Travel Daily Asia talks to Gilles Cretallaz, General Manager of the newly-opened Sofitel So Bangkok…
1) Sofitel So Bangkok opened its doors last week; what can guests expect from this new property?
Sofitel So Bangkok opened its doors on 28 February 2012. We are confident that guests will be completely wowed by our hotel. Themed around the ‘five elements’ of water, earth, wood, metal and fire (which play out across four room types and our dining outlets) we have created something completely unique; a design that really captures the vibrancy of Bangkok’s urban landscape.
The creative forces that came together to create the hotel are incredible – a true collaboration between diverse talents. We have award-winning architect Smith Obayawat, five incredible designers, plus the genius of Monsieur Christian Lacroix – hotel stylist. Using his renowned theatrical flair, Monsieur Christian Lacroix created our emblem – the Tree of Life – which is the centrepiece of the whole place. It brings the Five Elements together into one, creating a harmonious balance.
Aside from this incredible design, Sofitel So Bangkok offers a genuinely great place to stay. Each of our 238 rooms and suites feature high-tech facilities, including an Apple Mac mini solution in every room, free Wi-Fi, as well as complimentary in-room private bar. Dining options range from the interactive bars and cooking stations of Red Oven, to Park Society – Rooftop Restaurant and Bar, where each dish is personalised – freshly prepared and cooked according to a guest’s particular tastes. So SPA, meanwhile, is themed as a mythological forest inspired by the Himmapan legend, and blends the best Thai treatments with French cosmetology.
2) What differentiates Sofitel So from the normal Sofitel brand?
Sofitel So is much more focused on design. It brings together unique creative forces, it’s resolutely contemporary and is situated in the most up and coming locations. Blending design and pleasure, style and soul, each Sofitel So address aims to express the essence of the destination. The brand seeks to combine Sofitel’s art de vivre with the personal style of an international name from the world of fashion, the arts, or design.
Sofitel So Mauritius was the first Sofitel So property, opening in December 2010, and was a pilot project for a resort-style Sofitel So property. Thai architect LekBunnag’s inimitable vision was enhanced by exclusive designs from fashion designer Kenzo Takada.
Sofitel So Bangkok is the urban pilot, with its masterful collaboration between an award-winning Thai architect, five leading local designers, and the world-renowned Monsieur Christian Lacroix.
3) This is only the second Sofitel So hotel in the world; does this lack of ‘real-life examples’ make it more difficult or easier to define and implement brand standards?
As the first urban So in the world, Sofitel So Bangkok is a bit like a testing lab – where technology and operating standards have been pushed to the limits. This of course created a lot of excitement and interesting discoveries. We faced challenges along the way, but we successfully navigated these obstacles and the outcome is a truly exciting property.
4) What do you expect to be your key business mix and guest source markets?
With its prime location overlooking Lumpini Park, as well as its unique design and comprehensive facilities, we believe we’ll attract a diverse mix of leisure and business travellers.
In fact, our meetings and events facilities are exceptional and offer something very different to other five-star properties in Bangkok. We have a huge, high-tech, pillar-less ballroom, as well as The Box – an intimate, creative space that can be booked for private gatherings. On the seventh floor we offer the Social Club – a unique collection of meeting spaces with a production studio ambiance, which have been created as places to inspire creativity. The loft-style Solutions Centre is the place to go for business needs, with dedicated personnel, iMac computers and further meeting rooms, while guests can enhance their stay with Club Signature – an executive lounge on the 25th floor, designed by Monsieur Christian Lacroix.
5) Bangkok is a very competitive hotel market. What are you doing to get the word out about the hotel, among both consumers and the trade?
We have an exciting opening campaign called ‘80 Dollars Credit for 80 Days’, which entitles all guests – individual travellers, leisure groups and corporate meeting delegates – staying at the property during the first 80 days after its opening to a credit of US$80 net per room per night.
We are also very strong on social media. We already have more than 3,000 fans on Facebook – a page that has been created not just to promote the hotel, but also to act as a gateway to discover all that Bangkok has to offer, including the latest trends and happenings.