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Independent Minds: Samornpun Somnam, Keemala

A true passion project in the hands of a fourth generation Phuketian family, siblings Samornpun and Tanapong Somnam, affectionately known as Khun Tarn and Note, celebrate the culture of Phuket in every aspect of their all-pool-villa wonderland.

The Keemala concept centres around four Phuket tribes, the ‘Pa-ta-Pea’ (Earth), the ‘Khon-Jorn’ (Wanderers), the ‘We-Ha’ (Sky), and the ‘Rung-Nok’ (Nest) people. While these tribes may be fictional, their ways of life are very much alive in the Keemala experience and the resort’s deep-rooted respect for its surrounding rainforest, local communities, and the planet in general.

What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?

Being an independent hotel, we truly enjoy the freedom of creativity for our brand and service personality. These are particular factors that we find guests appreciate the most. I believe our working atmosphere offers a more friendly and family-oriented feel, empowering associates to take initiatives in creating a “wow factor” and personal touches for guests, creating a lasting impression.

Operationally, we do have to be extremely diligent about work procedures, guidelines, and policies, as our product does not fit within a standard brand box. We are not restricted to chain hotel standards such as in areas of manpower, hardware and software, which do not necessarily answer our full operational needs. Financially, we are able to allocate budget where truly necessary and not burdened with franchise fee, which in these challenging economic times, is a much needed reprieve.

In life, I personally love experimenting with trial and error to find a perfect fit in the things that I do, so I feel my way of living does go hand-in-hand with our hotel management style.

What was the inspiration behind the hotel, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?

Keemala is both a family affair and a passion project. Our family is Phuketian and we wanted to show visitors what Phuket is like beyond the picturesque beaches and tourist attractions. We have longstanding unique traditions in Phuket – beautiful nature, and a vibrant cuisine. So we started with this inspiration and incorporated our own passions for sustainability and a holistic lifestyle into what Keemala stands for. As hoteliers, our family and associates see ourselves as hosts who welcome guests into our home as friends and family. Within this mindset, we strive to offer guests a personalised service and an unforgettable luxurious experience.

How do you think your hotel stands apart from other boutique hotels?

When talking about the uniqueness of our resort, what stands out the most is of course our outstanding design. Every photo taken of the resort has become a sensational phenomenon, attracting travellers and influencers from around the world. Once you arrive at Keemala, it is the personal touch and bespoke experiences that really make a lasting impression for our guests. From personalised villa host service to customised celebrations ranging from romantic date nights to engagements and weddings, private excursions, and cultural immersion experiences. For us, and our guests, it is these little touches that make all the difference.

If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?

If you desire a sophisticated design, a stay in either our Tree Pool House or Bird’s Nest Pool Villa is the preferred choice. For those who cherish nature and tropical ambiance, then our Tent Pool Villa ticks this box beautifully. Finally, if you’re after cosy comfort, our Clay Pool Cottages are ideal. Whatever type of villa our guests choose, one thing for sure is that they can be assured of a unique luxury experience.

For couples, our romantic destination dining in different settings around the resort is something that is not to be missed. Destination dining is perfect as a memorable date night, for special occasions and a surprise proposal.

While staying at Keemala, don’t miss our complimentary holistic lifestyle activities – from our garden tour to Thai cooking classes, yoga, guided meditation and more.

Last but not least, enjoy a well-deserved pampering session at our award-winning Mala Spa. Book our signature VOYA Seaweed Hot Stone Treatment that detoxifies and deeply relaxes with hand-harvested seaweed and heated stones. This is the first treatment of its kind available in Asia.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

I would describe my own perfect luxury experience as one that captivates and creates fond memories. In order to achieve that, the service has to reach or go beyond my expectations, since my core intention is to rejuvenate physically and mentally when I am on holiday. What can greatly disappoint me is when I encounter negative attitudes of hotel staff, which can ruin the whole experience while staying in that particular hotel. I feel that a positive environment is essential for a successful hotel business.

Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?

Sustainability lies at the heart of Keemala. From conceptualisation to today, Keemala has been committed to extensive environmental and ethical practices throughout our operations. Where possible, we aim to minimise our carbon footprint through carefully considered sustainable design to protect our ecosystem, individualised villa water management systems, energy efficient methods and responsible waste management, in addition to encouraging guests to engage with ethical tourism activities.

As hoteliers, I believe that we play an extremely significant role in contributing to sustainable tourism, and we must. More than benefitting our bottom line, it is vital that we do so for the sustainability of the local communities, culture, and our planet.