Bangkok: Modern Meetings + Ancient Allure

written by | Posted on July 11th, 2011

Temple of the Reclining Buddha

A study in contrasts, Bangkok’s ancient golden temples glimmer amidst a skyline dominated by modern glass highrises. It’s a city comfortable with both the old and the new—the familiar and the unexpected. By day, Bangkok is all business. Well-dressed professionals travel via elevated rail systems linking the entire scope of Bangkok with five major convention centers. Although, few visitors come here without riding the motorized “tuk-tuk” rickshaws, ranging from 2-seaters to 20-pax stretch rides.

By night, vendors set up carts and kiosks along the streets selling silks, jewelry and handicrafts from across the Far East. Scents of curry mingle with fried fish and every imaginable variety of pad Thai noodles. This is the Night Market, a transformation occurring in most Thai cities every day of the week.

Upon arriving at Bangkok’s ultra-modern Suvarnabhumi Int’l Airport, Asia World DMC welcomed our group with traditional phuang malai garlands and whisked us to the 381-room InterContinental Bangkok, last renovated in 2009. Set in the hub of Bangkok’s central business district, the InterCon embodies the vivacity and stature of a big city hotel without losing its individuality. With several variations of sumptuous suites—39 in all—your VIPs feel like royalty. Even standard rooms are bright, elegant, spacious and appointed with soothing tawny satin and glistening beige tone decor. A marble bath with separate soaking tub and European rain shower ratchet up the luxury in all room categories, while the tony Club Lounge offers club level guests a cosmopolitan business HQ with the vibe of a multi-million dollar residential condo.

Planners wishing to keep their programs under one roof will appreciate the 13,500-sf convention space. Four restaurants offer menu options to meet the most discerning foodies, including one of the oldest and most respected steakhouses in Bangkok, Fireplace Grill. The Grossi Trattoria & Wine Bar features a gastronomic hybrid of Italian/Australian cuisine headed by Aussie celeb chef Guy Grossi. And nestled within the Balcony Lounge is Humidor, one of the only cigar lounges in Bangkok.

Here’s how you should kick off any program in Thailand.

Asia World delivered us for traditional Thai massage at the elegant Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok Hotel (see Prevue July/Aug 2010). Unlike other forms of massage, Thai massage doesn’t require disrobing or oils. The therapist climbs atop the massage table and uses his/her entire body weight, including hands, elbows and knees, to compress and stretch muscles, flex joints and stimulate blood flow. Rather than slinking into relaxation as after most massages, I sprang from the table invigorated and ready to tackle the streets and rivers of Asia’s “City of Angels.”

Thai food has become wildly popular in North America and I was anxious to try something other than just the familiar pad Thai noodles. The award-winning Baan Khanitha Restaurant is renowned for its traditional Thai cuisine fused with contemporary panache. With two locations in Bangkok, Baan Khanitha can easily accommodate small business dinners or large groups within their various dining rooms. Food here is made to order, so if you can’t take the heat, or like it extra hot, be sure to ask your server to adjust the spiciness to your liking.