Connect with us


Phuket hotelier seeks help to give kids a break

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: They say “what you give is what you get”. But Simon Luttrell, a Phuket-based hotel owner wants to take it one step further. His goal is to give to people who have very little and expect nothing in return.

It was 2005 when Simon built his first hotel in Phuket – a small building near the international airport. And it didn’t take a long time for Simon to learn, that while the rooms are packed in the high season, they often remain sadly empty during the rest of the year. And the same way as we sometimes leave the spare change in the donation box in a supermarket or give old clothes to charity, Simon decided to offer the free rooms to people who couldn’t afford them:

“I wanted to provide accommodation for disabled children, for children who for whatever reason couldn’t afford a holiday – children who were terminally ill for example,”

Due to unforeseeable circumstances, his first charitable project unfortunately never came to fruition. But the idea, once planted in Simon’s head, never went away.

“Now I have the opportunity to build another hotel and so I went back to my original idea of offering those rooms on a fee-free basis to those who would appreciate a holiday, but cannot afford it,” he says.

And this time his eyes are set on Rohingya refugees in Thailand.

We all know, though maybe not always remember, the tough lot of the Muslim minority Rohingya people, fleeing persecution in Myanmar to seek safety in Southern Thailand and Phuket.

Simon, having lived in Myanmar and worked with anti-human trafficking organizations, doesn’t believe that this fraught and seemingly intractable situation will change for the better in the foreseeable future. But seeing it as a helpless case is by no means a reason to quit and admit failure. Quite the opposite.

“All I can do, in my own little way, is try to alleviate some of the problems that some Rohingya experience,” he says.

And for a hotel owner this “little something” is a free holiday for people who need it, maybe more than anyone else.

“I want to offer a holiday for people who don’t have the means for a short break, simply to make themselves more happy. I can’t do anything on a political level, I can’t do any major thing. I have to do what’s within capabilities of my own finances, my own knowledge and experience.

“What I’m trying to offer is happiness. That’s why this project is called the Phuket Happy Hotel. It’s offering friendship and happiness, a chance to forget about problems, maybe play together as a family on the beach, and not worry about the cost.” he explains, adding, “I’ve already spoken to some of the refugee organizations and they think it’s a great idea.”

Phuket Happy Hotel will be a hotel run on a commercial basis, with paying customers as well.

“If there are guests, there are guests. But I know from running hotels in Phuket since 2005, in the low season there will always be vacant accommodation. It would be great if I could fill my hotels 100 per cent of the time, every night of the year, but I know I can’t. And that is why it is realistic to assume there will be rooms available to offer on a non-paying basis.”

But as any commercial venture, the hotel needs funding to take off.

“The land has been leased and cleared, the plans for the hotel have been drawn up and approved by the local government office. The problem is, if I have to rely on my own funds, it’s going to be a lot slower than if I could get people to help,” explains Simon.

He has begun to collect money for the project on a crowd funding website:

“I have absolutely no shame in asking for donations for building this hotel. I’ve explained what the project is, what my reasons are, who I am and what my financial situation is. I’ve been upfront about that.

“I encourage people to come and visit me and see the construction site. No one likes to donate money to some unseen cause where they know nothing about the person. I’d rather people come and meet me, so I can show them and we can sit down and I can explain more,” he says.

Simon believes that his experience in small hotel management – he has already built four hotels in Phuket – and the generosity of others, will make his dream of a socially-responsible hotel possible.

“If I receive ten dollars from someone, that’s great. Ten dollars buys about seven hundred breeze blocks to build a room. If I receive absolutely nothing at all from anybody, never mind. I’ll go at it at my own pace. Because the project will be built – it’s not something I’ll give up on; it just means I’ll have to work more slowly.

“Even refugees like to forget about their problems for a short while. It’s what I can give. Everyone deserves a holiday.”

For more info on the Phuket Happy Hotel click here.

Keep checking our online Phuket Property pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest local, national and international property news updates.

— Maciek Klimowicz


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

30 million baht added to vaccine side effects compensation fund

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Plan for 16-week gap between AstraZeneca vaccines dropped

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

CCSA: 120 day reopening will proceed with conditions

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Tourism4 hours ago

Sandbox latest, CCSA says all regions reopening must reach 70% local vaccination

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 3,667 new infections and 32 deaths

Politics8 hours ago

Thamanat elected to role of head ‘fixer’ in Palang Pracharat party

Expats17 hours ago

List: China has over 50% of all foreign-owned condos in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)19 hours ago

Government plans 10 million vaccines for July

World22 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Vaccine deaths investigation, PM heads to Phuket, BMA extends vendor licences | June 18

Thailand23 hours ago

1 million AstraZeneca doses arrive, Anutin says “more” on the way

Drugs23 hours ago

1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine and heroin seized near Malaysian border

Coronavirus (Covid-19)23 hours ago

Pattaya bars plead for government help

Thailand23 hours ago

Colour-coded zoning revised, restrictions to ease nationwide

Transport1 day ago

Department of Land Transport will reopen, issue licenses

Best of1 day ago

Top 8 Things to do in Chiang Mai

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8