Lek Supatchai comes from a very modest rice-farming family in the eastern province of Isaan in Thailand.
His life story is incredible.
By Eyal DOTAN
Lek came to Bangkok at the age of 17 in search of work to sustain himself. He spent the first month living rough on the streets until he could get the money together to put a roof over his head. During this time he was robbed of his meagre savings. Being determined and resourceful meant that Lek managed to hold down three jobs simultaneously so that he didn’t have to ask his parents for support. His many ventures included: a manual labourer, fruit seller, dish washing hand and a street food vendor. It was while doing the latter that a customer asked him if he’d like to work in the kitchen of a five star hotel as a kitchen hand. There started Lek’s career on the bottom rung of the hospitality ladder. He was lucky to receive two separate scholarships from his employer to study at a world famous hotel school in Lausanne Switzerland. Lek also, like many Thais, entered the Buddhist monastery as a monk.
From that point Lek’s CV includes:
The Oriental Hotel, Shangri-La Hotel. Four Seasons, Inter Continental, Amari Hotel Group, Six Senses Resort and Spa. He is a graduate with Honours from the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, Switzerland.
In November 2013 Lek launched the first of his own businesses. Le Spa Suan Plu 8 is a refined massage and spa centre in the up and coming area of Suanplu in central Bangkok. From the clean, simple design of the centre to the very professional services of the staff, Le Spa Suanplu 8 has taken off and Lek has opened a second Spa, Le Spa Bangkok in nearby Sathorn Road. In October 2014 Lek’s Le Isaan Restaurant was launched, also in Suan Plu Soi 8. Lek’s next project is a boutique guesthouse and hostel in the same street. He has single-handedly created numerous job opportunities for Thai youth combined with systematic training and mentoring.
Speaking of his spas, restaurant and hostel Lek says: “I want to showcase my country’s sense of hospitality, design and cuisine of which I am very proud. I have chosen to live in Thailand after having lived, worked and studied abroad. I want to share my love of things Thai with my customers and friends”.
Lek’s humble beginnings combined with a strong work ethic and his joie de vivre have propelled him to becoming a well-respected Bangkok businessman.