Weekly Local Biography

  Roy Blom

“They’re changing the guard at Buckingham Palace, Christopher Robin went down with Alice”…Have you ever met somebody so totally positive, so totally upbeat, that you had no doubt that the Queen of England would want to meet him? I have. Roy Blom is just that person. In this busy holiday season that sometimes leaves us tired, overwhelmed and lonely, Roy is just the person you want to spend an hour with, talking and laughing and generally loving what you hear, a man so upbeat and positive, so completely honest, that you can’t help but feel good when you leave him. So join me as I walk with him through his delightful life. And he really did meet the Queen. But that’s his story to tell to you.

How can somebody who has survived a disaster like the tsunami in December of 2004 come through that experience feeling positive? He had only been in Thailand for two years. A friend purchased a boutique hotel in Phuket and asked him to complete the construction. He had no Thai language skills, but he had good help. The hotel, lovely but small, was booking quickly. It was on a hill overlooking the beach, gorgeous, exquisite. Roy wrote home to friends. This is a good place, a good time. Then he saw people walking towards the hotel. Tourists, obviously; they were in shock. They were not animated; they were injured. His little exquisite hotel became a refugee center. Those who had escaped the waves slept in the lobby, the entry area, even by the pool. There was soon no water or food, but the Scandinavian Embassies came through with temporary passports, visas, airplane tickets home, even limited spending money. He had no experience as the general manager of a hotel, nor as a general manager of anything. But he was a humanitarian. And the Scandina-vians were incredible experts at caring for their own. People kept coming, and they took care of them.

He grew up a Foreign Service child from the United States, living in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. His native language was Spanish, not English. His parents had adventuresome spirits, and he has it also, eager to explore. He spoke English as a first language the first time when he went off to college. It was a huge cultural shock. As an American, he had never spoken English at home. His diplomatic family sat down for lunch and dinner. They talked; they didn’t watch television as they ate. They enjoyed discussions about politics and music and art. They went to festivals and concerts and plays together. They were inseparable. In college, his best friends were Latinos. They shared the common bond of family and friends. He was definitely the odd man out.

He had intended to go to law school, but heard the local Spanish language reader on the news radio one night. The language, as he remembers it, was atrocious. Needing a job to pay expenses, he went to the radio station the next day. “I can do this better”, the blond-haired, blue-eyed student said. He was hired, a bit of a novelty, to “rip and read”, at $3.50 an hour. Up at 4 a.m., pulling the AP wire off of the Teletype, he lasted six months. Then he learned there was a Spanish language television station in town and applied there. “We don’t hire gringos”, the manager said. Time passed, and like many things, changed. He met and became friends with the assistant to the owner of the station. He got an interview, a demo test, and an offer. “When can you start?” He was mentored and loved and, well, ‘Spanished’. From there, what can you say? He simply was in the right time and at the right place for an extrovert who spoke Spanish as a native language.

He went from one position to another, literally falling into anchor jobs as anchors fell ill or left. He never changed his name. Roy Blom wasn’t Spanish enough, but it worked. He reported on all kinds of stories. Then he worked in the number one market in the United States for Hispanic reporters, Los Angeles, but he never learned to love LA. He moved to San Antonio, then to Charlotte, North Carolina. NBC had just opened a 24 hour Spanish language
affiliate, based in Charlotte, and he was responsible
for its beginning. He left journalism for sales, always exceeding his quotas as he had done in journalism.

Then his boss and very good friend retired, and he was desolate. The job was no fun anymore. He thought about desert islands and opening a bar on the beach. It was a dream, but one that grew stronger and stronger as he looked around at his house in Florida. Coral Gables is an expensive community. Could he sell the house and live somewhere less expensive?

Yes, he could and he did. He put his collection of art into storage, sold his house and cars, and came to Thailand. He helped his friend finish the hotel in Phuket, and took care of the tsunami refugees. He loves Thailand. He says that Thai people will “pamper you to death” if given the chance. He left Phuket and came to Chiang Mai. He follows his dreams, whatever they may be. Ask him about the Queen. And ask him what he’s planning next. It may be something that you want to join in. His spirit may urge you on to something new and different. He’s involved in charity work here in Chiang Mai, but there’s no telling what tomorrow will bring. That’s one of the things that I like about Roy Blom. He’s amazingly creative.