“I feel Rama 9 is part of an upcoming area just outside Sukhumvit Road, with much to offer for the disparate range of guests. The area has developed itself as an extension of Bangkok’s CBD, providing great convenience to corporate guests with plenty of large office towers nearby.” says Mr. Nigel Douwes.
In the vibrant landscape of Bangkok’s luxury hospitality, Somerset Rama 9 is an exceptional property committed to sustainability and an unwavering dedication to guest satisfaction. At the helm of this prestigious establishment is Mr. Nigel Douwes, a dynamic leader whose passion for the industry and genuine care for people have created a thriving environment.
In this article, we delve into Mr. Douwes’ inspiring journey, his vision for Somerset Rama 9, and how he cultivates a culture of sustainability while delivering unforgettable experiences to the guests.
TDN: It has been almost a year since you took the GM’s position at Somerset Rama 9 Bangkok. What factors drive you and give you the inspiration and passion for this role?
“The people. Whether they are guests, associates, or other stakeholders, they create the dynamics that give soul to a property.”
GM: The people. Sometimes we tend to forget how important people are within the hospitality industry and our properties. Whether they are guests, associates, or other stakeholders, they create the dynamics that give soul to a property. Witnessing memorable moments being created, seeing associates develop into leaders, or observing local community interactions is a driving force that has always excelled excited me and given me the passion for this job. With the recent buzz around topics like AI, the need for humans may seem to dissolve, but in reality, we wouldn’t know what to do without the people in hospitality.
TDN: What do you find most challenging in working with a fresh team in this new property?
GM: Many of the challenges we face in our day-to-day operations stem from the strength of the foundation. Joining an existing property can often be challenging, as teams are already set in their ways and accustomed to responding to a specific type of leadership. Therefore, as a new leader, it is essential for all team members to buy into the mission and vision I am setting in moving forward. There is no “one size fits all” approach. Still, I believe in listening to the team about the obstacles they face, which creates an environment where all associates have the necessary tools to efficiently and successfully do their jobs. This establishes a culture of trust and support, leading to success. Empowerment is critical to showing that each individual has the ability to contribute to the company’s success and is trusted with the means to do so.
Additionally, especially at the beginning, it is crucial to celebrate milestones and victories, big or small. For example, the sales team closed a significant group deal, increased TripAdvisor ranking, job promotions, etc. This affirmation assures the whole team that we are on the right track in fulfilling our goals and targets, bringing everyone into the bigger picture.
TDN: What is your opinion of Rama 9 as a location to stay? What unique features and characteristics would be especially appealing to your guests?
GM: I feel Rama 9 is part of an upcoming area just outside Sukhumvit Road, with much to offer for the disparate range of guests. The area has developed itself as an extension of Bangkok’s CBD, providing great convenience to corporate guests with plenty of large office towers nearby. This allows them to beat Bangkok traffic by staying closer to the office. Leisure travellers find comfort in the many night markets and food options the area offers while still being only 2 MRT stops away from downtown, allowing them to have a diverse stay. I also believe that Rama 9 is becoming much more long-stay resident-friendly, with plenty of shopping options, large grocery stores, and easy connectivity to other parts of the city. This will propel the overall charm of the area in the coming years!
TDN: In terms of amenities and services, what are the three standout features of Somerset Rama 9 Bangkok that will capture the hearts of our guests during their stay?
GM: At Somerset Rama 9 Bangkok, we pride ourselves on providing spacious rooms with all the necessary facilities to make our guests feel truly at home. Our rooms are thoughtfully designed with a kitchenette, washing machine, and large fridge, catering to the needs of both long-stay and short-stay guests. Whether it is a quick wash of clothes before continuing a business trip or heating up meals for children, our rooms are equipped to enhance both convenience and comfort.
Our prime location in the heart of Ratchada-Rama 9 also ensures an exhilarating experience for our guests. Surrounded by Bangkok’s trendiest night markets, we offer an ideal base for explorers seeking vibrant adventures. We strike a balance by being away from the bustling Sukhumvit Road while remaining within easy reach. Corporate travellers benefit from an effortless and swift daily commute to the surrounding office towers on Ratchadapisek Road.
