Gregory J. Meadows

A Thai

Editors’ Note

The Sukhothai Bangkok welcomed back well-known hotelier Gregory Meadows as General Manager in September 2008. Prior to rejoining The Sukhothai, Meadows was opening General Manager of the Conrad Bangkok, where he worked for seven years. From 1996 to 2001, he was General Manager of The Sukhothai.

Company Brief

A six-acre, landscaped oasis amid Bangkok’s business and embassy districts, The Sukhothai Bangkok (www.sukhothai.com) offers travelers 128 elegant guest rooms and 82 suites, decorated with fine silk and teakwood furnishings. The five-star property additionally features four dining venues (Celadon, which serves acclaimed native Thai cuisine; La Scala, an Italian restaurant; the newly renovated, Ed Tuttle-designed Colonnade, for all-day dining; and the cozy Zuk Bar); a state-of-the-art business center and meeting facilities; an 82-foot pool and fully appointed health club; and a shopping arcade. The hotel is owned by Sathorn Park Company, Ltd. and managed by HKR Asia Pacific, both subsidiaries of Cayman Islands-registered, Hong Kong-based property developer HKR International Ltd. It is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.

Has the travel and tourism business been strong in Bangkok over the past year, and what is your outlook for growth for The Sukhothai in 2009?

Obviously the economic slowdown has affected us and this, coupled with the airport takeover by protestors last December, has made things worse. Like other top-end hotels, we expect a decline in occupancy in 2009. We will not compromise on our rates. However, we will add value by including items such as breakfast, Internet access, and if you reserve a suite, the mini bar as well.

There seem to be changes and new additions constantly being made at the property. Would you highlight some of the projects taking place at The Sukhothai that guests can expect in the coming years?

We are using the slowdown as an opportunity to refurbish 90 units of basic rooms and to upgrade our entrance driveway. We have also just opened a new deck area over a water feature as an open-air extension to the Zuk Bar. This was done in response to new no smoking laws, which ban smoking inside the premises. So we have welcomed back our cigar smokers.

Bangkok has a number of high-end luxury properties focused on a similar market. How challenging is it to differentiate from your competitors, and how do you define what makes The Sukhothai unique?

The Sukhothai is unique in so far as it is a complex of low-rise buildings surrounded by gardens and water features. It’s a very calm and quiet environment in the middle of a noisy capital city. As we are a relatively small hotel, with 100 rooms and 100 suites, all of our guests are the center of attention and will experience superlative, but discreet service.

Swimming Pool.tif

The pool at the Sukhothai

Would you highlight your restaurant offerings at The Sukhothai?

Our Celadon Thai Restaurant is two salas in the middle of a lily pond. It is very famous in Bangkok, and we welcome guests from other major hotels as well as our own. La Scala, our Italian Restaurant, frequently features Michelin star Chefs, and Colonnade is famous for our Sunday Brunch.

Many leading properties today have placed a major emphasis on offering high-end spa and fitness facilities. How much of a focus has this been for you, and would you provide an overview of these facilities at the property?

Spa Facilities are important and ours, together with our beautiful pool and Health Club, offer a full range of facilities and treatments.

How do you balance providing new technology while making sure you maintain the personal touch and human contact The Sukhothai is known for?

Hotel keeping is all about personal touch, from the chambermaid to the waiter to the concierge, and everyone up to the management team. Sitting behind a computer does not tell you how the hotel is performing – guests do.

Your time is pulled in many different directions. How do you define the role of a general manager today and how do your focus your time and efforts?

The general manager sets an example to his team and must be able to be intimate with the operation. He must routinely walk around the property and communicate with the guests and his team.

As you look to 2009, what are the key priorities you are focused on for the property in order to make sure that you keep your leadership position in the industry during these challenging times?

In these difficult and challenging conditions, it is vital that everything you do is done well. There is little room for error, and guests do not forgive easily. The worst possible thing to do is to cut services and compromise on quality; that is a definite no-no.