Will Serviced Apartments Become the Norm for the Businessmen and Travelling Families to Asia?

The concept of a furnished apartment with cleaning services is nothing new, but over the past decade or so the serviced apartment with its superior features and lower costs have become increasingly more luxurious and sophisticated, particularly in Asia.

The serviced apartment is definitely catching on as there are a wide range of luxury serviced apartments in Asia at discounted prices. You can easily browse the internet to compare room rates for a selection of the best locations.

Serviced Apartments are designed for short-, medium- and long-term stay residents, for the individual or family that want high quality of living, with the choice of rooms ranging from studio up to large 3-bedroom deluxe apartments.

Serviced Apartments are ideal for people who enjoy catering for themselves and having their own space.

Particularly in Bangkok, there is high proportion of expatriate personnel and the population is very transient. The demographics of this lends itself well to serviced apartments. Staying in a serviced apartment gives you total freedom to work, entertain, cook, sleep and relax as you would in your own home, without the feeling of being in a hotel room.

Choosing a serviced apartment allows you to easily choose a suitable location, in the heart of the major cities of Asia, with a broad range of services, such as broadband internet, fully-equipped kitchens, private parking, international cable and plasma screen televisions, maid service and room service, daily cleaning and linen services, international cuisine, a large pool, health club and lounge and much more, all within a relaxing and elegant environment.

One fine example is the The Ascott, a five-star serviced apartment in Sathorn, Bangkok’s central business district. Here they offer luxurious and spacious private apartments complemented with comprehensive services and facilities. This residence is Bangkok’s leading luxury serviced residence and is ideal for corporate housing with the convenience of being located in the capital’s business and commercial district.

In summary, demand for luxurious living is improving every year and is predicted to reach even higher growth in the years to come.

Go East Young Man! Traveling the Orient – Asia Adventure

After spending a summer serving in war-torn east Africa, where I slept in a tent for two of the three months I was there; I returned to the United States to embark upon a law education. Far less adventurous and for me difficult to be passionate about, I struggled my first year of law school. Though I passed the first semester of courses by the skin of my teeth, my grade point average was quite discouraging for someone thinking to make a career practicing law.

Thankfully, it took a few months for our second semester final exams to be graded and posted. I therefore in good faith pursued an international law internship and summer program at the University of Hong Kong. Situated atop lovely Victorian Peak, I dived deeper into academia and international law.

What was unique about those three months in Hong Kong during the summer of 1995 was that the British government was still ruling. Upon taking a trip to the high court, I saw Chinese judges wear white British style wigs. It was a funny and rare site to behold.

My passion in particular was helping oppressed people in forgotten nations where their human rights were being violated. Unfortunately I learned from my law professor in Hong Kong that international treaties to uphold human rights are rarely enforced by the United Nations or anyone else globally. For me that further diminished the relevance of international law and my interest in studying it.

In those days a particular religious group smuggled Bibles across from Hong Kong into Shenzhen, China. I was asked to participate, which I did. That day of smuggling Bibles was far more exciting than my entire summer buried in law books in Hong Kong.

Upon returning home after successfully completing my summer internship and academic program, I opened a disheartening letter from my law school encouraging me to withdraw based on my dismal grade point average.

Wondering what on earth I would now do with my life, when walking home to my Brooklyn Heights apartment I heard a voice. “Go east young man! Go east!”

Gripped by what I heard, I determined to go to Chinatown that week. Upon doing so I met a Chinese Pastor who immediately offered me a job to travel with him throughout Asia and be his English teacher. Without hesitation I happily accepted. Not long thereafter I found myself in Taipei, Taiwan.

Across the street from my new apartment was Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park honoring the revolutionary Chinese leader who established Taiwan governmentally. Suffering from jet lag the first week I was in Taiwan, I journeyed outside looking for some food when I discovered the lovely park across the street.

Many people were exercising, enjoying the cool morning air. Tai chi was a particular favorite, which I saw both men and when doing with the utmost concentration and precision. The Chinese internal martial art is frequently practiced for health and longevity. The slow and fluid movements facilitate internal harmony and oneness within.

