What is your full name and age?
My name is Dylan Counsel…. I am aged 41 but for the record still feel 25!
What is your current Job Position?
I am the General Manager for Holiday Inn Vana Nava Hua Hin.
How long have you lived in Hua Hin or been coming to Hua Hin?
I am no stranger to our lovely seaside town. I had lived and worked in Hua Hin previously for 3 years between 2007 – 2010. Before returning again in 2020. In addition, during the time when I was working away from Hua Hin, the destination has always been a favorite holiday getaway for my family who enjoy our time staying at InterContinental or Holiday Inn Vana Nava Hua Hin.
What did you know about Hua Hin before you moved here?
Importantly I was aware Hua Hin was the summer home of the late King, His Royal Highness Bhumibol Adulyadej. And for that reason, I know the destination has a special place in the hearts of Thai’s and expats who call Thailand home. I also knew Hua Hin was a favorite holiday destination for the domestic market which helps support the local economy.
What do you like most about your profession?
Two words. Very simple… People & Service.
I am honored to be involved in an industry that allows me to work professionally while experiencing new countries and cultures. I have grown personally as a result of meeting so many wonderful people related to the hotel business whether it be getting to know many of our wonderful resort guests, being inspired daily by my motived staff team, working closely with owners, senior company leaders or coordinating with the many third parties including, media, suppliers and local community organizations related to hotels.
I am passionate about service. There is something very satisfying about seeing guests depart and feeling they had a wonderful experience while staying Holiday Inn Vana Nava. I believe service is the ultimate honor and just as we all like to ensure guests coming to our home are looked after, I try to apply that same approach to guests checking into my hotel.
What do you like least about your profession?
I take the approach that when you love what you do, your work becomes part of your day to day lifestyle. With this in mind the very few negative parts of the role, usually present an opportunity to self-reflect and look at ways to get better and to build a further understanding of a situation. In the end of the day the very few negative parts of the role, end up as an opportunity to convert to a positive…
But if you really want to push me on this question, I would have to say one negative is the hotel food!!! I know what you are thinking right?… Hotel food is usually so good! Why would I consider that as a negative you may ask?
Hotel food is usually delicious, well presented and creative… As a GM, I have the difficult task to work closely with my executive chef who normally asks me to try new menu items, food ideas and changes to improve our current offering almost daily… that inevitably results in me eating way too much which isn’t good for my waist-line… Holiday Inn and Vana Nava Sky is no exception for delicious food and a GM who has to stay active just to keep off the extra kilos!
What do you like most about Hua Hin?
I like to remain active both socially and recreationally. I find Hua Hin has an equally active community. So whether it is a round of golf at one of the many amazing courses together with colleagues or friends, a game of tennis at True Arena Hua Hin, some quick shopping with my lovely wife at BluPort Mall or a drink with friends visiting from Bangkok at Vana Nava Sky, Hua Hin has a great range of venues and facilities which match my preferred lifestyle perfectly.
What is your favorite restaurant and why? (please don’t promote your own restaurants)
As I have only returned to Hua Hin recently, I am yet to rediscover some of the great established outlets and new restaurants in Hua Hin. I will be sure to get myself out and about moving forward to discover some of the many wonderful dining venues. In the mean time I have been enjoying some of the delicious dishes at Pirom which is located at InterContinental Hua Hin Resort.
What do you like to do in your free time and why?
I have a six year old boy, named Finn who loves music. In particular rock music including some of the all time classic bands. My Son, Finn and I will often try to find a venue where there is a band playing in order for him to listen to some live music and every now and again get up on stage to sing. In order to try and keep up with Finn, I am also learning the guitar in my spare time.
I enjoy a round of golf. Although my scores never give me a reason to celebrate, I enjoy getting out with colleagues or friends for a not so serious round at Banyan, Black Mountain or Palm Hills.
Other than enjoying music with my son, golf with friends, my lovely wife Kh Kookkai and I enjoy wellness and exercise. You may spot us out on the tennis court at True Arena Hua Hin or enjoying a Thai boxing lesson with one of the local experts followed by a late afternoon sunset signature cocktail at Vana Nava Sky.
What would you recommend to new-comers to do in Hua Hin and why?
As I still consider myself a newcomer to the destination, I might not be the best person to ask for recommendations…
That said I believe Hua Hin has some fantastic local food options to try whether it be at the Night Market, walking the beach or in one of the small roadside shops which specialize in selling one or two delicious menu items…
My lovely wife, Kh Kookkai has already found many of the great hidden gems in Hua Hin and I am sure she would be delighted to share her recommendations with those new to Hua Hin.
For those who are here with family or enjoy a bit of adventure, a stay in Hua Hin is not complete without a visit to the Vana Nava Water Jungle. An amazing jungle themed water park with slides perfect for kids and for adults into a bit of thrill seeking. All in all, a great afternoon or full day to be had there.
Tell us a surprising fact that the public might not know about you?
I am currently approximately 60-70% fluent in speaking Thai and have a desire to learn reading and writing which I am currently working on. I believe firmly that as an expat privileged to live in Thailand (and hopefully planning to be here for the long term), I want to make the effort to learn the language. What I have found is that my understanding and appreciation of Thai culture has grown immeasurably in conjunction with my Thai language development. For those speaking Thai, please feel free to correct me for any words or tones I pronounce incorrectly when meeting you in person.
The other cool fact, is that I am lucky enough to be married to Mrs. Thailand 2016. Kh Kookkai won that competition a few years ago and you may still see her from time to time in some of the pageant events as a judge or participant held in Hua Hin or Bangkok.