Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions in Bangkok’s most dynamic locales.
Looking to hold a training seminar, an incentive trip to reward high performers, or simply a rally of the troops? Whatever your corporate meeting needs, Thailand boasts some of the best meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) venues in the world, from sophisticated urban locales to relaxed beachside settings.
The MICE sector is a vibrant sub-sector of the tourism industry, despite global economic doldrums and recent local catastrophes such as flooding. According to the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), the MICE business generated almost US$ 1.7 billion in 2010 for a number of parties, from hotels and organizers to exhibitors, restaurants, and tour agents, among others.
On average, the annual growth rate of the MICE market since 2003 has been around 20% – a reflection of TCEB’s marketing efforts, as well as Thailand’s geographic advantage as the gateway to Southeast Asia, its unique and diverse tourist attractions, good transportation infrastructure, and world famous hospitality.
MICE events often involve extensive planning, with agendas that center around certain topics or themes. Outside of large-scale exhibition and event logistics (where the assistance of a local agent or planner is required), organizing a business meeting or conference in a hotel is fairly straightforward. Many hotels, resorts, conference centers, and smaller properties cater specifically to corporate gatherings, customizing packages for various group sizes and requirements.
In Bangkok, location is paramount to the MICE experience. The city can be a traveler’s dream (or nightmare), and choice locations are in the heart of the city, where seamless access to the best shopping, dining, and entertainment venues is afforded by the efficient and comfortable BTS elevated train system. Business-oriented hotels, offering 4- and 5-star service and amenities, tend to be clustered on Sukhumvit, Silom, Sathorn, Ratchdamri, and Wireless Roads.
One such hotel is the Conrad Bangkok on verdant Wireless Road. Nestled within the All Seasons Place commercial and residential complex, the hotel, with luxurious rooms and suites decorated in Thai silk and warm wood hues, is a favorite for the power business lunch. It also offers ample function space, fusing style with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology that can accommodate everything from large conferences to innovative meeting concepts. Support is provided by a fully equipped business center with high-speed Internet access, video conferencing, secretariat room, welcome desk in the lobby, and professional meeting managers. A standard meeting package typically includes meeting rooms, welcome drinks, breakfast, coffee or tea breaks, audiovisual equipment, support personnel, and stationery. Meeting package rates are usually quoted per person, per day (or half day), including accommodation, with a minimum two-night stay. A professional spa, wide array of dining options, and leisure facilities complete the offer.
Not far away is newcomer Hotel Muse on tree-lined Langsuan Road. With 174 rooms and suites, this Accor M Gallery hotel blends Euro-Baroque classical aesthetics with dark colors. Hotel Muse is a truly unique experience – a statement in and of itself. Despite its boutique hotel feel, Hotel Muse makes its MICE intentions clear, positioning itself as an intimate meeting and conference venue.Events take place in a far-from-business-like atmosphere; however, from large-scale social gatherings to private meetings, every occasion reflects the hotel’s abiding themes of grandeur and sophisticated pleasure. Cocktail-style affairs and banqueting for up to 150 guests can be held in The Speakeasy on the top floors. Suitable occasions include high-end parties, luxury product launches, and exclusive wine-and-dine events.
In the bustling Asoke area, MICE planners enjoy a hassle-free approach at the Grand Millennium Sukhumvit Bangkok. The hotel offers highly personalized service and Thai design flourishes, epitomizing the best of corporate hospitality. Ten adaptable meeting rooms cater to small and medium-sized meetings, seminars, conferences, product launches, and incentive activities. The 500-sqm-ballroom accommodates up to 500 persons in a theater-style arrangement.
When it comes to MICE, large chain hotels get the job done. Such chains include the Centara, Novotel, and Amari groups, many of which offer loyalty programs for MICE planners and organizers.
Centara Hotels & Resorts offers a comprehensive range of meeting packages, from boardroom-style gatherings to conventions for thousands. Whatever the reason to convene, event management teams handle every detail. Centara also boasts multiple properties throughout Thailand, offering every possible setting to suit a particular MICE theme or requirement.
