The BigChilli October 2021

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The Residences at Sindhorn Kempinski Discover the ultimate haven of luxury living in Bangkok’s ‘Green Heart’




everal areas of Bangkok can justifiably claim to be the epicenter of this great city. And while some perform specific roles as business districts or government zones, only one stands out in terms of offering genuine quality residential living – the ‘Green Heart’ of central Bangkok, where Wireless Road intersects with Soi Langsuan beside the tropical gardens and lakes of Lumpini Park.

This highly desirable area of Bangkok is the location of The Residences at Sindhorn Kempinski, arguably the finest project of its kind the city has ever seen. A 35-storey architectural masterpiece, it features homes of distinction and design excellence in what is now widely regarded as the city’s leading residential address. The Residences at Sindhorn Kempinski is a key component of Sindhorn Village, a spectacular and innovative low-density project spread across 52 rai of upscale real estate interspersed by spacious gardens,

tranquil walkways, ponds and mature trees. This extraordinarily beautiful parkland also encompasses a number of other prestigious developments, including two international five-star hotels, luxurious apartments, as well as a ‘Walking Street’ alive with gourmet restaurants, chic bars, highend retailers and supermarket.

Designed and constructed to the highest specifications, The Residences at Sindhorn Kempinski has raised the bar on apartment living in the heart of Bangkok, offering owners and tenants a unique self-contained safe haven of luxury, convenience and gorgeous landscaped gardens that is also within easy reach of the city’s most important business and entertainment districts. Units come with one, two, three and four bedrooms, all meticulously designed with 3-3.5m ceilings and equipped for the perfect condo living experience. The Penthouse on the 34th floor is the ultimate in luxury, with four bedrooms, private infinity pool and oversized balcony.




dditional amenities for residents include a private lounge, fitness centre, meeting rooms, health spa and a large rooftop infinity swimming pool with breathtaking views of the city across the green expanses of Lumpini Park. Owners and their visitors have access to a huge underground parking lot. Yet another benefit of living in this exclusive development is the various basic and a la carte services available via the Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel, a member of the world famous five-star hotel chain, which is also located within Sindhorn Village. The project as a whole comes with the finest credentials. Constructed on prime real estate, Sindhorn Village has been developed by Siam Sindhorn Co Ltd, and Sindhorn Management, a company wholly owned by Siam Sindhorn Co Ltd, which is responsible for the management of the residences for the entirety of the leases. By using only the highest quality materials in its construction, Sindhorn Village and its various



components have a 100-year life expectancy. This emphasis on sustainability not only underwrites the investment value of the project over time, but also eliminates the need for a sinking fund since the management company is responsible for the cost of any structural repairs. There are many other compelling reasons to buy into The Residences at Sindhorn Kempinski, including its commitment to providing a permanent green environment that will ensure its long-term investment value. The project’s ‘near to nature’ location extends beyond Lumpini Park to the extensive gardens of the American and Netherlands Embassies next door as well as the newly created Benjakitti Forest Park, a 170rai area of lakes and man-made hills just a short walk away. For an exceptional lifestyle in Bangkok’s ‘Green Heart’, The Residences at Sindhorn Kempinski are simply unbeatable.






Restaurants have learned many valuable lessons from Covid-19, says leading Bangkok chef



Chef Herve Frerard on the changes we can expect and the trends to look out for


s there a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic? One of Thailand’s most talented chefs certainly believes so and says his industry has learned all sorts of things over the past 18 months that are already being welcomed by customers and workers alike. “There’s so much more emphasis nowadays on how the food business conducts itself, from transportation and delivery of goods to personal hygiene and storage,” says Herve Frerard, Director of Culinary at Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok. “This is down to Covid-19 which has taught us all to be far more health-conscious. And this is especially true of the food and catering business, where our already high standards are even higher today. “For example, at the Montien we only work with GMP (Good Manufacturers Products) suppliers whose workers have been properly tested, and companies that deliver 8


products in refrigerated trucks.

hotels restaurants?

“We’re also much stricter with our workers’ personal hygiene – wearing masks and gloves at all times in the kitchens, washing hands more frequently, regular temperature checks on our fridges and even checks on staff lockers to ensure the highest levels of cleanliness.

As part of the revival of the Montien, we have combined two former restaurants into a brand new one – Ruenton, serving ThaiChinese cuisine. This is now up and running, and proving as popular as ever. The larger space is multifunctional with several separate rooms for private dinners and parties. It’s also given us a bigger venue for our buffet breakfasts.

“You see this trend to better hygiene right across the board, even in the way street vendors now prepare and sell their meals. “Everybody benefits from this trend, including the customers, of course.” Chef Herve, a 20-year veteran of Thailand’s restaurant scene, went on to talk about other new trends as well as the latest developments at the Montien. Now that the lockdown is easing, what plans do you have for the

We have also opened Phar-Ram IV Bistro, a Parisian-style bakerybistro. It’s an entirely new venue which serves light lunches and pastries, and then later becomes an evening wine bar featuring a European menu with French flair. The Montien’s former signature restaurant, Le Gourmet Grill, which opened originally back in 1967, will be revived in due course. And for those with long memories will be pleased to know that our former ballroom dancing hall AnAn will reopen and feature a range of functions.

