(Decorated for the holidays)
Without getting too “meta” as a travel writer, a blogger, as someone who gets to visit beautiful properties all the time there are some experiences where I find the words harder to place together because I won’t be able to do justice. The service at the Grand Hyatt Erawan in Bangkok is just one of these hotels. To give some context, I visited this particular hotel in January of this year, meaning that it has taken nearly a full year to pen this review because I didn’t want to let the staff who were incredibly hospitable down.
It was strange that as a diamond member the Grand Hyatt Erawan had not been a hotel I frequented. The Sherpstress and myself lived in Thailand for a while and often found ourselves in Bangkok either to greet visitors, before a departure or on a return visit once we moved back. My first blog post ever was inspired by a competing Bangkok hotel, the Le Meridien near Patpong night markets. In total we have stayed in just shy of a dozen different Bangkok hotels and hadn’t gotten around to the Hyatt, frankly, due to price. When a five star experience at Le Meridien or four stars from the Park Plaza (yes from Club Carlson) can be had for $99 and $60/night respectively, or the St. Regis routinely for $160, shelling out $180/night for a Grand Hyatt seems pricey. That had kept us at bay for years.
DMK – Don Mueang Airport (Bangkok’s old international airport)
We were flying up from spending a week at the beach in Krabi, Thailand and it would be myself, my mother, the Sherpstress and Sherpita all flying on a discount carrier Lion Air from Krabi to Bangkok’s original airport and now the discount regional airport, Don Mueang. We didn’t spend $116 on all three tickets combined (the Sherpita was almost as expensive as the three of us as a lap child) and we waited for the bags to roll around the carousel and claim, it was just the car seat we needed.
The hotel had sent a car for us, it was a house car, a BMW 7 series (high end Mercedes-Benz) and finally after 30 years on the planet I managed to impress my mother. The driver placed our bags in the trunk, offered us cold wet towels and fresh bottles of water. He drove us to the hotel and I was surprised by his mastery of English.
This might have been the only time since Don Mueang Airport (IATA code: DMK) had ever seen the likes of a Park Hyatt house-car outside the terminal since moving the expensive airlines to the new, Suvarnabhumi. It was a nice touch and a great ride. If you can make arrangements to book it, I suggest you do, especially after a long overseas flight. It’s one less hassle in what can be a trying experience if you are uninitiated to the Bangkok taxi system.
On hand when we arrived at the hotel were the General Manager, the Area Manager, and we were also able to meet Beau, the Public Relations rep for the hotel. Beau was crucial because I had lots of questions about the property and she was able to answer them all in depth.
I have been critical of Hyatt in the past for very little, but chief among my concerns as someone who would like to give Hyatt more of my business, is that they do not have enough hotels in enough places. Thailand is a great example. For tourism purposes alone this country of 30 million people welcomes 15 million people every year. If you wanted to stay in a Hyatt you had just one choice in the capitol, home to half their population. When considering that SPG offers no less than five, IHG has another handful, Marriott has a JW, Hilton a Conrad among others – even little Club Carlson boasts three properties in Bangkok alone – how does Hyatt have just one for the entire city? Another example would be Pittsburgh and Lima. Hyatt has eight, yes eight properties in Pittsburgh spread over three brands, while a city of over eight million people (about the size of Chicago) has zero. Meanwhile, Chicago itself now has 18 properties. Anyway…
The area manager was really excited about the Park Hyatt opening sometime in 2016 just off of Wireless Rd which is more or less Embassy Row in Bangkok. There are also openings for a Park Hyatt in Phuket, and several other properties under development. It seems that after not building or buying anything in Thailand for many years, now there is a gold rush to get hotels constructed and under the umbrella of the Hyatt brand.
Adam Zibler (GM) was great to meet too, because we find ourselves in Thailand often. If I ever lost my job, it’s probably where we would find ourselves hanging out for a year while we figure things out. When you know a General Manager of a property like this one, it makes your stay so much easier. Not because you would ask for him to assist you with a bunch of things, but just a simple “Hi” in the lobby reminds you that if you really did need anything, you could just call and it would be taken care of. It also puts a face to the hotel and reminds you that there is someone who cares whether they are getting it right or wrong. Here it’s Adam and he’s the real deal. He is also from the Midwest in the US so it felt like home when we were checking in.
The Diamond Suite Upgrade
We applied a DIAX (that’s Hyatt speak for a Diamond Suite upgrade) one of four given to Diamond members each year, good for up to 6 nights in a suite at a regularly paid rate (or points plus cash rate). The room itself was setup spaciously and the upgrade was easy enough to request from reservations. This is not always the case, but the hotel had the space and we appreciated the opportunity to use our upgrade for a stay longer than just a couple of nights which is our usual situation.
There was a pull out couch, and several chairs in the living room. It had a separate closed door from the bedroom which was great because my brother and mother were staying elsewhere in the hotel, and if we were still getting ready before heading out, they could wait in there without it being awkward. There was some fruit on the table and each afternoon staff would stop by with a new snack from the bakery downstairs.
(That’s a rollaway they brought for our daughter, “Just in case”)
Per the Hyatt standard there was an amazing coffee machine in the room, tucked into a drawer along with some cutlery and flatware. There was also a mini fridge which had sensors for items that had been extracted. We simply slid in bottle after bottle of water on top of the bottles of Coke and this worked fine for us. We are not huge fans of the removal detection mini fridges not because we don’t want to be charged for goods we don’t replace, but rather because we can’t store much of anything else in there making the benefit of having a mini fridge fairly minimal to us.
There was a sizable desk from which I was able to take care of some work matters and it was large enough for both computers to comfortably sit open on the table, an important distinction for me. Big windows covered one wall of the room and offered views of the city, specifically of the BTS train line which was something I enjoyed being that I am such a fan of anything Bangkok.
From the Living Room into the bedroom was a full wall and door allowing us to have private space while we could use the living room space for entertaining my mother and brother without them seeing our underwear. Entering the room, to the left was the bed, there was a large vanity (where the Sherpita) tried on necklaces and windows over looking the pool. The bedroom was spacious and to a high standard, but the most important part was that it was fully separate from the rest of the space and we slept great. There were blackout shades that covered the colorful LCD displays beaming from buildings around, but in the evening made for a fantastic cityscape outside.
The bathroom was fantastic. I have written before about how nearly all bathrooms in US owned Asian located hotels seem to be on another level, this one was a step above. There was a space age toilet equipped with a heater, bi-directional bidet (that’s front and back for the readers at home) and a bunch of other functions I chose not to operate. The toilet was in a separate closed door water closet which again, is helpful when traveling with others. There was a full jacuzzi tub and separate shower (not over tub!) that appeared large enough for two people We did not confirm this ourselves (the Sherpstress prefers temperatures for her showers at “lava hot”, while I am more of a “hot is just fine for me” kind of guy).
The double vanity was massive and made it easy for both of us to get ready before heading to dinner. You might not usually book a room based on the bathroom, and coming from a guy it might seem strange to recommend it based on that, but this was a fantastic trait to the room and demonstrated the high level of detail of the property as a whole.
There is a lot more to say about this property so watch for the rest of the trip report to follow in the days to come…