Before the business day began, the raising of the national flag, along with a soldier salute occurred daily. It was a delight to be able to see and behold. Though I could not yet speak Mandarin, what I saw with my eyes captivated my heart and deposited a deep respect for Chinese culture.

By reason of my association with Pastor Ko and other reputable wise men, I soon became a highly sought out speaker. Others throughout Asia began hearing of me and invited me to their countries.

My trip to Burma was a somewhat covert operation considering where I was invited to speak was deemed a “blackout area” where foreigners were not permitted. Nevertheless after meeting my initial contact in Rangoon, we were able to exchange the problematic national currency and secure a domestic flight to the remote destination.

There was no electricity. I slept on a blow up mattress under a mosquito net, while large rats crawled overhead at night. We hung our meager supplies and fruit from a string to keep the rats from getting to them during the evening.

When I awoke in the morning, there were always some fresh rodent droppings on my mosquito net. Nevertheless I was happy to endure such light afflictions considering the tremendous response of the people when I spoke to them about personal empowerment and being a world-changer.

Since the Universities had been shut down across Burma, students did whatever they could to further their education and professional development. That is why they were so enthusiastic to hear me speak.

Historically student and monk peaceful protests in Burma were ended by brutality and killing. What troubled me most however was the lack of opportunity for bright youth throughout the country. Religious leaders from the monasteries begged for rice daily in the streets of Rangoon. Democracy would not be tolerated as those in power were determined to hold on as long as possible.

What touched my heart the most was the humility and hunger of young adults to draw near to foreigners to learn anything they could. Such a yearning for knowledge and self-development deeply moved my heart to commit to do all I can for the Burmese youth. I pray the freedom within the hearts of the youth and monks of Burma can somehow victoriously breakthrough and transform their beloved country.

Upon reaching my twenty-eight day limit on my visa in Burma, I was forced to leave the country. My next stop was Thailand, a lovely country with much sexual perversion.

Never in my life had I seen such open prostitution as I had in Bangkok and Phuket. Prostitutes and transvestites freely approached people on the streets soliciting payment for sexual favors. Commonly ladies and “lady-boys” approached me uttering obscenities and selling services.

The U.S. Navy and Marines arrived in Phuket happy to party and take in some extracurricular activities. A few service men made friends with local girls. I can only imagine how many drunk foreigners wake up in the morning only to find they’ve slept with a transvestite.

Beyond the vice of prostitution, Thailand overall is a lovely place to vacation and visit. The food is fantastic. The people are friendly. The beaches are superb. Among the islands I visited were Krabi and Phee-Phee, the latter hit the hardest by the tsunamis.

A European restaurant owner told me stories of Burmese young ladies who had been kidnapped or promised work at upscale resorts. Once the Burmese girls were brought to the cities, their passports were taken and they were forcibly subjected to prostitution. I was informed that once the young ladies get HIV or some sexual disease, they are taken back to the Burmese border, given a fatal injection, and left to die.

Such human rights violations are rarely fought considering the limited economic opportunities in Burma. It is said even along the northeast region of Thailand families sell their own daughters into prostitution to make money.

Though I saw many beautiful young ladies, I managed to happily restrain myself. I was not interested in catching any sexual diseases, which I was told was quite common throughout Thailand.

I journeyed further south when I received an invitation to speak in Penang, Malaysia. Immediately upon entering Malaysia I could sense there was a stronger governmental hand upon the land. I found the Muslims in Malaysia to be very friendly and respectful.

My greatest adventure was traveling to East Malaysia, where I spoke in several poor villages. The precious people were very superstitious, practicing various voodoo like observances I had only before seen in Haiti. Some claimed they were harassed and troubled by demon spirits. Hence I spoke on the importance of guarding your heart, personal purity, and living fearlessly.

The villagers were overjoyed to have me as their guest and cooked innumerable dishes for me to sample. Their poverty by no means hindered their gracious hospitality, neither their generosity. I shall never forget the tenderness of heart the Malaysians showed me.