Another exciting development is the opening of the hotel’s main lobby on the South Wing, scheduled for December this year. This is the face of the hotel and therefore a very important step. Once the lockdown ends completely, do you think the restaurant business in general will return to how it was two/three years ago? If not, what changes do you visualize? It will definitely return to what we had here before. But restaurants will have to raise their offer to attract new and old customers. What kind of restaurants and chefs will prosper in this new era? We’ll see smaller restaurants, for sure, more family oriented and closer to the people. You can also expect a new wave of bistros and wine bars. You’ll also see more private chef’s tables in people’s homes and exclusive venues. Who has been hardest hit because of the lockdown – can they come back? It’s not just restaurants owners who have suffered but also the people who worked there, sometimes for years. Restaurants that were institutions, open for 25 years or more, have closed. The owners may well have lost their confidence in the future and won’t reopen.

" The following are well documented F&B trends and influences that are expected to affect the restaurant business over the next couple of years. How accurate are they, in your opinion?" TheBigChilli



ven when fully operational, restaurants will still get more home delivery orders than in the past. That’s true. Ruenton has always offered home delivery, and has been extra busy recently, but we’ll probably see a small slow down as people return to dining in restaurants. During Covid-19, a lot of people started cooking at home, so this will have some impact on a return to normal. Diners will be far more concerned about what goes into their food and will demand more information on the menu. People are far more careful and health-conscious about what they eat. They want to eat responsibly and sustainably. We’ll see an increase in demand for organic foods and imported items, but there’ll be a higher price to pay.

There’ll be an increase in veganism and vegetarianism among diners. 10


Absolutely. At the Montien, we already have more vegetarian items on the menu. We even hosted our first vegan dinner recently. It’s a good thing because there’s so much processed food in Thailand.

lot of beef will be consumed here in the future. In response to increased popularity of low-card diets, products like cauliflower will feature in dishes like pizza crust and gnocchi. Yes. And many more.

Flexitarian’ diets featuring only occasional meat will increase in popularity, with steak restaurants losing out. This is seen as one of the biggest food trends in 2021/22. When I was a young boy back in France, we had a very mixed diet, and beef was certainly not a regular item. Here in Thailand, meat consumption is up because home deliveries have made it very easy to supply quality products. This will continue for a certain group who can afford it. In the past, people didn’t know how to order steaks and were prepared to pay as much as 8,000 baht for cote de boeuf in a restaurant. Now they understand meat much better. Thailand is a young country and a

Greater focus on low-waste food and unnecessary (plastic) packaging. This is happening across the board. Plastic is a huge problem, but more and more places are using biodegradable products for packaging. In terms of reducing waste, we’re now seeing companies buying left-over products from operations likes bakeries and other outlets, repackaging them - with details of their origins - and re-selling at a much lower price. It’s a growing business, with endless possibilities. Think of the daily wastage in wet markets, for example.

New era of desserts, using unique ingredients and even plant-based resources. You only have to look at the popularity of afternoon teas in Thailand these days to see the potential. More fusion cuisines – Thai-Mexican, ChineseBrazilian and others. For sure. Not just Mexico and Brazil, but also the cuisines of many other South American countries will feature here in Thailand in the future. Thai people are very curious and don’t mind trying new ideas. In the past, Italian cuisine was all the rage, but it’s in decline simply because there are too many Italian restaurants here now. And it’s time for more Thai chefs to be recognized for their work. Ironically, it was a foreigner, David Thompson, who became the first chef to be famous for his Thai cuisine.


hef Hervé Frerard is an acknowledged master of the secrets that drive French cuisine, the deep respect for ingredients filled with emotional connections, memories and fresh seasonal produce – in fact, simple cooking and an appreciation for the seasonal availability has been called Hervé’s tour de force. Throughout his lauded career, Chef Hervé has cooked for such notables as the Thai Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth II and various celebrities around the world. He also served as the personal chef to French President François Mitterrand. Chef Hervé has been living in Thailand for the last 20 years with his wife and two children. He is an advisor to the Royal Project Foundation, initially His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s personal project, in the region north of Chiang Mai, where he organizes a “Weekends Gourmets”, in which he cooks with on-site products exclusively coming from the Project.

Greater demand for top quality products No doubt about it – people are buying quality food: the best fruits, the best cheese and best butter, meats and so on. There’s also a rise in popularity of alternative cooking oils like pumpkin seed oil, sunflower seed oil and avocado oil.

He also visit farms all around the area where he constantly finds new seedlings or breeds, which he takes back home to Bangkok for new gastronomic creations. Each year, Hervé trains talented young Thai chefs to compete in the world famous “Les Disciples d’Escoffier” contest. His last recruit became the first Thai person, and the first lady ever, to win this prestigious competition.

Chef Herve created Chef Club Concept along with this friend Stephane Debaets and launched the concept in New York, Aspen and Taiwan. Since November 2020 he is now working as Director of Culinary in Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok.



Concrete Therapy

Advice for modern city-dwellers Despite our best efforts, life in the big city can get pretty complicated, trying to juggle work, social life, personal problems— not to mention the never-ending stream of stressful traffic. We can talk to friends and family, but their involvement might be a little too close to home…sometimes a professional opinion really helps to put things into perspective. Calling our concrete therapists from New Counseling Service (NCS) to the rescue for some solid advice! Do you have a question for one of our counsellors? We will never print your real name; you can ask anything anonymously. Just send your problem to: or message @ncsbangkok on IG, FB, or Line.



