A friend earlier asked me where he should stay for his upcoming trip to Bangkok. I told him to just go online; he’d surely be overwhelmed with choices for beautiful yet affordable hotels. There are 5-star hotels in Bangkok that are priced lower than a shack in Boracay’s Station 2.
The hotel industry is one key driver for the growth of Thailand tourism. If you think about it, Bangkok looks much like Manila. It’s chaotic, the traffic is horrendous, it’s not pretty. But tourists love navigating through its crazy road network. It’s part of the city’s charm along with a handful of temples, street food (where I swear I’ve tasted the best fried chicken), jade markets and cheap retail shopping. Accommodations are an important antidote to all the madness. They’re also designed as an extension of Thai culture, from the lovely tropical arrangements in the lobby; the buffet of phad thai and tom yang in hotel restaurants; the pampering at the spa; to the Thai brand of hospitality (all-smiling, low-key, self-effacing). The hotel infrastructure is solid, extensive.
I’ve gone to Bangkok more than a dozen times for work and recreation. On several occasions, I stayed in beautiful hotels like Sukhothai, Banyan Tree, Metropolitan, Four Seasons, Sheraton and Marriott. The office or myself didn’t have to spend that much on accommodations each time. Most of the time, the hotels were packaged with my Thai International or PAL flights. I’d sometimes wonder if the hotel ever made a buck off me. I’d stuff myself at breakfast time and took home all the neatly-packaged premium toiletries.
I made a little exploring on the Web to prove my point. On booking.com, I checked the number of five-star hotels in Manila and Bangkok. Manila has about 20. Bangkok has 73, per booking.com.
Hotel costs from October 01-03 (two nights):
For a deluxe twin room in Shangri-la Manila: 24,800 pesos.
Shangri-la Bangkok: 17,533.78 pesos
And Shangri-la Bangkok is a lot more luxurious than Manila’s.
Metropolitan Bangkok, my favorite hotel in Bangkok (an old YMCA converted into a funky and sophisticated hotel by Joyce Ma of the fabulous Joyce shops in Asia): for two nights, it’s 11,477.94 pesos.
Sofitel Manila charges 14,918.50. Sofitel is a nice hotel, but it’s not as chic as Metropolitan Bangkok.
As the Philippines gets more prosperous, and committed to improve its tourism numbers, I hope to see new and nice hotels invading Manila’s skyline. And they ought to be priced as attractively as Bangkok’s. So all ye stakeholders in local tourism: enough of the greed, please.