Siam Venezia undergoes major renovation to showcase Thai arts and culture

Siam Venezia. File photo

Siam Venezia is set to undergo a significant transformation aimed at promoting Thai arts and culture and attracting more international visitors.

The transformation will see Simon Venezia become a venue for regular events, both large and small scale, while a hotel will also be constructed on the site.

Hua Hin Today recently had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Sutassa Laohongkiat, CEO of Siam Venezia, at the Thai Federation of Provincial Tourist Associations’ Annual General Meeting, which was held at Siam Venezia Hua Hin Cha-Am in May. She provided insights into the extensive renovations and updates planned for the attraction.

Mr. Sutassa explained Siam Venezia’s new concept, which is to promote Thai art and culture while also serving as a source of good Thai products from all regions in order to help both foreigners and Thais understand what makes each region unique.

Ms. Sutassa Laohongkiat, CEO of Siam Venezia

The revamped site will feature a variety of premium and community items accessible to everyone.

To better reflect its new direction, Siam Venezia has been renamed Simon Siam. Despite maintaining its Venetian theme, Simon Siam is collaborating with foreign tour companies to draw more tourists and invigorate the cities of Hua Hin and Cha-am. The goal is to make the area more lively and attractive to visitors.

The renovation involves more than just physical improvements. Weekly and monthly events, both large and small, are planned. One of the regular highlights will be Muay Thai shows, showcasing the traditional Thai martial art, including Wai Khru and unique gestures. Muay Thai is known worldwide and is a direct promotion of tourism, Ms. Sutassa explained, adding that competitions may also be organized with both domestic and international cooperation.

In addition to Muay Thai, Simon Venezia will feature various arts and entertainment, emphasizing Thai culture. For example, Phetchaburi has many teachers of arts and culture known as Phetchaburi craftsmen, and Hua Hin has Khomapastr Fabrics. Simon Siam by Venezia will be a place that brings Thai arts and culture together in a way that is more accessible to both Thais and foreigners while also adapting to today’s lifestyles.

A notable addition will be the Phaendin Tha Songtham Learning Centre, which aims to reflect the civilization of Siam as per the guidelines established by His Majesty King Rama IX. This will instill in Thais a stronger attachment to their homeland and showcase the value of Thai civilization to the world.

“When we think of Thai arts and culture, or Thai civilization, we may envision a museum. But Simon Siam by Venezia will make it more accessible. There will be genuine cultural performances, such as Khon performances. There have already been two events: Khon in front of the throne hall, which Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has witnessed previously. It is a full pantomime and an outdoor performance, which is difficult to find. As for the outdoor performance, there is an area of ​​over 4,000 sq m,” stated Ms. Sutassa.

Simon Siam is also diving into the music scene with Simon Music, focusing on Thai country music, which has deep roots in Thai culture, as well as building on the ‘retro-marketing’ trend which is currently popular in Thailand.

Country music reflects the Thai way of life through different eras and adds entertainment value that can draw more visitors, Ms. Sutassa explained. The Simon Contest, a music competition, will be held in various regions, with finals taking place at Simon Siam by Venezia.

The renovation will proceed in phases. The art and culture section will be the first to open, leveraging collaborations with local artists and craftsmen from Phetchaburi. “The Chada (Thai headdress) I’m wearing is from Phetchaburi. Tourists value art and culture, which can reflect the local area’s international identity,” Ms. Sutassa mentioned.

The next phase includes the launch of Muay Thai activities, bolstered by Simon Muay Thai’s sponsorship of the Phetchaburi world championship-winning women’s boxing team. “Being part of the Simon Group allows us to engage in a broader range of activities,” Ms. Sutassa said. The entire project represents a joint venture with international partners, given the growing number of tourists visiting Thailand and the potential for growth in Hua Hin and Cha-am.

The total investment amounts to approximately 3 billion THB, encompassing modern activities, hotels, and seminars while maintaining a Thai identity.

By the end of 2024, nearly all renovations are expected to be completed, although the hotel construction may take longer. Ms. Sutassa concluded with an invitation to tourists to visit Hua Hin Cha-am and explore the city’s rich heritage. “Hua Hin Cha-am has been significant since King Rama IV’s reign. Its economic and social potential is enough to make it stand out both in Thailand and internationally,” she said.

“I want people to see and experience it. Simon Siam by Venezia will collect Thai arts and culture in one place. I also invite entrepreneurs and associations to help make it an example of sustainable tourism and a creative economy,” Ms. Sutassa added.