Dear NCS, I have a friend who has been my "drinking buddy" since college. Whenever something big happened in our lives, we would always get together and open a few bottles of wine to celebrate or commiserate. In college, we found a reason to drink every weekend, but as we got older, I thought we both grew out of it. We meet up every other month or so and I enjoy the occasional glass of wine, but I've noticed that my friend still drinks a lot. During our last catch-up, she confessed that she can't fall asleep unless she drinks something. After pressing her for details, I discovered that she drinks one bottle of wine every single night, whether she has company or not. I'm beginning to think she may be an alcoholic. How serious is this and should I address it with her?

- Sober Friend

Dear Sober Friend, Your concern for your friend’s drinking is understandable, as her level of alcohol consumption is potentially dangerous, according to several international agencies. Expert health organisations in the USA, UK and Australia recommend that drinking more than 4 standard drinks in one day, or 10 standard drinks in one week, means there is increased risk of health damage due to alcohol. A bottle of wine contains around 7 standard drinks, so your friend’s consumption would be considered well beyond the recommended safe level. Whether her drinking is problematic to her or not could be a different matter. The use of any substance is generally considered to be problematic when it has a significant negative impact on one or more aspects of a person’s life, such as relationships, work, social life, parenting, etc. It may be that her drinking is not noticeably affecting any key areas of her life at this time, meaning she may not consider her drinking to be a problem. However, from a health perspective there is certainly a potential risk and the longer her current pattern of use continues, the more significant that risk becomes. Ultimately it is your decision whether to raise this with her or not. It may be that she’s not fully aware of the health risks to which she’s exposing herself, and so may welcome some insights about this. However, it’s also possible she will not welcome another person’s perceived judgement of her drinking, even from a good friend. You know her best so you are more likely to have a sense of how she might respond. If you decide to raise it with her, I suggest taking a gentle approach and avoid using the word alcoholic, as it can be an emotionally loaded term that could 14


provoke a defensive response. Maybe start off by asking how she feels about drinking a bottle of wine every night and whether she has any concerns about it, and then gently share your concerns. It might be worth asking how reliant she is on the alcohol to sleep or otherwise cope with her current situation, because having that need or reliance is an indication that an addiction could be developing. If she expresses concern about her drinking and wants to change, then any support you can offer her with this will be helpful. If she can reduce her drinking to safer levels by herself then that would be a good outcome (there are many resources on the internet that would help her with this). If she’d like some more professional support, then that is certainly available also. However, if she believes her drinking is not problematic and she doesn’t wish to change, then ultimately that is her decision and it’s probably best to respect that for now. It’s possible that just raising this with her will prompt her to re-evaluate her drinking, which may change her behaviour down the track. Either way, I wish you and your friend well in handling this situation.

David Ogden Counsellor

Dear NCS,

My nephew recently sat me down and told me he is "non-binary." I have always been a very involved uncle in his life and I'm glad we can talk openly, so my first reaction was to say "it's ok, this doesn't change anything." I meant well, but my nephew continued that some things will change, including the use of the pronouns "they/ them" instead of "he/him." The truth is, I know absolutely nothing about non-binary or gender identity. I'm from a completely different generation, we never used terms like this. Of course I did some Googling and I now understand a little bit more about the pronoun thing, but it's so hard for me to understand where my nephew is coming from. We have always been really close, and I don't want to lose my relationship with him (them??) over this. Can I still even say "nephew" and how can I preserve our relationship?

- Old-fashioned Uncle

Dear Old-fashioned Uncle,

Thank you for sharing your concerns. Firstly, a huge congratulations to your nibling! Coming out is never an easy task and it can be even scary for some people. The fact that they were comfortable enough to talk to you about it truly shows that your relationship is, in fact, a strong one. I understand what you meant by “it’s ok, this doesn’t change anything” was that you still love them the same, unconditionally - and that’s a great start. Here are some things to perhaps consider in moving forward to maintaining your close relationship. 1. Communication: Learn more about who they are. There is no one, right or wrong way to be non-binary. For instance, some people may change their name, some may keep it, and that really is up to personal preference. The best way to understand and respect them is to have an open and honest conversation - that is, if both of you feel ready and comfortable enough to do so. There are many gendered language expressions (mother, brother, dude, etc) and each person’s preference may vary on how they would like to be addressed. Slowly getting to know each of them (what they are ok with and not okay with) may help remove some of the confusion. For instance, they have expressed that their preferred pronoun is they/them that’s a great step! Another positive thing that you are already doing is private research and Googling. If you are unsure, you can always ask them, “Can I still call you my nephew, or would you be more comfortable if I used the word nibling?”

to understand that this is something new for you. Establish an open and honest communication that you respect them, and that you’re trying; however, acknowledging that you may slip up and use some old terms may go a long way in the adjustment process. It’s okay to make mistakes here and there - you are not intentionally trying to misgender them. Some pronouns and wordings can seem confusing and odd at first, but it means a lot to most non-binary people, and using them will start to feel more natural as you get used to them. 3. Remember, it’s about them: You don’t have to fully understand what it means for someone to be nonbinary, or understand where they are coming from, in order to respect them. This can be a work in progress, and identities that some people don’t understand still deserve respect. Follow their lead - be interested, but not invasive. Remember, too, that you're still growing, as is your nibling. Coming out doesn't happen just once: it happens in little ways, about little things, over and over and over again. Be there, every time, and be supportive. 4. I hope this helps, and all the best in finding ways to preserve and nurture your relationship.

