“While anyone can build a hotel with bricks and mortar, it is putting the soul into it that truly makes a hotel special and memorable” – Kate Kemp, Owner of The Sarojin
From choosing an undiscovered location and helping Khao Lak recover after the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami to becoming an award-winning luxury boutique residence, the story of The Sarojin is certainly an inspiring one.
While Khao Lak was deemed too “unknown” back then for a hotel by some, the Kemps purposely chose Khao Lak as the location for their luxury boutique resort, because of its local cultures, people, authentic Thai ambience and large areas of undisturbed natural landscape. It is this combination of location, landscapes and people, that create the truly special experience that keeps guests returning to The Sarojin, time after time.
(Re)building more than a luxury hotel in Khao Lak
When telling the story of The Sarojin, it is hard not to talk about the tragedy of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, which had devastating effects on Khao Lak and struck the region just 10 days before The Sarojin was due to open.
Upon hearing the tragic news, the Kemps responded immediately, with Andrew heading straight to Khao Lak to see how he could provide aid – his only concern being for the members of staff and local community. Having asked all the staff to head to the Kemps’ home, the couple knew they had to help Khao Lak recover and reassured staff that they would indeed rebuild The Sarojin, their community, their lives and guarantee their jobs. At a time when Khao Lak had virtually shut down in terms of commercial enterprise, The Sarojin was the first employer to bring back its 100 staff and start the process of rebuilding its part in the community.
The Sarojin immediately set up “The Sarojin Khao Lak Community Fund”, a community fund, directing and administering international funds to various elements of Khao Lak’s recovery, including repairing street lights, resurfacing roads and clearing up debris, with continued safety being a top priority. The fund is still going strong today, enabling guests to donate and support worthy local causes, should they wish to do so.
In October 2005, when The Sarojin opened, the Kemps decided it was important to honour every one of the 53 members of staff that had been with them pre and post tsunami, choosing to do so by naming a guest residence after each one of them.
Community Engagement to Create Amazing Experiences
The events of Boxing Day 2004 may have accelerated The Sarojin’s community involvement but the Kemps have stayed true to their vision and continually evolved and extended the luxury hotel’s mindfulness of, and involvement with, the Khao Lak landscape and community, creating sustainable support for the locals and memorable experiences for guests.
Just a quick look through the hotel’s Adventure & Discoveries will give guests a feel for how the hotel integrates and supports the environment and people of Khao Lak with the experiences it offers guests, which include a fantastic Glimpse of Local Life.
When staying at The Sarojin though, it quickly becomes clear that The Sarojin truly believes that anything and everything is possible if you treat people properly. Through The Sarojin’s dedication to creating amazing relationships with the community, the residence is able to create special moments for guests, staff and locals – and it is this that has led to this independent boutique residence not only becoming one of the world’s top hotels but also an imperative part of Khao Lak.