The flagship property is the Centara Grand atop the huge Central World shopping complex in the heart of Bangkok, an is complemented by the Bangkok Convention Centre and World Ballroom. Together, the facility offers over 10,000 sqm of space that can accommodate up to 6,000 delegates in a single, pillar-less environment. The locale is a MICE planner’s dream: a combination of quality facilities with luxurious rooms and amenities such as a fitness center, tennis, open-air pool, and rooftop bistro. Easy access to the elevated train system is the icing on the cake.
Novotel provides a similar setting just outside of Bangkok, with a value-for-money proposition. The Novotel Bangkok IMPACT is a 4-star contemporary hotel located in the heart of the IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center complex – the largest such center in Thailand. The hotel is directly connected to the convention facility, and it features its own in-house meeting spaces.
With 380 rooms, including a Premium Executive Floor, the hotel is equipped with plenty of amenities, including business centers, a fitness center, and a Thai spa. Other conveniently located Novotel hotels in Bangkok with MICE capabilities include Novotel Bangkok Platinum on Petchburi Road, Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Novotel Bangkok Ploenchit Sukhumvit, and Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom.
Amari is another up-market chain with multiple Bangkok locations as well as properties in resort destinations such as Pattaya, Hua Hin, Krabi, Koh Chang, Samui, and Phuket. With a lengthy history in the country, the Amari brand has emerged as a leader in both leisure and MICE markets, and feature quality rooms and facilities, and a renowned tradition of hospitality.
Amari Watergate’s, the downtown Bangkok property, is ideal for hosting a range of events, including seminars, conferences, and product launches. A dedicated team of planners guide clients through the meeting room arrangements, decorative themes, choice of audiovisual technologies, and catering options. The Grand Ballroom can hold up to 1,200 people. Smaller rooms range from the intimate Boardroom, ideal for up to 10 people, and various spaces for 40 to 50 people. Amari Watergate is also within walking distance of the sprawling Central World complex.
Of course, another property that should be considered for MICE functions is the Dusit Thani Bangkok, part of another Thai-owned hotel group with lots of properties both Thailand and abroad. And there are others that our space cannot accommodate at the moment, such as The St. Regis Bangkok, Royal Orchid Sheraton, Grand Hyatt, Erawan, Plaza Athenee, Westin Grand Sukhumvit, and many others.
As for MICE hotels beyond Bangkok, especially in popular beach towns such as Pattaya, the Royal Cliff Hotels Group readily comes the mind. This long-standing establishment has been the setting for some of the most important political and business meetings in the region, including the Cambodian peace talks, drafting of the new Thai constitution, and an ASEAN Summit. Easily accessed via the Motorway or Highway 3 (Bangna-Chonburi), the Royal Cliff features over 13,000sqm of meeting space, and its events team can host anything, from a board meeting for 30 to a three-day Annual General Meeting for 1,000 guests. The Royal Cliff can also organize gala dinners under a range of themes, replete with live music, performances, and a fireworks finale. Incentives are a resort specialty. The Royal Cliff has arranged a mini-Olympics with an “elephant vs. man” tug of war competition, golf tournament, and scuba excursion off one of Pattaya’s outlying islands.
Thailand’s MICE sector is truly dynamic. Its many hotels and resorts are adept at hosting corporate functions, fusing luxury and technology to present guests with cutting edge designs, delectable cuisine, and world-class service.
Other leading MICE hotels in Bangkok
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
Few hotels command much respect whether for business or leisure pursuits such as the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Whatever your event, the venerable hotel can provide a boardroom with the latest technology for 10 people on a corporate brainstorming mission, to a lavish banquet for 460. In each case, commitment to quality, reliability, and ensuring you and your guests enjoy an occasion to remember is non-negotiable. This is assured by the “Meetings by Mandarin Oriental,” a global program that every event at Mandarin Oriental hotel and resorts worldwide abides by and is truly successful. The program is committed to finding the best creative solutions for your business or social gathering, with flexibility and flair, for meetings that are as individual as each hotel or resort.
