Back now from a four day assignment for Hotell Addict in Cambodia where we documented one of Bill Bensly’s smart, quirky and immensely comfy design hotels, Shinta Mani in Siem Reap. As part of the gig and to add some context to the hotel, we re-visited Angkor Wat and a few of the many temples in the UNESCO area. Visits which we shared with so many, many others…
Today we’ve spent most of the afternoon by the pool after having unpacked our stuff in a spacious room on the 18th floor at The Peninsula Bangkok. Up until today, this was the only hotel with 5 stars along the Chao Phraya River that we hadn’t stayed at. So it feels great to have checked in here so we can check off the Peninsula from our most wanted hotel list. Just remembered that Charlotte and I stayed a few nights at the Peninsula Beverly Hills about 15 years ago. The river view here in the Thai capital is far superior than what we had in Beverly Hills.
Having worked at several hotels in a previous career, none of which came even close to Bangkok’s premium properties like The Peninsual Bangkok, I can still totally relate to the workplace as such. I distinctly remember the sense of camaraderie and working together within a large team. The Peninsula has a staff of roughly 1000 and so, wherever you turn, there’s always a friendly smile and someone to lend a helping hand if you need it.
This morning, during breakfast at Shinta Mani, Charlotte and we experienced a young fellow whom went so extraordinarily overboard with his willingness to be service-minded, that I finally felt compelled to tell him to take a break and leave us alone for at least ten minutes. That’s never happened before and though I was as polite as could be, I didn’t try real hard to veil my displeasure. I was convinced that he’d catch my drift and pull back a few steps. But no! A minute or two later there he was, right back at it, pouring our tea cups full to the brim – even though we’d only had a sip since the last time he refilled them just a minute earlier, and trying to clear off plates from the table that we clearly hadn’t finished eating from. Had it not been so darn early, we might have seen the farcicality of this over-zealous waiter. But in my mind, there was just no question that someone in HR had totally screwed up when they hired this strange fellow.
I wholeheartedly hate when staff in the hospitality industry are submissive and subservient. Which is why I like it so much here at the Peninsula and the 140-year old Grand Dame (aka the Oriental) just across the river. The team working in public spaces have so much integrity. They’re pros, but seem to be encouraged by management to retain their distinctive personalities and not in any way, shape or form act subdued just to please me or other guests (though over the years, we’ve unfortunately experienced when guests seem to expect and demand a master-slave relationship from staff at 5-star hotels.
This is going to sound a little strange, but because of my background in the hotel and hospitality industry in Sweden, Thailand and for a short while the US, I feel compelled to be extremely humble and friendly towards those that serve me and do their best to ensure my stay is comfortable and memorable. I even tidy up our hotel rooms so that the cleaning staff isn’t unnecessarily given more work just because I’ve been sloppy or a lazy-bone-jones.
I shot the image above from our room around midnight tonight – after we had nice dinner with friends, Peder, Lotta, Lena and Thomas at Swiss Alain’s Cabana Garden on Sukhomvit Soi 75.
Image below is the daytime view from our room and the kind bellhop that greeted us when we arrived earlier today.