Heart Rock Hotel
Heart Rock Hotel
WRITER: Elwin Chan PHOTOS BY: Alvin Toh
Heart Rock Hotel 18. January 2017, by Elwin Chan, Photos by Alvin Toh
Mention Hard Rock Hotel, and what comes to mind is fun, glamour, rock and roll. But peel away the layers, and what you’ll find is a deeper passion—a heart that beats with kindness, hope, and love.

Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya, accessible within just 75 minutes by car from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and 50 minutes from Pattaya’s U-Tapao International Airport, is located in the heart of Pattaya. Head in any direction from the hotel, and you’ll be in the thick of action. Restaurants, shops, massage centres, and casual drinking holes line the streets along the beach.

The vibe and atmosphere within the hotel is equally exciting. The lobby displays famous memorabilia of rock royalty—guitars, costumes, and autographed pictures from the likes of Elvis Presley, Madonna and John Lennon. From the rooms, guests also get to enjoy breathtaking views of the Gulf of Thailand, its oceanic colours switching between mesmerising shades of blue and emerald throughout the day.

It is Love All, Serve All at the Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya.

But the credo, Love All, Serve All also takes on deeper meaning at the venerated hotel. Walking around, you’ll see staff members wearing a polo tee that proudly says, “Take Time To Be Kind”. This ethos, along with All Is One and Save The Planet, forms the bedrock of what the hotel does, and is exemplified through some of the establishment’s groundbreaking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Jorge Carlos Smith, the very charismatic, sharp, and affable General Manager of Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya explains, “We take a long-term view of our CSR programmes. Take for instance our Rock The Farm project, the hotel’s very own initiative. The goal is to create a self-sustaining system in the long run, where what we farm can be used back in our restaurants and bars, with the profits being channeled back to further future project development. This in itself is a sustainable funding strategy. Our guests benefit as well. By using the freshest and best local ingredients we can get, we are promoting a farm-to-fork approach of living well.”

Besides Rock The Farm, Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya has also embarked on other projects such as Rock The School, Rock The Lunch, and its Annual Charity Building Project, with funds raised from an annual charity concert. This is truly a hotel with a difference—it is rock ‘n’ roll, with heart and soul.

Rock The School

Rock The School is a scholarship programme that helps students develop their potential.

Started in 2014, Rock The School is a scholarship programme offered by Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya. Up to eight scholarships are awarded every year, to local students from Grade 7 to 12 who come from low income families. The scholarships are worth THB 28,000 (about US$780), to help the students and their families with tuition fees (which typically range from US$90 to US$280) and extra-curricular activities, and to buy books, uniforms, and stationery. Upon graduation, students are also given the opportunity to apply for jobs at Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya.

During a trip to Pattaya, Hpaper took the opportunity to visit two schools where three of the scholarship recipients are currently studying. At the first school, Phothisamphan Phittayakan School, where sounds of students laughing and playing filled the air, we met the very shy but determined Surasak Jukkaew.

Surasak, who turns 16 this year, is one of the first recipients of Rock The School scholarship. His soft-spoken manners belie the confidence and will he has to succeed in life. Surasak’s parents hold odd jobs doing carpentry and technical work, earning less than THB 200,000 (US$5,600) a year. He has only one older brother who works as a post office worker. Understandably, the scholarship has helped Surasak and his family relieve much of their financial burden, and has enabled Surasak to pursue his education in a better school. Surasak loves to paint and draw, but his dream is to eventually work as a chef in a hotel. Prawatsat Apichat, who teaches Surasak social science and religious studies, speaks highly of the 16 year-old, “Surasak will go far in the future. He is very confident and has great leadership skills. He also takes good care of his classmates.”

Despite their less than privileged background, the dream is truly alive in all of these students.

In the second school we visited, Sattahip Wittayakom School, we met two other Rock The School scholarship recipients, 16 year old Chananchida Raksasri and 14 year-old Thananya Chucharern. Chananchida, who proudly showed us her report card with excellent GPA scores, wants to major in anthropology in the future, while Thananya’s ambition is to become a psychiatrist one day. Despite their less than privileged background, the dream is truly alive in all of these students. Jakkrit Hickson, who is the Talent Management Manager at Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya, says, “We recognise all of their talent, and want to help develop their potential.”

Surasak Jukkaew, one of the first recipients of Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya’s Rock The School scholarship.
Students have fun learning at Phothisamphan Phittayakan School.
Students have fun learning at Phothisamphan Phittayakan School.
Surasak’s dream is to eventually work as a chef in a hotel.
Prawatsat Apichat, who teaches Surasak social science and religious studies, believes that the 16 year-old has the potential to go far in life.
Students going to class at Sattahip Wittayakom School.
Chananchida Raksasri and Thananya Chucharern have big dreams for the future.
Kanlayanee Ubonrotratsamee, who teaches English, is very proud of Chananchida, one of her top students.
A classroom at Sattahip Wittayakom School.

