From a pillared forecourt I step from Bangkok’s heat and humidity through glass doors, and into the cool, subtly-lit lobby of the 137 Pillars hotel. The omni-present traffic noise is suddenly hushed.
All around me smiling staff clasp their hands in the prayer-like Thai gesture of welcome, Sawasdee. The lobby, illuminated by recessed lighting in a vaulted ceiling, is decorated by banks of fresh flowers with dark, well-padded sofas and low tables. On one side is a giant Picasso-esque mural.
Like its name, the 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok is unusual – and for this tired traveller on this day, something genuinely special. The classy, muted design themes are continued when I’m shown to my room – a bright, welcoming suite that is a miracle of compression. The compact space contains a fully equipped kitchen, marble bathroom with tub, comfy sofa and bed with invitingly fluffy white linen. The employee who’s accompanied me opens a cupboard door to reveal a washing machine and tumble dryer. “Hopefully you’ll find everything you need here for a comfortable stay,” he says.
Set in Bangkok’s Emquartier district, close to major shopping precincts, the luxury five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex 137 Pillars Suites and Residences is a sister property to the 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai about 600 kilometres to the north. The latter was so named by its owners because of the number of pillars in the original house around which that hotel was constructed.
City centre location
The Bangkok property comprises 34 hotel suites and 176 serviced one- and two-bedroomed residences, set in a chic building on Sukhumvit Soi 39. “We’re right in the middle of the city, close to public transport, with many high-end shopping areas and dining places close by,” says Nuengruethai Sa-Nguansakpakdee (pictured above), group director of sales and marketing. (She smilingly invites me to pronounce it, and is referred to as K. Nueng by her colleagues).
“The great thing about this hotel is that people can stay from anything from one night to a year and our two hundred staff do their best to make sure they feel at home and pampered,” she adds.
In addition to incentive groups, 137 Pillars seeks to attract small companies for its meetings offering, explains K. Nueng. There’s a cosy, well-equipped meeting room for twenty to thirty people, overlooking a lush garden, with events clients coming from the region and, increasingly, from all over Asia, Europe and the US.
“Not just for conferences, but for wellness retreats and groups coming to Thailand for golf excursions and so on,” she says. “As you know, Bangkok is an exotic place with such a variety of things to do – dining, exploring the culture, enjoying the riverside life.”
The hotel offers guests a free regular shuttle service every 30 minutes to local shopping areas, as well as having a London cab on standby. It has two restaurants, the Nimitr – a specialty eatery featuring Asian dishes created by well-known local chef Nanang Prasetya Aditama – and the Bangkok Trading Post, an all-day bistro and deli. There are two bars, a spa and a fitness centre.
Suites range in size from 70 to 127 square metres and are located on the top floors, with 24-hour exclusive access to the rooftop and a 360-degree infinity pool. They offer a butler service, in-room private wine cellars, mood lighting, high ceilings, large walk-in wardrobes and Posturepedic “ultra plush” beds with Egyptian cotton linen, as I disovered after a good night’s sleep. Other sweeteners include a personal mobile phone with 4G data and complimentary unlimited overseas and domestic calls, breakfast from 6am to 11pm, a la carte afternoon tea from 2 to 5pm and sundown cocktails at Jack Bain’s Bar from 5 to 7pm.
From USD 180
How much would all this set you back? One of the great advantages of Bangkok as a MICE destination, as many PCOs know, is the value for money it represents. Many organisers seeking to arrange an event in cities like New York or Hong Kong would expect to pay perhaps USD 400 or more a night for facilities of this quality. Yet the rate for a conference package here is USD 80 for a full day, including coffee breaks and lunch and staff on hand constantly to trouble-shoot, says K. Nueng. The rack rate for a studio room starts at about USD 180.
“I do think that’s good value,” she says.
This traveller would agree.