Anne Arrowsmith – General Manager 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai
In this interview, Anne Arrowsmith – General Manager 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai, shares some personal and hotel anecdotes.
What do you do?
I am the host, custodian, cheerleader, standard bearer, welfare warrior, community liaison, inspirer of ideas and maintenance manager for 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai.
How did you get into the industry?
Rather circuitously. My formal education was in nutrition, but my work experience veered towards sales and marketing, with those skills honed during my time working with Four Seasons, which led me to operations and becoming GM at 137 Pillars House.
Share with us a story from behind the scenes.
An upcoming event and uppermost on our minds is our annual Halloween Afternoon family affair, where we transform the Thai teak homestead, garden and grounds into a haunted house. Designing and creating the decor, food, and drinks involves virtually every member of the team. We may be small in number, but the talent and creativity are huge, and the end result is up there with professional set designers.
What food memory from your childhood or travels stands out?
Christmas – the preparations started months in advance with Christmas puddings and the Christmas cake being made. The day itself was a whirlwind of activity, with the turkey consuming most of the oven but generously allowing room for the roast potatoes and parsnips. The stove top full with a cacophony of every conceivable vegetable.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
Undoubtedly, the best is being trusted by our owners to do the right thing. Thankfully, there is nothing that is awful about what I do, but I’d dearly love the work permit and formalities to work in the country to be simplified.
What’s one of your favourite food and beverage pairings?
Great cheeses accompanied by a good wine
What’s one of the most bizarre things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
The delivery of a black wreath for a sales manager who was celebrating a birthday – bizarre!
The perfect day off would be …
A leisurely breakfast followed by antique hunting, then an early evening cocktail and light dinner.
A day in the life of Anne Arrowsmith is …
Never the same. Of course, there are elements that are common to each day, such as the briefing, meeting and saying goodbye to guests, inspecting rooms, and working with housekeeping and engineering on key priorities. Then, there is work with the teams on project planning, event planning, menu development, sales focus and marketing initiatives.
What does Anne Arrowsmith do for fun?
Garden, read and entertain friends at home – it varies from afternoon teas to cocktails and canapés to dinners.
What would you like guests to know about 137 Pillars House?
Each guest is equally important to us and will experience heartfelt, caring service and develop friendships during their stay. We provide elegance without arrogance – 137 Pillars House is a tranquil garden oasis close to the key highlights in Chiang Mai.
How have you grown in your profession? What are your key learnings from your start in the industry until now? Any misconceptions?
Perhaps the biggest learning is ‘not to let the perfect interfere with the possible’.
What do you want people to know about being a GM as a profession?
If you are fortunate enough to be given latitude, freedom and trust, you will be blessed and have a fulfilling and rich career.
What’s your view on the hospitality scene in Chiang Mai?
I’m fortunate to be the custodian of a true gem of a hotel, which I consider to be the most magical and authentic option in Chiang Mai.
What practices do you currently implement or hope to implement to work towards social responsibility and sustainability in the future?
We support two charities as well as our local community.
As the history and heritage are inextricably linked with elephants and the teak industry, we support ENP and its endeavours to house and heal mistreated and abandoned elephants. In addition, a portion of our donations go towards reforestation. For the Wat Don Chan orphanage, each quarter, we prepare a special lunch for 700+ children as well as provide food, school and recreational supplies. Community activities include cleaning the museum at the local temple as well as general clean up.
What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months?
Festive activities over Christmas and New Year, where we have several formal dinners on our lawn accompanied by lavish entertainment. Guests can enjoy festive afternoon teas and wonderful weather.