Ultimate luxury: Lebua
-By Marie-Ève Venne
Stepping inside the Lebua Hotel in Bangkok is a world of its own, where every detail has been meticulously chosen for you to experience the ultimate lavish stay. Even with the huge worldwide hospitality boom in the past decade, this luxury hotel, located in the Si Lom neighborhood of Bangkok, has found ways to establish itself as the top high-end hospitality location in a city renowned as much for its affordable street food as it is for its parade of five-star hotels.
The first time I looked around at the Tower Club at Lebua in Bangkok, one of the most luxurious hotels in the city, I automatically understood why they keep priding themselves on exclusivity and high-quality service. It is the only luxury hotel in Bangkok which is all-suite and all-club, with breathtaking views of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya. There are two different hotels at Lebua. There is Lebua at State Tower, which is on the lower floors, and then there is the Tower Club at Lebua, which is on the 51st – 59th floors.
I had the immense pleasure of staying inside the Tower Club’s Luxury Suite, which includes three private balconies, a dining room, a fully-equipped kitchen, a living room, a king bedroom, an immense bathroom, and – as if that wasn’t enough – its own massage room where you can get all the treatments offered at the hotel’s spa without having to leave the comfort of your room. You can’t replicate that kind of luxury. But what strikes you the most as you experience Lebua is the dedication of the employees working there. They make you feel as if their sole purpose is to make sure every minute of your stay runs smoothly, providing everything you might need or want, even the things you didn’t previously know you desired. As an Occidental, that devotion to your comfort might appear overwhelming at first, but you quickly find yourself enjoying all the attention to the point of wondering once back home why every person who crosses your path can’t remember your name or how you take your coffee.
Lebua Hotels and Resorts has a handful of properties in India and New Zealand but is operating everything from the Bangkok’s State Tower building. On top of the all-suites hotel are three luxury restaurants – Breeze and Sirocco, fittingly located outside, and the indoors Mezzaluna. They also have Alfresco 64, a Chivas whisky bar with the highest outdoor terrace, along with owning Flûte à Perrier-Jouët the highest outdoor champagne bar in the world. To establish their partnership with the hotel, Chivas has even released a special blend offered exclusively at the hotel for an impressive $7,000 a bottle. If you feel like saving a little, you can order a glass for the modest amount of $2,000. As a whisky lover myself, I obviously had to try the exclusive blend.
Led by master blender Colin Scott, the Chivas Exclusive Lebua Blend was created by laying down the finest whisky – distilled in 1985 or earlier – in a selection of casks including American Oak. Along with the sherry character of its a single cask, the blend has rich fruity notes and smooth flavor. This results in a drink quite addictive that you can only enjoy at the hotel, adding even more feeling of exclusivity. “Lebua is a marketing company that happens to be in the hotel business,” explains Deepak Ohri, CEO of the Lebua. “We have to sell the experience.”
Partnerships like the ones struck with Chivas and Perrier-Jouët are just the beginning. Ohri has plans to launch more special releases, including a variety of wines through partnerships with other leading brands, which will also be exclusive to Lebua. At his properties in India, Lebua offers different spots to dine. “We elevate the experience by giving our guests a different spot to dine every night,” says Ohri. “Our guests won’t want to eat in the same restaurant every night, so they may sit on a terrace one night or we might create a circle of lanterns on another night and have them dine inside it.”
The true star and biggest highlight of staying at the Lebua is definitely all about having the chance to experience Mezzaluna. The fine dining restaurant doesn’t only offer a very special atmosphere with a 180° view, the food is also an experience in itself. The menu is a fixed price for seven courses and the chef de cuisine, Ryuki Kawasaki, has worked at Michelin-star restaurants across Europe and the U.S. before joining the Lebua family. Luckily, my stay was coinciding with a 12-hour-long anniversary celebration of the hotel’s two-Michelin stars, which included a collection of French-inspired dishes that brought every guest on a true culinary journey made of exciting flavour combinations.
The true mastermind behind all this deployment of opulence is the CEO of Lebua, Deepak Ohri. In 2003, Ohri was the first employee to join Challenge Hospitality Co., Ltd., where he believed he could establish a luxury brand “that will put India on the luxury map,” he recalls. Ohri was responsible for opening the Dome restaurants including Sirocco, Mezzaluna, and Distil Bar in Bangkok at the Lebua hotel at the State Tower. By 2005, more than half of all private jets landing at the Bangkok airport were his customers.
Challenge Hospitality entered the hotel management business when it took over management of the Lebua hotel at State Tower in 2006. One year later, Challenge Hospitality was re-branded as Lebua Hotels & Resorts Co., Ltd. and Ohri was appointed its Chief Executive. Ever since, Ohri has used his truly unique vision to sell the Lebua dream to customers. “The more a guest stays with us, the more we can customize their experience, and the more we can share with them news and happenings at the hotel via personal notes and targeted high-end communications. We want every guest to feel welcome at our properties, but our repeat guests offer a wonderful opportunity for us to customize their stays. You can’t experience somewhere else in the world what you experience at the Lebua, and that is why people keep coming back.”
And trust me, you can’t wait to go back.