Marin Takahashi Counsellor

2. Patience: This applies to both of you, for you to get used to using different terms and for them TheBigChilli



MSR ’21 races through stormy weather



Day One


huket’s Multihull Solutions Regatta got off to a great start as PRO Simon James, back from a hiatus in the Welsh hinterlands, was able to fit in three races for all classes on day one between squalls and pounding rain. Fourteen boats were entered in the regatta, but at the start of the regatta the crew on The Sting woke up, took one look at the weather and went back to bed. Charles Robinson’s Star Trek was dealing with problems in another galaxy and then warming up for the first race, Richard Delaney’s Pulse Red broke its rudder, so there were 11 boats raring to go for the 10:30 start time on the first day. Tide tables being what they are it was imperative that PRO James get the boats off early so that the crews could be back at the host Phuket Yacht Club by mid-afternoon when the tide receded. The skies really opened up near the end of the third race and everyone received a thorough soaking but spirits were high. This was the fifth regatta the Club has staged since the onset of COVID, and for many it is just such a relief and respite to be out doing something and competing against the backdrop of all the restrictions brought on by the pandemic. This is the eighth regatta where Multihull Solutions has been the title sponsor since they started their sponsorship of the event back in 2014. The winners of the previous regattas are as follows: 2020 – Fugazi; 2019 – Phantom; 2018 – Fugazi; 2017 – Thor; 2016 – Hurricane; 2015 – Hurricane; 2014 - Java

Paul Stamp has now taken over as the Southeast Asian Manager for Multihull Solutions and was graciously on hand to officially start the regatta, Andrew deBruin has moved back to the company’s new office in Brisbane where he will oversee the company’s operations in Asia. It was great to see PYC Commodore Scott Duncanson on the water again as he was steering Fugazi in this regatta. Scott has done a wonderful promoting and organizing the club’s junior sailing program. Dan Fidock’s Fugazi took top honours in the multihull racing OMR class on day one with two firsts and a third. Team Philippines on Voodoo was second as they made history being the first all Filipino-crew to compete in the MSR and winning the second race. They did a superb job on the water, even if they did lose one of their crew overboard near the end of the first race (quickly recovered and pulled back on board). Warwick Downes’ Bonza, flying its hull as only it can, was third followed by John Newnham’s Twin Sharks with Glywn Rowlands Twister 2 rounding out the class. Rowlands had Alan Carwardine and Roger Diggelmann on board as crew; the fellas who built the boat. Twin Sharks and Voodoo continued their epic Firefly sailing joust throughout all three races. Multihull Cruising (PHC class) was down to three boats (The Sting, Star Trek & Pulse Red) so the remaining three vessels duked it out for win, place and show with Rick Fielding’s Pulse Yellow taking the top prize as it won all three races. Simon Boyd’s Pulse Grey took second spot in all three races and the legend himself Paul “Flatty” Baker took third in every TheBigChilli


devoted just to them, the Pulse 600 Division Class. The three-boat Racing Monohull class saw the skilled Dane Niels Degenkolw win two races on Phoenix to win the class. Jessandra II, the predominately female team was second and Martyn Henman’s Second Nature was out there but hampered by bad weather as it has two DNFs and one FPA. Day Two


ixteen months of COVID restrictions will leave anyone itching for some action, so participants in the MSR’21 didn’t mind a delayed start till PRO Simon James could find some wind and send them off through rain-soaked Chalong Bay. With the weather gods acting up again though one race was all PRO James could muster, and it had to be shortened midway through with most of the competitors having a hard time making it through lap one. Still everyone was happen to be out there and happy to be competing. Pulse Red was back on the course today racing against 18


the three other Pulses. The Sting was MIA again but Star Trek returned from its intergalactic rendezvous to give the Pulses some company, as 13 boats were on the water. With its second-place finish today, Dan Fidock’s Fugazi has a two-point edge in Multihull Racing (OMR) heading into the final day in its quest to be only the second repeat regatta winner, Hurricane being the first. Warwick Downes’ Bonza , Team Philippines Voodoo, John Newnham’s Twin Sharks, and Glywn Rowlands Twister 2 followed in that order today. Multihull Cruising (PHC class) saw Rick Fielding’s Pulse Yellow take top spot with Simon Boyd’s Pulse Grey in second, Charles Robinson’s Star Trek in third and Paul “Flatty” Baker’s Pulse Blue in fourth. In the Pulse 600 division after two days racing Pulse Grey sits in first, followed by Pulse Yellow, Pulse Blue and Pulse Red. A big shout-out to Java Watersports’ John Coffin for being able to enter four boats in the regatta. The three-boat Racing Monohull class saw the crafty Dane Niels Degenkolw lead Phoenix to victory again with Jessandra II coming in second. Rough weather

