According to the Global Destination Cities Index, Bangkok has emerged as 2013’s most visited city in the world with more than
15 million people visiting annually. While it’s fair to say that a large number of those visitors are transient passengers en-route to one of Thailand’s rightfully celebrated beaches, temples and other destinations, there are a significant number of leisure and business travellers paying a visit to the city itself.
Bangkok’s business events industry is well developed and offers plenty modern venue and accommodation options. Similarly, the city’s colourful character is a magnet for travellers looking for the intense experience of a modern Asian city steeped in historical culture.
For planners, Bangkok’s meeting facilities have helped make the city a hit, undoubtedly aiding the city’s popularity. There has been, however, a dearth of dedicated meeting spaces that break beyond the steel and glass mould of contemporary structures. The city’s abundance of well-preserved neo classical architecture means that with the right amount of planning, although it’s possible to arrange special events in distinctive and historical settings it's not a regular occurrence. As a result, the absence of a dedicated heritage meeting facility is made all the more apparent.
Thankfully, Bangkok’s latest venue, the Grand Postal Building, not only meets the aesthetic need for a historical setting -but also maintains the high level of service found in the city’s modern facilities. The venue is managed by Impact Exhibition Management, the same company behind the purpose-built Impact Arena and Convention Centre, Muang Thong Thani, on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Under such experienced management, the Grand Postal Building is a venue in safe hands although a very different proposition from the sprawling complex of the Arena and Convention Centre. Located in Bang Rak, the venue is Impact’s first inner city location At just over 3,000 sqm it is significantly smaller than the 140,000 sqm available at the convention centre.
Despite its size, the property is no less grand. Built in 1935 during the reign of King Ananda Mahidol, it is a well-preserved example of the period’s architecture. Designed by the Thai architect Jit Sen Aphaiwong, postal services are still carried out here but in its heyday, the T-shaped four storey building was the heart of Thailand’s post and telecommunications service. The building also served as the head office for the Thai government’s own communications department.
In August 2004, the building was recognised as a historical site and, following a full restoration, was re-opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. As a historical hub of communications and information sharing, it’s only fitting that the building has become a place where new ideas can be exchanged through meetings and events.
Photographs taken when the building was still a functioning exchange can be found around the interiors, and many of the meeting rooms have been designated with postal-appropriate titles. Planners can host functions in The Post Card, a 307 sqm room, or arrange a banquet in The Letter, a 107 sqm space.
All of the spaces have been discreetly fitted with up-to-date multimedia presentation technology and wifi connectivity. The inclusion of these modern facilities has not been at the expense of the classical design and, with exceptionally tall ceilings and generously-sized windows, all of the meeting spaces have retained period details.
The Heritage Hall is the largest space in the Grand Postal Building and can cater for cocktail receptions of up 1,000 people. Ornate chandeliers accent the ceiling, while eight sculptures – some dating back to the reign of King Rama V – add historical glamour.
The Postal Theatre, meanwhile, features a preserved theatre that formed part of the original Post Office’s interior and is a grand venue suitable for presentations and education seminars.
Outside there is also a large terrace with around 3,000 sqm of space to accommodate events such as cocktail receptions, where guests can immerse themselves in “Old Bangkok.”
Onsite catering is available through the venue’s Manorah Restaurant, which serves traditional Thai food intended in keeping with the building’s past. While Thai food is perhaps the most appropriate choice, Western and Chinese dishes can also be prepared for events.
As a venue, the heritage experience offered by Impact’s new venue is unparalleled in Bangkok. The perfect synergy of contemporary meeting technology and classic styling, the Grand Postal Building is a welcome addition to the city and a worthwhile revitalisation of an architectural icon. Its arrival can only strengthen Bangkok’s position for hosting business events and further the city’s global popularity as an exciting and well developed destination.
CONTACT Grand Postal Building, 1160 Charoen Krung Road, Si Phraya, Bang Rak, Bangkok
TEL +66 (0) 2206 7333