January 2024 - Celebration Issue

JANUARY 26, 2024

The Bamboo Bar

‘Tales of the Pacific’, first visited Thailand (and the hotel) in 1951. The author returned to Bangkok and The Oriental in 1978 and again in 1994, when he wrote: ‘Often in years past, the legendary Oriental served as my home away from

An estate was acquired across the river and 1983 saw the celebrated Sala Rim Naam restaurant open its doors, followed by The Oriental Thai Cooking School, the first cooking school in Bangkok, in 1986, and the Fitness Centre. 1990 saw The China House open its doors, whilst The Oriental Spa, the first spa within a hotel property in Bangkok, opened in 1993 in an exquisite teak mansion. Today it is the only spa in Thailand to have been awarded 5 stars by

Forbes Travel Guide. In 1992 the first Mandarin Oriental Shop opened - today there are four other Mandarin Oriental Shops across the city catering to Bangkok’s discerning gourmands. Seeking to encourage people to join the hospitality industry and concerned about a lack of trained hoteliers in the city, The Oriental launched in 1991 Thailand’s first apprenticeship program (OHAP),which is still run by the hotel today.

In 1950 Eleanor Roosevelt arrived at the hotel, as did more authors, including Ian Fleming and Graham Greene. 1956 saw Marlon Brando visit the hotel to see his friend M. R. Kukrit Pramoj, Thailand’s famed writer-teacher-actor-banker- statesman, with whom he had co- starred in ‘The Ugly American’. In the film Kukrit portrayed the Prime Minister – little did he appreciate that in 1975 he would actually become Prime Minister of Thailand. James A Michener, the American author of over 40 books including the Pulitzer Prize-winning In 1967 the hotel was purchased by the Italthai group by chairmen Mr Giogrio Berlingieri and Dr Chaijudh Jarnasuta. When Dr Chaijudh called his friend Mr Berlingieri to tell him, ‘There’s a hotel for sale’, the response was, ‘Forget it’, until he retorted, ‘It’s The Oriental hotel’. The response then was: ‘Why didn’t you say so? Of course, we’ll buy it’. All it took was two telexed messages and a meeting that lasted 35 minutes for an agreement to be reached. Their aim was to once again make The Oriental one of the best hotels in the world. In 1972, The Oriental entered into a partnership with Mandarin International Hotels Limited, owner of The Mandarin hotel (in Hong Kong). The two hotels became the flagship properties of what is now Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. When land adjacent to the hotel became available for purchase, The Fantastic Years With Mandarin Oriental: the owners seized the chance to plan something dramatic for The Oriental. In 1976, three years after work started, the 350-room River Wing was constructed for a total The Bamboo Bar and its live jazz and outstanding cock- tails are still loved by all, and 2019 saw it as the only bar in Thailand to make the Asia’s Best Bars list ”

and it was awarded two Michelin stars in the guide’s inaugural year that it still holds to this day. One of the many problems encountered while constructing this tower was the failure of the arrival of the lift. Even the fact that one of the owners was Prime Minister was no help. A plane had to be chartered to bring the lifts from Switzerland. Once installed they were the Thai Electric Company’s first lifts ever installed to go as high as 10 floors.

home. Invariably, it excelled in its fine service and warm hospitality. May it gladden your stay, too’. Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok has also named an area off The Authors’ Lounge after this celebrated author. In 1958 the 10-story Tower Wing (now known as the Garden Wing) was built, considered Krull’s greatest achievement, alongside Le Normandie, which opened on the top floor. The restaurant has since held a reputation for its fine French cuisine

Image by Italthai Group

of 300 million Thai baht. It was opened on 12 April 1977 by HM Queen Sirikit exactly 100 years after The Oriental first opened its doors. The hotel now offered 406 guest rooms, with 850 staff looking after guests’ needs. One guest described the hotel as ‘A city. The new Oriental Hotel is a city within a city, a landmark stops on the Chao Phraya highway’, whilst another said, ‘A hotel it not, just a home away from home; it’s an adventure in luxurious living’. Graham Greene, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Wilbur Smith, Barbara Cartland and John le Carré - who penned ‘The Honourable Schoolboy’ in one of the hotel’s sumptuous suites - are just a few of the famous authors who have found inspiration whilst

I n 2008 The Oriental hotel formally changed its name to Mandarin Ori- ental, Bangkok. In 2016 the Authors’ Wing and Garden Wing completed an extensive renovation, and 2019 saw the completion of the largest restoration in the hotel’s history with a USD 90-million loving transformation of the River Wing rooms and suites, restaurants and swimming pool – further enhancing the hotel’s standing as one of the finest in the world. Internationally renowned designer Jeffrey Wilkes oversaw the

overall design of the new River Wing. Wilkes, who has worked previously with the hotel, took his inspiration from not only the hotel’s illustrious history and rich Thai culture but also from the river. Bespoke fabrics by local artisans, skilfully crafted furniture, rich Thai-produced Jim Thompson silks and unique design details reflect the spirit of Bangkok and the hotel’s iconic history. Today 1,300 staff provide a 4:1 staff-to-guest service ratio, the highest in the city. With an average of 14 years of service, each colleague’s

dedication to delivering a unique service experience to every guest is unparalleled as they continue to look after guests and be part of this iconic hotel’s history. A book detailing the vivid history of this legendary hotel, ‘The Oriental Bangkok’, is available for purchase at The Oriental Boutique and in the hotel’s guest rooms and suites for guests to enjoy. Those wishing to learn more about the hotel’s illustrious history can also visit ‘The Oriental Journey’, a permanent exhibition on the first floor of the hotel’s Garden Wing.

the ASEAN region and so it launched the prestigious S.E.A. Write Awards in 1979, presided over by HM Queen Sirikit. This annual event has been hosted in The Oriental every year since – always honoured by a member of the Thai Royal family.

staying at The Oriental. Each of these writers also has suites named after them in the hotel, honouring them as both guests and celebrated authors. To further respect all the literary greats who have stayed at the hotel, the hotel wanted to bestow recognition on the best writers in




Made with FlippingBook Annual report maker