Every city has at least one centre. In Bangkok it used to be the river and then the epicentre of the day moved uptown to The Erawan Shrine, with a statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hindu god of creation Lord Brahma. That epicentre was great for such hotels as GRAND HYATT ERAWAN and what is now ANANTARA.
Anthony Tyler, GM of MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK, says categorically that Bangkok’s centre is once again the Chao Phraya River. Look, he says categorically, with so many cafés and art galleries and antiques venues opening up riverside, this is a serious draw. Bangkok River is the body that embodies all these entities and may well start doing destination marketing overseas – it’s run by Australian expat David Robinson.
River hotels include the icon Mandarin Oriental (where Tyler started his MOHG career, as assistant F&B under the great Kurt Wachtveitl). There’s its neighbour, ROYAL ORCHID SHERATON and, across the river, PENINSULA BANGKOK. Now there are newcomers, FOUR SEASONS BANGKOK AT CHAO PHRAYA RIVER and, right next to it, CAPELLA BANGKOK: they share an outer entrance as they were both developed by the Taechaubol family’s Country Group. Above, a river view – between tug convoys and on a rainy evening – from #901 at Four Seasons.
The river-group also includes the significant Iconsiam, a US1.5 billion development on the opposite bank to Mandarin Oriental. Best known for the multi-storey luxury shopping mall that is one of Asia’s best. Blue by Alain Ducasse is among its dining options, Fila and Zara among retail choices, and there’s a mega-Apple studio. But did all that really swallow up all the investment? No, the development also includes two tall residential blocks. One, the 52-floor Mandarin Oriental Residences, is managed by the hotel. Hurry, says Anthony Tyler, who is in charge. Only one residence left. The other 161 are sold.
Why buy a residence with the brand attached? Mandarin Oriental lifestyle is heritage and history, he says, taking another elegant mouthful of his favourite lobster sandwich. And he turns yet again towards the river, mesmerised as are so many.
Finish, for today, with thoughts from Anthony Tyler’s boss, Christoph Mares: