Cultivating an oasis of calm

When my wife and I arrived at the Como Metropolitan Bangkok, it was an oasis of calm amidst all the cacophonous bustle of the city at large. During our three-day visit to this Southeast Asian capital, we were treated to an urban experience so remarkable I am compelled to recommend a Bangkok visit to each and every one of you. Readying for departure, I had the chance to sit down with Como Metropolitan General Manager James Low to talk about his experiences at the hotel.

Larry Mogelonsky: Como is a very exclusive brand name. How does Como Metropolitan Bangkok integrate with the other Como properties around the world?

James Low: Metropolitan Bangkok is able to extend the unique Como experience in this vibrant city — an experience that encompasses the five pillars encapsulating the Como hallmarks. These are design (Western contemporary classics juxtaposed with Eastern antiquities), service (warm and natural Thai hospitality), cuisine (Nahm by the award-winning chef David Thompson and Glow for healthful, spa cuisine), well-being (Como Shambhala Urban Escape spa) and culture/adventure (promoting Thai art and performing arts in this lively city). As the hub into Southeast Asia, Bangkok is able to offer a firsthand introduction to the Como experience prior to our guests visiting sister properties in Bhutan, Bali, Cocoa Island in the Maldives and Phuket. 

LM: While visiting, I had a chance to experience one of your two-story penthouse suites — one of the finest accommodations in all of Bangkok. Do you have a separate marketing plan for such rooms?
JL: No, we do not have a separate marketing plan for the four penthouse suites, but we do have press releases sent out when necessary. As you experienced, the product is remarkable. You are greeted by the soaring expanse of a 26-ft (8-m) ceiling and a floating staircase to your guest bedroom and private office. Once a guest has stayed in one of these suites, there is no going back to a single-story product.

LM: Each penthouse suite comes with its own personal butler. Do most people understand the advantages of a butler?
JL: Unfortunately, most visitors do not make full use of our butlers’ expertise, even though most Como guests know the level of service they can expect, as the butler program is available throughout the Como group. The butlers onsite here at the Metropolitan are very humble and talented individuals, helping guests plan their days, arranging for other services or reservations and acclimating visitors to Bangkok by introducing them to local customs and languages.

LM: The hotel’s signature restaurant, Nahm, is led by renowned chef David Thompson.  How did you leverage his recognition to market the property?
JL: As the Metropolitan Bangkok is already in its eighth year of operation, PR opportunities were less readily available. David Thompson’s Nahm gave the hotel plenty of opportunities to refresh the brand. David has a very strong following in the U.K., U.S., Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, and there were scores of media requests to cover Nahm in these major markets. We also took the opportunity to market a package entitled “Tantalizing Thai” to promote our rooms together with a dining experience in Nahm plus a personalized signed copy of David’s prominent cookbook, “Thai Food.”

LM: Bangkok is a city with a history of destructive flooding, putting your guests in danger. Did you have any crisis management plans already in place?
JL: We have a crisis management team on standby 24 hours a day, and the team is certified in crisis management training. We also have in place an evacuation manual in the event of any emergencies in the hotel. The following are some of the preparations made to adapt to a flood situation in Bangkok:

  • Seal all possible areas (up to 6.5 ft/2 m) in which floodwater may seep in using the building walls, sand bags and drain plugs in case of water backwash.
  • Move basement electrical appliances to higher ground.
  • Switch off the main electrical board when the water approaches the 6-ft (1.8-m) height threshold and call the area electricity board to turn off supply in our area.
  • Ensure sufficient supply of essential items in the hotel such as bottled water, food, gas, diesel, blankets and basic first aid.
  • Allocate an area to evacuate all guests for briefing and to act as an information center.
  • Have passenger trucks on standby for evacuation to the airport.
  • Activate a 24-hour news desk posted on our website to update incoming guests and reservations with the latest information.
  • Ensure sufficient staff is available at the hotel to service our guests.

Ensure containment of operations and services in the event of prolonged flooding.