One unexpected visitor that showed up in a modest home where I stayed was a monkey. During the outbreak of Japanese encephalitis when the military was slaughtering all of the pigs, many were concerned about other animals contracting the virus. Thankfully we never fell ill with the disease and carried on through the outbreak unharmed.

While in East Malaysia (the island of Bornea), an invitation came to speak in Brunei. This small and oil rich nation didn’t have much to do socially at night, but the people were all very polite and industrious. Shell Oil and other petroleum contractors frequented the small country to do business.

What surprised me the most was to see over seventy people jam packed within a small house to hear me speak. The event was hosted by a Christian fellowship that legally was not permitted to meet publicly.

When I inquired further as to the laws of Brunei, I was told that only the Catholics and Anglicans are legally authorized to conduct Christian ceremonies. Brunei does not permit other religious groups to have churches or schools.

It was then I realized how priceless the freedom of thought and expression is, without which there can be no democracy or just government to serve the people. Such sacred freedoms we in the West so commonly take for granted are greatly cherished and only wished for abroad in such nations as Brunei.
Though Brunei has a prospering economy, it is a “dry country” meaning no liquor is sold in the country. Certainly forbidding the use of alcohol has its benefits. There are no drunk driving incidents to endanger people with, neither excessive substance abuse. As one who does not drink myself, such restrictions had no bearing upon me.

Nevertheless as a world traveler touring Asia, the laws of Brunei that restrict religion and consumption were very noticeable. On a more fun note, the free theme park the sultan constructed for all to happily use in the center of the country was a blast! Children and adults of all ages make merry and enjoy it very much! It is my hope the sultan’s generosity will extend over into social freedoms for the people of Brunei.

Upon leaving Brunei we were off to Jakarta, Indonesia. As a surfer Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, quickly became my favorite country in Asia. Considering I didn’t have much money to travel on, the inexpensive hotels and minimal cost of living made Indonesia very comfortable for me.

Even better the people were very generous. Wherever I spoke I always left with more money than I came in with. Upon going to get a hair cut at the salon, I was presently surprised to discover reflexology. Foot massage is very popular throughout Indonesia and only costs about $5 to $10 depending on where you go.

After a good workout at the hotel health club, I even managed to get a full body massage lasting one hour for just $10 to $15 USD. I suddenly felt like a king, though I was living on a pauper’s budget.

While traveling to different areas of Jakarta, my taxi driver pointed out to me a former hotel which had been bombed during the riots a few years ago. The building was utterly destroyed. I was told that Islamic terrorists had blown it up in anticipation of President Clinton and other Americans being there.

I learned about the May riots in which Chinese businessmen were also targeted by Muslim extremists who vandalized their homes and sought to kill them. Like clockwork every May, Chinese would leave the country fearing for their lives.

It seems the Chinese living within Indonesia made the locals jealous. Their business acumen and astute intellect provoked struggling Indonesians.

Nevertheless the same opportunities exist for all throughout Indonesia. Yet many people were easily aroused by the protestation calling for violence. Sadly many died over the years as a result.

I fell deeply in love with Indonesia and returned numerous times. I particularly remember my time speaking in East Timor during the war in 2000, before the United Nations granted them national sovereignty. It was a time of hardship and unrest, as war killed many innocent people. Thankfully Timor Leste, as it is now called, is a land dwelling in peace.

When the tsunamis swept through the island of Sumatra, I was moved with compassion to find my way to Banda Aceh. The longtime renegade province of Indonesia had historically killed dissidents and religious leaders of other faiths. Eventually the leaders of Banda Aceh forbid international aid workers altogether.

That all changed when Banda Aceh and the bordering towns were devastated by the tsunamis. International aid workers from around the globe were suddenly greeted with open arms, waving hands, and smiling faces.

I met men who had lost up to five children and their wives in a single day. One Muslim man told me he cried for two months straight.

Endeavoring to do what I could with what little finances I had, we helped a Muslim young man rebuild his home. His home had been leveled by the tsunamis and he washed to the top of a nearby mountain when the waves swept through.

It was nothing short of a miracle that those alive survived. As they all pulled together to rebuild their homes, bureaucratic delays from the government impeded progress. Nevertheless many proceeded to build with or without authorization.

