Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River
Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok’s PR manager says he works to dispel the idea Thailand’s just for backpackers.
There are surprising challenges, such as restrictions on promoting alcohol in the Buddhist country.
He loved “The White Lotus” despite its exaggerated versions of industry extremes.
Dan Schacter — a 35-year-old director of public relations for the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok — and I first crossed paths in Bangkok in January, back when I was still working in public relations myself.
In a café in a quiet corner of the Bang Rak district, we talked shop about the quirks and perks of our jobs.
Hearing about his work fascinated me, not just because he leads branding and engagement for one of the hotels widely rumored to be the setting of the next season of the hit HBO series “The White Lotus” but also because of the unusual challenges that come with representing a luxury brand in the country.
And for those wondering: There’s still no word on whether those rumors about the next season of “The White Lotus” are true.
Originally from the US, Dan moved to Thailand in 2019 and lives with his husband in Bangkok. Dan is also the regional director of public relations for the Four Seasons hotels and resorts for Asia-Pacific.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
What are the most annoying misconceptions about your work?
One of the hardest things about this job here in Thailand is that we’re not allowed to promote alcohol and drinking. While we’re looking to promote a bar, we can’t just say: “Come have a cocktail with us.”
The BKK Social Club at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok.
We need to be creative while adhering to the restrictions that come with operating in a Buddhist country. For instance, in video ads, we focus on our bartenders’ skills and the bar’s inviting ambiance. We intentionally steer clear of showcasing alcohol labels or people drinking.
Another big misconception is that Bangkok isn’t just the cheap experience many perceive it to be. It has so much to offer and is gradually shedding the stereotype of being a cheap backpacker’s city to being something that’s more up-and-coming in the luxury scene — while still being great value for money.
How do you overcome the perception that Thailand’s just a cheap destination?
We have a lot of journalists that come through that have been here when they were just starting to travel in their 20s. And now that it’s 10 or 20 years later, and they’re coming back to Bangkok for the first time since, they’re often very surprised about how things have evolved.
Bangkok’s Creative District.
In Thailand, you can get a Michelin-star meal for $100, while in the US, that might be a $500 meal. And that’s what I think has become really interesting for these journalists. You’re getting the quality and luxury but at really good value.
Journalists wouldn’t really be able to tell Bangkok’s story of change unless we show them the hidden gems that may have gone unnoticed in their previous visits.
Has doing public relations for a hospitality giant changed your travel habits?
My husband, Michael, and I have become more critical travelers in some ways when it comes to hospitality. I think it’s changed what we look for in a hotel or in a travel experience, and we’ve shifted more towards finding unique places to visit instead of relying on Google searches or guides of major attractions.
Schacter and his husband in a holiday in Bhutan.
When we were traveling in Hokkaido and Kyoto last winter, we were armed with a list of cool, little bars, restaurants, and shops from my colleagues in Japan and some travel journalists I met there last year.
The recommended stops — like a Kaiseki lunch at Sakuragawa — ended up being our favorites in both cities and things we would have never found on our own.
I have to ask: How has the show “The White Lotus” changed your job?
Two of our properties have been featured on “The White Lotus.” In the first season, our Hawaii property, and then most recently in the Taormina property.
I’m constantly being asked about it, as rumors spread that the next season might be in Thailand. As it’s associated with HBO. There’s obviously certain things we can and can’t do when it comes to talking about it, but there’s definitely been a lot of interest.
And as someone working in the hospitality industry, I absolutely loved the show.
I appreciated the inclusion of queer representation, which felt authentic and meaningful, plus Jennifer Coolidge — always a gay icon but now brought more into the limelight.
And though I had slight concerns about how it might perpetuate certain misconceptions about luxury properties, it was entertaining to see exaggerated versions of some industry extremes.