of problems, the likes of which he’d never encountered before.

From dealing with four-meter-long snakes in the hotel garden to power outages inconveniencing guests, he mastered the ropes of hospitality and guest management. The Grand Mercure Phuket Patong is, however, his first experience of working in Phuket.

“When I first came to work here, there was a lot of work to be done. I implemented some creative ideas and worked closely with the owners regarding interior design, restaurant and spa concepts, as well as fulfilling the needs of the vast variety of guests that we deal with on a daily basis,” says Sebastien.

“We have Indian guests who want vegetarian food, Muslims who want Halal cuisine, Europeans who want a traditional English breakfast, and so on. We have to learn to cater to every guest’s needs. That is what we are best known for – caring about our guests and going out of our way for them.”

There is no room for error in hospitality, Sebastien says.

“Not everyone gives you a second chance if something goes wrong. I brought in young trainees who speak Chinese, Japanese, French and Korean, in order to cater to everyone’s needs as swiftly as possible. Communication is key when working in this field,” he says.

Sebastien aims to bring back the vibe of the ‘good old days’ to hospitality.

“When I first started out in hospitality, I noticed that my hotel staff was deeply attached to the guests and had a special bond with each and every one of them. That is the kind of service I wish to provide,” he says.

Outside of the office, Sebastien appreciates all that Phuket has to offer.

“I love that you can go from a Nepalese guy selling you a suit to a Lebanese guy making kebab, to a Thai Muslim selling you chicken. We have beaches, mountains, museums and so much else that you may not even get to see it all before leaving the island,” he says.

He has a message for anyone who wants to accomplish something in life.

“People will say you’re too old or too young – that’s been the story of my life,” says Sebastien. “You need to work hard, of course, but sometimes you need to take a step back and breathe. I had a ‘difficult’ attitude as a kid, but over time I have learned when to speak up and when to hold my tongue. It’s that understanding that has helped me get where I am today.”

— Zohaib Sikander

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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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John Legend & Chrissy Teigen check out the tastes at a Korat Market

The Thaiger

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John Legend & Chrissy Teigen check out the tastes at a Korat Market | The Thaiger

American music legend, John Legend, and his Thai-American wife Chrissy Teigen headed to a Nakhon Ratchasima food market only to be surrounded by locals trying to get a quick selfie.

The army of fans surround the musician, his wife and daughter to follow them around the market in the 25 minute Facebook post. It was smiles all around but as the video wears on so does the patience of the American singer whose only protection appears to be a plain-shirt body-guard who is at least 40 centimetres taller than everyone around him (he doesn’t stand out at all).

A Thai policemen comes to their rescue and helps escort them somewhere a bit quieter.

Legend’s model wife Chrissy Teigen is seen almost wearing her dress as any number of wardrobe malfunctions appear moments away from happening throughout the video.

The family were reported to have visited a number of famous Korat landmarks during their visit to the area.

Legend performed in Bangkok in March 2018 this year as part of his Darkness and Light tour.

Live : John legend & Chrissy Teigen @ ตลาดเซฟวัน

John legend & Chrissy Teigen @ ตลาดเซฟวัน

Posted by ตลาดเซฟวัน SaveoneKorat on Tuesday, 20 August 2019

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Patong

Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Lifeguard Service

A commemoration ceremony has been held for Prathaiyuth Chuayuan, a local Phuketian who helped drive Phuket’s first beach lifeguard services. He passed away on Friday morning after a heart attack.

He first experienced chest pains whilst delivering his daughter to school in Phuket Town on Friday morning, drove himself immediately to the Vachira Hospital nearby but succumbed to cardiac arrest around 9am.

He was 57 years old.

He worked with Australian lifesavers to help train local lifeguards and improve the skills of the Phuket’s beach enthusiasts, and finally sought international accreditation for the growing body of competent Phuket lifeguards.

The Phuket Lifeguards Service, founded and run by Prathaiyuth and his wife Witanya, saved innumerable lives each year whilst battling Provincial Hall and local government for increased funding in annual contract negotiations.

