Even with extensive refurbishment that made it even more guest-friendly and chic looking, Amari Watergate Bangkok enjoyed one of its best years yet.
By Percy Roxas.
Trying to be on top of the competition, especially in a city like Bangkok where new hotels keep cropping up seemingly by the day, can be daunting for any hotel. But a few, like the Amari Watergate Hotel Bangkok, seem solidly perched in rising to the challenge.
In fact, 2012 was an outstanding year for Amari Watergate: “One of our best years so far,” says its affable general manager (GM) Pierre-Andre Pelletier. It was a great year, not only because they achieved such glowing high occupancy numbers but also because they did it while undergoing a major facelift in years. The 17-yearold hotel underwent a multi-million baht major renovation program last year. But, “even with the extensive refurbishment, we managed to outperform expectations,” says Pelletier.
What is the secret of its success? “Our commitment to providing guests with the highest level of service, and making them feel at home while sharing experiences and providing personal attention,” says Pelletier, who’s been GM of the hotel for over a decade now.
Actually, as in most hotels, constant enhancements are a way of life for Amari Watergate. They have been continuously enhancing the property through the years. “We are constantly reinventing ourselves to remain a fresh product with fresh services,” Pelletier says.
Last year was a bit different, however. The hotel undertook a major revamp. With a Bt350-million investment, the hotel remodeled its Executive Floors, redesigned and made more luxurious its executive guestrooms and suites, re-launched its Executive Lounge with connecting outdoor terrace for guests to enjoy cocktails and canapés, transformed and rebranded its spa (now called Breeze), giving it a hip new design to complement its unique therapies, and did dramatic enhancements to the Lobby/Cascade, and gave Rooftop Garden on 8 a new landscape to provide a superb alfresco event space for social events – just among the product refreshes launched in 2012.
The overall result is an even more contemporary looking but still very guest-friendly property, even more delightful than ever with the added wow factors – as many guests attest – perfect whether for short or long stays, for leisure holidays or business visits.
The transformation was indeed major but not every thing was changed. They don’t have to. For example, why a drastic change on the Thai on 4 Restaurant when it continues to get excellent reviews with its delicious Royal Thai Cuisine under the guidance of the renowned food guru, Ajarn Sisamon Kongphan?
Otherwise, visiting guests – both repeat and first-timers – obviously like and enjoy what they see.
A key factor in the hotel’s big success is its location in Pratunam. As Pelletier puts it, “Blessed with some of the best shopping on our doorsteps, we are the hotel of choice for many individuals, families, and corporate clients.”
Considered one of the largest MICE hotels in the city, the hotel put in lots of efforts to boost up further its advantages in this regard. This is most obvious in the new elegantly transformed ballroom,which even before already attracts the loyal Thai corporate and government sectors, as well as the families, who favor the hotel for their functions (This year alone, some 120 wedding receptions was held in their spacious and elegant Watergate Ballroom).
To remain a trendsetter when it comes to themed events and creative catering, “We have enhanced many of our themed coffee breaks, in particular, our F1-themed coffee break where we incorporated elements from a Grand Prix,” says Pelletier. Offproperty, as a leader in outside catering, the hotel was the first to cater a gala dinner at the relatively new and stylish boxing stadium in the outskirts of Bangkok. “The venue was perfect for a Muay Thai themed ‘Fight Night’ dinner for up to 220 guests,” adds Pelletier.
The GM praised his team for playing a direct role in delivering what the hotel promises, with strong training support from ONYX. “It is important to make sure that your team members are enjoying what they do because this will be reflected in the service they provide to your guests,” he says.
What Pelletier does is create value through people: “I like to empower people and encourage teamwork, to have respect for every member of the team, whatever their job with our AMARI Core Values because they all have a role to play in the hotel’s success.”
Not surprisingly they have been getting rave reviews, especially Amari Watergate’s service levels and attention to details, consistently as reports and guest feedback confirm. And this only drives the hotel team to pursue even more excellence in their jobs. Pelletier puts it thus: “We regularly receive five-star reviews on social media sites, but we recognize that it is not about winning a race. It is about constantly delivering the best. Success is not final; it is an ongoing quest to provide exceptional guest experiences.”
And success is nothing if not shared. Thus Amari Watergate is very committed to contributing to the local community. “CSR activities feature prominently in our calendar of activities,” says Pelletier, “and will always be.”
In this regard, the hotel hosts the annual “Aerobics Marathon on AIDS,” now its 16th year, which recently attracted a record attendance and raised funds for charitable causes. The hotel also hosts the “Amari & BMW Thailand Charity Midnight Run,” which on its 15th year (last year), attracted over 5,300 runners and raised Bt3.3 million for charity. Other efforts to become an active partner of the community include Amari’s recent partnership with BBC’s “Dancing with the Stars” program, started just recently.
With 569 guest rooms, Watergate is the largest Amari hotel; and with the ONYX Hospitality group’s corporate office in its premises, it is seen as a leader, the flagship no less. But that’s not the only reason why Pelletier finds running the property rewarding. “It most rewarding to be in a competitive industry in Bangkok,” he says, “but especially to see many loyal returning guests, and guests who have the potential to go to other
hotels but instead say, ‘we are comfortable in your hotel and we’re surely coming back.’ That is perhaps the most rewarding thing for any hotel GM.”
Meet Pierre-Andre Pelletier, General Manager Pierre-Andre Pelletier is originally from Switzerland, where he grew up in the hotelier business. His parents owned a restaurant and hotel there. But today, if you ask him where home is, he will say without batting an eyelash, Thailand.
He has been with the Amari group for 20 years. He was previously GM at Amari Don Muang Airport Bangkok and
Amari Orchid Pattaya, and currently GM of Amari Watergate Bangkok, for over a decade now.
He came to Thailand after graduating from the Ecole Hoteliere of Lausanne, because, he said, “I wanted to work in the best hotels in the world.” He started at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, and then moved to Amari. The rest, as they say, is history.
Don’t expect him to slow down in this career anytime soon because, he says, “The hotel industry is highly competitive, requiring constant innovation and improvement. It is a challenging job for some but for me, it is a passion; a way of life.”