The Grand Hyatt Erawan- Bangkok (Review)
Having seen at first hand the original splendor of the Grand Hyatt hotels’ design and decor in places such as Dubai and Shanghai, I was in for a surprise when I got to Bangkok. Located right in the heart of the centre of Bangkok’s booming CBD, the 380 room Grand Hyatt Erawan impresses in every aspect that a five star business hotel should do, however the main difference between this Grand Hyatt and the others is in the design. Every Grand Hyatt has a signature quality of style that differentiates it from the other Grand Hyatts’ as well as other five star hotels’ in the capital city. The Hyatt is part of the signature Hyatt hotels’ that were started in 1957 with an entrepreneur named Mr. Hyatt R. von Dehn.
During the recent troubles in Bangkok, the hotel was closed, and this temporarily hit the corporate and leisure business of the hotel. With the vast majority of the visitors coming in from European countries, the hotel has seen a steady growth in recent months’, and continues to enjoy playing host to a number of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions’), related events as well as for the leisure travelers.
There’s one thing that does stick out in the Grand Hyatt is the authenticity of the Thai environment. Every Hyatt around the world is renowned for offering an original authentic touch of the local culture, the food and the local customs. The Grand Hyatt is known as the Erawan because it located right next to the Erawan Shine (Than Tao Mahaprom), which generates an aura of benevolence that can be immediately felt across the atmosphere of the hotel. The hotel’s history goes all the way back to the mid-1950s when the government decided to construct the five star Erawan Hotel on the same site as the Grand Hyatt. However, much to the disappointment of the management, many construction elements of the hotel were met with complex problems, which eventually led to superstitious workers refusing to carry on working unless the land was blessed by astrologers. Therefore, only after the consultations with astrologers’, in November 1956 a shrine was erected to honor the four faced Hindu god Brahma (Than Tao Mahaprom). Than Tao Mahaprom is believed to be the god full of Kindness, mercy, sympathy and Impartiality, with each of its virtue represented in the four faces of the image that radiates serene grace. For the next 30 years the Erawan Hotel enjoyed global fame, never having any problems and hence remaining loyal to the superstition that the Erawan Shrine is indeed something special for both the people of Bangkok and for the hotel.
In 1999, the Grand Hyatt Erawan, a private sector-owned group of the Grand Hyatt Hotels’ replaced the old hotel because of modernization plans by the management. Indeed, the Erawan Shrine has become a focal point for locals and visitors alike, and it is a true blessing for anyone who resides at the hotel because of its auspicious location. Many thoughts went through my mind as we took the limo from the airport to the hotel. Will it look like the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai or Dubai, or in other cities? How will it differ? I thought. When I arrived at 1am from the airport, my first impressions surpassed my expectations of the place. The place looked more like a Thai palace or a resort inside the city with its mahogany décor and period furniture than a five star hotel. Then there is that authentic Thai service. All the staff are wearing local traditional dress. Phraratchathan for the men and Thai Boromphiman or Thai Siwalai for the women.
Erawan is the name of the mythical three headed elephant. To his honour, there are two beautiful statues of six-foot high three headed bronze Thai Elephants’ located at the grand entrance at Rajsamri Road. For sure, this being the Grand Hyatt, therefore in line with those words, everything is quiet simply put “Grand”. The three headed Thai Elephant has become the logo on all the interior décor that blends in ancient art and culture with the modern chic surroundings of the five star hotel. An aroma of incense sticks could be felt everywhere. Imagine being heavily jet-lagged and you are taken straight to this place from the airport- don’t worry. You won’t feel that you are in any other five star hotel that could resemble any destination in the world- you will actually feel as if you are in Thailand!
There are a few things about the rooms which distinguish the Grand Hyatt Erawan. The first is the Grand Club rooms located between the 16th and the 18th floors’. These are the exclusive executive floors with express check in/check-out at the level 17 reception (which also houses the Grand Club. While the interior décor is very much a blend of ancient antique style furniture, there is also the all-marble bathroom that features all the relevant amenities that come standard with a Hyatt room. Toiletries are, as always with the Hyatt, standard from either Molton Brown or from the hotels’ personal brand collection. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to try on those Thai Silk Slippers and Silk bathrobes as well. Just don’t wear them to the Club Lounge (I did see one person do that!).