Daren Jenner, a FOT (Friend of The Thaiger) and local safety officer for the International Surf Lifesaving Association, sent a message to us expressing his deepest condolences to Prathaiyuth’s wife, family and friends.

“I had many good conversations with him over the years. He was a good-hearted man who did his best in difficult and changing circumstances. A very big loss for Phuket and the lifesaving community here. ISLA sends our deepest respect for his long commitment to ocean safety in SE Asia.”

Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger

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Happy Birthday to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother

The Thaiger

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Happy Birthday to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother | The Thaiger

Today is the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit who was married to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Following the Coronation of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, her son, and his marriage to the new Queen Suthida, Queen Sirikit has now been bestowed the title of Queen Mother.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is the daughter of His Highness Prince Chandaburi Suranath (Mom Chao Nakkhatra Mangkala Kitiyakara) and Mom Luang Bua Kitiyakara (nee Mom Luang Bua Snidwongse).

She was born on August 12, 1932.  She attended kindergarten class at Rajini School, but subsequently went to St. Francis Xavier convent school at Samsen District in Bangkok.  Her father later on became Thai Minister to France, then to Denmark and, ultimately, Ambassador to the Court of St. James in England.  Her Majesty accompanied him and continued her general education in the three countries and lastly in Switzerland.

Happy Birthday to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother | News by The Thaiger

It was while her father was stationed in Paris that she first met His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was then studying in Switzerland but went now and then to Paris.  The chance meeting in Paris ripened into friendship and understanding.  When His Majesty met with a very serious motor accident in Geneva, Switzerland, and had to stay in a hospital at Lausanne, Her Majesty was a frequent visitor.

When His Majesty was well again and left the hospital, he was graciously pleased to arrange for Her Majesty to continue her studies at Riante Rive, a boarding school in Lausanne.  On July 19, 1949, Their Majesties were quietly engaged in Lausanne.  On March 24, 1950, Their Majesties landed in Bangkok by ship after a long absence.  On April 28 of the same year, the royal wedding took place at Pathumwan Palace.

The couple had three daughters and one son:

  • Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya (born 1951), married and divorced American businessman Peter Jensen, had two daughters and one son, their son was killed in the 2004 tsunami.
  • King Maha Vajiralongkorn (born 1952), married Suthida Tidjai just days before his Coronation this year. He has seven children from previous marriages.
  • Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (born 1955), unmarried.
  • Princess Chulabhorn Walailak (born 1957), married Virayudh Tishyasarin, an Air Vice Marshal in the Royal Thai Air Force, had two daughters, divorced.

In 1956, King Bhumibol became a Buddhist monk for a period of time as is customary for Thai Buddhist males and Queen Sirikit served as Regent. Because of the excellent way she served as Regent, King Bhumibol gave her the style “Somdet Phra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Borommarachininat” which would translate to Queen Regent.

Queen Sirikit is well known for her charitable work. She has been President of the Thai Red Cross Society since 1956. Through the Thai Red Cross, the Queen has been active in relief work for the many refugees from Cambodia and Burma in Thailand. The Queen took an active role in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in southern Thailand in December of 2004. Tragically, the tsunami took the life of her grandson Bhumi Jensen, the son of her eldest daughter.

Happy Birthday to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother | News by The Thaiger

The health of King Bhumibol Adulyadej declined in his later years. The king resided at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok for several years and Queen Sirikit also moved to the hospital to be with him.

On July 21, 2012, Queen Sirikit felt unsteady and staggered while exercising at Siriraj Hospital where King Bhumibol Adulyadej resided. Doctors determined that she has suffered a stroke. The Queen was not seen in public until August of 2013 when the King was discharged from the hospital. Since then, Queen Sirikit has refrained from making public appearances.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on October 13, 2016, at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, at the age of 88, following several years of illness.

Mothers Day in Thailand has been traditionally held on Queen Sirikit’s birthday, and now with her new role as Queen Mother, the tradition continues.

Long live Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother.

Happy Birthday to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother | News by The Thaiger

HM the King bestows the new role on his mother, Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother, on the day after his coronation

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