Heirs apparent Talented, worldly, and ambitious, these young professionals and socialites are looking to build on family successes. Zealous learners with unceasing curiosity, they are using their passions to take their lives to the next level. Meet Vorasit Issara, Tirawan Taechaubol, and M.R. Srikhumrung Yukol Rattakul. Perfect C o m b i nat i o n
Friends and collaborators M.R. Srikhumrung, Vorasit, and Tirawan gather to share respect and admiration. The trio wear Dior, Jack Spade, and Hugo Boss respectively.
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By GAVIN NAZARETH AND KRITTIYA WONGTAVAVIMARN
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orasit Issara ther, the company’s namesake, owned plenty of land, but left behind Vorasit “Wan” Issara is not a typical a lot of debt when he passed away which Vorasit’s father had to take hospitality professional. He brings his care off. dog to work, takes guests at his resort The company was just recovering from the 1997 financial crisis to his favorite haunts, and often dons and his father had recently started some new projects. “I was just an apron to help out in the restaurant about to graduate and had planned to start work as a property analyst kitchen. With his boyish charm and for a company investing in luxury hotels,” he explains. He had been casual attire, he resembles a restless living in the U.K., the U.S., Switzerland, and Italy since the age of nine, schoolboy. It’s an image he reinforces but decided a visit to Thailand in the interim between school and work when he impishly describes himself as was necessary. “a little bit silly, childish, and a bit of a dreamer.” Initially the Sri panwa project was envisaged as an exclusive family But in the four years since the 32-year-old opened the doors to Sri holiday home and 30 villas for sale. Vorasit’s father Songkran Issara panwa, a stunning cliff-top luxury resort on Phuket’s peaceful southdreamed of retiring in Phuket. During the three months he was supereastern tip, Vorasit has won rave reviews and the resort has counted vising the development, Vorasit realized the property was “crown among its guests the country’s former prime minister Abhisit Vejjewel” and decided to work on it himself. “I did a market study and jajiva, the hard-to-please Gordon Ramsay, an array of Korean superasked myself why there were no fun hotels like those in Miami, the stars, and Snoop before South of France, or St he became a lion. Pop Tropez. That’s when I star Rita Ora even decided I was going to filmed a music video build one.” And build there. he did: 80 villas, rangPhuket welcomes ing in size from one over three million visito six bedrooms, three tors a year, so it takes different restaurants, a something special to spa, and more. standout among the Among the people island’s diverse accomhe considers his menmodations. Sri pantors is the legendary wa’s location with its hotelier Bob Burns, 360-degree views and who started the Regent stunning villas accounts Hotels along with for part of its success. Adrian Zecha (owner The resort also has a of Aman Resorts) and first-rate staff that proGeorg Raphael (owner vides elegant service of the Rafael Group that anticipates guests’ Hoteliers). “I worked needs and a clutch of for Bob Burns at his excellent restaurants. Grand Hotel a Villa FelBut it is the combinatrinelli as a pool service tion of five-star luxury boy. I also used to babyand a sense of relaxed sit his son, who is now fun that makes Sri doing training with panwa exceptional. me. One day he asked Vorasit is the driving me to look after his son force behind this unique on his boat, which is The issaras success. As the general when I showed him my Vorasit loves to cook for his wife Palawi Bunnag and his 15-month-old daughter Wela. manager of the property, hotel plans and designs. his formula has been He marked out various ingeniously simple: employ hip young people, many who are childimprovements on the plans and I sent it back to my architect, who hood friends or classmates from hotel school, and share their vision said, ‘if Bob Burns said it, we change it.’” and love of a good time. “I like to be around good fun people. Actually When the resort was completed, he heeded his mother’s advice my closest friends over the last 10 years are my colleagues. In Phuket, and refused offers from the Oberoi Group and W Hotels to manage the only people I hang out with are my team: my managers, waiters, it, opting to run it himself. He did, however, implore his mentor to and gardeners. We can talk about anything and when they have a come see the finished product and eventually invited Bob Burns to sit problem they can come to me. They are my extended family,” he says. on the executive committee of the board. And despite the playful tags he pins on himself, Vorasit says he is Marriage was the next big event in the young hotelier’s life. He also very detail oriented. “I love getting into the details of everything. wed Palawi Bunnag, a senior associate at International Legal CounselFor example, in the kitchen I will make sure the floor drain is clean. ors Thailand whom he had been dating for six years. He insists that I am a very hands-on person and love working too. So I don’t just marriage hasn’t changed him in anyway. “Opposites attract, and my delegate but actually work and get my hands dirty.” wife is the complete opposite of me. She is a lawyer, so she’s very by As heir to the Charn Issara property development empire, he says the book. I do things by trial and error. We are free-spirited people he only joined the family company accidentally in 2003. His grandfawho don’t need to be by each other’s side 24 hours a day.” 116 | T ow n & C o u n t r y
Wa l k t h e L i n e
Forward-thinking Vorasit Issara possesses a casual elegance in attire by Jack Spade.
