Luxury Hotels

Bangkok’s colourful luxury hotel ‘across the river’

Joseph Sampermans

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.

Desk supplies

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.

Healthy riverside breakfast

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.

Breakfast-time poultice-making

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





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Luxury Hotels

Bangkok’s memorable luxury Park Hyatt hotel

Look out…

The very-English gal can report that the luxury Park Hyatt Bangkok hotel, in part of the grounds of the British Embassy, has, after one year of operation, matured magnificently.  It is still as fresh and lively as ever, and it is beginning to play like the Berlin Philharmonic, well-rehearsed but able to improvise. (Some of the 380 team members certainly did that recently: Ed Sheeran posted on social media to report that much to his annoyance he had opened his hotel room door to find a six-foot box. With the assistance of some of the team members, inside was his wife, Cherry Seaborn, who had flown in from New York as a surprise for the singer.)

Michael Golden

In general, says Michael Golden, Australian GM of the 222-room hotel, he wishes social media did not exist.  Why do people only post negatives?  He never seems to get any postings about his brilliant AvroKO-designed Penthouse complex, which stretches from the 34th to 36th floors of the amazing open-eight-shaped loop building, by architect Amanda Levete.  We dined back in Penthouse, and it was even better than ever.  You go in past a 70 year-old BMW R27, one of only 15,000 made. You enter a 66-seat restaurant with banquettes and conventional seats, invariably full night after night. Diners come for, say, a glass of Hedonist Shiraz 2016 made by Walter Clappis and his daughter in Australia’s McLaren Vale. Many diners choose an Aussie tomahawk, admittedly to share (I went for a 220g grass-fed Black Angus tenderloin, also Australian.

One corner of Eathai

Something I had not fully appreciated on my first visit here is how incredibly well situated this hotel is.  There are walkways underneath the marvellous SkyTrain elevated public transport, and it is so much quicker to walk from A to B raised up, by Sky Walk, rather than negotiating ground-level traffic lights and innumerable obstacles like hawker stalls and the occasional pothole.  Sky Walk took me straight into the Central Embassy Mall underneath the hotel – the owner of the whole complex, Central, is if anything better known for retail than it is for real estate.  I particularly like the Eathai food floor, at ground level, and, at floor six, the amazing Open House, one big space, the size of two football pitches, where many outer wall areas have books ceiling high, and, within, there are nooks and crannies for reading, listening, even sleeping and, of course in Thailand, eatin’n’drinking.

Look down, this time to breakfast

You can do this within the luxury hotel, of course. I was tempted to stay in my Yabu Pushelberg-designed suite: the Yabu Pushelberg duo have done most of the public areas, corridors and rooms. My suite was a soft harmony of colour and texture that included pale sycamore wood walls – see one of the videos below.  But I ventured out, to breakfast in the ninth floor Embassy Room, a reminder that in the past British Embassy officials might even have picnicked here when it was still Embassy gardens.  Now, the Embassy Room, an inside haven of taupe and pale purple (more Yabu Pushelberg) sprawls out, to its own mini-garden, around the hotel’s 40-metre pool.  Really, you have everything you could possibly want in this place.  I just wish I had more time. WANT TO SEE SUITE 3002 – AND ALSO WHAT THE ALL-FLOOR OPEN HOUSE, BELOW THE HOTEL, LOOKS LIKE?

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Luxury Hotels

Simply Sunday, luxury can be FUN

Music, everywhere

Jaz in the City will officially awarded the Dutch Hotel Award 2019 on Wednesday June 26th, 2019. As the jury said, Jaz in the City Amsterdam is jammin’ n jivin’ from A to Z! The management team exudes pride and a lot of fun. This is a luxury hotel where everyone, management and staff, is fully  committed and loyal to both the hotel and to each other. The General Manager, a.k.a. the Band Leader, Marjolein Bruschke, takes a step back to let her team shine, which is awesome!

The presentation the team gave to the jury was original and definitely musical. There was live music in the elevator, and even a guitarist in a tuk-tuk! You can really see the future in this hotel in both the people and the concept. There was lots of tech. Even though they are part of a traditional hotel chain they know how to bend the rules to fit in the trendy brand.

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