Alex Pichel, a German national, is a hospitality industry veteran who brings 30 years of experience to the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. Starting his career as a bellboy at the Bristol, Pichel is no stranger to the luxury segment, having traversed the globe working in properties including the Hotel Kempinski in Berlin, the Hyatt Carlton Tower in London, the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai, as well as Rosewood hotels in the Middle East.
What’s the most challenging aspect of running this hotel?
The most challenging aspect of running any hotel and therefore of course the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, is for the team to keep up the high standards that both our guests and we ourselves are expecting from us day in day out, as we are one of, if not the best hotel in Asia. As the demand in Bangkok and specifically our hotel is so high we want to achieve to treat each of our guests as if they are the only guest staying with us ... that is a demanding task we are enjoying to conquer everyday.
What is the essence of luxury in hospitality?
The Kempinski brand has always aimed at creating one of the world’s most sought-after hotel collections, welcoming guests who are searching for outstanding service and individuality.
Luxury must be felt … physically and emotionally.
Luxury hospitality is about people and their talent for creating warm and sophisticated environments for guests to enjoy. Across the world, Kempinski brings to life unique experiences for each of our guests - because luxury does not tolerate uniformity.
Luxury must be…original
Our originality stems from our origins. Since 1897 we have used our curious nature to develop an understanding of the locations in which we operate, and we have embraced their unique customs. We call this ‘Cultural Empathy’. Blended with our European etiquette, Cultural Empathy is what gives our hospitality a special flavour and creates outstanding destinations. Truly original.
Luxury must be…crafted
Luxury hospitality is an exacting craft. It requires specialist knowledge, artistry and skill. Above all, it demands constant attention to detail. Each guest is an individual who expects their stay to be tailored to their needs and wishes. And never has this been truer than in the often impersonal digital era.
That is why we invest considerable energy and intelligence into crafting bespoke experiences, always focusing on creating a remarkable sense of place while never compromising on the elegance of European service.
Luxury must be…rare
Kempinski believes small is beautiful and that with a degree of rarity we cultivate exclusivity. We are not in a hurry to grow. Instead we dedicate ourselves to delivering beautiful performances in every area of each property throughout our portfolio. Kempinski is, and will remain, a collection of individuals. Like gems on a necklace, each one is precious; each one has its own character, clarity and colour.
Luxury must reflect … status
Whether discreet or ostentatious, true luxury confers status and recognition, bestows privileges and exists outside the ordinary.
Kempinski creates beautiful spaces where true luxury can be experienced. Our lobby lounges in particular are designed to welcome a harmonious blend of sophisticated travellers, discerning locals, and like-minded guests who choose to stay with us because they feel an intimate affinity with the Kempinski ‘club’ spirit.
Luxury must be … lived in the now
Taking time is the ultimate luxury. Savouring the moment; appreciating its quality, its different shades. Taking time to allow it to engage all the senses. Kempinski constantly imagines new and exceptional ways for guests to delight in the moment throughout their stay with us. As true Europeans, we pay special attention to gastronomy and culture. Our guests are sophisticated and educated. They want the moment to be perfect. They live in the now.
Luxury must be … elegant and timeless
Kempinski values style with substance over fashion, believing that Timeless Elegance stands apart from fads and trends. Timeless Elegance is a subtle mix of good education and impeccable taste. It informs the way our people act and interact. It is interpreted by how we design the public and private spaces in our hotels. We display it in the way we dress – be that an exquisite plate of food or the uniforms we design for our doormen. We express it through the authentic care with which we treat our guests, Owners, and our people.
Luxury must be … told
Kempinski’s story is rich and eventful. Its chapters are filled with a myriad of anecdotes, glamorous occasions, as well as discreet and intimate memorable moments. Celebrating our 120th birthday gives us chance to look back fondly then proudly continue to build our story and spread it further afield. However, it must be a living and desirable story that our guests, our Owners, and our people can experience and share with others. We are creating a story worth being told.
Having been in luxury sector for many years, what's the difference you see in luxury sector in Asia and other regions?
The most obvious one is that you can feel the genuine hospitality within Asia of course, but especially in Thailand that stands out. The Team of the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok is known for outstanding service beyond expectations and this passion for serving our guests is always noticeable in the warmth of the Thai mentality and their smile.
How do you promote a luxury brand like this? What kind of tools are useful for such luxury brand?
In terms of promoting our brand and to make it a successful one we use several tools as we are trying to be more present in both local and international markets and each target markets are influenced by different tools and tactics. However, as mentioned, we are trying to be more presence therefore, we participate in several travel marts and frequently organise press and media trips, and with the help and support from our team around the globe, we have been gaining more awareness. We still focus on traditional media but also moving forward with new media platform such as online, bloggers, influencers and social media. Nevertheless, the most influence and endorsements we are getting from our guests who stayed with us. They are the ones who post, share, comment and spread out the words for us. That is most certainly the a very powerful tool for any business. We treat and welcome our guests with open arms and we will ensure that they will always have a memorable experience with us. That is the key to success.
What do you like most about being in hotels?
I have been in the hospitality business now for more than 30 years and I enjoy every day as it were my first. Being a host for our guests, being a mentor for my colleagues and delivering a successful result to our owners is what gets me out of bed everyday. I was very fortunate to work for diverse hotel companies during my career and being part of some stunning, iconic and award winning hotels. I could not think of any other job which could give me as much satisfaction everyday.
What books are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading the book by Ron Kaufman called 'Uplifting Service' which is very inspiring. It boils down to the point that providing any service in any type of industry if delivered in a genuine and passionate way is one of the most integral parts to be successful. Unfortunately you rarely find those in our industry today. Even though we may not always successful in 'uplifting’ in our service,I am very proud of the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok team as they constantly strive to create those memorable moments for our guests on a daily basis.