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Baan Manali Resort in Thong Sala is owned and run by Sebastien, Liat and their family. In the beginning, it was Sebastien who began to work on Koh Phangan in 2003, managing a sports site by organizing sporting holidays for French groups from the UCPA sports association, like sailing, kiting, diving, bicycle tours etc.
The couple met on the island in 2007, Sebastien employed Liat as a tour guide for the bicycle tour the next year. Then in 2009, he resigned and they decided to make a hotel here, as a new life adventure together.
Like most foreigners who stay here, they fell in love with the island vibe, greenery, Zen atmosphere and the size of it, not too big, neither too small. They thought it was the best alternative for them, as they are not from the same country, to live together, and start a family. Since then the family has been upgraded from 2 to 5 people.
Baan Manali was started from scratch, as the land was only a coconut plantation from a very nice local family.
“We wanted to create a small hotel that is warm, cosy, tropical and elegant, where people can feel at home with a family atmosphere. That is why we decided to keep it small, only 15 bungalows, with space between each unit, allowing some privacy for each bungalow”.
A tropical feeling was also very important and it was decided to preserve most of the trees and leave them untouched.
“We love our little nest, close to the Thai village of Thongsala, easy to reach each part of the island quickly, and with our little beach, allowing us to practice our favourite hobbies like sailing, wing foiling, windsurfing or kitesurfing.
Baan Manali is a really great location for all watersport lovers. Less than 10 minutes kayaking to visit Koh Tai Nai, the little island located in front of the hotel. A great place for a picnic with the kids.
The couple has concentrated a lot of energy on making Baan Manali Beach Café, a quality and fair price Occidental/Thai restaurant. They produce most of the ingredients on site, like 4 different types of bread, yoghurt, coconut yoghurt, vegan muesli, jam, French pancakes, hummus, harissa, tahini, cordon bleu and so on.
“We try to avoid processing food and use as many local ingredients as possible, like free-range eggs, sausage, fish, coffee (from Rung Café) etc. It helps the local communities and also brings better quality to our dishes”.
Why did you start to accept crypto?
Sebastien started to accept crypto payment more as a joke, to attract “Nomad people”, as they seemed to be the only tourists left on the island.
He started to look into cryptocurrency at the beginning of covid-19 in April 2020. As a way to find alternative funds for our expenses and investment for our future. He always was curious about bitcoin but found it too expensive. The crash of March 20 gave him a great opportunity to enter the market at our small level. If he knew the BTC was going so high in 2021 he would have invested more. But regarding the price today, I’m happy he did not.
The more he dived into it, the more he understood and saw the potentiality of the decentralized exchange, as an alternative way of controlling our savings and investment.
The joke was not anymore, so naturally, we try to offer an alternative way for payment and be more open-minded about this. Also, he truly believes crypto will be the next way of payment in future.
Why do you think crypto is good for Koh Phangan?
I don’t know if crypto is good for Phangan. Sebastien believes it is good for individuals and businesses to avoid using a bank as an intermediary, with transaction and fees, and to take control of your savings.
How do you feel covid has affected your business?
As all tourism businesses in Thailand, we are in critical condition, trying to keep our head above the water. Hoping for the best with the reopening of tourism as soon as possible.
We concentrate a bit more on our restaurant lately, trying to attract people for brunch (our speciality).
Where do you see yourself and the business 5 years from now?
Hopefully in the same place, who knows. If Lucky, on a sailboat for a world tour with our kids, and this will depend on the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.
What do you enjoy about Koh Phangan?
Koh Phangan is a good compromise for us, between family life, work and hobby. Sebastien can practice his favourite activities in the water like foiling, even if it’s not Hawaii, and it’s a great place to raise kids in our opinion.
Thailand is still the land of opportunities to build a better future. It’s allowed me to do what makes me feel good like yoga, or making my own self-care products with Pink Pineapple Asia Selfcare, like soaps, candles and many more.
The quality of life is great here, Phangan is affordable, safe and alive.