In this part our series “Pioneers of Sustainability” we introduce Samornpun and Tanapong Somnam from Keemala Resort, an all pool villa wonderland located in the woodlands of Kamala, Phuket, Thailand.
Family values & cultural traditions
Samornpun Somnam, nicknamed “Tarn,” is Keemala’s Executive Director Marketing. Young and vibrant, Tarn is the younger of two siblings of a traditional Phuket family, who has established themselves as prominent entrepreneurs in Phuket’s hospitality industry. Tanapong Somnam, better known to his family and friends as “Note,” is Keemala’s Executive Director Hotel Operations. They both esteem family values and cultural traditions as a positive impact for their life.
Having studied at Thailand’s prestigious Mahidol University International College and Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Bluche, Switzerland, Tarn holds a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Hospitality Management. Knowing early on that she wanted to join her family business, Tarn chose marketing as her specialization.
Note successfully concluded his studies in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Thailand’s well known Thammasat University and University of Nottingham in England. Knowing that he eventually takes over the family’s hospitality business, Note expanded his studies at the University of Nottingham including Numerical Techniques for Finance in his plans.
Inspired by Nature and Buddhism
Keemala’s design was inspired by the concepts of ‘dharma’ meaning truth in Buddhism, and ‘tammachart’ meaning nature. In merging these two concepts Keemala stands for its commitment to nature and local culture. When developing the concept for Keemala, Tarn and Note envisioned a resort where guests are invited “to rebel against their hectic lifestyle and slow down enjoying nature and local culture.”
By presenting Phuket’s tropical woodlands and in preserving Thailand’s traditions and culture through Keemala’s philosophy, they contribute to making Phuket a sustainable destination. For Note, the Keemala concept combines his passion for travel and love for exquisite cuisine together with his family and friends. His goal is to create “a unique and unforgettable experience for my guests just like what I experience on my travels.”
The preservation of nature and local culture was of great importance from the beginning. The brand and design concept reflect the respect for the environment enabling practices that have less impact for the planet. Wherever possible techniques to reduce the carbon footprint are implemented like own water treatment system for each villa.
Luxury meets sustainability
In designing a “green” resort, Keemala had to find a balance between luxury, comfort and sustainability. For example, how can you forego plastic wraps of the amenities while ensuring that the products remain fresh and clean for the guests? In order to establish an eco-friendly resort this kind of debate and consideration was applied to nearly all aspects. In order to reduce plastic waste, only glass-bottled water is provided in the villas, paper straws are used instead of plastic straws, and whenever possible the packaging for toiletries are made of textile and recycled paper.
For Tarn and Note, the ‘Anti-Animal Exploitation Policy’ is very important: Guests are encouraged to visit and engage in tourism activities that exploit animals for entertainment, but rather experience ethical tourism in Phuket. They do not sell tickets or accept commissions for tours and shows with animals, such as elephant rides and entertainment, tiger and dolphin shows.
From Keemala’s farm to table
For the future, the siblings would like to further promote their farm-to-table approach. At the moment approx. 50% of the herbs and vegetables are directly sourced from the organic garden at the hotel. Guests can participate in Thai Curry and Coconut Milk classes in the garden, where ingredients are picked freshly from the soil. Keemala’s Executive Chef visits local markets and fishing communities in search of reliable, like-minded suppliers to source fish that is caught within 10-20 kilometers from Phuket shoreline.
Tarn and Note will continue to motivate the employees to act green setting a good example.