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“The only change after marriage is that we have a baby now [15-month-old daughter Wela]. And I am really attached to her. So instead of going away for a week, I go for less as I miss her a lot. Also now instead of cooking for girls I cook for my daughter,” he says with a playful laugh. Vorasit acknowledges that since the beginning of this year he has become a bit more relaxed after reducing his involvement in the dayto-day running of Sri panwa to be closer to his family. He promoted key members of his team and began to focus on marketing and the financial side of the business. Not one to sit back, he invested in the Honmono Sushi restaurants launched by Chef Boontham, who helped him out with Baba Pool Club at Sri panwa. He also plans to develop a new phase at Sri panwa; create a pizza company, for which he already registered the name DaMunchi by Baba; and consult and do operations management for a hotel on Hainan Island—a collaboration with one of his customers who also happens to be the 18th biggest property developer in China. He has also just started two companies, Guruwan and Siam Brands. The former is an online shopping mall that promotes top Thai designers, while the latter is an IT consultancy that creates web applications and backend operations. The young hotelier advocates working hard, but playing harder; being honest and true to oneself; and focusing on family, friends, and health. “I am always positive. I never say no. Everything can be done.”
T Siren Song
Tirawan enjoys a poolside paseo at The Siam Hotel clothed in a black Hugo Boss gown. She wears SIN Jewelry earrings and a ring of her own design.
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irawan Taechaubol Warm, vivacious, and stylish, Tirawan Taechubol is a woman poised to take Kasemkij, her family’s property development business, to new heights. She confidently balances family life, a demanding job in the family business, and her leisure pursuits. Known as Waew to family and friends, she attributes her balancing skills to lessons her father Tirapongse Pangsrivongse imparted using several types of media. “My father loves to read and would never teach us by telling. Instead, he would teach us through books and movies,” she explains. “He would force me to read books when I was young. He would hand me a book and say ‘this is your project for summer, please finish this book.’” One book that particularly stood out for her was For Whom The Bells Toll by Ernest Hemingway, her father’s favorite author. “I didn’t really want to read it because I didn’t like anything that was depressing, or about war and people dying. But by the end of it, I really liked the book and enjoyed learning about republicanism, nationalism, and what freedom is. It really touched me.” Like any other teenager, growing up her life revolved around shopping and meeting friends for lunch. Once in a while she would glance through some newspapers and feel sad about something she had read. But her father encouraged her to expand her worldview and would make her watch depressing movies to show other sides of life. Movies were a window to the wider world and helped her to understand her place within it. She watched films like Saving Private Ryan, which showed her the suffering of war, and the Thai movie Salween directed by Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol, which demonstrated the hardships ethnic minorities face. “I used to hate movies like this when I was young because they were so depressing. But he also made me watch romantic movies to show me life can be beautiful as well. He made me more humane, and
if it were not for him, I would have been a very shallow person,” says Tirawan, whose credentials include a degree in industrial engineering from Chulalongkorn University, a one-year diploma in History of Arts at Sotheby’s Institute of Art London, and a Masters of Management at Imperial College London. Another piece of fatherly advice that has kept her grounded is the Thai aphorism, “kom dai mai klan,” which she says translates as “you can bend, but you never crawl.” This has taught her to be a person with dignity and integrity. “At work, I will be flexible to please someone, but I will not crawl on the floor for someone. If something is against my values, I won’t do it for money or anything else,” she says. She has put these lessons to good use in her role as project development manager for the hospitality arm of the property development company Kasemkij. The company owns and manages hotels and serviced apartments under the Cape Hotel, Kantary, and Kameo brands. And with the successful launch of her “baby,” the all-pool suite Cape Nidhra in Hua Hin, Tirawan has certainly proved her mettle. She gave up a lucrative job with Unilever to take on this project and had to cope with the stress of developing it from scratch. “My father said ‘why don’t you try one project yourself,’ which I think was very brave of him. But he wanted me to learn every single detail of the job. I had to present banks with feasibility reports to get a loan, go to Hua Hin twice a week, look at all the aspects of the development right down to finding out if we could move telephones off the property. Of course, I had a lot of help from the staff at our company, but I now know each step and how difficult it is to deal with things.”
the perfect couple
Tirawan was recently married to Ben Taechaubol, a son of real-estate veteran Sadawut Taechaubol.
