I remember the first time I visited Thailand; I arrived in Bangkok first and was immediately rushed into a waiting car, so that we could wait in the bumper-to-bumper traffic Bangkok is famous for.
I told my hotel's hired car driver I had only one day in the city before I was on my way to Phuket and I didn't want to waste it sitting in traffic.
A quick turn of the car and we were on our way through the back roads of Bangkok, with him pointing out the interesting architecture - everything from buildings to window boxes - that make Bangkok so special.
We went to a silk museum, drove around ponds and gardens, and battled rickshaws and commuter buses in the streets as we made our way back to the hotel. It was the best way to see the city and while I only had a limited time there, I have reason to return and see more.
My story isn't unique. Travelers are spending more on their vacations but they're also trying to cram in various cities into one trip, making their time in each city short and packed full of activity. But what to see and do? One thing's for certain: travelers want a truly immersive experience in their destination.
To help them out, hotels are going beyond the traditional concierge service, and offering more unique and catered offerings for guests to really dig deep into their surroundings, based on their time in the city.Case in point
: the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
Bangkok is known for many things, but beyond its tourist areas and seedy side streets, Bangkok has some of the richest history in the East.
So, the luxury hotel created a curated package known simply as "Discover Bangkok" that, along with the traditional accommodations, offers guests a unique way to see the city. What's different about this package is that you can customize it to your preferences.
"Many of our guests tend to come to Bangkok for just a few nights because they wish to fit in as many places as possible during their vacation. They are often anxious about experiencing as much of Bangkok as possible," General Manager, Amanda Hyndman, said in a statement. "The Discover Bangkok package helps guests maximize their time and create an experience that best suits their interests and preferences. This way, guests arrive with an itinerary in place, hit the ground running and are more relaxed knowing the hotel has everything already arranged for them."
In addition to daily breakfast, a lunch and round-trip BMW limousine airport transfers, guests can choose one or more of the following experiences, based on their time: Cultural Journey
: Includes some of Bangkok's most iconic ‘must-sees' including the Temple of Dawn, Reclining Buddha and an exclusive, guided tour with the resident curator of the Grand Palace's Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. Heritage Journey
: Features a private tour of the Vimanmek Teak Mansion and the famed Jim Thompson house followed by traditional afternoon tea in the hotel's Author's Lounge.
Master Chef Journey: Immerse in the art of Thai cooking at the hotel's Thai Cooking School, Bangkok's oldest cooking school, with Chef Narain and a private lesson that ends with a Thai meal cooked by the class. Culinary Journey
: This culinary adventure begins with a morning visit to the local market with Thai celebrity chef Chef Vichit Mukura. Guests will select ingredients for dinner that evening at Vichit's Chef's Table, located in his custom-made demonstration kitchen in the hotel's Sala Rim Naam restaurant.Floral Journey
: Mandarin Oriental's Floral Director leads a private tour of Bangkok's Flower Market with its intoxicating aromas and exotic flowers, followed by a 90-minute step-by-step floral design class. Artistic Journey
: This is an exclusive ‘insider tour' of some of Bangkok's most eclectic art galleries including P Tender Cool, Wrap Studio 54, the Lamont Gallery, Serindia and H Gallery.
There's also a wellness journey offered with the hotel's yoga instructor, and most of the journeys include a traditional Thai massage and dinner at the hotel.
This is the first time I've seen curated options for guests with limited time on their hands. As someone who's used to traveling on a moment's notice for a short period of time, I can offer this advice: make sure you do one thing in the city you've landed in that makes it memorable. I often turn to my hotel for advice and guidance on this, and utilizing the hotel's staff is the best way to accomplish this mission. They are, after all, the experts.This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.
Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com