Rock The Farm

Thirty minutes’ drive from Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya is a little green oasis. A piece of farm land about 3,200 square metres recently taken over by the hotel as part of its green initiative called Rock The Farm.

Bringing to life the motto Save The Planet, Rock The Farm is a collaboration with The King’s Project of Agricultural Promotion, Demonstration and Training Centre, which provides knowledge, education, seeds, sprouts, and plots of land to promote organic farming. As such, everything that is grown and used by Rock The Farm is 100% natural and without chemicals. Venus Dumnoi, Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya’s Garden and Landscape Manager, and also the project manager for Rock The Farm, proudly adds, “Even the fertiliser we use here is from dried leaves collected at the hotel. So whatever we harvest and put on the table is 100% organic and clean. Rock The Farm is important because those involved will learn how good it is to grow vegetables the organic way. At the same time, we don’t damage the earth.”

In time to come, Rock The Farm aims to grow local produce like banana, lemongrass, herbs, chili, basil, onions, mangoes, lime, and guava, which will all eventually be brought back to the hotel and sold within the menu, with the profits going back to sustain the farming effort. Everyone from the hotel is encouraged to take part, and by the looks of it, they sure have fun at the same time. “It’s hard work but fun. Everyone is helping one another, and we bond as a team,” says Cherry Phongthawornphinyo, a server at Hard Rock Cafe. “I just don’t like the little frogs here!” she laughs.

Cherry Phongthawornphinyo, a server at Hard Rock Cafe Pattaya, playing her part in Rock The Farm.
Venus Dumnoi believes that Rock The Farm is important in learning about how good it is to grow vegetables the natural way.
Farming tools used in the 3,200 square-metre farm.
In time to come, Rock The Farm will grow local produce like banana, lemongrass, chili, basil, and mangoes.

Rock The Lunch

Perhaps it takes children to bring out the child in us. Their sense of wonder, innocence, purity, and simple joy can help us see things anew and bring meaning to our own lives.

Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya’s Rock The Lunch, an initiative started in 2011, is one such endeavour to connect staff with children, and also rekindle the childlike wonder in themselves. Every month, staff volunteers visit schools which have a limited budget for children’s meals. At the school, the staff would prepare and cook up a fun menu, serving the children’s favourite food. Think crispy fried chicken, hotdog, chocolate drinks, and of course, ice-cream. It’s a plate of happiness, served with love and heart.

And since it’s a project by Hard Rock Hotel, a good meal always comes with good entertainment. At the end of the meal, Hard Rock Hotel’s very own rockers put up a fun and energetic live concert, in conjunction with Hard Rock Heals Foundation. The kids have an amazing time that they will remember for a long time to come. And as for the grown-ups, let’s just say no one ever forgets what it feels like to be a happy child.

It is Love All, Serve All at Rock The Lunch. And if we may add, Happiness All Round.

Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya’s very own rockers putting up a fun and energetic concert for the students.
Every month, the hotel staff would prepare and cook up a fun meal for the children, as part of Rock The Lunch.
Children queuing up for their favourite food like fried chicken, hotdog, and of course, ice-cream.

Annual Charity Building Project

A gleaming, brand new canteen, measuring over 610 square metres, stands proudly in the compounds of Huay Yai School.

It is the blood, sweat, and tears of the staff of Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya, who helped build the new canteen in 2013 and 2015 as part of the hotel’s Annual Charity Building Project.

The school, which caters to over 300 students from kindergarten to Grade 6, is headed by principal Nilubol Pradupporn, who is most grateful that Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya has chipped in to help with the renovation of the canteen. “Before, there was no proper canteen. The old tuck shop didn’t have enough shelter and couldn’t accommodate all the students. Now, there are new tables and chairs, and it’s a much better environment for the students and staff. I’m so happy and thankful that Hard Rock Hotel was involved,” Nilubol says.

Started in 2010, Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya’s Annual Charity Building Project is part of the hotel’s philanthropy drive. Since then, eight schools have benefitted from refurbished buildings, a result of the dedicated work of volunteers from Hard Rock Hotel. For Huay Yai School’s new canteen, every department from the hotel was involved. The volunteers planned, cleaned, moved, painted, and even landscaped the surroundings. With an aid of about THB 1.4 million (about US$40,000), a brand new canteen was built, with a new roof, a new toilet, and larger space to accommodate more students.

Jakkrit Hickson, Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya’s Talent Management Manager, says it all, “To see smiles on the children’s faces, that’s the best feeling in the world.”

Nilubol Pradupporn, principal of Huay Yai School, is thankful that Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya has chipped in to help with the renovation of the canteen.
The happy, contented children of Huay Hai School.