Other allegations later surfaced that corrupt governmental officials nationally and locally were pocketing charitable contributions and not getting them to those most in need. Such corruption is widespread throughout Indonesia as is evident by the poor and faulty infrastructure across the country.

Bribery sadly is commonplace. Even more troubling was the drug epidemic I witnessed among the youth, many of whom use ecstasy. It is said some 15,000 youth die annually from ecstasy overdose.

The island of Java also has its problems with prostitution. Not something you would expect from an Islamic government.

The Bali bombings during which discos were set on fire and tourists killed sent fear throughout the tourism industry. As the economy took a nosedive, the Indonesian government and police quickly responded to terrorist elements seeking to thwart national stability.

The dangers of terrorists remain throughout isolated areas of Indonesia, as one never knows when a radical may strike. Overall Indonesia however is very peaceable, polite, and warm toward foreigners.

I often felt like a movie star everywhere I went in Indonesia as people shouted at me with joy hoping to get a wave or smile in return.

The sweetness and sincerity of the people stole my heart. Though I am an American born citizen, I left my heart in Asia. Every chance I get, I happily and wholeheartedly return to the continent where two-thirds of the world’s populace lives.

Here at home in America I survive, but afar in the east I thrive! Asia is where my heart comes alive!

A Simple and Easy Guide to Renting a Service Apartment in Bangkok, Thailand

What are the best areas of Bangkok to rent? What facilities and services can I expect from a Bangkok serviced apartment? What are the best and worst serviced apartments in Bangkok? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and much more in my simple and easy guide to renting a serviced apartment in Bangkok for both expats and travelers.

Bangkok is the Center of Southeast Asia

As the commercial center of Thailand and the hub of business and leisure travel within Southeast Asia, Bangkok has exceptional hotels of all kinds catering to the business elite and casual traveler.

Recently, a new kind of accommodation has gained favor with business executives on short stays in Bangkok–the luxury serviced apartment. With increased commercial expansion over the past several years, serviced apartments are quickly becoming the favorite choice of living style for their affordable luxury.

What is a Serviced Apartment?

The serviced part of the equation usually refers to the daily or twice weekly cleaning of your room, the furniture, kitchen amenities and so on that normal apartments do not include. Some service apartments also function as hotels, and these are called Aparthotels.

What’s So Special About Bangkok Serviced Apartments?

Real estate and relocation agents believe Bangkok has the most number of sophisticated apartments the world has to offer. There are not just one or two luxurious apartments, but close to 50. This is because skilled labor is cheap in thailand, and the city itself is a major business hub for the southeast asia region.

Renting a serviced apartment in bangkok can be a daunting task for several reasons–the primary one being there are so many ‘fine print’ and extra costs involved when signing a weekly, monthly or yearly contract.

I have been living in Bangkok for a few years now, and have gone through several serviced apartments, learning on the way which ‘services’ are included and what to expect from your stay in Bangkok.

Bangkok’s City Plan

The Bangkok Jungle has several meanings, one of them being that the city was never built with a city plan or urban design in mind. The city is a sprawling landscape, a montage of residential and commercial buildings juxtaposing one another. It is home to 10 to 15 million people, depending on who is arriving from the rural country and abroad. The people as well, from poor to affluent, live side by side.

The city itself is lopsided; if you look down any major road in bangkok, you will see that both sides of the road arent balanced, building heights are different, and there is an overall lack of symmetry. This is what makes Bangkok unique and charming. And what makes it a jungle.

The Best Areas To Live In Bangkok

Bangkok contains inexpensive to exclusive apartments, but the best ones are found in the following regions of Bangkok:

  • Sukhumvit, the main road or artery of Bangkok
  • Asok, one of the most exclusive and expensive areas to live
  • Thong Lo, the chic and fashionable street,
  • Sathorn, the business district of Bangkok
  • Silom, another business and red light district
  • Ploenchit, business district
  • Chit Lom, business district

The areas listed above are all within easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment, trains, skytrains, and expressways. If you choose to live in one of these areas, you will experience life in the center of Bangkok’s thriving business and shopping centres while indulging in an ultra private serviced apartment in Bangkok. I personally recommend Asok and Chit Lom, as they are the classiest areas of Bangkok, but if you are looking to be close to the night markets Silom is perfect, and Sukhumvit is always a colorful experience.

