Futsal, indoor football, was first played in Australia in 1932. Now it has become international, and the seventh FIFA Futsal World Cup takes place in Bangkok 1-18 November. 24 national teams are expected, each fielding five players.
The official FIFA hotel, where Sepp Blatter and the officials from Switzerland will be staying, is the sparkling year-old St Regis Bangkok, so the gal went to find out more.
Actually so much is going on in this amazing luxury hotel that there seems to be nonstop activity. August 27th sees the next monthly fashion show, this time featuring Burberry.
On October 24th, 2012, the 80th birthday of Her Majesty will be celebrated with the St Regis Ball. The first week of December, yet another week-long Indian wedding will see the entire 198 rooms taken (and overflow guests, like the less important aunties and uncles, put up in other hotels nearby).
The night I was there, Ferrari and Hublot were having a joint party – and there were nine privately-owned Ferraris, one white and the rest scarlet, parked in the hotel’s compact forecourt.
Every day of the week there is something happening. Tuesday is seafood night in Vui restaurant (which also has an apparently amazing brunch on Sundays). Wednesday is jazz night in the bar (and Mr Sax will be performing at some of those brunches, with unlimited Dom Perignon being poured).
Every night, Monday through Sunday at seven o’clock sharp, a bottle of Champagne is opened with a long sword, the traditional sabre-ing that only the professional dare attempt in public. But fortunately the hotel has the best professional in the country.
Supawit Muttarattana, generally known as Palm, is Thailand’s best bartender, says Diageo. He showed how to make a Siam Mary, the hotel’s unique version of the Bloody Mary that you find in all St Regis hotels.
Here is his recipe: Take the required measure of Ketel One vodka, add in order tomato juice, Worcester sauce, Tabasco, a cut fresh tomato, a whole chilli, Thai coriander and wasabi paste; push this all down, then add the juice of half an orange, and half a lime, then, instead of blending, ‘throw’ the mix from one container to another four times.
Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Put into an ice-filled silver tankard (if you are a regular, with your name engraved), decorate with wedges of orange, lime, tomato, lemongrass, basil – and drink through a straw.
Yes, it is a wow a minute staying here. First, the room. From the moment you enter the ground floor lobby you are in a colour palette of mostly off-white, silver, silver-gold, palest blueberry and brown and black.
Take an elevator up to 12th floor reception, and you are escorted directly up to your room, anything up to the 24th floor (above that, the 47-floor building houses ultra-luxury residences, with Big Names but never mentioned).
The 22nd floor corridor, typically, sticks to the overall colours, with a fascinating blend of arabesque patterns on carpets and some wall panels.
2224, a corner suite, has all-wall windows, looking either over the Four Seasons and up Rajadamri Road, or across that street, and its SkyTrain, to the Royal Bangkok Sports Club with its racing track and golf.
Look out, therefore, from the bed (ah, primrose-edge sheets, adding to the palette) or the free-standing oval bathtub (one-way glass!). There is an arabesque silhouette, like Indonesian shadow work, on one of the lampshades.
Everything speaks Quality – the depth of the carpets, the saddle-stitched black alligator skin for desk bits and pieces, and shoe horn. The drawers, of course, are lined with hotel-logo paper.
Luxury continues. The gym is big, and Technogym, with Kinesis (open 24 hours). The 15th floor terrace just has room for a 65 foot infinity pool, with loungers, and greenery designed by Asia’s top landscaper, Bill Bensley.
The Elemis spa is first class, with therapists who really understand muscles working in calming all-white rooms lit by candles in arabesque cut-out holders.
At breakfast, in Vui, as well as open kitchen areas holding a mammoth buffet, you can help yourself (as at Sydney Hilton) to freshest juice and home-made yoghurts from big glass-fronted fridges.
Ah food. Dinner is a dilemma, with friendly Vui or exotic Zuma or the ubiquitous Italian to choose from. We went Italian, and found it unique. This is more Il Molino, as in back-in-the-States, than the usual global Italian.
There are masses of unrelated photos on the walls, as if it has been here for generations, and the glass-fronted wine cellars hold really ace bottles. Yes, they will do you simple pasta served from a hollowed-out cheese, but you might also choose Kingfish carpaccio, or Veal cheek with celeriac mash and Madagascar vanilla sauce.
The signature dessert is having a sliver of chocolate hewn off a ten-kilo chunk of dark chocolate (in its own Luigi Guffanti 1876 covered trolley); you pour cream over.
Then you might join about 280 others in Zuma, the restaurant-bar the other side of the lobby. Here, there is a fully air-conditioned outside area, with massive rocks as wall, the DJ works his Apple laptop and the restaurant’s chef, off-duty, sits wearing a flat cap.
But what sums up the real luxury of this hotel is actually its people. At breakfast, I was presented with a bowl of berries ‘because we know you like them’ (good communication from another hotel!).
The butlers instinctively know if you need them or not (chief butler Janet Tao is a mind-reader). I think those Indian wedding guests want their saris unpacked, but do they want underwear hung or folded?
What a nice touch to get a 100 percent-legible handwritten note from my butler Chote, waiting on the desk when I got back after the extended evening, reminding me that I had a car at 10.30 the following morning. Sob sob, I needed more time.