has not been kind to the thirds entrant in the class as Martyn Henman’s Second Nature earned another FPA when it had to retire. This is the first time a monohull class has participated in the Multihull Solutions Regatta, but it makes sense as title sponsor now had a sister company, the Yacht Sales Company (TYSCo), which deals in keelboats. Day Three Warwick Downes’ Bonza won the 2021 Multihull Solutions Regatta for the second time in four years, although in 2018 the trimaran was called Fugazi. Ironically, this year it edged out Dan Fidock’s new Fugazi (two less points) to capture the prestigious OMR Multihull Class and win the championship. Competitors suffered through a veritable cornucopia of climate change in the three short days experiencing everything from soft rain to hard pounding rain; no wind to heavy gusts; calm water to large swells; and sunny blue skies versus overcast grey cloud cover. Due to lack of wind, PRO Simon James had the boats on the water for three hours and twenty minutes before spotting a bit of breeze and getting the sailors underway at 1:50 needing to get a race underway before

his 2:30 start deadline. Unfortunately, the wind, which had been so strong the previous two days, didn’t keep and the race had to be shortened with the racing multihulls getting in one lap of the two-lap race and the other two classes just making it to the top mark for a half-lap race. Some of the competitors were somewhat distraught having stayed up late to see England lose to Italy on penalty kicks in the UEFA Euro Cup final. Bonza took first place in the light wind, followed by John Newnham’s Twin Sharks and Dan Fidock’s Fugazi. Team Philippines Voodoo, and Glywn Rowlands Twister 2 followed in that order. Staging the race and that order of finish allowed Bonza to capture the regatta as its lowest finish could be dropped if five races were held. Overall, the final standings in the class were Bonza, Fugazi, Voodoo, Twin Sharks and Twister 2. Voodoo’s all Filipino crew (Jojo Tayong-helm; Alik Narag-bowman; Jun Ortiz-main trimmer; Melvin Delos Santos-jib/spin trimmer; & Jamar Cabauatan-mast man) sailed without either Hans Rahman or Ian Coulson for the first time and edged out long-time friendly TheBigChilli


rival Twin Sharks in the regatta. The charismatic crew drew the admiration of fellow competitors with the way they handled their man overboard on day one to their celebration at the final party. The six-boat Multihull Cruising (PHC class) saw Rick Fielding’s Pulse Yellow (Mick “Octopus” Kealy & Rick “Mojo” Fielding) take top spot with Pulse Grey (Simon Boyd & Roger Cox & Steve Gorton) in second, Pulse Blue (Paul “Flatty” Baker & Mathias Bernsletter) in third and Charles Robinson’s Star Trek in fourth. Pulse Red (Rick Delaney, Apple Vimonchandr & Gregory Morozov) had a tough regatta as it couldn’t even reach the start line on the final morning, let alone the finish line, and as a result of its broken rudder on day one could only get in one race during the regatta. Bill Kane and his crew on The Sting registered but decided to sit out the regatta due to the rough weather. Pulse Yellow captured the four-boat Pulse 600 division followed by Pulse Grey, Pulse Blue and Pulse Red in that order. The three-boat Racing Monohull class saw Niels Degenkolw do what he does best – win as Phoenix captured three of the five races in the division. Andrew McDermott’s Jessandra II, and its predominately female crew, gave them a good run for the money though coming in second, winning two races. The rough weather made it very hard for Martyn Henman’s Second Nature, the other boat in the class, to compete and keep up. The standings were the same 20


for the three-boat class when performance handicap (PHS) was factored in. The buffet dinner and awards presentation were held at the Phuket Yacht Club with James Haste once again doing a wonderful job as Master of Ceremonies. Bt5,5000 was raised for Disabled Sailing Thailand when Alan Carwardine graciously bought a bottle of Kraken at auction. A big shout-out to PRO Simon James and his crew on the committee boat (Eddie and Susie) and Chandran and David for laying marks and recording times as competitors passed them on the course. And thank you to the multi-talented Mick Coleman for ably manning and guiding the start boat, a NEEL 51graciously supplied by Paul Stamp and the team at Multihull Solutions. Kudos to Anthony Gates for supplying the photography rib and for helping any boat in distress. On day one, he towed Pulse Red back to anchor when its rudder broke as well as Bonza when its motor failed to start (good on ya, Gatesy!!). And congratulations to the Phuket Yacht Club and Commodore Scott Duncanson for staging a great regatta, giving people a little fun and excitement out on the water in these dark and troublesome times. And thank you to Paul Stamp, Andrew de Bruin and all the super folks at Multihull Solutions for sponsoring the regatta.


Teavel & Tourism

Koh Samui looks ahead Interview with Dieter Ruckenbauer, General Manager, Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui



DAY 4-7 Please update us on the situation regarding tourist arrivals in Koh Samui, especially health checks and other requirements.


he island community is very happy to see that domestic flights from Bangkok have commenced again starting the beginning of September while we also see arrivals with regards to the “Samui Plus” in cooperation with the “Phuket Sandbox” initiatives. Nevertheless, airtravel from Bangkok to Samui will remain key. It is important to point out that current situation is very fluent and guidelines as indicated below may change. ELIGIBLE TOURISTS • Tourists should come from a country on the approved list and must be stayed there at least 21 days prior to departure. • Been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by Thai FDA/Thai Ministry of Public Health/WHO for at least 14 days and has a valid Vaccine Certificate.