Facilities and Services of Typical Bangkok Serviced Apartments

These vary between the different types of apartments and condos, but a standard of excellence has been establlished from the increasing competition among serviced apartments. Facilities and services are upgraded regularly to keep up with rival residences. However, before investing in a serviced apartment, be sure to check if these services and facilities are available.

5 Services That Should Be Included Free of Charge:

  • Room Cleaning
  • Water/Utilities
  • Internet Usage
  • 24 Hour Security
  • Room Service/Errand Boy

4 Facilities That Should Be Included

  • Restaurant
  • Gym
  • Pool
  • Convenience Store

The Loopholes: Length of Stay, Deposits and Electricity

If you are staying for a month or year, the serviced apartment may charge you for electricity. Make sure that you negotiate this price to 6.5 Baht/Unit. A lot of times the apartment owners will charge 8 Baht/Unit for more profit. They only pay 3 or 4 Baht/Unit.

Be careful when signing leases; most require a 2 month deposit, and if you move out before your contract is finished you forfeit this deposit.

Make sure the serviced apartment has a laundry service, either in house or out of house. Most serviced apartments have coin operated laundry rooms as well as pick up services. More deluxe suites will have washing machine in the room. Note that most places do not have dryers.

How much Should I Pay?

This is a difficult question to answer, but the more facilities a serviced apartment has, the more it will cost. If a serviced apartment has a pool, gym and also functions as a 24 hour hotel, then the monthly price will be above 30,000 Baht.

Location also has a large part to do with cost of a bangkok serviced apartment. If you are staying in an area not close to skytrain or subway access, your price will be much lower. Conversely, staying in the business districts of Silom or trendy spots like Ekkamai or Thonglor will raise your monthly rent.

Which Serviced Apartment Should I Choose?

The serviced apartment market in Bangkok is lead by three groups, The President Group, The Ascott Group, and Centre Point. Most of them offer first class accommodation and have a decent system of serving their customers. However, there are numerous independent serviced apartments to choose from.

The 2 Worst Serviced Apartments in Bangkok

  • Ascott Bangkok Sathorn

There have been several articles written in trade journals about the decline in service at the once famous and most prestigious serviced apartment in Bangkok. Once known for attention to customer relations, their lack of it is now glaringly obvious to everyone who stays there. This place is an example of a chain serviced apartment becoming too much like a corporation with no human touch of service.

  • Lebua

Rumor is their staff is very untrustworthy. Read the trade journals and ‘google’ the residence for reviews.

Top 2 Most Luxurious Bangkok Serviced Apartments

  • Siri Sathorn Apartments

Siri Sathorn is a five-star luxury `boutique` property which epitomises private and elegant living in a residential setting. It is a concept of the perfect home which appeals to international traveller. This place caters to Japanese clientelle but of course is open to everyone.

  • Fraser Place Urbana Langusan

They have an exclusive 45-metre driveway leading from the main road to the serviced residence for great privacy. They also have some of the best services and customer relations I have ever experienced, pampered is the only word that comes to mind

Best Value Bangkok Serviced Apartments

  • Silom Convent Garden

Newly built in November 2006, this chic serviced apartment is located in the Silom-Sathorn area but has some of the cheapest rates for this business and night market district. For 36,000 Baht/$1000 a month you can have a 38 square meter, 1 bedroom, fully furnished luxurious apartment complete with full kitchen, washer machine, flat screen tv, and rain shower. The only drawback is the place doesn’t have a pool or gym, but thats the reason the price is so low and why its one of the best values in Bangkok.

If you are still undecided whether to have a stay in Bangkok on your next trip, it was just recently announced that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) plans to make Bangkok a “paradise” city. The article from the Bangkok Post states the BMA will establish a fund to address trash, pollution and traffic problems. Now is the time to take your next vacation or business trip to Bangkok, as life couldn’t get any better in the City of Angels!