Siam Kempinski: Jewel in the City

RENDEZVOUs - Christine S. Dayrit (The Philippine Star) - June 16, 2013 - 12:00am

Even if my wanderlust has taken me to many places on earth, some destinations remain closest to my heart. These havens, like Thailand, are always worth returning to simply because they evoke loving sentiments, warmth and hospitality that make one feel at home as they offer an inimitable panache of endless surprises. It is no wonder that Bangkok is called the City of Angels. No two visits here are ever the same.

Onboard our preferred luxurious Royal Silk Class on Thai Airways, my rambunctious sisters Michelle Soliven, Yvonne Romualdez and I all agreed that Thai Airways has always offered the best in-flight dining, entertainment, air safety, service and gentle hospitality while providing its passengers with global access to their travel dreams. We also learned from winsome Malu Duenas, district sales manager, that Thai Airways has launched flights to Ahmedabad in India and Mandalay in Myanmar through Thai Smile, its light premium sub-brand which also services Macau and several domestic Thailand destinations.

After a  “Smooth as Silk” touchdown at the modern Suvarnabhumi airport, we were whisked off to our home-away-from home for the weekend, the Royal Wing at the luxurious Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. A stunning “resort within the city,” the hotel features 303 contemporary rooms and lavish suites. We marveled at the elegant architecture — the dramatic lighting, the hardscape and the landscape that complemented the glorious hotel complex. The lobby is grand with its awesome floral arrangements, romantic candles and indoor fountains. The fusion of old world charm and modern touches is a surreal synergy. Impressive works of local artists adorn the hallways and the expansive pools are visible throughout the entire hotel.

Walking into the imposing lobby of the Siam Kempinski felt like stumbling into a palatial edifice that evoked a storied past having been built on a historically significant part of the city. We learned from manager Andrea Muegge that the area where the hotel stands today was formerly a part of the Lotus Pond Palace commissioned by Rama IV (known in the Western world from musical The King and I) as a retreat outside the city.

Exploring the hotel premises with PR coordinator Khun Jareeya Suthaporn, one will notice the lotus flower as a recurring pattern on the designs of carpets, in prints and photos in the guest rooms and residences, as well as in the fresh flower decoration in all public areas. The color purple, which represents the crown princess, is resonant in the property

It was sisterly bonding of the highest degree as we had room service of Thai cuisine like excellent duck curry, tom yum gum, morning glory sautéed with chili and garlic and fragrant jasmine rice steamed with coconut milk. We looked forward to each morning as we assembled at the breakfast room with a sunny view of the pool. Michelle, every morning, delightfully sampled a different kind of cuisine from American, Chinese and Indian breakfast.

Right across the entrance of the hotel’s Royal Wing is a well-stocked supermarket and major food hall where choice cuisines from all over the world are waiting to be relished at Siam Paragon. This posh complex boasts designer boutiques, fine dining outlets, a huge department store as well as the Siam Ocean world, perhaps the biggest aquarium in Asia. We were chauffeured in Siam Kempinski’s golf buggy to nearby CentralWorld Mall. We usually ride golf carts in the seaside resorts or even mountain lodgings  but a golf cart in the city is such a charming treat.

Just when we thought we had explored enough, my gracious friend Khun Kate Kritwutikon of Tourism Authority of Thailand invited us to the state-of-the-art Asiatique and Terminal 21. My dear friends and media colleagues Marbee Shing-Go, Raul Manzano, Tessa Valdes and Jude Bacalso recently checked out these jaunts and enjoyed it immensely. Named for its resemblance to an airport terminal and its location at Sukhumvit 21, each floor of Terminal 21 has a different theme based on various cities around the world. Asiatique, on the other hand, is Bangkok’s first large-scale riverside project combining shopping, dining and events under one roof including impressive puppet shows and Calypso entertainment.

More loving kindnesses awaited us at Siam Kempinski. Khun Krit, the very helpful concierge, was very concerned about how we were to take home a box without handles containing Yvonne’s photography paraphernalia. He thoughtfully went out of his way that night to provide us with a bright red lightweight shopping bag with sturdy handles. Anticipating the needs of their guests is simply the Kempinski way.

Here, heavenly delights seemed to present themselves simultaneously. My sisters and I will never forget the delightfully unique dining experience at the Sra Bua by Klin Klin Thai restaurant of the hotel with its modern interpretation of Thai cuisine. Restaurant manager Julia Wulfing took care of us and introduced us to chef Chayawee. Etched in our memory is the 11-course dinner served amidst picturesque lotus ponds laden with numerous candles casting a radiant glow on our faces as we celebrated life, as it should be.

The culinary repertoire starts with The Niblings — prawn cracker with chili tomato dip, soy roasted cashew nut with meringue and kaffir lime scented lotus root. The most famous creation is Frozen Red Curry with Baby Lobster Salad and Litchi Foam, which is served on two plates; the top plate is where the food is presented, and the lower plate is filled with nitrogen to keep the temperature of the frozen red curry constant, also creating a dramatic smoky effect. For that sweet ending, we had the pineapple sorbet with coconut rhum and Malibu, orange cake with tangerine sorbet, lemon curd and frozen foam and banana cake with salted ice cream and caramelized milk. Michelle exclaimed that the exquisite presentation of these delicious desserts on ancient driftwood was simply an exotic masterpiece. The dessert was an unforgettable finale to our splendid experience.

These magical moments remind us to live life, as we should. Not rushing but relaxing. Not gulping but anticipating. Not instantly, but lovingly, slowly and very gently. At Sra Bua by Klin Klin, voted one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, it’s not just a meal but also an epicurean adventure.

While walking back from Centara Mall to Siam Kempinski, we chanced upon a monk in reverence as he laid a garland of flowers before a golden Buddha and lit a candle. I took a few minutes to pause in silence as I marveled at what peace can be found in the midst of all the frenetic traffic, chaotic bustle of the city in this booming metropolis.

Each trip to Bangkok presents unique surprises. No matter what kind of adventure you embark on — whether shopping, epicurean, or wellness, it will always be a heartfelt experience in this “City of Angels.”

For more information on Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, call at 66 (0)2 162 9000 or log on to www.kempinski.com

Thai Airways flies Smooth As Silk to 73 destinations in 35 countries, with 11 weekly flights between Manila and Bangkok. For more information, call  Thai Reservations at 580-8424 or e-mail your inquiries to sales@thaiairways.com.ph or rsvn.mnl@thaiairways.com.  Avail of their ongoing Hot Sale promo fares by logging on to www.thaiairways.com.ph.

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E-mail the author at miladay.star@gmail.com.



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