all know that traditionally the Germans and Swiss became known as the world’s
hotelkeepers because the first holiday goers used to travel to the mountains in
the south of Germany and Switzerland. But today there are a growing number of
Dutch hoteliers including Henk Meyknecht, the General Manager of Grand Pacific
Hotel, which are starting to make their mark in the international service
“There are various reasons,” he says. “Number one, Holland is a small
country, and we are very overseas focused. Two, we speak many languages; most
Dutch people speak at least four languages (Dutch, German, French and English
– the basic training languages). And, third, we have a tremendous curiosity
about what’s going on in the world. These factors drive a lot of us into the
international service industry.”
family immigrated to Holland from Germany 150 years ago and started a wine and
liquor business. Today, that business has grown and not only specializes in wine
& liquor but also in managing small to medium sized provincial hotels and
dealing in real estate as well.
knows the hotel business very well, having grown up in one. He was cloakroom boy
at age 14, and jokes that he was tipped very well because everyone knew he was
the owner’s son. He eventually worked as a kitchen helper, dishwasher and
waiter learning the ropes of the service industry along the way.
He eventually went to hotel school for three years in Maastricht in the south of Holland (where the euro was founded). When he graduated his family then sent him to work on a kibbutz in Israel for half a year, then on to the Bordeaux wine growing area for four more months.
was then formally inducted into the international hotel business in 1980 when
SAS Hotels & Catering hired him as a management trainee. They quickly posted
him to Kuwait where he continued his apprenticeship as a management trainee and
Assistant Food & Beverage Manager until 1983. The posting was a shock for
him having worked in Israel the year before, as he arrived while the Iran-Iraq
war was in full gear, so at night he would lie and in bed and hear shelling 50
km away. Although he found it exciting, it was a bit of a cultural adjustment
for someone who up to that point had led a comfortable and protected life.
his tour of duty in Kuwait was over Henk decided to attend the famed Cornell
University, majoring in hotel marketing: “It wasn’t as academically
challenging as I thought it would be, but I learned a tremendous amount about
how people in North America think.”
graduation, he joined the Hilton International chain and was set back to the
Middle East, this time as a Banquet Manager for the Bahrain Hilton from 1984-86.
Then from 1986-88, just as China was starting to open up, he moved to the
Jianguo Hotel in Beijing (which was part of the Peninsula Group) as the F&B
Manager. He stayed with the Peninsula Group becoming the F&B Project Manager
at the head office in Hong Kong from 1989-89 before moving to New York City the
following year to become the Director of F&B for the Peninsula Hotel on 5th
1991, he switched chains again and returned to Holland as the Deputy General
Manager of the Intercontinental Hotel in Amsterdam. But he missed the
international lifestyle and the responsibility of managing a whole hotel. So he
joined the Sahid Hotel chain in Indonesia and from 1993-96 was the Resident
Manager of the Sahid Jaya Hotel in Jakarta. He then moved on to the Six
Continents chain becoming the General Manager for the Holiday Inn in Dalian,
China, from 1997-99 and then the GM for the Holiday Inn in Shanghai from
1999-2001. Then last year he succeeded Danai Wansom as the GM of the Grand
difference between managing a hotel in Europe and North America compared to
managing in Asia is that here I’m responsible for the complete property, from
the engine room, to managing the subcontractors and more than 500 employees and
their families. But if I were working in the West, I would be more of an
administrator subcontracting services instead of overseeing them. So I’d be
more of a manager delegating a process than really being involved with the whole
entity. I find this much more exciting and challenging.”
how does he find Thais compared to other Asians he has worked with? “Thais,
more than any other group of people I know, really make an effort to make you
comfortable including accepting all your weaknesses. If there’s one country
where they truly make an effort to support both your strengths and weaknesses,
it’s Thailand. People may have a different lifestyle but the Thais will accept
them as long as that lifestyle doesn’t disturb the overall balance of the
percent of the Grand Pacific’s guests are return customers. One Japanese man
(they should name a room after him) has even stayed at the hotel 240 times over
an eight-year period.
what makes the hotel special? “We offer value for money and very competitive
room rates. Because we are part of a small hotel chain (7 hotels) we can switch
room rates overnight, while a property which is part of 3,000 hotel chain may
only be able to change its rates twice a year.
were the first hotel on Sukhumvit to switch our marketing strategy after 9-11.
We went regional immediately sending people out to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and
Hong Kong with new rates for the travel agents and tour operators. And our
business went up, and we are one of the few hotels on Sukhumvit, which has seen
an increase in business since 9-11.
