Think of Bangkok and you always used to think of colour, of Jim Thompson silks in all colours of the rainbow, and the kaleidoscope hues of trinkets, as above, hanging in the boutique of The Peninsula Bangkok. This luxury hotel has, since its 1999 start, been somewhat lonely on the west bank of the Chao Praya river, but no longer. Head north, five minutes’ shuttle boat or nearly twice that walking, and there is the giant ICONsiam entertainment centre, a US$1.5 billion project that is, well, just amazing. More anon, says the gal. Of course it benefits the Peninsula, the nearest top-class hotel. The 765-strong team that looks after the 370 rooms on the 37 floors of this building have one of the lowest turnovers around: the hotel is celebrating its 20thbirthday by honouring the 80+ team members who have been there since its opening.
Every six weeks there are inter-departmental sports events, teams competing at basketball one day, squash the next. They have a new gym, and 30 are, working in pairs for moral support, being coached in improving their overall fitness. Others are taking lessons in finance management. Joseph Sampermans, the hotel’s GM, does not need any incentive continuously to take levels up. Obviously he does not have the newest hotel in town but this is an advantage when it comes to staff, who are meticulous about detail. Look at the careful thought, and alignment, that has gone into the supplies on the desk of suite 3104: I love the -04 accommodations, looking north up river, and far far down to the fascinating array of boat traffic, from endless trains of connected barges to continuous cross-river shuttle boats. At night the day-glo-lit pleasure boats produce a feeling of fairyland.
With a GM who is passionate about health and wellness it was not surprising that this time the books in my room included The 150 Most Effective ways to Boost Your Energy, by an American doctor Jonny Bowden. I dipped into it and found a reiteration of what the commonsense follower already knows: eat well, drink well, sleep well and exercise body and mind. Here it is easy to do all those necessities. To complement the hotel’s well-supervised LifeFitess gym, which opens at 6 a.m., you can get extra exercise by always using the elevator from and to the main lobby, which is 35 carpeted steps up from the outside garden and the river. There are three connected outdoor pools and the spa is ESPA, with Biologique Récherché, Subtle Energies and, coming shortly, Margy’s Monte Carlo.
And what about the mind at this luxury hotel? Well even those with families can learn, whatever, on their ipads and phones: access to the free WiFi allows no fewer than ten to be connected, and yes, I am told, adults with, say, two kids in tow often need that number. For me, I was merely delighted to have proper books, and a satellite copy of The Financial Times. We dined casually in the lobby lounge, seabass tartare with avocado, salmon and spinach and a glass of Head Over Heels Shiraz 2017 from Bob and Cherie Bertons’ eponymous Vineyards in Barossa Valley SA. Joseph Sampermans, who ate no meat or fish, shared his exploration of “telomere effect” and “hacking of the American mind”, as well as “grain brain’ and “power foods for the brain”. Then, back down to earth, he said the luxury hotel, which already has free half-hourly boat shuttles to ICONsiam, is adding a six-seat electric tuk-tuk to go every 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. Life at The Peninsula Bangkok gets better all the time. AND HERE YOU HAVE SUITE 3104, A TRIP ON A PENINSULA BOAT, AND A LOOK AT ICONSIAM’S FOOD COURT