|STYLISH ESCAPISM, THE MET WOWS BANGKOK |
A combination of familiar Met philosophy with a hint of Asian culture makes a hotel stay at The Met Bangkok infinitely memorable.
Christina Ong, the Singaporean fashion entrepreneur who created a new niche in terms of hospitality when she set up The Halkin and The Metropolitan hotels in London, has returned to her Asian roots to bring the infamous Metropolitan brand to Bangkok.
The latest addition to the luxury hotel market, in a city which already has over forty deluxe hotels, is setting its sights on attracting the five Ms - the kind of guests every hotel would kowtow to: Media, Models, Music, Movie stars and, naturally when rack rates for the presidential suite fly as high as US$2,000 per night, Money.
Those lucky enough to belong to one or all of the above are well aware of the genuine welcome, personalised service and calm, stylish surroundings which make up the sleek serenity of a Metropolitan experience. Affectionately called The Met, the leading London hotel has a new Asian sister, which looks set to conquer Bangkok’s elite. Director of Marketing, Debby Thio, is optimistic that it won’t take long for both Thai and international clients to take Thailand’s version to their heart.
“Our occupancy at the moment hovers around thirty per cent,” she says. “We think it will take around four months before occupancy is at the level we would like it to be. But Bangkok fits into the Metropolitan’s philosophy,” she adds, citing the energy and dynamism exuded by the capital city, which will be replicated in the hotel itself. “We have young people working at The Met and naturally our concierge will know what is going on and where are the latest happening venues in Bangkok. We have trained them to explore as much as possible for our hotel guests.”
In the last few years, since the Amazing Thailand advertising campaign and general cleaning up of the country’s less salubrious areas, Bangkok’s luxury market has grown fast, with the volume of tourists, in particular business tourists, escalating despite the general downturn in the economy elsewhere in Asia. “The Asian market is becoming more stable, with increased investment in Thailand and more business coming in from corporations,” says Thio. “After a successful APEC this also puts Bangkok in a better position for future business in terms of security and logistics”
As the city continues its headlong charge into increasing international business, The Met sits comfortably in the middle of the financial district of Bangkok, sharing South Sathorn Road with two of its fiercest competitor hotels, the Sukhothai and the Banyan Tree. But Thio is not worried.
“The Met concentrates on offering a youthful approach,” she smiles. “It’s a lifestyle not just a hotel. We offer a less formal approach on a state-of-the-art scale for the high end traveler who is looking for those extra touches.”
And extra touches there are indeed. The spacious, airy rooms are significantly bigger than most, and not only offer technical essentials such as high speed broadband internet connections, a CD / DVD player and a flat screen TV, but also something for each guest’s peace of mind – your own personal yoga mat.
But what really sets this hotel apart, in a city where five star hotels offer luxury as the norm, is the sleek contemporary design. Created by Kathryn Kng, one of Singapore’s leading designers, the simple interiors throughout the hotel are the latest in chic modernity, while art by Natee Utarit, a young Thai artist who has exhibited globally, adorns the peaceful walls adding an elegance to the general tranquility.
Staff at this designer’s dream of a hotel also fall into the category of art, albeit on the move. Clad in timelessly fashionable Yamomoto outfits, they are part of the pared-down elegance, visually a world away from most hotels’ Thai dressed norm. Their calm efficiency envelopes you, creating a serene welcome as you step out of the heat, noise and commotion of Bangkok into the cool minimal surroundings.
For further serious soul soothing, guests will be flocking to the COMO Shambhala Spa, originally developed at the retreat at Parrot Clay in the Turks and Caicos. A little bit of the resort’s peaceful atmosphere can be experienced here, with treatments which span all the usuals including Thai massage. And to prolong the relaxing feeling you can step out of the spa into Glow, The Met’s 100% organic restaurant. Energising juices, raw salads and other healthful dishes make up the menu, while at Cy’an guests can sit outside to appreciate the open-air veranda as well as the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Amanda Gale is both outlets’ executive chef. Originally from Australia, having trained with Neil Perry at the Rockpool, she was brought in from the Parrot Clay for her fresh outlook on healthy cuisine as well as new combinations of Eastern and Western cuisine traditions.
But the icing on the cake surely has to be the Met Bar, which just like the Met Bar, London, is super-selective as to who gets past the door. The ‘cool-ometer’ in place, the hotel expects no less than the city’s celebs to take the bar into their hearts and wallets, and enjoy the mixologists’ creations and the social buzz that will inevitably surround it. As a rule of thumb, if you get in, you know you are in!
“Cy’an and The Met Bar are doing extremely well for a restaurant and bar in their first month of operation,” say Thio. “We feel that both have created the same level of excitement as Nobu and The Met Bar in London, and no doubt recognition will expand in due time.”
With Robert de Niro, J-Lo and Donna Karan all fans of The Met’s lifestyle, Bangkok is confident their version will attract the same quality of guest. So, if you are one of the lucky Ms, check into The Met for the most suave and sophisticated Bangkok experience yet.