US$95 you can stay in a room on our executive floors. This is a five-star
product, but you would be charged that much money for a normal room in a regular
five star hotel without any perks. But with our service you also get free local
phone calls; daily complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails;
free soft drinks from the mini-bar; free instant coffee and tea; ten percent off
at any of our restaurants; ten percent off our hair dresser, beauty salon and
massage service; free one hour usage of the meeting room in our Business Center;
a free pressing service for one suit or dress; as well as a late check-out
what it really boils down to is personal service: do you have a good team of
people in your hotel looking after your guests?” With the Grand Pacific, the
answer is obviously yes.
may be a fascinating town, but it's also chaotic, crowded and claustrophobic. So
if you are in Krungthep on business or pleasure, and you don't want to spend a
lot of money on a tiny room, well, you are in luck, because the Grand Pacific
Hotel located in the heart of Sukhumvit Road next to Soi 19 offers you just that
- a feeling of space. The rooms aren't huge, but they are designed to make sure
you don't feel cramped.
hotel truly has some of the best views of the downtown core. Let's divide the
vistas into two parts: the one overlooking the Sukhumvit/Asoke area (of which
the hotel's Signature Lounge on the 24th floor provides an excellent vantage
point), and the one overlooking the Sukhumvit - Ploenchit area.
latter view is particularly spectacular and if you happen to be staying in any
of the rooms on the Signature floors (23, 24 and 25) you simply have the best
seat in town when the sun goes down. You don't have to go out or watch TV to be
entertained, just watch the sky. At dusk, Lord Buddha really puts on a show with
a swirl of purple hue here, a tint of orange there, truly a magnificent
one of the most magnificent views of any downtown core, and if concrete ever had
a charm, well this would be it. With the kinetic city in microcosm before your
eyes - the Skytrain, the expressway, the traffic, the multitudes - you almost
have a sense that a buzzmobile from Blade
Runner will come barreling out of the sky and zip past your room.
hotel is just so comfy: from its plush carpets on down to its ultra smooth
elevator rides, once you check-in you entered a comfort zone which will take
away all your worries and cares and give them back to you once you check-out,
hotel boasts that it is located in the "heart of Sukhumvit" and it is.
Situated half-way in-between those fun centers of Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy,
it's a stone's throw away from dozens of superb restaurants and cafes.
a flight couldn't be easier either, since the on-ramp to the expressway is only
a few minutes away and once you are on the tang-duan,
it's only about twenty minutes to the airport, barring a serious traffic jam.
if you want to zip around town, the Asok Skytrain stop is literally right aside
the front door. It's a terrific and fun way to traverse the downtown core.
hotel has a state-of-the-art fitness center on the tenth floor with an open-air
swimming pool located on the 8th, which is a great place to relax and forget all
your worries for a while. Make sure you check out the view leading down the
stairs from the Fitness Center to the pool, as this is also a great spot to scan
the downtown horizon.
Grand Pacific is also one of the few hotels in Bangkok offering wireless
Internet services in all its banquet rooms and public areas. Based on the
wireless technology of IEEE-802.11b, which is also available at Changi Airport
in Singapore, this service allows guests equipped with wireless technology (WIFI)
to immediately gain access to the hotel’s Internet service. And the hotel also
has e-butlers on call on a twenty-four hour basis that can usually work out the
kinks and problems that tend to arise with laptop computers.
to make communication even easier for its business clientele, the Grand Pacific
offers a 24-hour videoconferencing service called “Meetings on the Screen,”
which provides links to 63 different countries.
the food? Well, the hotel has a number of great eateries: Hot Chillies, a
contemporary Thai restaurant serving authentic Thai cuisine from the country’s
four main regions; Kisso, which serves time honored Japanese cuisine, including
a Sunday Brunch, THB480++ for adults, and THB288 for children; Ho Kitchen, a
Cantonese Chinese restaurant; and the Grand Pacific’s main restaurant, the
Captain's Table, which serves international fare, and is shaped in the form of a
ship, with pillars seemingly being replaced by boat masts, so you feel as if you
are sitting on an ocean liner overlooking a sea of traffic.
Captain’s Table has a theme brunch geared to children every Sunday (THB530++
for adults, THB330++ for children) Past themes have included the Titantic, where
kids were thrown into life rafts and shipwreck conditions were simulated. After
surviving their ordeal, the kids were then given a gold medal in recognition of
their efforts. Currently, a “Jungle Brunch” is featured where among other
activities the kids are pursued by a tiger throughout the dining area.
It may actually be fitting that the Captain’s Table has a nautical motif for it is the job of the hotel’s Dutch GM, Henk Meyknecht, to steer the Grand Pacific thru the turbulent times of post 9-11. And Meyknecht is carrying on a four-century-old relationship between Holland and Thailand dating back to 1604 when ships from the Dutch East India Company landed on the shores of Pattani in southern Thailand and their captains met with a representative of the King of Siam.
of you might remember the hotel being called the Delta Grand Pacific, but the
Canadian Group Delta sold the property to the Furama chain a few years ago.
Other Furama Hotels & Resorts include: the Majestic Hotel, Kowloon; the
Royal Windsor Hotel, Kowloon; the Paradise Lagoon Hotel, Port Dickson, Kuala
Lumpur; the Caravelle Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City; the Furama Resort, Danang; and
the Philippine Dream Cruise Hotel, Cebu.