Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok’

Two nights in Bangkok: Weerasak and the wine angels

March 10, 2009

OK, let me explain the title: Weerasak refers to Weerasak Kowsurat, chairman of Tourism Authority of Thailand board of directors. I met him during a recent press trip to Bangkok. We were on the 55th floor of the Centara Grand hotel, where the Red Sky bar and restaurant boast stunning views over the multi-hued neon cityscape. redskybar

Weerasak told me he’s optimistic about visitors to Thailand in 2009, despite the setbacks of global recession and last year’s airport protests. He says he expects 14 million visitors during 2009 – including plenty of Brits.

“We understand British visitors, and we know they value the genuine friendliness and care that is the core of Thai hospitality. And a key factor is the value for money Thailand offers – we know how important this is during these times.”

He also pointed out that the Skytrain extension to the airport would be open on August 12.

This should be a welcome improvement to travelling into the city, as traffic is appalling.

wineangel21The Centara adjoins the Bangkok Convention Centre and on the 22nd floor you can walk straight from hotel to the vast multi-space auditoria which can merge to host a maximum of 6,000 delegates theatre style.

Also impressive is Lifestyle on the 26th floor, with spa, decent sized gym, panoramic pool with bar and gardens, plus two tennis courts.

Which brings us to the wine angels – abseiling up and down the spectacular glass two-story wine cellar at The Red Sky bar and restaurant on Fifty Five, to pluck fine vintages from the upper shelves.

Check out luxury travel news & views at ttgluxury.com

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Shangri La refugees, part 2

December 1, 2008
This morning we met our host at the Shangri La, Rosemarie Wee, area director of communications.

She told us the political situation in Thailand was causing a significant blow for the group: the Shangri La in Chiang Mai was due be official host of the 2008 ASEAN Summit, with hundreds of politico/economic VVIP attendees from across the region. It’s now been postponed.

This high-profile event is The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ annual meeting discussing the region’s economic and cultural development. Global strategic and security issues are also covered.

Shangri La refugees

December 1, 2008

Ok, so here’s how we escaped from Thailand. Our wonderful hosts at the Pakasai resort in Krabi, arranged a minibus to take us to the town of Hat Yai. We left at 6.30am, driving like the clappers in the pouring rain.

Arrived at Hat Yai with 10 minutes to spare, and board our coach for the long journey south. The border was horrendous – both chaotic and slow – queuing for the best part of three hours to exit Thailand. Then all over again to enter Malaysia (this time quicker).

Foreigners swapped war stories about the Escape from Bangkok, out doing each other with convoluted journeys.

Then the long journey through the rainy night to KL. But several hours in, comes good news via Blackberry – we’re being hosted at the utterly gorgeous Shangri La.

So after about 18hrs of gruelling travel, we shed our skins and swap our grime for five-star bliss!

Escape to Malaysia

November 29, 2008

Bangkok airport siege day 4: We’ve now hatched a plan to travel down to Malaysia by road and catch a flight from Kuala Lumpur.

The situation is as deadlocked as ever with both sides deeply entrenched, and the army seemingly unwilling to do the PM’s bidding and get heavy with the protestors.

The staff and management here at the Pakasai resort in Krabi have been incredible, helping in every way, including booking our flights from KL and tomorrow driving us the four hours to the border to meet our coach – everything done with friendliness and good humour. All those clichés about Thai hospitality are true.

The tourist trade is being hit heavily, to the tune of millions of dollars a day. Visiting the Maritime Park & Spa Resort today, the owner, Khun Pimrapee (who owns four resorts including this place) told me occupancy at the Maritime is booked for around 80% – but it’s currently under 30%.

There are an estimated 100,000 people stranded in Bangkok.

Bangkok blues

November 27, 2008
Krabi, Thailand: We’re meant to be flying to Bangkok tomorrow (Friday) to connect with an Eva Air flight to London.
Everyone’s watching and waiting as the stalemate at Bangkok airport drags on: prime minister, protesters and army holding their positions.
Saw it first on the news on Wednesday morning – then nothing this morning: the hotel’s only English-language news station CNN has not mentioned Thailand since the ghastly events in Mumbai unfolded.

The news websites are highlighting how PAD’s airport blockade is damaging Thailand’s “vital” tourist industry.

The resorts here are working round the clock to keep on top of events: incoming guests are cancelling because their flights haven’t arrived, outgoers are staying longer because they can’t get home.

Apart from this, it’s hard to imagine anything’s wrong with the world – in the Pakasai resort set in lush rainforest gardens, its rooftop pool overlooking the Andaman sea, life goes goes on its languid pleasurable way.

But the people working here are saying that for the tourism industry, on the long hard-working road to recovery after the tsunami, this is the last thing they need.