By Tanner Saunders
May 12, 2021
IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT The Standard, the hip and highly hyped hotel brand with locations in the U.S., U.K. and Maldives, is different from the rest — in the best way possible. And according to Amar Lalvani, CEO of Standard International, the hotel’s parent company, that’s exactly the point. “I’d like to think many in the hospitality business are sort of backward looking,” Lalvani told Travel + Leisure over a recent Zoom call. “And I think we’re very forward looking.”
Now, having mostly weathered the pandemic — most locations are open or will be soon, though The Standard, Hollywood (arguably the most iconic property) closed permanently in January — Lalvani and his team are doing just that: looking forward. With plans to bring The Standard’s ethos, design, and high-brow, low-brow vibes to cultural hubs around the world, the brand is first turning to Asia to start its exciting new expansion.
Partnering with King Power Group, a major player in the world of duty-free shopping, Standard International will open two new locations in Thailand, starting with its Asian flagship, The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon. Scheduled to open in December, the hotel will house 155 rooms in the 78-story King Power Mahanakhon, a futuristic skyscraper towering over the Thai capital city that Lalvani calls “one of the most impressive developments in the region, if not the world.”
Standard International’s in-house design team, alongside Spain- and Italy-based Hayon Studio, will oversee the interior design for the property, which will, according to Lalvani, “celebrate the brand’s Hollywood glamour,” and its “eastward movement from its L.A. roots to New York to London and culminating in the merger of West and East.” The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon will also be home to the country’s first Mott 32, the popular Cantonese restaurant with locations in Hong Kong, Las Vegas and Vancouver, as well as “creative interpretations of the iconic Standard Grill,” among other bars and restaurants. The Alice in Wonderland-like tea parlor, The Tea Box, and a rooftop restaurant overshadowing neighboring skyscrapers are sure to be Bangkok’s next “it” Instagram-worthy stops.
“We’re bringing all the stuff into the region to showcase what Standard’s all about, but also to incorporate what we love about Bangkok,” Lalvani, who lived in the city — one of the most-visited in the world — back in the late 1990s, told T+L. “We’re hoping to create something where people can dig into the fabric of Bangkok and really get to know, understand, live, and breathe it,” he added. “So, we’re pretty excited to be opening there.”
Standard’s second venture in Thailand eschews the hustle and bustle of the city for Hua Hin, a beach town popular with Bangkok’s rich, famous and royal set. “It is maybe overused, but it’s like the Hamptons of Bangkok, if you will,” Lalvani explained of the coastal retreat about two and a half hours from the capital.
Overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, The Standard, Hua Hin offers beachfront access, but is still within walking distance of the town’s street food stalls and markets. With 199 rooms, guests can opt for a yellow King Suite with garden views and a rain shower, or turn it up with one of the 19 pool villas featuring a private deck, plunge pool, and soaker tub.
The resort, also scheduled to open in December, will have a number of eateries, including The Lido, an all-day Mediterranean dining spot and bar; Praia, a Thai beach bar and restaurant; and The Juice Bar. A spa melding holistic and modern techniques, a gym, and a pool round out the resort’s amenities.
When people think of Thai beaches, Koh Samui and Phuket likely come to mind first, but according to Lalvani, Hua Hin should be right up there. “It’s a beautiful little beach town that’s historically been where the royal family and others have had their palaces,” he said. Not new to tourism by any means, Lalvani is quick to note that the area has some great wellness resorts, but saw an opportunity to — like The Standard, Bangkok — do something different for Thailand. “No one has really done anything vibrant and fun and interesting like The Standard. So, to open these two hotels around the same time, it’s a real treat,” he said.
Beyond Thailand, Standard International plans to open a handful of other properties in the coming years, including in Brussels, Lisbon, Porto, Singapore and Melbourne. But at the root, no matter where the next Standard hotel pops up, it’s already designed to be the perfect fit for the brand’s long-lasting fan base and a new generation of post-COVID travelers seeking a chic spot to relax, party, or work — or all the above.
“The idea [is] that one person — you or me — could enjoy drinking a beer under the stars in a tent in Marfa [or] a martini at the Boom Boom Room — and that’s the same person,” Lalvani said. “So, this stratification that people used to have of luxury, or upscale, I think that’s all outdated. What I do is create stuff that I love, and that the team loves, just stuff that we really, really enjoy. And we believe that if we really enjoy it, others will, too.”
All photos courtesy of Standard International.