Can city hotels call themselves resorts? Some try, but they need greenery and/or space and/or water. In Italy, Four Seasons Firenze satisfies the first two criteria. In Bangkok, any of the luxury properties right on the Chao Phraya river have an advantage. The Peninsula Bangkok, however, is taking the lead – it is already well through the transitioning progress, as GM Joseph Sampermans explained to the gal. Already, the spa and wellness division offer complimentary activities, say boot camp, every day. Soon, the 370-room hotel’s 765 employees will give up ties and be put into more casual gear.
All this puts extra pressure on the GM, who hosts cocktails every Thursday night for the growing number of long-stay guests who prefer to winter here rather than in private villas in Phuket (or certainly back home in Frankfurt or wherever). Sometimes the cocktails are in the 37th floor helicopter lounge, or downstairs in the upper level of Thiptara restaurant. These long-stay guests are cossetted with extra wellness, extra hospitality, and extra food offerings. Each night the main River Café restaurant has a speciality buffet, say seafood on Wednesdays.
River Café always fascinates me. It has a gorgeous outdoor terrace, ideal for watching evening processions of gaudy tourist boats, each more luridly lit than the last, serving set dinners as they ply up and down the river. Europeans and other non-Asians like sitting here, on the terrace. Asians, by contrast, invariably prefer the near-refrigerator ambience of the indoor area of River Café, even though they have to venture out, through automatic doors, to the two live cooking stations outside. Asians also like their bedrooms set as near to freezing as any system will allow. As part of the resort-ification of this luxury hotel there will very soon be room packages that come with spa included.
Other inducements to stay here, and stay longer, are such temptations as muscle soothing or energizing herbal bath rituals and, I must stress, continual acts of thoughtfulness. In my suite I found a pair of scissors, wrapped and on a tray, and an extension cord with lots of international sockets. My fruit selection included bowls of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, and whole bananas. There is a memorable arrival, and/or departure option here. To save time, for which read ‘traffic’, The Peninsula Lounge, on the river’s East bank between Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and Shangri-la, allows you to arrive there, and take a boat across to the hotel (and, on your departure, follow the reverse procedure). During my short and truly memorable stay, by the way, I was privileged to be given a 20-year pin, as proudly worn by every staff member. Yes, Peninsula Bangkok is two decades young. NOW SEE VIDEOS OF SUITE 3204, AND THE WEDNESDAY NIGHT SEAFOOD BUFFET