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She is quite happy with the way things have turned out, though in hindsight she feels she could have done a lot of things better. “I put so much effort and money into details that were not really important. Things people were not going to see or appreciate. I know better now,” she says, adding that her new projects include new properties in Pattaya and Prachinburi. For Tirawan, it’s not just about developing properties, but also about developing people. She makes training her main focus. She occasionally takes her staff on field trips to gain new knowledge and experience that helps develop their job skills. “Not everyone who works for us has the benefit of traveling and experiencing different things. Five years ago when I talked about macaroons with our pastry chefs, only a few had any clue what they were, even after I gave them a recipe. So twice a year, I bring them to Bangkok and arrange a little tasting tour of various hotels and bakeries. Someone in the know accompanies them and explains why something is good or bad.” She has gone through a similar process with her housekeepers. “I put them up at the Four Seasons or the Mandarin Oriental so they can compare the way beds are made there and in our rooms. When you simply tell them how things are done, they never understand. But when they experience it themselves, it’s easier. So I am really pushing training at the moment and I think it’s working really well.” Now married to Ben Taechaubol, Tirawan says it has not changed her life much. “I have always been myself. People also say that after marriage one becomes busier, but I don’t think so, as I have more free time now. Before I’d have to plan days to spend time with family, and then with my boyfriend. But now if he’s not free, we can meet at home anyway. Also we can combine holidays with family and friends. So it has become easier and more relaxed for me.” Family is very important to her. She grew up in a closeknit extended family that included aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. These different generations taught her about Thai values. “I have been taught to value the Thai precept of katanyoo [gratitude]. It means you learn to appreciate what people do for you, and not take anything for granted. If someone does me a favor, I will never forget it and that holds good for the family, taking care of them, and appreciating what my parents and grandparents have done for me.” Philanthropy is also high on her list of priorities. Her father is founder and chairman of the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Together they are trying to push a law through parliament to increase the punishment for any cruelty to animals. “Right now the fine in Thailand is 500 baht which is disgusting,” she says. “It’s not just about the fine, but also the way stray dogs are culled. We should provide humane treatment for animals on their way to the slaughterhouse. Her properties reflect her love of animals. “We try to do our bit at our properties too. For example, you will never find shark fin, foie gras or bird’s nest served in any of our restaurants.” Tirawan wishes to become a better person and contribute more to society. On the work front she wants to see the steady growth of the company continue. “It doesn’t have to be fast. Slow is ok as long as it’s steady.”
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. R . S r i k h u m ru n g Y u ko l Rattakul M.R. Srikhumrung “Mangmoom” Yukol Rattakul has spent most of her life in the social spotlight. The oldest child and only daughter of the veteran film director Prince Chatrichalerm and the film producer Mom Kamala Yukol, Srikhumrung radiates beauty and style with her dazzling vintage look, signature long obsidian hair, flicked black eyeliner, and pierced nose. Though she appears poised and confident, Srikhumrung says she is in fact “a very shy person.” Though the 29-year-old has posed for countless photo shoots, she always refuses to appear in any films or TV dramas. “I just can’t move. I’m always shaking,” she admits. That might explain why Srikhumrung feels more comfortable behind the lens. “I love being myself. I just can’t pretend to be others.” It is her confidence and no-nonsense attitude that make her stand out from the crowd. Apart from creating her fashion brand “Mangmoom” and her restaurant “Kai Yang Suea Yai by Mangmoom,” she has recently established “Srikhumrung Production” to produce a variety of films and television series. She will be directing her favorite story, Prissana, a well-known Thai romance between a lively, free-spirited woman and a prince set in 1938.
M.R. Srikhumrung and Tirawan stroll hand in hand through the verdant spaces of The Siam Hotel. They wear Kate Spade and DVF respectively. Both wear SIN Jewelry earrings.
Ladies of the Hour
Nature provides the setting for a quiet chat between Tirawan and M.R. Srikhumrung. Tirawan wears Vatit Itthi with a necklace from SIN Jewelry. Srikhumrung wears Tony Burch with earrings by SIN Jewelry.
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B o l d B l ac k
M.R. Srikhumrung presents a darkly divine silhouette in a glamorous dress by Tony Burch and earrings by SIN Jewelry.
