Bangkok Is Back

The Grand Palace in Bangkok
The Grand Palace in Bangkok houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.


Bangkok is ringing in the New Year with a positive outlook–just a few months after damaging floods struck Thailand–and offering updates to help you sell this resilient destination.

Travel Agent spoke with Chanchai Doungjit, director Western USA, Latin and South America for Tourism Authority of Thailand, Los Angeles office, who is just back from Bangkok after surveying the situation. “All hotels are up and running as usual,” he tells us. “The floods have receded and everything has been cleaned up and is ready for tourists.”

According to Doungjit, Bangkok’s international airport, Suvarnabhumi, was never affected by the floods; however, the domestic Don Muang airport, which had service disruptions, is back in business.

Pamela McCourt Francescone, a writer for our sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, has just returned from Bangkok with good news. “The center of the city, where the luxury hotels and big shopping malls are, never had a problem,” she says. “Unfortunately, inaccurate media coverage caused more damage [to the hotels] than the floods did. Confidence is returning, but the high season has been compromised, not just for FITs but also for corporations and events.”

“There are still areas on the outskirts of the city that are drying out slowly,” she reports. “But they are not tourist areas. Ayutthaya, a popular day trip from Bangkok, is back on the track again.”


Agent Advice

Carlos Melia, a bespoke travel expert and travel blogger, tells Travel Agent, “After spending over two months traveling along and across Thailand, pre-, during and post-floods, I would fully encourage all travelers and travel agents to feel 100 percent safe and comfortable to travel to Bangkok and its surrounding areas.

“I left Bangkok a few days ago, and I am happy to say that the city has gone back to the normal mode. Travelers are back, hotels and restaurants are looking crowded again, and the streets of Bangkok don’t show the sand bags that we have seen over the last few weeks. Bangkok is DRY and SAFE.”


Hotel Buzz

As of November 1, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas officially took over the Marriott Bangkok, reopening it as the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa. The 407 rooms include 97 suites. Each room has 24-hour in-room dining, an in-room bar, Internet access, an LCD TV, DVD player and iPod dock.

Culinary options abound with 10 restaurants and bars. The Market highlights a breakfast buffet, while Numero Uno serves coffee, pastries and handmade chocolates. Longtail Bar on the pier is the perfect spot for an evening cocktail. Trader Vic’s serves flavors of the Pacific. Benihana is the property’s Japanese steak house, while Italian fare is served in Brio. Barbecue favorites are offered at Riverside Terrace (with Thai dance performances held in the background). Guests can arrange for a Manohra Dining Cruise on an antique rice barge, as well.

Onsite guests also have access to the outdoor pool, with heated Jacuzzi and swim-up bar. There is also a kids’ club where parents can leave the little ones while they relax at the Mandara Spa.

Travel agents with specific questions or requests can reach out to Ludovic Gallerne, director of sales and marketing.

Last month, Starwood Hotels & Resorts debuted its first Aloft property in Thailand. The Aloft Bangkok-Sukhumvit 11 has 296 guest rooms, including 205 king rooms, 84 double rooms and seven suites. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, 42-inch LCD TVs, iPod docking stations, mood lighting controls, walk-in showers, 24-hour room service and more.

Dining options include the w xyz bar, which serves light bites and signature cocktails. Crave serves all-day seasonal produce, fresh seafood and international cuisine. Grab-and-go dining is possible at re:fuel by Aloft, a 24-hour venue serving salads, sandwiches, coffees and snacks.

Contact Director of Sales and Marketing Patcharee Bunma (011-66-2-207-7000, ext. 5100, [email protected]) with questions.

In November, Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok brought back an old favorite: the Rajadamri Suite. The renovated suite, on the ninth floor, reflects a melding of Eastern and Western cultures, which is symbolic of Bangkok’s famous Rajadamri Road.

The living room has space for up to 18 guests. The suite also has a private dining room, a study room and two guest powder rooms.

The master bedroom overlooks the tropical gardens of the pool deck, with its own separate dressing room, marble bathroom with soaking tub and glass-enclosed shower, whirlpool and massage treatment room.

Agents can direct queries to Pipat Patthananusorn, director of sales (011-66-2-250-1000, [email protected]).

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