Interview with a hotel manager
By Matt Preston
We recently visited Bangkok for the new year festivities known as Songkran. A chance to wander the city streets and be a part of the world’s biggest water fight. We also had the pleasure of staying at the very well located Amari Boulevard hotel. I took the opportunity to meet with the hotel’s General Manager, Mr Alexandre Frankel and find out more about his hotel, what there is to do nearby and his Songkran experiences.
How long have you worked for Amari here?
I actually joined Amari in 2004 at the Amari Watergate which is the flagship property opposite the Platinum. I was resident manager there for 2 years then I moved to the Amari Emerald Cove in Koh Chang. I managed the property for 5 and a half years. I was asked if I was interested to come here to the Amari Boulevard and I started here on the 1st November so I’ve been here 5 months.
How do the Amari properties differ? Bangkok is quite different to Koh Chang.
Firstly the Emerald Cove is officially rated 5 stars, the Amari Boulevard is 4 stars. The differences are many due to the facilities and of course between a resort and city hotel there is also a difference. This city hotel has at the moment mostly a leisure market so it’s mostly guests on holidays rather than corporate guests. Also in Koh Chang the property runs at approximately 70% foreigners, 30% domestic 1 nights. We had British, German, Scandinavian, Russians as the majority. Here you also still have a lot of British guests thanks to tour operators in the UK supporting us and from the internet, but then we in a strong Middle East area of Bangkok. There are 2 middle-eastern Soi (side-street) in the area plus the hospitals which makes the hotel popular with people from the Gulf. There was a holiday period in the Gulf last week so it was very busy here. From the middle of May to the start of Ramadan will be very busy again.
So you’ve been in Thailand for quite a few years then?
Yes i joined Amari in 2004 but initially I worked 13 years with Hilton so i was with 2 Hilton properties in Thailand from 1999 to 2002, then i went to China for 2 years with Hilton. Then I joined Amari. My first time in Thailand was way back in 1990 where I was on Phi Phi Island for 6 months.
You’ve seen a lot of Songkran festivals over the years
I’ve seen quite a lot of them yes. I’ve got wet a few times but I’m not getting wet any more. I’m staying indoors at the moment. We had our indoor celebrations yesterday afternoon. We were with the staff at the swimming pool (on the 4th floor) and they do a greeting to the management and of course they do a traditional dance. There was a little bit of swimming pool jumping as is usually the case!
The hotel seems to be in a good district for nightlife
This is the centre of nightlife in Bangkok! What is great is there is really something in this area of Bangkok for all tastes. A lot of people come here for the hospitals and supermarkets too. What is amazing is the choice and variety of restaurants in the area. If you go to Soi 11 you’ve got a French Bistro, Spanish Tapas and a New Zealand seafood restaurant. In this area there’s also Middle-East foods, Indian, Mexican, Italian. The variety is what makes it interesting.
Plus the access, if you go out direct on the Sky Train, one station away you’ve got the Underground train so if you are here on a Saturday the weekend market is just 15 minutes away. If you want to go to the river you just have to change 3 stations away and you can connect to the river. They actually have complimentary boats from the station and you can connect with other boats to take you to the Royal Palace. We’re very well located in that respect.
Do you have any recommendations on where to eat near the Amari Boulevard?
It depends what you’re looking for! If you’re looking for French there is a Bistro that has just opened, only 6 months old. On Soi 11 and it’s called Chez Pape and you will see inside there are a lot of pictures of french actors and french culture. If you’re looking for Italian we actually have our own restaurant on Soi 19, La Gritta which is just at the entrance to the Soi. If you’re looking for Indian there’s quite a few on Soi 11. If you go to Soi 55 with the Sky Train there’s a place called “Face”, it is Italian and Thai in the same restaurant. There is a new complex now nearby called Rainfall. They have wine bars and Japanese restaurants. There’s a lot of them on Soi 55. Bangkok has one of the highest numbers of Japanese residents in South East Asia.
Do you have any exciting plans for the hotel?
Yes we are planning a major renovation of the property actually. The hotel is made of two different wings. The East wing is the original hotel called the Siam wing which has mostly superior rooms. In the modern wing of the hotel we have the sloping front with deluxe rooms and suites. So we have done a mock-up room for the renovations in the Siam Wing and will hopefully complete that in the next year or so. The hotel is actually 22 years old and was one of the first few 4 star hotels in the late 80s which has developed a lot since. Now with new hotels coming it’s important to update and build upon what we have.
The location still works very well and the loyal staff have been here quite a long time too. The overall feel is you can go to hotels that are very trendy but they only cater for certain types of clients. If it’s more neutral like us you can cater for a larger range of people. That is our goal.
Thank you Alexandré for your time and Hospitality at the Amari Boulevard in Bangkok
- Amari Boulevard 2 Soi 5 Sukhumvit Road Bangkok 10110
- Call them on +66 (0) 2255 2930
- Visit amari.com/boulevard