Four Seasons Bangkok
After it renovated its Ballroom about two years ago, Four Seasons Hotel, Bangkok – located in the heart of the city – now has an even larger space, with more natural lights and versatility for event set-ups. Designed by P49 Design, the 750-sqm Ballroom retains its classic style with hand-painted silk murals. It has also added elegant Thai features including silk panels of burnt orange and gold with side columns in rich gold leaf and silk drapery. The sidewalls open to overlook the lush tropical garden and allow natural daylight to filter in. A pre-function terrace with a gazebo has been added for small gatherings or barbeques, and is surrounded by greenery and shimmering ponds filled with golden carp. A sophisticated computerized lighting system and a new high-tech audiovisual system were also installed to enhance the capabilities of the present systems. “The Ballroom,” says PR Manager Annie Daokeaw, “is ready for any upcoming weddings, product launches, cocktails, conferences, meetings, and any other events.”
Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
One of Bangkok’s landmark riverside properties, Shangri-La Hotel is a popular venue for meetings and functions. The magnificent Grand Ballroom can accommodate over 1,000 guests at an elegant banquet, up to 1,500 people for cocktail receptions, or 1,600 delegates seated theatre-style. Twenty-six function rooms are also available for smaller gatherings. All of the conference and function rooms feature state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, including complimentary wired or wireless broadband Internet access, satellite and teleconferencing, and simultaneous translation system available upon request, as well as slide, overhead, LCD and direct projectors. Whether signature events or themed events, this is one riverside hotel that is foremost in the minds of MICE events organizers, from both here and abroad.
Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok
This hotel boasts unrivalled meeting, banquet, convention, and exhibition facilities. A wide range of meeting and banqueting facilities are available for large or small social events and private parties, with over 20 superb function rooms, and a total function area of 7,000 sqm to accommodate 10 to 4,500 guests. The pre-function area of 400 sqm together with the 2,506 sqm of the newly renovated Bangkok Convention Centre Hall (BCC Hall) offers great options and can be used for any function or activity, whether it be an exhibition, gala dinner, conference or product launch. This self-contained facility has been world-acclaimed as one of the premier convention facilities in the region for hosting international events since 1983.
Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside Bangkok
Another landmark riverside hotel, Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside Bangkok boasts extensive new facilities and over 500 refurbished rooms after two year’s of re-modeling. “Ramada Plaza is a 5-star brand, so considerable time and money has been spent to upgrade all facilities here. The hotel can now compete with any other Bangkok hotel,” said the general manager of Ramada Plaza Menam. “With 22 function rooms, we will be very attractive to the MICE market and a key revenue channel will be the corporate market.”
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok
This property guarantees seamless efficiency and inimitable style at every event. The palatial hotel offers eight exceptional meeting facilities, including the Grande Ballroom. It can accommodate up to 500 guests for formal social events, unforgettable banquets, or enriching business meetings. Delegates and guests will take note of the state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment in all event spaces, along with wired and wireless high-speed Internet access throughout the hotel. The hotel’s dedicated professional team will assist you at every stage of planning and hosting to ensure a seamless process for your event’s success. From official ceremonies to unforgettable weddings to cocktail receptions, every function is distinguished by grace, flexibility, and delicate attention to provide guests with exceptional experiences with its exclusive offers.
At the other end of the city, Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel’s meeting and exhibition business has been flourishing since its 2006 opening. The hotel caters to Bangkok’s growing meeting and event market with its more than 2,400 sqm of conference space, including a stunning ballroom for as many as 1,000 people, and six additional meeting and function rooms. A re-interpretation of existing airport hotels, Novotel Suvarnabhumi is a pleasant 10-minute walk from the airport through the underground tunnel that links the two buildings, and is located near the Bangkok International Trade Exhibition Center in Bangna.
Pullman Bangkok King Power
This is another leading venue for corporate conferences and functions, although it is also for leisure travelers. The hotel offers 14 meeting rooms, providing an ideal venue for business meetings. To round off your incentive events, you might want to invite participants to the adjacent 550-seat Aksra Theatre.
And there is more. It is strategically located, thanks in large part to the city’s efficient transportation links, and all are fully equipped with facilities and technology to ensure a successful event. The property is manned with dedicated professionals committed to ensuring that the country’s reputation as a MICE hub is kept untarnished, and all guests are served by gracious hospitality with few equals in the world.
For every event or function, for every taste and budget, there is a hotel in Bangkok – nay, there is a hotel and resort in Thailand – to satisfy every MICE desire. We just can’t cover them all in a single issue. ( by Percy Roxas)