Sunday, February 15, 2009

Residence 305 at the Grand Hyatt Erawan -- Bangkok, Thailand

It’s difficult to stay one step ahead of the competition in any industry but maybe even more so in the fast-moving hospitality business. However, one Bangkok hotel has made a habit of blazing a food and beverage trail that has left its competitors behind.

The Grand Hyatt Erawan recently opened a multi-functional event facility that has taken the concept of customized entertaining to a whole new level. Residence 305, 250 meters of beautifully decorated space that offers guests a huge variety of entertainment options, is just the latest in a progression of facilities that are unique in Bangkok.

The story of residence 305 really started over three years ago when the Grand Hyatt opened its residence space occupying 950 square meters of space on the hotel’s mezzanine level. Residence spaces one through four comprised this facility, offering guests reception spaces, dining spaces and a great open kitchen area where chefs cook while guests can mingle around house party style. This concept was ahead of its time in the city and offered guests a whole new way to entertain clients, friends or just themselves.

The initial phase of the residence proved to be such a success that when Executive Chef Lucas Glanville and his team approached the hotel owners with plans for an even more upscale space adjoining the original residence, the reception they received was a positive one, although they did take a bit of convincing when the saw the multi-million baht bill – for just the open kitchen.

That would be an exclusive German-designed Bulthaup show kitchen with Gaggenau appliances, by the way, and is certainly not your run-of-the-mill setup. It occupies about half the total space along with a lounging area and patio room while the other half is taken up with a dining area that can also be used for meetings and a whisky room at the entrance to the room.

Decorated to look like a stylish residential dining room, the main space is lined on two sides with bookshelves containing objects and suitable books as well as a hidden cabinet containing a 65-inch TV for video presentations or just plain TV viewing as one group recently did, taking in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. The overall decorating scheme is somewhat understated, though elegant, in keeping with the overall residence ambience.

It’s not all about the space, however, as impressive as it may be. Chef Glanville and his team make good use of their expensive kitchen, turning out a variety of set menus for any type of an event from coffee breaks to full dinners. You can also customize your own menu with the residence team and the size of your group can be as small as 10 people for anything you’d like to use the space for. And, if you ask really nicely, the chefs will let you don your own apron and help them prepare the fare to be served.

A sampling of the food at residence 305, which has its own dedicated chef, confirmed that the cuisine here is as stylish as the surroundings. Brie and truffle appetizers, along with proscuitto-wrapped tuna chunks were simple in concept yet quite delicious, for example (addicting, actually). A roasted kingfish with a crab and coriander crust that included a hint of parmesan on a bed of wok-fried greens also included a seared Japanese scallop and was complemented by a second dish of roasted duck breast on a bed of lentils with seared foie gras. The second dish, according to Chef Glanville, is a traditional, and simple, preparation but perfect execution and fresh ingredients, sourced by the chef from all over, made it as tantalizing as the kingfish.

The food and beverage team at the Grand Hyatt is not, as the chef noted, resting on its laurels, either. A new meeting facility is in the works in the lower level of the hotel which will break yet more ground in the city’s culinary and event space frontier. This will keep the Grand Hyatt at least a step or two ahead of its competition in Bangkok which is good news for those interested in fine food and cutting edge concepts.

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