Kurt Wachtveitl, legendary General Manager of The Oriental, Bangkok recently celebrated his record-breaking 40th anniversary with a lavish champagne party, hosted by guest relations veteran, Mrs Ankana Kalantananda, who has herself been at the hotel for 60 years. Kurt Wachtveitl, or “Khun Kurt”, as he is fondly known to his 1,000 strong staff, embarked upon his hospitality career at the age of 30, when he was appointed General Manager of the historic Oriental. With deep passion and a long-term vision, he has skillfully and successfully guided the hotel to international acclaim during his 40 year tenure.
His dedication and commitment to the highest standards of service and hospitality at The Oriental, Bangkok recently earned him the most prestigious accolade at the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific ( HICAP ), where he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. This award is presented to an outstanding leader in the hospitality industry for his or her accomplishments and contributions to the hotel industry. Recipients exemplify dedication, diligence, commitment and passion in guest satisfaction.
Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, and with a 130-year history, The Oriental, Bangkok is an institution, which is linked with the history and tradition of Thailand itself. The Oriental has grown and developed alongside the city of Bangkok for over a century while maintaining its rich sense of tradition and culture.
The hotel has played host to Thai Royalty, dating back to the middle of the 19th century, among them King Chulalongkorn, the first Thai monarch to honour the hotel with a personal visit in 1890. In June 2006 the hotel also proudly participated in the grand celebrations to mark the 60th Anniversary of His Majesty the King’s Accession to the Throne.
The Oriental has a long-standing association with the literary world, and has been a favourite destination for world-renowned writers from Somerset Maugham to Sir Peter Ustinov. This literary tradition also extends to a younger generation of Asian writers; winners of the prestigious S.E.A. Write or Southeast Asian Writers Award, that was initiated by the hotel. This prominent annual event will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2008.
Far from being complacent, The Oriental has recently completed a series of significant renovations. These include the total transformation of the Thai restaurant Sala Rim Naam and the Barbecue Terrace, the swimming pool, The China House, and the addition of a new Ayurvedic Spa Penthouse. “In addition to celebrating the history and heritage of the hotel, it is important to be open to future trends in order to be successful in this extremely competitive business,” acknowledges Khun Kurt.
Famous for its service, style and grace, The Oriental is frequently nominated as “Best Hotel in the World” by readers of influential magazines.
Khun Kurt’s 40-year legacy at The Oriental is indeed both unique and irreplaceable, and with typical reserve, he attributes his success to the commitment and dedication of the staff at this legendary hotel. “The inhabitants of great hotels are the most pampered creatures on earth. As a hotel manager you have no choice but to develop your staff. I am lucky that Thais have great potential for the hospitality industry because of their warmth and caring attitude. We are all looking forward to the future and to many productive years ahead.”