Renovation work has been completed, but Pathumwan Princess Hotel Bangkok is not about ready to rest on its laurels.
Cristoph J Knichel,
Pathumwan Princess Hotel, Bangkok
The last three years has been most exciting for Pathumwan Princess Hotel Bangkok; the hotel has been undergoing a lot of changes to keep itself fresh, young, and chic-looking. Renovation work and upgrades are now completed, but the hotel – headed by its general manager Christoph J Knichel – is already looking at more ideas to enhance their facilities and services ever further.
Since Knichel became GM three years ago, the hotel has completed the renovations of all rooms including the ExecuPlus Suites last year, and continued with upgrades on their popular facilities such as the Olympic Club and fitness areas, the Tantara Spa, and the swimming pool area, as well as the restaurants and bars this year, along with fine-tuning a service that has been giving the 16-year-old hotel its great reputation.
“We have renovated area after area gradually and now renovation is complete,” Knichel reiterates. “We didn’t change everything but we made the hotel fresher, younger, and more chic-looking. We are proud of what we have done.” Indeed, those who have returned to Pathumwan Princess since the completion of the renovation work are amazed at the hotel’s new look.
Perhaps the most obvious changes this time can be seen on the pool area. “We have redesigned it entirely, including the greenery; changed the pool tile, and put a changing light at night,” Knichel shares. “We have also changed some wooden sundecks basically to give some shade to our guests, renovated the outdoor Jacuzzi, revamped other areas as well, and we are just about finished with two more important upgrades.”
Among these is on the outdoor changing rooms, which will have two effects: One, it will make it easier for guests to change without going down in their bathrobes; and two, those who are checking out late or have late flights and can’t enjoy late check-out will have a place to relax until their actual departure time.
Another particularly important change made this time, and one that Knichel is justifiably proud about, were those on Loop, their Italian restaurant on the 8th floor. “This restaurant has always been strong with our mostly Australian guest-base but with its new, fresh, more elegant and appealing look, I think we will be able to attract more and more local guests,” he says.
Knichel is aware that it’s a big challenge to keep the guests in a hotel all the time in a city as interesting and bustling as Bangkok (nor he thinks that is necessary) but he wants to maximize guest stay in the hotel. In this regard, various fresh F&B concepts and ideas are continuously evolving. Besides the main Italian and Korean restaurants, and the lobby outlets and CitiBistro, an Indian restaurant is opening in the hotel soon. He makes special mention of their popular buffet, which he says, “offer a little bit of everything to everybody.”
“The aim really,” he says, “is for guests to at least dine in the hotel at least once for those having an average stay of three nights.” In fact, with a new engaging restaurant, guests are enjoying more and staying longer.
“Indeed, with a beautiful, really laidback pool, the lovely spa next door, Asia’s biggest hotel fitness center (the Olympic Club), and the option to at least grab a snack quickly before they go elsewhere, we encourage guests to make use of what we offer.”
Pathumwan Princess has always been one of the most popular hotels in the city. Not only has the hotel strategically located, with the most spacious rooms and excellent city views, but it also boasts progressive 5-star facilities and services that spoil guests and visitors. Successful as the hotel already is – “Average room occupancy is 85 percent,” Knichel says — they want to remain successful and popular. “In this business you can never rest, not only because more new hotels are opening but also because the habits of guests change by the day. You have to remain popular,” he says.
For Pathumwan Princess, that means listening – really listening — to its guests. “We adapt to guest behavior and provide important guest needs (such as Wi-Fi everywhere in the hotel). We keep ourselves young and up-to-date. We continuously train people to exceed expectations. And lots of returning customers say they like the changes we made.”
But as we said, Pathumwan Princess is not resting on its laurels, yet. Two new services standout in particular in their effort to make hotel service even more personalized:.
“One, is the 24-hour butler services that we have already started in our top suites,” says Knichel, “a service that will be slowly implemented in all the suites within a decent timeframe.”
The flexible check-in/checkout service is another. “We are introducing check-in/checkout anywhere within the hotel and maybe at one stage in the airport or even in the car,” he says. “These are additional services we want to offer to especially to business guests, and they ready roll out early next year.”
In conclusion, he says: “Our hotel is all about atmosphere, exceeding expectations, and providing value – in terms of feeling safe, making the guest feel welcome and respected, and always treating them well. My associates and I are always on top of these.”
Christoph J Knichel, GM,
Pathumwan Princess Hotel
Always open to good ideas, approachable, caring, and relatively down-to-earth, Cologne-born Christoph J Knichel is a GM any associated would be pleased to work with. Knichel believes great service is all about attitude and he leads his team by example.
Knichel has been in Bangkok for three exciting years now, overseeing lots of changes and upgrades to keep the Pathumwan Princess Hotel in top form and popular; and he still raves about his associates. “I couldn’t have done it all without my hardworking, dedicated associate,” he says. “Their dedication; how they do it together is truly special in this hotel. They are all very special to me. Having these people is certainly the highlight of my stay here.”
Knichel has worked in many exciting countries in the span of his 20-year career but thinks Thailand as a tourist destination is incomparable. ““Hotels here are very different from many places, in product, in service and in work ethic,” says the Executive MBA graduate from the University of Applied Science, Switzerland; and University of Delaware, USA. “It’s a great pleasure and experience working here.”