Call it ‘destiny’, call it ‘only a matter of time’, call it ‘stylish’,‘originality’, ‘forward-thinking’ or just maybe ‘market-alignment’,call it ‘timing’, call it what you will, but in the Real Estate market of Pattaya’s Eastern Seaboard, no other developer has shined through the last three years as The Riviera Group has done.
High-rise, high-end developments that have the overwhelming desirable edge over most other like-for-like high-rises, it’s no wonder they have been picking up prestigious awards after awards of late a swe featured in last months REM edition.
This month we get to call in on Sukanya Gale, warmly known in the company as ‘The Riviera Queen’.
If you’ve been in the property business in Pattaya over the last handful of years, you likely already know of her, if not, well let’s say behind every successful man is a strong woman.
Winston Gale, big boss at The Riviera Group is no different,she may be his wife, but she is also a major force in the business.
We asked lots more; this is what we managed to find out that day.
“I’ve actually been in the property market for 12 years now in Pattaya, originally in a successful housing development from day one to completion almost three years later. I then worked for an established estate agent for about a year. I thought I was quite knowledgeable back then, but I look back now and realise I really wasn’t prepared at all for what was about to happen, it’s been a crazy journey since Winston started the original planning for The Palm over 8 years ago.”
“Whatever people may think…it’s not. I can’t explain it in an article in detail, but people often think if you’re doing something successful on a big scale like our projects, you must be wearing designer dresses and have your make-up perfect all the time whilst being driven around in a luxury car.
In real life, doing what I do, it’s quite the opposite. To be the leaders and owners at the centre of a high-rise luxury development with Winston, we are in our ripped jeans, dirty tops and shoes with sometimes holes in them, usually until 7pm at night most days. We can walk into restaurants at both lunchtime and evenings, if we’re not regulars they’ll look us up and down. It’s not glamorous, but it is very rewarding.
To make it all look beautiful, knowing it’s only us that eventually choose virtually everything and then it’s only us that encourage our team to help make it happen, there are not many things I could wish to do more than this.”
“The Palm, wow, I look back now and think, we did that, we really did. Sometimes I also think how, when I remember the dark times and there were enough of them.
Today though I can walk there and recognise every part of it and remember where we bought what and where from. It’s hard to explain the experience other than I feel lucky I had the opportunity and recognise today it did change me in so many ways.”
“On a project of that scale, all the experiences good and bad, I see things and think very differently now. Again, nothing is as people automatically think, its so hard to put into words and explain, but I feel incredibly proud when I walk around The Palm today. It seems like many more years ago since we collected The Thailand Property Award for Best Luxury Condo Eastern Seaboard Award in 2013 than it actually is (4 years in September)
“Then when I was just starting to enjoy the end part of the project, Winston sprinted into The Riviera with more energy than I could keep up with, but I continued along bringing everything I had learned so far, even when you think you’ve learnt a lifetime amount of experience in five years as I felt I had at The Palm, it’s amazing how you just keep on learning and learning. The Riviera was its own super-fast journey, but I feel I have found my position now and am enjoying the role I take everyday. What’s the role? That’s a good question, Winston’s Right-hand is the best description I can give you for someone that simply ends up doing everything.”
“I didn’t plan to help Winston build a team, it just happened. I didn’t plan to get involved in all the on-site construction, the Sales and Marketing, the negotiation of contracts and day to day project managing as well as the politics of managing the company generally, it just happened. Winston always said ‘Your better than anyone I know at this so just get stuck in and enjoy yourself’ so I did, it just ended up being in every area of the business which wasn’t where
I expected to be.”
“It’s not been easy building up a team, but today we have around 130 people working directly for us, not including the 1,000 or so construction workers on the sites at any one time. I was originally the main Accounting person at both The Palm and at The Riviera Group and still am in an overseeing position, but I saw how sometimes Winston was drowning in doing so much himself, giving the projects that Winston-Touch that makes the difference, so now I help him on most things and it’s now the Winston and Sukanya-touch on everything. It works well, I have to step back a lot more these days from Accounting but the team manages well, especially watching me and Winston argue daily.”
“Yes, the awards last month and previous awards over the years have been great to receive. It is nice to get recognised for the hard work done taking pretty drawings and making them into real life projects. It’s far harder than you can imagine, there are simply thousands of decisions to make, its scary. Winston always said to me ‘look back, but don’t stare’, I know now what he means after spending years wondering what he meant. If you think about it too much, you won’t get out of bed and do it. Certainly I usually don’t have the time to put my make up on most days.”
“It’s also great for buyers to see the awards, it helps us build their trust and confidence in what we do. It’s great for the team too. It shows them that this is what it takes to be No.1. As a Mum though, I’m proud personally, as I know one day I will point to my three kids and say ‘Mummy and Daddy did those projects and we won these awards’, and I will know they will be proud of us both. “
“What’s happening next? Well, the Riviera Wongamat is almost finished so we will all be moving over to The Riviera Jomtien soon, and so the next challenge will begin.”
“What is most important to me? Of course the most important things to me are ultimately my family, my three beautiful children that make me smile everyday. We do it all for them really.”