Since its establishment in 1994, the award-winning Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts has continued to successfully grow in an increasingly competitive market. Why do you think this is and what do you think has led your brand to where it is today?
Banyan Tree is seen as an intellectual leader, a pioneer of intimate retreats with an Asian flavor, and each property is distinct in the way it adapts itself to the local environment and architectural heritage. Our products and services are designed to ensure distinctive comfort and are tailored to individual lifestyles and preferences.
The Banyan Tree brand and its properties are internationally renowned for their incredible service and luxury-meets-eco-conscious philosophy. How do you uphold this reputation and consistently exceed your guests’ needs and expectations?
The idea of a luxury holiday is evolving and travellers follow the trend of having a more immersive experience, something that puts them in touch with the local culture and way of life. The variety of our products and level of our service has been developed to cater to this market, offering diverse room packages, luxurious spa experiences, and exclusive outlets and facilities, designed to ensure distinctive comfort. We also pride ourselves in providing unique cultural experiences such as Muay Thai (Thai boxing) classes, Thai cooking classes, Monk Blessing ceremonies and local shopping excursions where guests can learn about the local way of life, all of which are proving to be very popular.
How is Banyan Tree Bangkok different to the other properties and what unique features and experiences can guests look forward to experiencing?
Being an Urban Resort, we activate the senses from the moment you step in, such as our lush tropical garden featuring fish and turtles, which always surprises people. Scent is important too with aroma oil burners placed around the hotel offering a daily changing scent, while our rooms and suites afford sweeping views of the city, from as high as 58 storeys. We have the most awarded spa in Bangkok (Banyan Tree Bangkok has won the coveted Spa Operator award for 10 consecutive years), we’re the only non-riverside hotel to operate a dinner cruise on board a traditional rice barge, our Vertigo Restaurant & Moon Bar is one of the city’s most iconic evening destinations, and just this year, we opened Vertigo Too on the 60th floor. Most importantly, it is as equally about the people as it is about the product and our staff interact with our guests, offering them an insight into Thai life.
You’ve mentioned before that Banyan Tree properties are like women – each one with its own unique and stylish personality. How would you describe Banyan Tree Bangkok’s style and personality and does it inspire your own, or vice versa?
In terms of hotel years, 20 years is seen to be quite established in the market and I think that the hotel is a great place to socialise. Meeting spaces and accommodation suites are perfect for bringing people together, whether it is couples, families or businesses. But it is more about the personality of the people than the facilities in the hotel, and this month I was thrilled to honour 38 employees who have been with the company since the hotel opened, including myself.
The world’s current events, technological advancements, the digital world and social media have all played a significant role in changing the way we travel, with many interesting trends taking place. What do you think today’s traveller is truly seeking?
They are seeking for new and unique experiences that will teach them something so that they can return home knowing more, either about themselves or about the place they are visiting. The experience of travel is not just the trip – it is in the planning and it continues after they return home.
Do you think Banyan Tree can deliver on this desire and how so?
We provide a personalised service and create a personal touch. We can create bespoke experiences, tailor-made to the guest’s preferences.
In addition to Thailand, you have incredible properties in some of the world’s most exotic locations including Indonesia, Maldives, and the Seychelles. Are there any new Banyan Tree destinations on the horizon?
We have just opened our first resort in Northern Africa – Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, Morocco, and before the end of the year, we will open Banyan Tree Jiuzhaigou in the mountainous Sichuan region. 2017 will see the launch of the first of our four-hotel brand Dhawa, a casual and contemporary full-service hotel, in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. Further openings next year include two Banyan Tree properties in Kuala Lumpur, marking our first foray into Malaysia, and four new openings in China, as well as the second of our Cassia extended stay apartments in Bintan. We are also set to open Banyan Tree Bodrum, a new luxury resort in Bodrum Turkey, marking our first step into Europe.
What are your favourite things about Bangkok and Thailand, and what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Bangkok is everything you’d expect from the capital of Thailand. Its ornate palaces that host royal processions, Buddhist temples that witness monks chanting ancient sutras, serpentine canals that lead to a maze of water markets, and night bazaars that never sleep have long been a powerful magnet for travelers. This sprawling metropolis offers so many activities and experiences. I love to go to the temple, and visit art galleries and historical places.
You have a guest in Bangkok for the first time – what are your top three must-dos and sees?
Start your day early, exploring The Grand Palace, one of the most famous landmarks of historical significance and craftsmanship in Thailand. Within the palace you will find “Wat Phra Kaew”, home of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha – a statue which was carved from flawless green jade. Bag a bargain at one of the largest markets in the world – Chatuchak weekend market is home to more than 8,000 market stalls. Go early to avoid crowds and summer heat. For a truly memorable dining experience, head to Apsara Cruise – a vintage-style rice barge cruising the majestic Chao Phraya, the River of Kings. Onboard, indulge in Royal Thai cuisine and canapés, served with legendary Banyan Tree Bangkok service.
What international destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Bhutan and Rome