It is difficult to imagine Bangkok without Lebua at the State Tower, among the tallest buildings in Bangkok and home to a luxurious all-suite hotel. The same goes for the Dome at Lebua that houses spectacular dining venues like Sirocco, the world's highest al fresco restaurant, Mezzaluna, Breeze and Cafe Mozu.
But what is the common link among all of these restaurants that see a perpetual queue to get into? The unexpected answer is: The brain behind all of them is Deepak Ohri, an Indian and extremely proud to be one.
The luxury property with several internationally acclaimed restaurants in the heart of Bangkok is christened after the Thai word for lotus (bua), prefixed with the French definite article (Le). It reflects the ultimate in hospitality in every sense of the word. The Dome, a superb dining area at Lebua, has some globally acclaimed restaurants and bars. As chief executive of Lebua Hotels and Resorts, Ohri was responsible for opening these restaurants, including Sirocco, Mezzaluna and Distil Bar.
He is now looking for a partner to bring the Lebua brand to India. A unique Asian restaurant, Breeze on the 51st and 52nd floors serves outstanding seafood. Cafe Mozu is a new addition with Indian and Lebanese cuisine. The whole idea was conceived by Ohri and executed with a team of professionals, many of them from India, including the director of food and beverage, Nishant Yadav.
Ohri was literally catapulted to fame after his stints with the ITDC, the Kempinski Group and The Taj Group of Hotels in India. To his credit goes Lebua's total transformation from a struggling hotel to a brand name to reckon with.
The all-suite hotel, for example, has also picked the finest for its guests, like superfine, 350-count Egyptian cotton sheets, Bvlgari toiletries and private massage and treatment rooms.
Lebua also has the exclusive rights in Thailand to sell Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V, Waiwera 1875 water from New Zealand and the Green Island rum from Mauritius.
Its juices are from Allain Milliat in France and the caviar comes from Almas or Petrassian. The Matsuzaka and Kobe beef taste heavenly. The Colorado lamb and Neimens pork are the other favourites with diners. Some of the other outstanding dishes include the Chilean Sea Bass broth, 24-month aged parmesan soup, pan seared foie gras with apple cider and maccrocinni pasta with red deep-sea prawns from the cold waters of the Pacific.
Little wonder, even in the current economic downturn, it could take over a week to reserve a table at any of these expensive but high quality restaurants. The demand is so high that on one occasion even the Thai prime minister couldn't get a table.
The guests at Lebua include Hollywood and Bollywood stars and the discerning customer who values his or her privacy. The exceptional quality of food and service apart from the views ensure repeat customers at Lebua.
Ohri's next project is to see Lebua Hotels and Resorts expand into the cruise business with Thailand's first international cruise liner that will set sail to Alaska, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
Lebua also plans to organise one of the world's most expensive gala dinners, the third in a series. The meals will cost $1 million prepared by over half a dozen Michelin star chefs. All proceeds from the diners, who will include Bollywood and Hollywood stars, will go to charity. Lebua also has a five-star Lake Okareka Lodge in New Zealand for use by a single party of guests. Ohri, who started two decades ago, has a long journey ahead in the world of hospitality, and India is one destination that tops his agenda.