The Pattaya Palace
• Jin Jiang Tower Hotel
• Liang An Hotel
• Metropole Hotel Shanghai
• Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai
If you’ve been to Pattaya, you’ve seen it. Coming from Bangkok, shortly before the bus makes its right turn to the bus station, a colourful folly, an ice-cream cake of a building, an extravaganza of opulence. Kitsch overkill, surely suited more to the inland waterways of southern Florida than the eastern seaboard of Thailand. Painted light blue and pink, a collection of buildings set beside the sea.
What is it? The home of an anonymous Middle Eastern oil millionaire? The secret retreat of a Hollywood actress? The wild and undisciplined indulgence of some mega pop singer or TV superstar? The home of the transvestites who perform at Tiffany's?
The place is called Baan Sukhawadee, and the owner is Dr. Panya Chotithewan, who is also the owner of Saha Farm, the number one frozen chicken exporters of Thailand. Seems there’s plenty of money in chicken wings. There’s also an interesting history to the company.
Back in the early 80’s, two trade union leaders were shot dead after negotiations with the management of the company broke down, with the court finding that the company had paid for the murders because they were not happy with the role of the victims in establishing a trade union. No further action was taken after it was found that the allusion to the owner of Saha Farm to having hired the two accused to commit the murder of the trade union leaders was merely the verbal account which the uncle and aunt of one of the accused told the police officer who investigated the case. It was not substantiated nor confirmed by the accused.
That’s okay then.
The five-storey building is a house, and the large shoebox shaped building is basically a conference centre. The 1st floor of the house has a lobby decorated with Louis-the-something furniture, and the master bedroom on the 4th floor is decorated by furniture from Versace. There’s a large meeting room on the top floor, and you can go onto the roof where there is a shrine. Fell free to buy whatever the flower is that Thais like to offer in such places.
There’s a club house, with a spa, sauna and fitness centre. The whole place covers 80 rai and was constructed between 2000 and 2004, and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince presided over the inauguration of the building called Kitchen of the World. That’s the conference building, the shoebox.
There are two ways of looking at the Pattaya Palace. It’s either stunning or tacky. Maybe both. It is supposed to be inspired by old Europe, although no building then and there was ever painted blue. Maybe on the French Riviera, but I doubt it. There’s no doubt that it is a stunning place, but in my mind it is just flaunting wealth. Still, if he wants to live that way (but how much does he actually live there) and people want to pay to see it, that’s fine. I went when it was free, but I’m told now there is a charge. Actually, two charges. One for Thais, and double for anyone else because all Thais are poor and all foreigners are rich. You can tell by the building, can’t you. Excuse my cynicism.
And for such a high-profile person, and a leading company, their CD of the place and web-site are, how shall I put this, what you would expect in a place like Thailand. The pictures on the CD are out of focus and grainy, like a 10 baht CD from the market that’s been copied to death, and the website manages to tell you almost nothing about the place, in bad English. There’s supposed to be a map of the place in the section ‘About Us’, but there isn’t. There’s a photo of the owner, but no information. Not even his name. There’s a link to food and service which doesn’t work. A pretty poor showcase really. Don’t these people care?
Anyway, I do like many of the statues. I could look at some of that stuff for hours, and I don’t even particularly like museums. Which is what this place essentially is. A museum of new stuff that pretends to be from the French Renaissance, or
whenever. Really, the quality of work in the place is absolutely first rate, especially in the entrance of the main house and in the hall of the Kitchen of the World building (the conference rooms are in the basement). It shows what money can
buy and how high the standard of work can be, even in Thailand.
Pity they can’t provide the same attention to telling people about the place. But definitely worth a look if you’re in the area.
I had always thought that the place was a Sikh temple!