The Slate's co-owner Khun Moo on the makings of a good hotel and the best dining spots in Phuket
When was the defining moment when it came to working in hotel industry?
Joining the hotel industry came naturally to me as I grew up in the hospitality business. My father built his first hotel when I was about seven years old. After I graduated from École Hôtelière de Lausanne, I saw that my father's hotel (The Slate) needed some improvement so I came back and convinced him to transform the whole place. It was a big surgery, not just a cosmetic touch-up. We changed everything over the span of nine months.
How do you constantly push yourself to keep improving The Slate?
Through my travels and encounters with interesting people. The Slate is a place that I want to offer unique and different experiences to our guests. So we always come up with something new — not so much the physical but also technical improvements.
What was the most inspiring travel experience you had recently?
In Mexico. I went to visit Bill Bensley, our architect, at the beginning of this year. It was very interesting because it was my first time there. Mexico is very colourful — I loved the language and food so that was very inspiring.
What are you most proud of at The Slate?
The Slate is a lifestyle hotel that consists of many sub-brands. I like the Stockroom, as that's where we do retail. All of the accessories are 90% custom-made and are available for sale to our guests. Ever so often, I like to add things to the store.
What are the makings of a perfect hotel?
It has to have good vibes, coupled with comfortable rooms and beds. Everything that is essential has to be available in the room. But the most important part personally, is that when I leave the room, I have somewhere to go. I don't like being in a quiet hotel where you see no one. I like communal spaces where I can meet people, and dine at vibrant restaurants.
Which was the last fun hotel you stayed in?
I just came back from New York, where I stayed at Soho House. You usually don't spend too much time in your room, apart from when you sleep. I loved going to their club floor to meet people — they're all from creative industries and I like that you can talk to just about anyone and have a great conversation.
Do you have any pet peeves when you check into a hotel?
I'm all about the total experience — from the moment you arrive at the hotel to the check-in process and overall service. Everything has to be efficient.
Is there a destination that you would love to revisit?
Madrid. I fell in love with the city primarily because of the food, and the nice locals. While you're there, visit Chueca — a gay area that's very colourful and fun. There are many shops, restaurants and bars along that entire street.
Your favourite place to dine in Phuket?
There's a restaurant called Raya Thai, which serves Phuket street food. There's also our restaurant at The Slate — Black Ginger — which serves food from all over Thailand. We bring in dishes like crab curry, and kien (fried sausage). It provides a good variety of Phuket's street food, which most people don't know about.