Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok, Thailand

Hotels have had it rough. Discover how the Kimpton MaaLai Bangkok beat the odds and succeeded with the help of Vichai Trading 1983.

The ‘Maa-Lai’ is a traditional flower bouquet that is presented as a gift to guests in Thai culture. This makes it an apt moniker for the Kimpton to adopt for its first hotel property in Bangkok, Thailand.

Vichai Trading 1983 served as the integrator tasked with fitting out the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok with the requisite AV systems while Atkrist was the consultant for the project.

Spoiler alert for the article ahead, their work for the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok won the Inavate APAC Awards 2021 Hospitality Project category.

An existing working

relationship between integrator and consultant set the project off to a good start. Thitikorn Sopchokchai from Vichai Trading 1983, says: “Atkrist served as the consultant for the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bnagkok and we have a great working relationship with them and have worked with them on multiple hospitality projects. They are an extremely established consultant especially for hotel projects and having worked with them, I can say that the design for the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok had the signature elements we have come to expect from Atkrist.”

Sopchokchai sheds light on the driving force behind the design and the selection of AV equipment: “As part of the global chain IHG Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok had the highest standard in choosing the AV equipment. So, in the design and the implementation of this project, we have taken care in combining the equipment discreetly into the interior design of the hotel. We have also selected technology, such as networked audio DSP as the core of our system, allowing us to disperse the AV racks to different zones and floors and to minimise the cabling works. With regards to the high standards and the client expectations for a five-star hotel, we believe we have met this and exceeded our client’s expectations.”

Unique proposition

When starting the examination of the spaces and the technology deployed, it becomes apparent that the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok deviates from the norm. Sopchokchai elaborates: “The unique aspect of the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok, especially when you think about it within the context of the Thai hospitality sector, is the fact that it does not have a ‘grand ballroom’ for events or weddings. This is a decision that the hotel has taken as the Kimpton brand is more ‘corporate’ and caters to a more business-centric clientele. The spaces at the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok reflect this brand direction.”

With this in mind, the main spaces at the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok are the ‘Meeting Rooms’ spread across the hotel. The size and AV systems in these meeting rooms are designed with the corporate user in mind. Sopchokchai says: “The hotel’s chic, understated vibe carries through to its meeting rooms; 578 square metres of space with a sophisticated look and feel, comfortable configurations, and endless possibilities for personalised touches. These meeting room spaces were designed to be versatile. Connectivity can be achieved through both conventional wired methods, as well as wirelessly. Furthermore, the rooms meeting rooms are designed to be able to be combined or separated at a touch of a button, adding convenience for the technicians.”

Panasonic projectors on Lyln lifts display visuals on a Seemax screen. Video signal transmission is accomplished via Atlona HDBaseT switchers with the relevant transmitters and receivers. A Datavideo recorder and player is also included as part of the setup.

On the decision to go with HDBaseT for video transmission, Sopchokchai says: “Hospitality projects take time to complete, and this project was designed back in 2018 and 2019 when HDBaseT was still the most effective mode for video signal transmission. And if you look at the space, it is not very big. On top of that, there was no requirement to connect different spaces together, which is the strong suite of AV over IP, so we decided to go with HDBaseT.”

Over on the side of audio, QSC ceiling and column speakers together with subwoofers provide audio. QSC amplifiers and QSC Q-Sys Core 110f DSPs are also part of the system. Audio-Technica microphones have been provided for input.

The audio system posed some challenges that required creative solutions and Sopchokchai elaborates: “The best location for the column speakers is to have them wall mounted. But that was not possible in this case because there were ID elements that had to be taken into account. We couldn’t hide the speakers behind the projection screen either. In the end, with no real mountable surface available, we decided to mount the column speakers on poles. This resulted in a solution that kept the aesthetics intact while also being functional.”

Control in the meeting rooms is provided with the help of an AMX system.

Living the lifestyle

We have delved into the troubles faced by the hospitality sector in Asia Pacific and also how the challenges can be overcome. The Kimpton Maa-Lai took a smart route to ensure that its operations kept running through the disruption. It begins with special care given to the background music system. Sopchokchai details: “The BGM system is decentralised and at the same time it is also centralised with QSC Q-Sys Core DSP at the heart. You can have the whole hotel playing the same song or you could have different sections playing their own music. It is a very flexible and versatile system.”

Specific lifestyle spaces are also a key draw. Sopchokchai says: “The hotel made the decision to be pet friendly, and it focused on lifestyle which can be seen in the development of a café and coffee shop on the ground floor. This meant that the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok was able to attract locals during the pandemic and its popularity among the locals actually made it quite successful.”

It is obvious that ‘lifestyle’ spaces have been given due importance, and this is also reflected in the technology deployed to serve these spaces. Of particular interest is the Bar Yard on level 40 of the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok.

Sopchokchai says: “Bar Yard is located on the rooftop of Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok hotel, and it is a semi-outdoor rooftop bar, with live DJ stations, designed for social events and parties. The technology selected for the Bar Yard is in line with this.”

The video system comprises a Panasonic projector, Da-Lite projection screen and Atlona extenders.

The public address system is based around QSC ceiling speakers and Tannoy surface mounted loudspeakers. On the backend QSC amplifiers and a Q-Sys Core 110f DSP are pressed into service.

However, the real difference maker at the Bar Yard is the audio system. Sopchokchai says: “We felt that the bar area required a bit more premium sound. The space was interesting because it is semi-indoors and semi-outdoors and personally this is my favourite section of the hotel. The Renkus Heinz speakers have been mounted outside and are facing inwards. Not only does this ensure coverage for the space, but it also minimises the noise going outside of the building.”

The hard part

The Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok project has been successfully completed and the hotel has been operational for a while. Sophcokchai reflects on the challenges faced by Vichai Trading 1983 during the course of delivery: “The Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok was actually part of a much bigger development project for the Sindhorn area that spanned three hotel properties with the Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel and Sindhorn Midtown Hotel. We actually bid for all the three hotels and were selected to provide the AV technology for all three hotels all at the same time. This meant that we had to manage the project very dutifully and make sure that our resources were properly utilised.”

Sopchokchai concludes: “Looking retrospectively and taking into account the disruption and changes caused by Covid-19 we could propose more videoconferencing solutions for the hotel. We can also enhance the ‘hybrid’ meeting capabilities of the spaces so that the hotel can make better use of the meeting rooms and effectively manage safety restrictions such as social distancing.”

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