The beauty of staying at any of the Grand Club rooms is that if you are holding a corporate meeting, then there is complimentary access to the meeting room that houses around people. With the MICE industry set to grow in Thailand in the next few years, there is no better place to mix leisure with pleasure. The Hyatt is very close to the golf Course- though on a rainy Bangkok day it may not be that useful, however it still can provide the perfect MICE experience for any corporation.
The Club lounge is worth checking out at the Grand Hyatt, though you have to be a paid member or be accommodated in one of the Club house rooms to be able to use its complimentary service. Nothing beats the feeling of getting up in the morning a sipping a fine cup of tea while overlooking towards the Bangkok racecourse. The Club lounge is highly active during the happy hours (5.30-7.30pm) and in between that and after those hours it goes reasonably quiet. Which is good, because the idea of a club is to while away your evening with a nice wine and some nuts, and maybe catch up on some business chit-chat.
Another beautiful aspect of the hotel is that the Grand Hyatt is the only hotel that has 6 Spa Cottages inside a modern hotel. These are 6 cottages set around a private courtyard that feature a separate bathroom, steam room, massage table, a grand double bed, a rain shower, grand living room, and even a private patio set in landscaped gardens for outdoor relaxing. It’s meant to be a retreat in the city- complete with the close proximity of a swimming pool. The Spa Cottage comes complete with an automatic electric toilet- with a heated seat. It was a bit strange trying that!
There is even a complimentary mosquito cream and a sun cream provided so that you stay healthy. The uniqueness of the Spa Cottages is that they have become a signature residence for those who perhaps have no time to go to the beach and can while away their time right in the heart of the city but feel as if they are at the beach or at a tropical resort. You can say that the i.sawan (the Spa Treatment and Gym area on the 5th floor) is a true “Garden in the sky”!
As a travel writer I am always asking the question of why should a paid customer has no access to complimentary in room mini-bar? Well, I believe it would make sense if hotels’ have an agreement that says that some rooms that are classed in the “Executive or Business level” sector should have a complimentary mini-bar. The good news is that the Grand Hyatt Erawan does have a complimentary mini-bar; however that is reserved for those who can afford to live in the Spa Cottage or one of the Grand Executive Suites or the Presidential Suite. However that said the alcohol is not free- well, that does make good sense. Can you imagine all the guests in the Spa Cottage being intoxicated on complimentary alcohol next to a swimming pool?
The Spa Cottage has one of the best looking mini-bars I have seen. Fully stocked with freshly made Carrot, Orange and Cranberry Juice along with scrumptious ice-cream are provided. To top it all up there are some monster sized cookies that come complimentary with the Lavazza coffee machine. Mr. Philippe Frey, the Director of Food & Beverage has left nothing to chance even outside of the kitchens.
With 10 restaurants, bars and cafes to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice. I would highly recommend the “Tables”. A classical European dining experience is offered to those with a tongue for the culinary delight. Sit on the 5th floor at any one of the 150 seats and feel like a king. Have a chef come over to your table and cook food for you live while you choose the dishes. The only other similar experience I can compare this to is the one at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai.
It only takes one opportunity to make a lasting impression and I must say that the highlight of my stay at the Grand Hyatt Erawan has to be the magical Spa Cottage. Where in the world can you get a top five star hotel complete with a “tropical resort” style accommodation right in heart of a city that is known for its heavy traffic congestion, pollution and rainy weather? It’s only the 5th floor and yet it’s so easy to forget that you are actually in the middle of a metropolis! Remarkably there is no outside traffic noise, and you are surrounded by greenery. The Grand Hyatt is a perfect blend for those who want to while away their time away from the city (but live in the city!), and for those who perhaps may want to treat their employees to a break and combine a work and pleasure to make the perfect MICE trip!
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