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BangkokMarch 3, 2008 By: Mark Rogers Travel Agent
It's easy to live large at the five-star hotels in this exciting city
BANGKOK HAS A LONG HISTORY of providing absolutely top-flight service in its five-star hotels. Iconic properties such as The Oriental, Shangri-La Hotel and The Peninsula have earned high marks from a dedicated clientele who return again and again. Bangkok also has two five-star hotels with outdoor rooftop restaurants: the Banyan Tree and lebua at State Tower. In this exciting and frenetic city, these sophisticated restaurants provide a refuge from the relentless activity at street level. They also afford phenomenal views of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya, the river that winds through the city.
lebua at State Tower
In 2006, lebua Hotels & Resorts—a company dedicated to "new concepts in hospitality"—took over the management of the hotel at the State Tower, reopening it as the all-suite lebua at State Tower (http://bangkok.lebua.com). Guest accommodations are on floors 51-59 of the second tallest building in Thailand, so they have great views of either the city or the city and river.
Suites are at least 710 square feet and feature Bulgari toiletries in the bathrooms. Two-bedroom suites have floor-to-ceiling windows, and most of them are corner units. "Even for two people, the two-bedroom suites are a better deal," says Meik D. Ruge, hotel manager. "The common areas are so much larger in these suites." Ruge, the hotel's travel agent liaison, can be contacted at 011-66-2624-9999, [email protected] Resources
lebua's glittering and popular rooftop restaurants Sirocco and Breeze are garnering much attention for their service, cuisine and incredible views. This is where the hip and stylish residents of Bangkok rub elbows with well-heeled visitors. In addition to Sirocco and Breeze, lebua contains the Italian restaurant Mezzaluna and three bars, Distil, Ocean 52 and Sky Bar. The State Tower is topped by a dome, and the venues are referred to as the Restaurants at the Dome. All have their own ambiance and design.
Breeze is modern, but warm and appealing rather than hard-edged. If your clients want river views, guide them toward the tables on the left side of the restaurant upon entering; city views are to the right. Guests enter the restaurant by walking across a suspended catwalk that is lit from underneath. Beneath the catwalk is a pool studded with white water lotus. The breezes that gave this alfresco restaurant its name ensure that it's always cooler there than at street level, which can be a blessing in sultry Bangkok. A DJ spins lounge music in the background, and the menu features Asian cuisine, with an emphasis on Chinese cooking and seafood.
Sirocco serves Mediterranean cuisine amid a classic interior design that includes a wide staircase leading down to the tables. "When you walk down the staircase, the view ahead of you gives the illusion of walking right into Bangkok at night," says Ruge. Of the two restaurants, Sirocco has the slightly more refined and quiet atmosphere. Live jazz is offered nightly.
Dress code is strict at the lebua at State Tower restaurants. Open-toed shoes are not allowed, nor are T-shirts or backpacks. Ruge says an average of 100 people are turned away every night. "It's all about emotions," he says. "We sell the whole package—the amazing views and good company. It creates a sense of well-being."
At this time, it's not possible to reserve a particular table. For restaurant or bar reservations at lebua, e-mail [email protected] or call 011-66-2624-9999.
lebua at State Tower offers an "Amazing Experiences" three-night package that includes an upgrade to Riverview with Balcony Suite, roundtrip airport transfers by BMW, Champagne and chocolates in their room, meals at the Dome and several special activities, including a klong (canal) tour, a cooking class with the hotel chef, transport by tuk-tuk (a traditional vehicle like a cabin cycle) and a shopping excursion by limousine. The package costs $2,000 double and is available through June 30. Book at www.lebua.com, or call 011-66-2624-9999.
Open since January 2002, the Banyan Tree Bangkok (www.banyantree.com/en/bangkok/index.html) added a number of features in 2007, including a luxury dining cruise on the Chao Phraya aboard Aspara I.
Last summer, the hotel unveiled an expanded Banyan Tree Spa Bangkok, now with 16 treatment rooms on the 19th and 20th floors, many with panoramic floor-to-ceiling views of the city. Seven treatment rooms were added: three Grand Spa Suites for couples, equipped with steam for aqua-therapy treatments (including the signature Rain Mist experience), and four Deluxe Spa Suites, which offer steam, jet-pool bath and shower facilities. A beauty salon has also been added. All spa therapists are local specialists and undergo extensive training at the Banyan Tree Spa Academy. Agents can contact the spa directly by e-mailing [email protected] or calling 011-66-2679-1052 or 1054.
Best rooms to book at the hotel are in the Banyan Tree Club on floors 48-50. These are popular for the privacy they afford, as well as the views of the cityscape from the south side of the building and river from the north side. The U.S.-based travel agent liaison for the hotel is Victor Koki ([email protected], 805-499-9101).
The Banyan Tree's Vertigo Grill and the Moon Bar have become favorites with both locals and visitors. Both are on the 61st floor (the top floor) of the hotel, and combined they have a 100-guest capacity. Keanu Reeves, Norah Jones and Kenny G are just some of the bold-faced names who have enjoyed the rooftop ambiance.
The Moon Bar is perfect for romantic dinners, birthday celebrations, fashion launches or chill-out sessions under the stars. The Vertigo Grill is divided into a dining courtyard and a private party lounge. Signature dishes include marinated tuna tartar, salmon roe; medallion of five spiced minced duck and foie gras; and broiled Maine lobster with chardonnay cream sauce.
Both venues are open every evening, Vertigo from 6:30 to 10:30, and Moon Bar from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Hours are subject to weather conditions, as the bar and restaurant are open-air.
A smart casual dress code in effect at the Banyan Tree Bangkok. Long pants and closed shoes are required for men. Guests of both sexes will be turned away if they're wearing torn jeans, sleeveless tops, shorts or flipflops.
The Banyan Tree also features Bai Yun, an award-winning Chinese restaurant on the 60th floor, where a popular option is the dim sum all-you-can-eat dinner. Other restaurants include Saffron for Thai cuisine and the casual Rom Sai with an international menu. Private rooms for up to 12 people are available. Agents can make reservations for their clients at the Banyan Tree eateries by calling 011-66-2679-1200 or e-mailing [email protected]
For a package deal at the Banyan Tree, the hotel's "Romance in Bangkok" plan includes daily continental breakfast, one dinner at Vertigo, Bai Yun or Saffron, choice of a two-hour spa treatment for each guest, roundtrip airport transfers by Mercedes-Benz limousine, Banyan Tree Gallery gift and an "Intimate Moments" evening with candles, flower-petal decoration and wine en suite. Prices start around $355 double per night in a Deluxe View Suite, with a three-night minimum stay. Reservations can be made at www.banyantree.com or 866-8-BANYAN.