The Comfort And Culture Of The New Rosewood Bangkok
Thailand is renowned for its hospitality and has a vast array of hotels and resorts to choose from. Almost seven years in the making, the latest addition to the capital city’s collection of prestigious hotels is the newly opened Rosewood Bangkok, which is born of a partnership between Hong Kong’s Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and Thailand’s hospitality investment company Rende. Further strengthening the group’s position in Asia and contributing to its international expansion, the hotel promises a unique and enriching experience with a progressive take on hospitality for guests.
We talk to the key figures spearheading the project: Sonia Cheng, CEO of Rosewood Hotel Group and Pintongta Shinawatra Kunakornwong and Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the owners of Rende. We also chat with three creative individuals who have played a role in bringing to life Rosewood Bangkok’s artistic side: interior designer Celia Chu of Taiwan-based Celia Chu Design & Associates, Thailand Tatler Generation T lister and highly regarded illustrator Tachamapan Chanchamrassang better known as Pomme Chan, and art curator Jongsuwat Angsuvarnsiri.
Sonia Cheng’s vision is what has made the Rosewood brand what it is today. Ten years ago she moved away from a career in finance to head the family hotel business. “For many companies, growth is about quantity,” says Cheng. “For us, it’s about achieving a very thoughtful expansion where we continually push ourselves to innovate whilst staying relevant.” The Rosewood collection boasts outstanding properties across the globe and for the CEO, each opening instils in her the same high level of excitement.
Luxury and comfort are to be expected of five-star resorts and hotels but with a profound drive to push the boundaries and focus on a new expression of ultra-luxurious hospitality, Rosewood Bangkok is introducing a strong creative and artistic element to the hotel by combining the dynamism the capital with modern expressions of the country’s culture. It is this distinctive concept that caught the attention of sisters Pintongta and Paetongtarn, who not only immediately saw a business opportunity but were also enthralled by the brand’s overall frame of work. “Rosewood’s signature Sense of Place philosophy, which lies at the heart of the company, gives a lot of importance to the culture of a property’s location,” says Pintongta, CEO of Rende. “Very soon after meeting the team, we realised Rosewood Bangkok would be luxury with an extra-special topping,” adds Paetongtarn, Rende’s deputy CEO.
“We spent a lot of time employing people,” says Cheng. “I wanted to hire the best in the industry, people who are passionate about hospitality.” This was very much the case when it came to securing the services of three prominent people who have played a pivotal role in the décor of the hotel.
Tasked with interior design for the public areas, guestrooms and suites is Taiwanese Celia Chu whose portfolio includes numerous leading global hotel brands. Known for her contemporary and sophisticated hospitality and residential projects, Rosewood Bangkok was an exciting mission for her. A lover of Thailand, taking on the job was an easy decision for Chu. “The way in which I design is marked by my exploration of different cities and cultures,” she says. “I use that learning opportunity and bring it to my work. Here, we designed the space as if we were writing a novel, with different areas representing varying chapters. The guestrooms have been created in ways that add a more relaxing residential and homey feel over and above the usual luxury associated with a top hotel.”
Finding the right balance between contemporary design, Rosewood’s philosophy and representing Thai artistic culture wasn’t easy. “The challenge for me was how to create tasteful styles that bring different experiences to the guests,” says Chu. “Moreover, there needed to be an element of timelessness to keep the product relevant in the market decades from now.” She cites one example of the incorporation of Thainess in the design of one of the public areas of the hotel, which is inspired by the elegant hand gestures seen in traditional Thai dance.
In fact, at Rosewood Bangkok each nook and corner has been carefully thought out to incorporate a touch of art, be it in the use of material finishes, the style or a well-placed piece of art. Lennon’s, the hotel’s stylish speakeasy tucked behind a whiskey library, alone boasts one of Southeast Asia’s largest collections of vinyl. While the restaurants and bars were designed by New York designer Avroko, Thai illustrator Tachamapan Chanchamrassang, better known as Pomme Chan, took part in creating a watercolour and digital mural at Nan Bei restaurant, situated on the 19th floor.
“It was challenging because I had to make sure my work blended with the interior design and suited the mood and tone of the place,” says the illustrator, who was also asked to decorate the staff quarters as a cosy, homey area decked with furniture and items that would remind the occupants of home—again reinforcing the hotel’s Sense of Place concept. Staff uniforms have also been carefully designed to be stylish while giving a sense of belong. “It’s essential that all our staff are happy here and with these uniforms we want them to feel proud, no matter their position,” says Paetongtarn.
We want Rosewood Bangkok to be a uniquely memorable place for all guests, a venue that offers premium services, luxury and comfort beyond expectation.
— Pintongta Shinawatra
In addition to the carefully incorporated artistic motifs seen in the overall design and décor of the hotel, guests can have the pleasure of viewing Thai and international works of art curated by Jongsuwat Angsuvarnsiri, or Ung, head of SAC Gallery and the son of real estate tycoon and art collector Subhashok. The plan is to showcase works by individual artists, changing on a quarterly basis. The first exhibition, he says, features the work of a Thai artist. “His pieces incorporate aesthetics of both the east and west. Inspired by art nouveau and trained in fashion, he has a great sense of the figure and brings an interesting element of fashion to his work.” The exhibition after that Ung hopes to showcase a collection of abstract artworks that focus on city concerns such as pollution.
This artistic side of the hotel further contributed to the interest of sisters Pintongta and Paetongtarn. “Of course, we want Rosewood Bangkok to be a uniquely memorable place for all guests, a venue that offers premium services, luxury and comfort beyond expectation,” says Pintongta. “That said, the idea of having a gallery within the hotel is something dear to us because not only are we offering more than just a hotel experience, we are also giving a platform to local artistic talent.”
“Most challenging for me is holding people together and inspiring my team,” Cheng adds. The staff at Rosewood Bangkok are under the helm of Thomas Harlander, a veteran in luxury hospitality. A focused businesswoman with a forward-thinking vision, the Harvard graduate is adamant that Rosewood properties will be among the world’s leading establishments. “Ultimately we want to be the company that is the most forward-thinking and progressive, always at the forefront in terms of innovation and how we develop our brand and the customer experience,” she says.
Ultimately we want to be the company that is the most forward-thinking and progressive, always at the forefront in terms of innovation.
— Sonia Cheng