Onsite: News from Lebua Hotels & Resorts

BANGKOK-Travel Agent sat down with Deepak Ohri, CEO of Lebua Hotels & Resorts, which in 2006 took over the management of the former site of the StateTower in Bangkok and is undergoing a $28 million repositioning. The property recently reopened as the five-star all-suites Lebua at StateTower, which is housed in the second-tallest building in Thailand. StateTower's Dome restaurants, which are also managed by Lebua, are garnering a huge amount of attention for their service, cuisine and stunning views of Bangkok. Lebua at StateTower is poised to begin a $28 million re-positioning of its rooms, an initiative Ohri referred to as "being more of a design change." He noted that the re-positioning would not disturb day-to-day operations of the hotel.

Lebua Hotels & Resorts is building on the success of its Bangkok property and developing two other high-end resorts: one in New Zealand and one in northern Thailand, in Chiang Rai. The New Zealand property is the former Okareka Lake House in Rotorua. When it reopens in October, the new name will be Lodge Lake Okareka by Lebua. The luxury five-bedroom property is on a peninsula on LakeOkareka. "We have two kinds of high-level guests: Those who want to be seen and those who don't want to be seen," said Ohri. "Our Bangkok and Chiang Rai properties are for those who want to be seen, while our New Zealand property will be for those who prefer privacy."

Even though rates have not been set, Ohri says agents can begin booking the property. "With these kinds of clients price is not an issue," added Ohri. Ground was just broken on the Chiang Rai property, which is still unnamed. An opening date has yet to be set. The first phase will consist of 40 luxury, tented villas. When asked the number of phases for the project, Ohri replied, "That will depend on the success of the first phase." Ohri also has his sights on London as a possible site for a fourth Lebua property. Visit [www.lebua.com].