Furthermore, the dedication and hospitality of our team consistently earn accolades from our guests. It’s heartening to see our guests acknowledging the willingness of our staff to go the extra mile. Whether it’s our public area supervisor sending freshly plucked herbs from our Urban Herb Garden to our long-stay rooms or our recreation team engaging our youngest visitors by making traditional Thai dolls, everyone at Somerset Rama 9 Bangkok treats each person who walks through our doors as their personal guest.
TDN: Since our last conversation in March, we learned that both restaurants on your property, Jardin du Boeuf and Beauty in the Pot, are committed to sustainability practices and a food-for-health culture, such as ethically sourced ingredients and a wide selection of grass-fed beef on the menu. Do you have any updates or future development plans in this regard?
GM: Sustainability is poised to play an even more pivotal role in our future practices, and we are thrilled to collaborate with partners who share our values. We are actively exploring ways to integrate sustainability efforts, including utilizing the produce from our Urban Herb Garden on the 27th floor to supply freshly grown herbs to Jardin du Boeuf and our residents.
Additionally, we recently launched our “Kid’s Sustainability Passport,” a delightful treasure hunt for children. Kids can collect stamps by completing sustainability tasks such as switching off lights and AC when leaving the room, visiting local markets, or participating in our cultural and eco-friendly activities. We believe that engaging children in sustainability is not only our responsibility as a company but also incredibly enjoyable for them.
TDN: Having worked in hospitality management in various countries, including Spain, the Netherlands, and Indonesia, what essential aspect of the Thai hospitality industry sets Thais apart?
GM: The Thai hospitality industry possesses a sense of warmth and genuineness that is truly unparalleled. Thais not only exhibit a remarkable service mindset, but they also exude a natural hospitality that is rare to find elsewhere. Moreover, having been exposed to foreign tourists for an extended period, Thai hospitality has developed a deep understanding of visitors’ needs and a pragmatic approach to catering to them. This unique combination places Thailand ahead of many other countries worldwide.
Furthermore, there is a strong sense of pride in heritage and culture among Thais, coupled with a genuine openness to share it. This allows visitors and travellers to experience a truly unique holiday. In recent years, there has been a notable shift in travel trends towards seeking a cultural understanding of destinations, and this aligns perfectly with the Thai approach to hospitality and tourism.
TDN: If you were asked to give only one piece of advice to a prospective general manager, what would that be?
If I were asked to provide just one piece of advice to a prospective general manager, it would be to embrace the courage to be different and challenge the status quo. In an industry characterized by ever-changing and rapidly evolving guest demands, it is astonishing how often we tend to cling to conventional approaches. To truly thrive, breaking free from traditional thinking and being open to innovative ideas is essential. By daring to explore new paths, you can uncover untapped opportunities, create unique experiences, and stay ahead of the competition. Embrace change, foster a culture of innovation, and be willing to take calculated risks in order to flourish in the dynamic realm of hospitality.
With Mr. Nigel Douwes’ remarkable leadership, Somerset Rama 9 Bangkok continues to set new benchmarks in the industry. His focus on sustainability, genuine hospitality, and empowering his team has earned the property accolades and has elevated it to new heights. As guests experience the thoughtful amenities, prime location, and warm hospitality, they become part of a more significant commitment to sustainability and enriching the local community. Somerset Rama 9 Bangkok, under Mr. Douwes’ guidance, remains a shining example of how passion, sustainability, and exceptional service intertwine to create a truly remarkable hospitality experience.
Address: No 22, Ratchadaphisek Road, Khwaeng Huai Khwang, Khet Huai Khwang, Bangkok 10310
Phone: +66-2-239-1999 or visit
Darin is monitoring the Asia-Pacific travel & hospitality market and reports the most important news of the region. Her role includes interviewing C-level executives as well as running the content campaigns of companies and NTOs
She holds a MAMBM from the University of Westminster in UK and a photography certificate from the Kensington and Chelsea College in UK.