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How Suite it is… Affordable luxury at Bangkok’s Sukhothai Hotel

by Nicole Koch

So you’ve dragged around Bangkok, finished your business and seen the sites. Or maybe you’re just passing through from a long journey and deserve some indulgence. Sure, Bangkok’s got some bargains, but none so luxurious as the 5-star Sukhothai Hotel.

The moment my husband Scott and I arrived at the entrance in our taxi, our driver, caught off guard by our slovenly attire and backpacking gear, looked back at us and gasped, “Ooh..expensive!” Three bellmen immediately rushed to our side and ushered us in, where we were greeted by a finely dressed woman who graciously toured us around the six-acre, exquisite facilities.

Detail and service reign supreme at the Sukhothai. It is spacious and open. There is water everywhere, including expansive, decorative pools with calming, semi-immersed Buddhist statues. Countless candelabras line the lengthy hallways, while Thai silk hangings and intriguing antiques lurk around every corner. Truly, it feels like a museum- a cozy, friendly and extremely attentive museum. Outside, there is an impressive infinity pool and an equally impressive staff of dutiful cabana boys. There are tennis and squash courts, a full gym, sauna, steam room, and an aerobics/yoga room where daily classes are held. Around every corner, you will encounter and be warmly greeted by the hotel’s countless, accommodating staff. And then there are the rooms. In our case, the 818-square foot, deluxe suite. The bathroom comprises nearly one third of that space with two sinks (laden with luxury amenities), a power shower that goes on for days and an oversized bathtub, complete with robe and slippers and a yellow rubber ducky. The living room boasts an enormous teak desk, a couch, a television and CD player. A music selection to satisfy any mood is a phone call away. For most weekenders a desk is ho hum, but this one comes with freshly cut orchids and neatly arranged truffles upon a silver platter. Imported, sink-your-teeth-into, gooey-after-math, chocolate-dusted, chocolaty truffles. You will also be treated to the daily, exotic fruit plate, complete with an explanatory native fruit guide. The bedroom features a California (fit-for-a) king bed with built-in dimmer lighting and air controls. Countless, fluffy pillows lay atop it; down for sleeping and Thai silk for gawking. And comfy? No less than pure bliss. It’s tough, but should you decide to explore the grounds, you’ll return to a fantastic turndown service, fluffy mat laid alongside your bed, slippers perfectly placed, and an extensive breakfast menu should you decide to take breakfast (included) and read the morning paper (delivered) in bed.

The skinny on living large at the Sukhothai
Normally, this deluxe suite would run you $455 per night. Yes, those are dollars we’re talking, not baht. But here’s the deal: The Sukhothai is located in Bangkok’s business district, which means it caters mainly to weekday executive travelers. Don’t let this put you off; this is where most of Bangkok’s finest hotels are located. To score the deal, you need to arrive on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday and reserve the “weekend retreat” package in advance (on-line is most convenient). The “weekend retreat” gets you a “superior room” for only $155, including breakfast (normally $280). But here’s the “suite” part. Upon checking in, inquire about an upgrade. They don’t advertise it, but we were offered the deluxe suite on the spot, for an extra $35 (online it’s offered for an extra $100). With the exception of nine days during the Christmas season, these prices only seasonally vary by $5. Prices don’t include taxes and surcharges however, so plan on getting hit for an additional 7 to 10 percent upon check- out.

Keeping it a real deal
The Sukhothai is a bit like Vegas. Once inside, it’s not cheap. Here are some tips on beating the system and leaving a winner.
1) Don’t TOUCH the mini bar. It could cost you the price of the room in no time. Remember, you’re in Thailand, the markets outside will sell you anything you need for a fraction of the price. Venture outside to buy your booze and bring it back to the room. Same goes for food. Room service will readily bring you the china and crystal you need to properly enjoy it.
2) Embrace the included “American Breakfast”. Though tempting, don’t order in, this one’s too good to miss. The international breakfast spread spans five walls of the scenic Colonnade restaurant, not including the center fruit and dessert table. Go around 9 and eat until 10. This will keep you full until the chocolate buffet cranks up from 2-6. (Take it or leave it for the additional $16.50, but it’s as rich as spending that cash makes you feel, and it includes sushi!)
3) Skip the other restaurants and head outside (on the property) to the atmospheric Celadon. The hotel’s Thai restaurant, voted one of Bangkok’s best, is surrounded by water, has superb Sukhothai service and fair prices at $6-15 per meal.
4) Use the facilities. If you don’t normally exercise, head to the steam room or sauna, just for the free water and fluffy towels. Go to the pool. The water and speedy towel-spreading service are free. Take advantage.
5) If you can only afford one night, get your money’s worth and stretch it into two long days. Since you’re at the Sukhothai, you’re a VIP, so check in EARLY and check out LATE. You can request a 4:00 check out without so much as a sigh.
6) Take a taxi. The hotel might like you to think they’re a limos only affair, but the taxi will run you about $5 from the airport or from across town, their limo, $50.

Here’s how to make it happen:
Web: http://www.sukhothai.com
(Go to the directory and click on weekend retreat for more info).
Tel: 66 (0) 2 287-0222, Fax: 66 (0) 2 287-4980
Toll Free Fax Reservations: 1-800-223-6800
E-mail: info@sukhothai.com

Nicole Koch is a freelance writer and avid traveler from Manhattan Beach, CA. You can view stories of her recent, round-the-world-adventures on her website at: http://www.naturalwrites.com.

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