The majority of staff are Thai and speak Thai plus local dialects. Those staff who are in frequent contact with guests have some proficiency in English and we run frequent training sessions to help their communication skills. We also have senior staff who can communicate in French, German, and Flemish.
Yes, English is the common language of communication in Thailand’s tourist resorts. We require and try to employ staffs who have different levels of English proficiency depending on their positions. For example our Guest Service Officers and senior staff have usually graduated from university with a strong English component in their degree. The waiters and waitresses normally have had post-secondary training at a technical institute or vocational training school. Our policy is to hire local people as much as possible but unfortunately the educational opportunities are minimal on Koh Lanta so their English may be somewhat limited. They fill the positions as housekeepers, boat crews, laundry maids, etc. However, we do have regular professional English language instruction for all staff that interface with the guests.
This year, during the green season we have scheduled 4 months of intensive English instruction using a recently developed SHELL (Specific Hotel English Language Learning) program created by an Englishman who has had many years of teaching experience in Thai hotels. Pimalai’s guests come from many different countries and speak English with a variety of accents which may impede the understanding of questions the guests may ask. If this occurs we ask that the guest to please be patient, repeat the question and talk slowly. If a satisfactory answer is still not forthcoming then a supervisor should be called. Most of our guests understand how difficult it is for Thais to learn English, a language that is completely different in pronunciation, tone, structure and script from the Thai language.