Affectionately called Khun Jo, Johan D’Hondt is the developer and managing director of the latest addition to the idyllic Bang Tao beach on the northwest coast of Phuket. Johan’s years of experience and a profound passion for creating exceptional experiences brought about the new resort. We caught up with the MD of the sparkling Diamond Resort.
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, and where have you been?
I started as the eldest of 3 born in Belgium and raised in a deaf family which explains my very energetic use of body language. This made my early years quite challenging, but in many ways, shaped me into the hard-working and independent person I am today.
I have never allowed anything or anyone to prevent me from achieving my goals. I am an avid traveller and a true lover of all walks of life.
What was your vision for the resort when you started? Did anything change along the way?
My vision was to create something different and something unique. The rooms and overall layout were designed based on my 40 years of experience travelling the world.
Many plans were adjusted along the way, which resulted in separating the buildings, in then allowing for more light at certain times of the day and airflow throughout to minimise the heat.
Why Diamond? Is there a meaning behind the name?
Diamonds stand for strength, quality and beauty, just like the way we view and treat our guests.
What are your expectations of yourself, and of the people that are a part of running the resort?
I’ve based my life on keeping a healthy mind, a healthy heart and maintaining positive relationships. This balance is essential, and it must start at home. When guests come to Diamond Resort, they are treated like family by everyone, and that is the most important thing.
There are many developments in the Bang Tao area. What sets you apart, and what experience can guests expect when they stay at Diamond Resort?
We are unique in many ways. From having our very own Belgian restaurant with a Belgian Chef to having an honest, caring and welcoming team, we provide our guests with only the very best.
With climate change being at the centre of global discussion, has Diamond Resort implemented any practices focused on sustainability?
We have taken this issue into significant consideration. We have introduced paper straws, use recycled containers and are in the process of changing from plastic bottles to refillable glass bottles.
What is your favourite feature of the resort?
This has to be two things; our stunning 52-metre length pool surrounded by palm trees and, of course, our extremely passionate, friendly and professional team.
What has been the most significant learning experience you’ve had getting the resort to completion and where it is now?
Attention to detail is critical, along with constant maintenance and upkeep being a vital factor of this stunning resort. As well, being sure to listen to the team and of course the market too, we go with the flow and are always open to new ideas and keeping with current trends.
What keeps you occupied when you’re not at the office?
My beautiful wife, my adoring family and my amazing friends.
What can our readers look forward to at the resort in the year ahead?
Music, laughter, good food, good beer and even better company for building memories for years to come.
Tell us a joke!
Probably better to ask my GM, who comes from Ireland – but that’s not his fault.