• Tourists can leave their hotel and travel within designated routes and on tour programs on Koh Samui only. • Travelers need to undergo the second COVID-19 test on Day 6 or 7. DAY 8-14 • If the second test is negative, tourists can travel freely in Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, or Koh Tao and stay at Vana Belle Koh Samui (SHA+ Certified Hotel) • The third COVID-19 test needs to be performed on Day 12 or 13. DAY 15 • If the result of the third COVID-19 test is negative, tourists can go anywhere in Thailand.

• All must possess the result of a COVID-19 RTPCR test within 72 hours and medical insurance with minimum coverage of at least USD 100,000.

Although frequent updates or changes domestic tourist arrival requirements include Negative PCR or Antigen test no less than 72 hours prior to arrival and either two full doses of an approved vaccine alternatively 1 dose of Astra Zeneca at least 7 days prior to arrival as well as registration through Samui Health Pass via QR Code.

• A certificate of Entry (COE) is required. Reference link for Samui Plus Model https://www.

Clearly it will be a long time before anyone can say the island is back to normal, but what is expected of Koh Samui in the second half of 2022 and beyond?


Koh Samui will start seeing gradual recovery post pandemic from the second half of 2022, and will remerge as upscale most favourite tourist destination in Thailand for international and domestic tourists. However the recovery will be slow.

• Children under 18 are not required to be vaccinated if traveling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians.

• Tourists will be transferred from the airport to the pre-booked Samui Extra Plus hotel. • The first Covid-19 test will be performed and tourists will need to wait for the negative test result in the hotel room before getting out of the room.

What overseas markets are likely to return to the island first?

DAY 1-3 • After getting a negative result of the first COVID-19 test, allow leaving the hotel room for designated areas in the Samui Extra Plus hotel only.



Prior to COVID 19 outbreak, top international geographical source markets for Koh Samui were Germany, Mainland China, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Italy and the Nordic Countries. Considering ongoing country specific restrictions on outbound travel, Mainland China and Australia markets will take longer time to return to the island. We anticipate a surge in Russian travellers after Thailand’s Centre

for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) approved Russian Sputnik vaccine. How important is the domestic/Thai market going forward? First and foremost, we would like to thank all domestic travellers for their support in past months. Koh Samui always relied heavily on international visitors while domestic market traditionally contributed to 16% of total visitors to the island. As we are evolving to new normal, Koh Samui market will take longer period to recover to the 2019 level of international tourist arrivals compared to other Thailand destinations. Hence it is imperative to focus and grow domestic market demand for Samui. To boost domestic demand, government has to further develop infrastructure which shall grant easy connectivity to island by road and thereby reducing dependence on air connectivity. Are you working closely with Bangkok Airways (or any other airline) to offer special air fares? Yes, Bangkok Airways is our key business partner. As we are a member of the flyer bonus program, travelers enjoy great rewards in exchange of points in order to enjoy our service and the luxury resort.

Tell us what guests can expect at Vana Belle? The Vana Belle family delivers authentic cultural experiences of a lifetime. As a 100% pool suite and pool villa 5-star luxury resort, we significantly differentiate ourselves from the 7,000 plus Marriott International properties around the world, as there is only one Vana Belle around the globe. While we are still considered as the hidden gem within the domestic and international market, the Marriott Bonvoy community already recognized Vana Belle for its butlers. Vana Belle butlers create an unique, highly personalized and anticipatory experience. Guests are provided with meaningful connections to the destination, discover unique indigenous experiences, learn and collect memories of a life time. All of this in a luxurious setting with a hardware in perfect condition and the outmost safe environment as heightened cleaning protocols are in place in line with Marriott’s Commitment to Clean Program alongside governments local safety measures. Vana Belle has also been awarded a SHA+ certificate with all front of house associates being vaccinated. Congratulations on winning an Excellence Award in TheBigChilli


four categories of the 2021 Haute Grandeur Global Hotel Awards. As the awards are based on quality feedback from guests, what was your strategy to win their approval?

As a family, you support each other in good times and in bad - no difference. It comes without saying that last months have been more than difficult for all of us, but we stayed true to our Vana Belle family culture to put people first and take care of each other. We have not laid off any of our associates.

The real strength of Vana Belle is the culture of its associates – ‘The Vana Belle Family’. We put people first at Vana Belle. We believe that in order to be successful in that what we do we have to take good care of our associates in order to create memories of a lifetime for them, too. The resort provides competitive benefits, efficient individualized training, coaching and focuses on career development. Our canteen offers healthy, wholesome meals, accompanied by our ‘Take Care Activities’ that focus on body – mind and soul and the resorts sustainability approach.

In your own words, what makes Koh Samui a special destination?

It starts from back of house and runs like a golden thread through all departments. Working for Vana Belle gets you on transformative journeys that touch your spirits and enrich your lives. Our final product is evaluated by the voice of our honorable guests. The local, regional and global award recognitions proof this foundation as the Vana Belle family is here to create memories of a lifetime. Are you back to full strength in terms of staff?



Koh Samui is one of the most popular and thethird largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Koh Chang. It is the most significant island in Chumphon Archipelago situated in Gulf of Thailand, apart from Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and the islands of Mu Ko Chumphon National Park. Samui is a favorite destination for upmarket travelers from around the world, considered as the perfect hub to the best diving places in the world. This beautiful island is famed for breath taking oramic views, pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, dense forests with stunning waterfalls, impressive temples including the very famous landmark the Big Buddha temple. For beach lovers it is important to point out one of the island’s best kept secrets located in the east of the island “Chaweng Noi-beach”. This stretch is considered to be one of the finest beaches in South East Asia with the most amazing sunrise.

