Trade Talk: John Blanco of Capella Bangkok

The General Manager of the upcoming ultra-luxe hotel explains what guests can expect when Capella debuts its first Thai outpost next month.

All photos courtesy of Capella Bangkok

Despite the large-scale disruption brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, does running a soon-to-open hotel have its advantages during this time?

There’s no denying the fact that this has been a challenging year for the tourism industry, however, as a team, we have really pulled together and I have been humbled by the attitude of my colleagues within Capella Bangkok and Capella Hotels and Resorts as a whole.

Capella Hotels and Resorts used this “downtime” to really prioritize enhanced staff training, which the Capella Bangkok team were very grateful to be involved in. While of course our opening date did get delayed due to the pandemic, it also meant that we had additional time to take stock and really ensure that the hotel will be ready to offer the best possible experience for every guest, in line with the Capella Hotels and Resorts’ service philosophy.

 

Thailand may not welcome overseas visitors until 2021. How is Capella Bangkok positioning itself as a unique offering for the domestic market?

We are hopeful that a reliable vaccine will be developed and distributed in the first half of 2021 which will allow for foreign travelers to return to Bangkok. In the meantime, we are fortunate to have a sophisticated local community, both expat and Thai, that will thoroughly appreciate the crafted offerings of our urban sanctuary. We are also fortunate that domestic travel is now permitted within Thailand, so we will be able to welcome guests from a little farther afield, as well as tapping into the Bangkok-specific staycation market.

At Capella Hotels and Resorts, we believe our role is to immerse our guests into the unique heritage and culture of each destination. Prior to Covid-19, the property’s target market was obviously international and regional travelers, yet this did not mean that the planned program was to cater to first-time travelers in Bangkok. As with all our other properties, Capella Bangkok’s resort offerings and the Capella Curates program highlight experiences that even locals would be excited and surprised about. While we have adapted our strategy to focus on domestic travelers until international flights resume, much of the activities and experiences have remained the same.

Inside a Riverfront Premier room at Capella Bangkok.

What is it about the Capella’s rooms and suites that set them apart from those of other properties in Bangkok?

Capella Bangkok sits along the Chao Phraya River and offers uninterrupted views of Thailand’s most revered river from each of the 101 suites and villas. It’s really very special, especially in the evening when the city truly comes to life, to be in your Capella Bangkok cocoon overlooking the bustling streets.

 

Tell us more about the riverfront villas. Are they standalone villas in the traditional sense, or something slightly different? And what amenities does each one have?

Capella Bangkok will offer the city’s first-ever absolute riverfront jacuzzi plunge pool villas. We have seven in all, including one 595-square-meter Presidential Villa accessed via a private entrance and with its own waterfront dining area outdoors. All the villas are perched directly on the river’s edge and include a large open-plan living and dining room wrapped by floor-to-ceiling glass. Besides an outdoor jacuzzi plunge pool, each villa also features lush tropical gardens and a two-person sala that gives guests front row seats to the theater of local life on this working river.

Every one of our villas is personally attended by a Capella Culturist—the hotel’s local experts who will take care of every element of the guest’s stay, including fast-track airport VIP services, limousine transport arrangements, dining reservations, and more.

Bathrooms of Riverfront Premier rooms also have views of the Chao Phraya River.

We’re especially excited about the lineup of restaurants. At Côte by Mauro Colagreco, will the menu be similar to that of Mirazur? And will it feature dishes unique to Bangkok?

All dishes at Côte by Mauro Colagreco will be uniquely designed for the restaurant with just the philosophy transported from Mirazur—as evinced by the monkfish à la cacciatora whereby the dish marries the sea and land in a recipe that typically uses chicken.

Thai ingredients and techniques will be infused into a menu featuring ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and pomelo, with a pestle and mortar central to creating sauces—just as it is in the cuisine of the French Riviera and Liguria, the neighboring Italian region.

 

What can you share about the facilities and treatments on offer at in-house spa Auriga Wellness?

Tailored wellness is at the core of Auriga Wellness, which was created by spa specialists GOCO Hospitality in collaboration with PIA, a leading Thai interior design house. The 1,074-square-meter spa sanctuary was designed in a modern Asian style—with gardens, a traditional tea lounge, and seven treatment suites, including two for couples.

Auriga Wellness will offer an array of Asian therapies and traditional Thai treatments incorporating freshly prepared local ingredients such as mung bean, black sesame, and riceberry. One of the signature treatments at Auriga Wellness is Tok Sen, or “hammer massage,” which uses a special treatment technique from Chiang Mai. There will also be a fitness center where guests can do Muay Thai and TRX workouts.

Historic shophouses along Charoenkrung Road.

Capella Bangkok also has a role in showcasing the surrounding neighborhood of Charoenkrung. What sort of insider experiences will guests be able to book at the hotel?

This location is close to my heart and really speaks to the brand’s commitment to culture and craft of the stay, as it offers access to the storied Chao Phraya River and Charoenkrung Road—Bangkok’s oldest paved road where tradition and cultural heritage meets the city’s trendiest cafes, bars, and art galleries.

We’re very proud of our Capella Curates program that runs throughout all Capella Hotels and Resorts and is a defining feature of the Capella stay. Carefully cultivated by the expert team in each locale, Capella Curates offers exclusive adventures, which incorporate interesting characters, whimsical traditions, and the opportunity to hone unexplored skills. The range of on and off-site experiences were thoughtfully designed by the Capella Culturists to offer a glimpse into the soul of each destination.

Some of the highlights of the Capella Curates program at Capella Bangkok include a journey of culinary discovery with our very own Chef Lek, an inside tour of Bangkok’s burgeoning nightlife scene, and much more!

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