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Of Champagne & Tigers & Hangover II

Deepak Ohri, CEO of Bangkok-based lebua Hotels & Resorts, explains the evolution of this luxury hospitality brand

BT: The lebua brand statement says it “aspires to tap into a deeper level of exchange with guests to create emotional connections.” What exactly does that mean?

OHRI: As a smaller company, we have the freedom to create something unique. Our target audience is somewhere between Gen Xers and Millennials, which gives us plenty of opportunity to provide a wide range of experiences like our numerous rooftop dining venues that have drawn tremendous interest from locals and tourists alike. The number of selfie takers at our pan-Asian restaurant Breeze is incredible. In October, we will launch Sukai, an omakase restaurant and sake bar with a highlight being the nine-seat counter facing the master sushi chef’s kitchen.

BT: Readers may recognize Sky Bar and Sirocco restaurant from the movie Hangover II where they played a starring role in front of the hotel’s signature dome. 

OHRI: When we first began our food and beverage strategy, the rooftop areas here were vacant. Today, the majority of our restaurants and bars are at The Dome at lebua on floors 62-64 of the city’s second tallest building. Flute is the highest open-air Champagne bar in the world and serves more bespoke Perrier Jouët per year than the entire nation of Singapore including its airport duty free outlets. The open-air rooftop bar trend around the world was launched with our dream that began 15 years ago. In honor of the movie, we now serve the popular “Hangovertini,” which features our signature whiskey and was designed by movie producer Todd Phillip.

BT: What advantages does the Pernod Ricard partnership bring?

OHRI: As a hotel company, it is very unusual to have such a close relationship with a luxury beverage distributor. We serve bespoke vintages created in partnership with them like our own vintages of Perrier Jouët, Belle Époque Rose, Belle Époque Brut, and Belle Époque Blanc de Blancs, only available at Flute, and our own Chivas Regal whisky (only 96 bottles were produced) served at Alfresco 64 A Chivas Bar – also the highest outdoor whisky bar on the planet. Plymouth Gin is exclusive to lebua in Thailand, and Mezzaluna serves our own ultra-premium St. Hugo shiraz designed to complement the French menu. You can’t get these anywhere else except our open-air, panoramic rooftop bars and restaurants.

BT: Rooftop Mezzaluna just scored two Michelin stars making it only one of three restaurants with two stars in Bangkok. Congratulations!

OHRI: Thank you. It is unique in that Chef Ryuki Kawasaki is Japanese, but the cuisine is French. We recently celebrated our 12th anniversary with Pernod Ricard with a 12-hour party that began with a seven-course tasting menu at Mezzaluna and continued with celebratory stops at each of our outdoor bars. It was an epic party that made the front page of the Bangkok Post. Dishes included Wagyu beef grilled over bincho charcoal with wasabi green puree and soy glazed Kinmedai fish with foie gras custard and truffle consommé.

BT: Tell us about new properties in the pipeline.

OHRI: We also have hotels in Rotorua, New Zealand and Lucknow, India. Coming soon is a lebua property in Singapore and another Indian hotel in the Jim Corbett National Park, which will be on a private reserve with nearly 300 tigers.