Stanley Pao is one of the few Thai hoteliers running a major hotel in Thailand. Born and raised in Bangkok (he attended ISB), he went to hotel school in Hawaii and worked at a few hotels there before returning to Thailand fifteen years ago. He joined the Dusit Group 5-and-a-half years ago when he was named the GM of the Pathumwan Princess Hotel. He took up his current posting as the Dusit Thani GM three years ago.
He discusses the current happenings at his hotel: “We recently finalized our lease; hence the sudden rush to renovations. Presently, we our changing several of our outlets. We have added new facilities to the hotel including the Devarana Spa; we have also renovated Hamilton’s steakhouse and turned the old Chinatown restaurant into an Italian eatery called Il Cielo. We are also renovating our rooftop restaurant Tiara and turning it into a French restaurant called D’Sens, which will be open in the middle of the year. We will also be renovating the lobby, and we are also in the process of renovating our nightclub, Bubbles, too.”
The Dusit is doing something different in that it is trying to capture both the business and leisure market at the same time. Its 250-room East Wing is designed to serve the leisure market, travel agents and independent travelers, while the 260-room Main Tower is geared towards serving the business market with its luxuriously appointed rooms and upscale Landmark suites. “We look it in the much the same way as an airline offering a business class service,” says Pao.
The hotel’s niche? “Our marketing campaign is the ‘Thai Way of Life.’” says the Dusit GM. “We don’t tend to be the most modern hotel, the most hi-tech, or the biggest. All we say is we are Thai. The reason you come to Bangkok is to visit Thailand. And we feel that’s where our marketing edge is: presenting the Thai smell, Thai feelings, Thai atmosphere and a Thai décor. Our food & beverage outlets can be modern, but the overall atmosphere is traditional Thai. If you are going to stay in a chain hotel when you visit Thailand, why even come here in the first place? Aside from a few touches here and there, one chain hotel in Bangkok is no different than another chain hotel in Hong Kong or Singapore. But the Dusit Thani is Thai owned; Thai managed and with Thai hospitality being so famous around the world, that’s also a natural plus for us.
“And our spa, Deverana, is not a Balinese spa or an Indian spa; it’s a Thai spa. Our Thai restaurant, Benjarong is one of the finest Thai restaurants in town, and our coffee shop serves many local favorites. We are proud of our product, and whether guests stay in our hotels in Bangkok, up-country or overseas we know that they associate our name with the best in Thai hospitality.”
The hotel’s Majesty Suite offers 10 rooms including a living room, master room, dining room. Guests have included Carlos Santana, Enrique Iglesias, and the President of Papua New Guinea, Julius Chan. The Princess Suite offers 5 rooms and has hosted the President of Taiwan, Chen Shui-Ban as well as Cliff Richard, Anna Kournikova, Bond and the Reverend Jesse Jackson . The Landmark suites have a living room and a ballroom.
As Mr. Pao is one of the few Thais running a major hotel in this country, it’s only natural to ask him what an aspiring Thai hotelier should do: “Overseas training is very important, you need the exposure and you have to be able to work with ex-pats. Language skills are very important, as is confidence in your own experience and knowledge.”
The Thai Hotels Association has recently instituted a rating system based on three, four and five stars, will this work? “Many hotels aren’t taking this seriously yet, but they will have to eventually. Just because you are part of a major chain hotel does not make you a five-star hotel - you have to show you have the facilities, you have show you have the outlets and services.”
The Dusit for years was unfairly portrayed as a hotel on the decline. The problem was the lease – the hotel wasn’t prepared to shell out a significant amount of cash to renovate until its lease was settled. Well it is, and the future’s bright and rosy, and it will simply be a matter of time before the Dusit repositions itself as one of Bangkok’s top hotels.
And as for getting around Bangkok, it couldn’t been any easier if you stay at the Dusit. There’s not only a Skytrain stop right outside the front door, but a subway stop as well. For those who like to shop till they drop the Night Bazaar, Suan Lum, is directly across from Lumpini Park on Wireless Road. It’s just a short walk or tuk-tuk ride away. It’s sort of a sanitized Chatuchak, and lots of great bargains can be found. And of course, there’s Patpong, just a short walk down Silom Road.
But if you just want to hang out the hotel, that’s fine as well. Aside from the many fine F& B outlets, there’s a pool and fitness center with a sauna and steam room. There’s also the Devarana Spa, where you can just pamper yourself to death. And if you are a golf fiend, well, the hotel has its own driving and golf school, the Doug Hood Golf School (www.doughoodgolfschool.com) located just beside the fitness center. A driving range in the heart of Bangkok’s Central Business District – truly an example of amazing Thailand. And for the more literary types, the hotel has its own library, which is a very pleasant place to catch up on your work, or just do some leisure reading. Authors, including Canadian Christopher Moore, have held entertaining literary nights here.
Dusit Thani means ‘town in heaven’ and with Stanley Pao at the helm that’s what you are guaranteed when you stay at this superb five-star hotel. So stay at the Dusit and treat yourself, your family or your guests to some of the best in Thai hospitality.