Shubham Chandra is the Cluster General Manager of SO Sofitel Hua Hin in Thailand, Sofitel Luang Prabang and 3 Nagas Luang Prabang – MGallery in Lao PDR. He has an experience of 27 years in the hospitality industry, including 16 years in Hyatt hotels. He started his career with junior sales positions, growing to Director of Sales of Hyatt Regency Delhi in 2005. A few years later Hyatt entrusted him with corporate responsibilities as Regional Director of Sales & Marketing. His future stints were as Director of Rooms for Hyatt Regency Delhi, Director of Sales & Marketing for Hyatt Regency Mumbai, Area Director of Sales & Marketing based in Chennai overlooking 6 Hyatt properties and as Hotel Manager for Grand Hyatt Mumbai. In 2017 Shubham was offered a General Manager position by Hilton for the management of their first Conrad property in India.
What makes SO Sofitel Hua Hin stand out from other properties you’ve worked in?
This is the first time I am working at a resort and that’s a welcome change for me, most of my previous properties to name a few like Conrad Pune, Grand Hyatt Mumbai were sophisticated business hotels, dealing with the corporate segment primarily. SO/ Hotels & Resorts is so vivid, expressive and bursting with local energy that even the most adventurous travelers will be fascinated and entertained. A dynamic player on the global hotel scene, the SO/ brand surprises with a playful and distinctly rebellious interpretation of luxury that includes avant-garde design, a passion for fashion, trendy beats, ‘Just Say SO’ service and buzzing destination bars and events. SO/ hotels are places to be and to be seen, thrilling guests with fashionable and entertaining social experiences that capture the vivacity and vibe of the locale.
At SO Sofitel Hua Hin, ‘Imaginative Escape’ concept combines the destination’s upscale vibe with the resort’s playful luxury attitude to appeal to enthusiasts of design, fashion and all the cooler things in life. A true escape from the hustle and bustle of Southeast Asia’s busiest hub, SO Sofitel Hua Hin affords a mix of quiet seclusion along Cha-Am Beach as well as some captivating diversions just 2.5 hours from Bangkok.
Who is your typical customer?
SO/ combines the vibrant personality and avant-garde style of a designer hotel with the distinct positioning of a high-end, fashion-led lifestyle brand. With this, the brand target guest is the ‘Stylish Socializer’ and the hotel surprises guests with fashionable and social luxury experiences. At SO Sofitel Hua Hin, we expand the SO/ brand concept with unique lifestyle guest experiences of ‘Imaginative Escape’, a perfect blend of the hotel’s soul and beach destination style. With a unique design and fun recreation facilities, SO Sofitel Hua Hin is a perfect destination for everyone, not only couples but also families.
If you could plan a one-day itinerary for guests looking to explore the coastal town of Cha-Am, where would you send them?
SO Sofitel Hua Hin expands it’s ‘Imaginative Escape’ concept, for the first time going outside the resort and inviting guests to explore the region’s natural splendors and local experiences. The newly launched SO Explorer guest experience programme highlights two nearby attractions – Khao Nang Phanturat and Nayang Bat Cave – located 12 and 10 minutes respectively from the resort. Take a break from the beach and head up to Khao Nang Phanturat, a forest park named after the mythical giantess whose hands can be seen reaching out of the sand on the beach in front of SO Sofitel Hua Hin. The lush forest park offers two trails – a 300 metre lower trail that takes just 15 minutes to complete and a full 3.5 km trail looking out over limestone mountains and the sparkling sea. For a pre-dinner sunset cocktail with a view, guests are invited to witness the moment when over 2 million bats leave Nayang Bat Cave at sunset in a spectacular show of natural wonder, just 10 minutes from the resort.
Building the right team is crucial for a property’s success. What are the key skills you look for when hiring new employees?
A team is everything and any new induct needs to be a team player to begin with. A person who understands and resonates the culture of the organization and represents the brand. I always interview people not for the current position but assess their ability to reach and hold future positions as well, this has always helped in building a team, which has aspirations and a desire to perform.
What is the one dish that guests have to try when at your hotel?
For our beachfront restaurant which showcases a unique beach dining experience called ‘Beach Society’, I would recommend ‘Tenderloin Steak’, a special dish by our talented Executive Chef Tobias Schwarzendorfer. And for ‘White Oven’ restaurant, the dish you should not miss is ‘Seabass in Chili Lime Sauce’.
2020 was a challenging year for the hospitality industry. In your opinion, how will travel trends change in the 2nd half of 2021?
For me, I think that the trend will be dependent on the ongoing vaccination process and for our hospitality industry this will hold the key to recovery.
Was a career in hospitality something you always dreamt of? What is your advice to aspiring hoteliers?
I came from a very traditional background, a family of scholars, hospitality happened to me by chance and today I am grateful that I choose this path. Many people believe that being a hotelier is not only a job but a mentality. Many say that it’s not a profession but a philosophy. Keeping this is mind I would advise aspiring hoteliers to keep the following in mind –
- Become a people’s person
- A Jack of all trades
- Be decisive
- Be a follower of the open door policy
- Be observant at all times –an eye for detail is a must.