Bangkok hotels stage reopenings

25 May 2010

Hotels in the former “Red-Shirt” stronghold of Ratchaprasong are springing back to business, shut down since the last week of April due to security concerns.

Most, including the Grand Hyatt, Four Seasons, Hotel InterContinental and Holiday Inn, are planning to reopen tomorrow, May 26, 2010. At press time, top-to-bottom spring cleaning is proceeding in these five-star establishments as employees gratefully returned to their jobs and tried to go back to their normal routines.

Relief, mingled with wry realisation that much work has to be done to regain international confidence is palpable. Said Sammy Carolus, Grand Hyatt Erawan executive assistant manager: “Given the state of emergency and number of travel advisories, we don’t expect visitors to be flocking to Bangkok just like that. It will take some time to heal, but our first step is to let people know that we’ve reopened.”

The deluxe hotel expects to welcome a French business traveller tomorrow, its first after having stopped operations completely on April 20.

The Four Seasons is again accepting bookings, said spokesperson Annabelle Daokaew. She said that the staff have been enthusiastic about resuming work, but “very sad about what happened”.

The Dusit Thani, a hospitality landmark at the junction of Silom and Rama IV and recent victim of bomb blasts, pipped its counterparts with a batch of guests checking in today at 12.30pm. Keith Gilmour of Seawald Engineering, who is one of those arriving, commented: “When I heard the Dusit Thani was reopening, I decided to switch my booking from somewhere else to here. There’s no better hotel to be in Bangkok now than here.”

Moving into recovery mode, the hotel is promoting its “Dusit Thani Bangkok Standing Proud & Strong” campaign, trading on its 40th anniversary theme of endurance and gratitude to guests and trade partners for their support. “Many value-added benefits and online activities will be pushed,” said Jennifer Cronin, Dusit International vice-president of sales & marketing.

The annual nationwide Thailand shopping festival, set for mid June until August, takes on more urgency this year. Bangkok's prime retail precinct suffered devastating losses having served as a Red Shirt encampment for weeks. Carolus of Grand Hyatt, however, warned that they had to be sensitive to the still volatile political situation. "We cannot be seen to be celebrating as there are many issues that have to be resolved."

From Centara Grand Hotel & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld, whose Zen Department Store sustained severe damage after it was set fire by protesters, comes this statement from Gerd K Steeb, president of Centara Grand: "We have thoroughly inspected the Centara Grand and Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld and the hotel and convention centre need only to undergo deep cleaning for several days whilst awaiting Bangkok Metropolitcan Authority's approval to reopen." The facility is targeting a June 1 reopening.

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Margie T Logarta

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