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24 Jun, 2014

Phuket to get its first hospitality HRD Academy

Phuket – The concept of hotel HRD academies is gaining steam in Thailand with plans to set up what is claimed to be the first hospitality training and education Academy in Phuket, the kingdom’s second most important tourism destination after Bangkok. Former Citibank executive Mr. Narong Pattamasaevi, owner of Thailand’s Montara Hospitality Group, has teamed up with veteran Asia-Pacific hotelier Mr. Bill Black to set up the venture.

The Trisara Academy will fill a market gap in the HRD sector by providing short- and long-term courses ranging from a single day up to three months to upgrade practical skills of those who are already in the industry as well as new entrants seeking to buttress their university degrees with more specific qualifications. Costs of the courses will vary but the entire Academy, to be located in Montara Place in front of Trisara Phuket, is designed to function in a financially independent way and enhance the value of the real-estate on which it is located.

Bill Black

Bill Black

The Academy is owned by Montara Hospitality Group, which owns and operates two properties in Phuket, the luxury Trisara and the recently rebranded and rejuvenated Boathouse by Montara. Group President Mr. Black, who was a Board member of the Group for eight years before taking up this current operational role, will oversee the hotels, the Academy project, as well as the group’s expansion plans with a focus on independently-owned luxury resorts in Southeast Asia.

Said Mr. Black, “The Trisara Academy is designed to create professionals for the growing hospitality business and help small, independent properties upgrade their manpower levels. This will help them retain their competitive advantage against global chains and their much more comprehensive in-house training programmes.” He declined to cite the level of investment in setting up the Academy.

The Academy will start off with three programmes:

1. The Trisara Internship Programme: To kick off in September 2014 with the first intake of students for training in F&B Service, Kitchen skills and Front Office/Reception. Open for Thai nationals only, the three-month course, costing Baht 10,000 per month per student, will include on-the-job training, classroom lectures and intense English hospitality language skill development. Upon completion, students will be offered placement services to help them find jobs either at Montara properties or other Phuket hotels.

2. The Trisara Academy Lecture Series: Open to the public, this will comprise of special courses or presentations by internationally recognized professionals as well as local experts in the hospitality industry. The first course, scheduled for early September 2014, will be conducted by Mr. Morris Sim, CEO and Co-Founder of Circos Brand Karma on the topic of “Winning Digital Travellers in 2015”. Mr. Black said the costs of these courses will vary depending on the fees to be paid to the speakers. However, he said he will be tapping into his pool of retired hotel executive colleagues, many of whom are independently well-off, to contribute their time and skills in exchange for covering their transportation, boarding and lodging costs.

3. The Montara Career Development Programme (CDP), a specially designed programme featuring management skills training for Montara Hospitality employees, will start on 21 July 2014.

The idea will clearly catch on in other parts of Asia and allow many of the growing number of retiring executives from the travel & tourism sector to make productive use of their time by passing on their skills to the next generation. It is also a financially feasible proposition; the thousands of hotel rooms opening across Asia will require several more thousand qualified personnel, many of whom will relish the opportunity to upgrade their skills in Asia itself, without having to head off to expensive hotel schools in Europe and the United States.

Over time, however, a proliferation of “academies” is bound to raise issues about levels of recognition and accreditation. At the moment, however, the laws of first-mover-advantage will prevail.