A Sign of the Times: a Luxury Hotel on the Cheap

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Wondering what Thailand's currency crisis means for you?

One thought: the world's cheapest luxury hotel rooms.

Bangkok's building boom of the past decade or so has created a profusion of high-end hotels, and more are on the way.

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I figured this would be one aspect of the Thai economy that ought to be investigated with special diligence.

A United Airlines frequent-flyer promotion for the ITT Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit offered 50 percent off. Thanks to last month's devaluation, rooms were going for a little more than $100 a night, plus tax and service.

I'm accustomed to spending a little less on accommodations, but in this case I felt the story demanded an exception. I muttered something to this effect to my editor over a scratchy long-distance phone connection. Hearing no dissent, in I checked.

The Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit's Room 2808 is without a doubt the best hotel room I've ever been privileged to occupy - butler service, two-line business phone, and padded silk upholstery on one of the walls.

The desk drawer has a green leather organizer that comes equipped with a stapler and a staple remover. Inside the dressing room is a safe in which you could tuck a small suitcase. Maybe that's the idea.

And I could go on.

Manager Andrew Jessop, a soft-spoken Australian, acknowledges that the luxury-hotel market in Bangkok is "very, very competitive."

The equivalent to Room 2808 would cost $350 a night in Tokyo, he estimates, and $500 in New York.

He says some customers do pay full fare at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, but declines to mention the hotel's occupancy rates.

Judging by the handful of people in the hotel's hallways and elevators, there's still enough room for you.

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