Cover Story



Les heads home By Scott Murray


o expat has done more to spread the gospel of golf throughout Thailand over the past 25 years than Les Walsh. Les has many skills and has worn many hats in his time in Thailand. But after almost 30 years of living in Thailand Les is returning home to start the next chapter of his life – keeping an eye on his rambunctious 90-year-old mother, building a bridge to citizenship for his Thai wife Khun Gift, and creating a landing zone for his children to make the move out of Thailand to Canada as well as reconnecting with his brother and long-lost friends. Les grew up in a little town outside of Montreal called Hudson, a place he fondly calls “the nicest place he’s ever been to”. It’s a historic community on the southwest bank of the Ottawa River, about 60km from downtown Montreal. Les was actually born in Montreal West, but his parents came from Hudson, and they moved back there when Les was in grade six. Les first became interested in golf in grade 11 after he ruptured his spleen playing football and was told he was not supposed to play contact sports any more (he later went on to play semi-pro football in Toronto). So as Les’ grandfather was a member of the local golf club, the Whitlock Golf & Curling Club, Les took a junior membership playing golf and in the summers he worked in the Club’s pro shop, cleaning clubs, caddying and picking up balls on the 27-hole golf course. Les eventually worked at almost every job on the course spending 12-15 hours a day there, sharpening his game when he wasn’t working, getting down to a 5 handicap and representing the Club in local tournaments.

Les thought about playing golf as a career, but there was no real career path other than becoming a club pro, a teaching pro, or a touring pro. Golf was not taken as a serious industry back then. Les talked about turning pro with his dad, who told him he didn’t have the temperament for it. Les heeded the advice and went to university. Les left Hudson to study at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, where he received an Honours BA in economics, marketing and geography in 1980. Dave Layton, the younger brother of Jack Layton (former federal NDP leader) was Les’ best friend, and as he had decided to study at Ryerson, Les followed, they were college roommates and studied together (Layton's great-granduncle, William Steeves, was a Canadian Father of Confederation). Les stopped playing golf then, and instead played music in his spare time. His brother, Robert is a renowned and award-winning recording artist, (www. and two years younger than Les. “He’s the best rhythm guitar player I’ve ever seen - period,” Les says, “I always envied him - when he was a kid, he picked up the guitar, fell in love with it and that was it, he knew what he wanted to do right away and he’s been playing professionally since he was 13.” When Robert took up guitar, he told Les he needed to learn bass so he could have someone to practice with. Les wanted to know how to sing properly so he also joined a choir, then a drummer named Scott Bruyea moved in down the block, and the three formed a band called the “Live Beaver Band”. They played at pubs and taverns in greater Montreal. Another guitar player, Russell Williams, and TheBigChilli


keyboardist Marla Mayson joined the band later and Bob, Scott, Marla and Russell were so good that they all became professional musicians. Les adds, “Guitar Player Hall-of-Famer Larry Carlton always said to make sure that you are the worst guy in the band, and I was.” When Les first moved to Toronto he played in an Italian wedding band and then in a disco band, before joining a rock band called “Phoenix” and he stayed with them for four years. “We were a 6-piece band with 5-part vocals. There was nothing that we couldn’t play. We did everything from Journey to Max Webster – it was a great ride!”

getting Korean security clearance - so in 1988 he grabbed a chance to relocate to Taipei, Taiwan to run a sourcing office for a Canadian firm. Les did product development and quality control, sourcing products like steak knives for a gasoline company and dolls for Campbell’s Soup for their promotional campaigns. But things back in Canada went south after a year, leaving him effectively stranded in Taiwan.

Upon graduating he did a management training program with Wendy’s and worked as a research analyst for the realtor, A.E. LePage. Looking for something a little more adventurous and different, he then took a job heading up trade and investment development for the South Korean government’s 72-office Korea Trade Promotion Corporation, located in downtown Toronto. He worked there for six years, and was responsible for everything from sourcing stuffed teddy bears to nuclear reactor parts as his mandate changed from research originally to business development. He led Canadian buying delegations to Seoul and acted as a middleman between Canadian and South Korean companies.

One of Les’ Taiwanese suppliers had an office in Bangkok, and invited him to Bangkok where he ended working for the supplier’s company CAG for about a year-and-a-half.

Les eventually went as far as he could with the Korean Trade Center – the next step would require 8


One positive from his time in Taipei was the discovery of a rock and blues club where he met Czech/Australian musician Dave Zuric. They’d jam together at the Farmhouse and other clubs for several months until Les left Taiwan.

During this time he sourced food and giftware products for large retailers such as Loblaws, to whom he supplied seafood products and other niche products such as Mae Pranom hot sauce and even escorted Loblaws President Dave Nichol on a sourcing trip around Bangkok when he visited Thailand. About a week after his arrival in Thailand, Les learned that a couple of his friends in Taipei had also relocated to Bangkok. One of them was his jamming buddy David, and they quickly put a proper act together.