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“I love everything vintage. It’s like I was born in the wrong time dom to discover herself and her dreams. She was showered with love period,” she laughs. “When I read the book, I felt connected to Pris- and opportunities. However, her life took an unexpected turn when sana, who is strong and confident, but at the same time caring and sen- she found out she had Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), one of the sitive. I fell in love with the character. She’s so optimistic and realistic. most common autoimmune diseases. It is a chronic inflammatory conHer love is so pure and real, which is so different from today’s world.” dition that can affect any part of the body, including the skin, joints, Prissana will be aesthetically interpreted in her style and feature kidneys, heart, lungs, and nervous system. Infections, ultraviolet light her distinct artistic touches. Though this drama has been remade sev- and extreme stress may trigger lupus. She has lived with the disease eral times, Srikhumrung doesn’t feel the pressure of people’s expec- for more than a decade. tations on her. She believes films and TV dramas are like art. The “One day when I was in Australia, I woke up and couldn’t move meaning of a work of art is subjective and can be interpreted differ- for two hours until my brother found me and called the doctor,” she ent ways. recalls. “Physically, this disease is painful since I always have joint pain “I can’t force everyone to love what I do. I just do my best,” she and swelling. And I can’t predict when it comes or goes. But mentally, says. “It’s like 100 people watch the same movie and all of them have I’ve never asked ‘why me?’ I just deal with it.” 100 different experiences, differShe was living a fast-paced, ent interpretations, and they are all active life: partying, pursuing outright. No two people have the same door activities, and working for imagination.” “Flamingo,” which she co-owned The pressure comes from with her cousins. Then she went within. She drives herself to meet into shock and was admitted to her own high standards. “I’m a perthe hospital for two months. “I fectionist,” she says. cried the first time I saw myself Film-making is her passion. in the mirror. I wondered ‘Who’s She has been around the film that?’ My whole body had industry since she was born. Her inflated to three times my normal film-making parents would take size. It was devastating.” her to different shooting locaAfter living with the pain and tions and she always sat next to intense feelings of despair for the director’s chair and absorbed a while, Srikhumrung started her father’s impeccable visual taste. to live harmoniously with the After school, the film set was her disease by adjusting herself to a playground. The make-up/dress slower lifestyle. In addition to the room was her closet. The film crew 20 or so medications she takes a were her best friends. Film sets in day, she also keeps herself fit and outlying rural areas were her vacahealthy. “There’s a good side of AV ID DIRECTOR tion destinations. At a young age, this. I get a chance to take very Like her parents, M.R. Srikhumrung loves film-making. She has recently established “Srikhumrung Production” to produce films and TV series. Srikhumrung was sure of what she good care of myself—exercising wanted to do. every day, eating well, avoiding “I always wanted to be a film director,” she recalls. “I felt at home stress. I still enjoy myself, hangout with friends, work, and travel. I running around the set. And that made me easy-going and down-to- just have to manage my time well and live a balanced life.” earth—you can’t be fussy or demanding on a movie set.” Recently married to Maj. Gen. Patchara “Dollar” Rattakul, who is Though the passion came to her early, Srikhumrung did not study 23 years older than her, she has become a more caring and sensitive film production until recently. After she finished her studies at St. person, she says. She wishes to have a fulfilling life that balances work George School in Montreux, Switzerland, she decided to enroll at Bond and family like her film-making parents, who are her role models. University in Australia to study film and TV. “I took this program just “My father works so hard. At the film set, he is the first one who to make sure I really loved film-making, that it wasn’t just comfort arrives and the last who leaves. My mother is also a producer. She looks because I grew up with it. Luckily, it turned out that I really enjoy it. I like a tomboy working at the set, but at home, she is a good cook, can edit films all day and all night without eating or sleeping. It really arranges flowers, and takes very good care of her workaholic boy and is my love. My passion.” sick girl. I want to be like both of them—loving, caring, and hardIt took her years to start making her own dramas as she realizes working.” that film-making is a massive undertaking. It takes time to gain the Srikhumrung believes it is important to make time in her busy knowledge and skills required to earn acceptance and respect from schedule to do charity work. She occasionally organizes events to raise others. So, she constantly explores the world to broaden her mind. This money for different charity projects, such as school building in remote has helped her to become a well-rounded individual. She has a wide areas. Srikhumrung-style events, she says, must be “fun to raise funds.” range of interests: She’s an art buff. She’s a music and film lover. She’s She has set up a flea market and organized concerts where her friends a designer. She’s a fashion lover. She’s a foodie. She’s an avid traveler. and extended family can enjoy one another’s company and do good She is eclectic. deeds for those less fortunate. “I prefer taking it step-by-step. A lot of people know my parents “We are lucky enough to have most of what we want: education, and have seen me around since I was born. I have a lot of their expecta- money, opportunities. But this world is not all about my friends, my tions on my shoulders.” Those expectations, she says, have motivated family, and me,” she says. “A lot of people out there still need help. We her to take each step forward carefully and professionally. pool our efforts to raise money for good causes. Improving the wellSrikhumrung was fortunate to be born into the Yukols, a family being of the less fortunate, even in our small capacity, is the right thing • with long and well-respected history. She was always given the free- to do. And it gives pride to all those involved.”
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A look at a some of Thailand's Generation Next who are building on their family successes.