With the support of a couple of local club musicians they played a regular slot at Round Midnight on Soi Langsuan every Saturday night, occasionally enlisting local businessman Ken Lambert to play drums to play special events like AMCHAM’s Independence Day picnic. During this entire time in Taiwan and Thailand, the golf clubs stayed in mothballs, but he became involved with the Can-Am Invitational golf tournament. In 1991, Les moved back to Toronto in the middle of recession and created a job for himself at Pizza Pizza. He put together a proposal for Mike Overs, the founder and CEO of the company. Mike was impressed and made Les the head of international franchise development where he remained for 2 years. Despite creating opportunities in Korea, Costa Rica and another half-dozen countries it became clear that his ambitious strategy for international expansion didn’t sync with others in the organization and never would. Les went back to Montreal, but after almost a year he realized no one was interested in his Asian work experience. So he decided to return to Asia, stopping in Bangkok, Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo to meet senior business contacts and assess opportunities. Before he left, he spoke with a number of major Canadian franchise firms, offering to do exploratory research for them during his trips to see if any of their products would be viable in this part of the world. At the tail end of his trip he visited the Seoul Franchise Show but missed his connecting flight to Tokyo during the Korean wedding season and couldn’t get another flight out. Stuck in the airport for two days, he begged the Thai Airways counter for a flight

anywhere; he ended up with a ticket back to Bangkok. Once back, Les decided that things happen for a reason and that he would try to turn this disaster into an opportunity. He took a number of different jobs, including working at Siam Trade business magazine together with Scott Murray, and ended up in an 8-year relationship that produced sons Hudson and Tyler, born in 1995 and 97, respectively. In late 1996, Les went to work with the ThaiChamber of Commerce (now CanCham Thailand) when Matt Raynor was the Executive Director and the office was on the premises of Enterprise Thailand Canada on Silom Road. It was then that he started Voyageur, the CanCham Thailand magazine, as well as a short-lived newsletter called The Elephant and Beaver. Les had met Ron Livingston through the Chamber and next went to work for IEM from 1997-2001 in business development and admin support on a number of ISO 14001 certification projects for the energy sector. Les left IEM to pursue a career in real estate doing projects for Destination Properties in Sri Racha and Samui, followed by numerous resort development projects with Pacvest Properties He also represented a car-coating company, which gave Hudson a springboard into the automotive business as he now works for the Forza GT supercar service shop, while Tyler runs an online shoe company, and is an accredited marijuana grower. Hudson (guitar) and Tyler (drums), inherited their dad’s musical skill and father and sons have performed at two Canada Day celebrations in recent years. Les was introduced to his wife K. Kulthida (Gift) by a mutual friend and after a number of years dating they married in 2009. Gift spent several years in marketing TheBigChilli


and sales for private aviation firms X Jet and Minor Aviation before becoming involved in professional golf course management at Thana City and Chee Chan, while becoming a freelance consultant in branding and social media marketing. Golf has wound its way through everything else Les has done in Thailand. But Les says golf is a labour of love for him, not a career, as he is always doing something else while working on golf projects. When Les arrived back in Thailand the second time he met Kerry Matison who quickly grabbed Les to help him run the annual Can-Am Invitational golf tourney. The Can-Am ran from 1981-2007 and was replaced by the Flying Farang golf tournament, which then became the Beaver when in 2018 it became the Moose and then finally the Caveman Classic in 2019, which was the last time it was held. And Les has had a hand in running this often renamed tourney since 1997. Les has also worked on the rebuild of Muang Kaew golf course and done reviews for CNN on golf courses. He ran a golf course redevelopment project for Muang Kaew and Sri Racha; he also ran Doug Harrison’s tourney for Father Joe for eight years; Rajah’s Invitational tourney for nine years; and the Rotary Bangkok South tourney for a decade. What does Les love about golf? “It’s the things that golf gives you that you can’t get in any other sport. It’s very personal, you don’t need anyone else around, it’s a personal challenge, and no one beats you but yourself. That said, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people. You can learn more about someone from playing a round of golf with them than you can in a year of boardroom meetings. It’s also a mobile game, you get fresh air, it’s a nice walk with plenty of sunshine (usually) and you get to play in a wonderful environment. ” 10


Les’ advice for someone just starting out: “Buy a used seven-iron, go to driving range, and hit some balls around. If you like it, keep practicing and then go to a public course on a weekday afternoon and play a round. It’s not as cheap as say football, or takraw, but it is affordable, especially here in Thailand.” Les has always juggled many balls at once and has a talent for multitasking. Indeed, it’s rare to find Les focusing on just one project. Looking back Les says, “My time here has not been a commercial success, certainly no party or cake walk. However, I met Gift, I have two great kids, a lot of great experiences and friendships that are deep and lasting.” Parting advice for someone coming to Thailand to work, or invest? “You must have your eyes wide open, do your homework and truly understand the costs and processes. Network – go online, contact the Chamber, and visit forums like ‘Canadians in Thailand’ on Facebook before you get here. Most of all, you also must have a strong sense of who you are and a strong sense of values to stay focused. If things don’t work out, leave. Don’t be one of those guys just hanging on because you like the beaches and temples.” And the golf? Les plans to be back in Thailand next April 1 & 2 to run the Caveman Classic at the Phoenix Golf Club & the Hard Rock Hotel in Pattaya. The next event will be the 40th time it’s played, allowing for interruptions. Fellow Canadian AJ Easton will look after things while Les is in Canada, but he will still be sending out golfing updates through his website The Ministry of Golf. You can contact Les at