HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Royal Cliff Beach Resort scoops world wine award

“Le Baron” attends Wine Club’s 2nd Anniversary

Visiting Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawalee

Tourism and culture representatives visit Underwater World

Royal Cliff Beach Resort scoops world wine award

“Not just good for the Royal Cliff, but also for Pattaya” says wine club president

Miss Terry Diner

The New York based Wine Spectator magazine is the most respected judge of food and wines in the world and this year has given a Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence to the Royal Cliff Beach Resort’s Grill Room and Wine Cellar.

This award is one sought after by thousands of restaurants all over the world, and to receive the top accolade is a great honour. “This is good, not just for us, but for Pattaya,” says Ranjith Chandrasiri, Royal Cliff Grand & Spa resident manager and Royal Cliff Wine Club president.

As the world becomes more sophisticated, and knowledge of wines has spread exponentially, it has become harder and harder to meet the ever increasing and exacting standards, to be “the best”. In the case of the Wine Spectator Award, it is not a simple sample of the grape to go with a decent imported steak, but is an evaluation of a restaurant, supported by its wine activities. The Royal Cliff’s Grill Room with its adjoining Wine Cellar had the correct base to begin, and the evaluation process went on from there. This is an adjudication that is done by more than one person and on more than one occasion.

This honour would not have come about without the invaluable advice of Khun Panga Vathanakul MD of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort (2nd right) with the expertise of Ron Batori, MD of Ambrose Wines (left), and the many connoisseurs, who have presented wines at the Wine Club. One such person is Thierry Tourneil, the GM Asia-Pacific for the famous Baron Philippe de Rothschild Wines (right).

The Grill Room has always enjoyed a good reputation amongst the gourmets, and I rated this restaurant as one of my personal favourites in my own ‘Miss Terry Diner’s awards’ at the end of last year, but to garner the Wine Spectator Award requires the integration of wine and dine. To this end, Ranjith emphasizes the importance of training, which occurs as a daily procedure.

Would you like to know which wine goes with your entrecote steak? The Royal Cliff’s service personnel has a pocket book which will give Ranjith’s recommendations, if it is not already in the forefront of their memory.

To say that the wines have to be handled and stored correctly is an obvious parameter, but the wines themselves come under scrutiny. 22,000 bottles are kept in optimum circumstances, covering 700 individual labels. “We have wines from every wine producing country in the world,” said Ranjith proudly, since he personally selected the wines for the cellar.

For such an award, the wine list needs more than just a page or two of reds and whites, but has to be extensive and one which shows the vintages, the derivation and even the correct spellings.

When wine activities were looked at, this was again one area where the Royal Cliff Wine Club confirmed the approach taken by the resort. From a handful of members a few years ago, the Wine Club, under Ranjith’s guiding hand, has grown to over 300 enthusiastic members who enjoy regular wine tasting educational evenings and Wine Club dinners that are now so well attended that there was no restaurant large enough to accommodate the numbers, and they are now held in the Grand Ballroom.

Ranjith freely acknowledges the assistance and encouragement given to him by the owner of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Panga Vathanakul and General Manager Andrew Wood. “I was given a free hand. My first dream was the walk-in wine cellar, then to enjoy quality wines you need quality glasses and so we changed to one thousand baht crystal.”

It was obvious that for Ranjith, this award showed the recognition from the industry of the efforts that had been put into attaining the standard of excellence. “Now we have to keep this standard. We must continue to focus on quality.” As an aside he also said, “Whatever you do - do it in style.”

There is no doubt that “style” is one aspect of wining and dining at the Grill Room and Wine Cellar, and it is certainly satisfying to know that what we all understood to be quality has been verified by the highest accolade given by the premium wine magazine in the world. The Pattaya Mail adds its congratulations to the Award of Excellence!

“Le Baron” attends Wine Club’s 2nd Anniversary

Miss Terry Diner

The Royal Cliff Wine Club is now two years old, and to celebrate the event was a right ‘royal’ occasion. Whilst not ‘royalty’, the special guest, with some very special wines, was Thierry Tourneil, the GM Asia-Pacific for the famous Baron Philippe de Rothschild Wines. Yes, the Chateau Mouton Rothschild type wines!

The MD of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Panga Vathanakul welcomed everyone to the second anniversary and then the Wine Club’s ‘Captain’ Ranjith Chandrasiri invited everyone to sit behind their lined up glasses for a memorable evening of wine tasting.

Pattaya now has a growing number of wine lovers, as can be witnessed at the ever popular wine tasting evenings and the Vintners Gala Dinners.

Also present on the podium with Monsieur Thierry and Ranjith was Ron Batori, the MD of Ambrose Wines, whose company has just become the Thailand agents for the prestigious Rothschild label.

Monsieur Thierry held the attention of the crowded ballroom, as he delivered an audio-visual presentation on the famous label’s wines, saying “We are not making wine for everybody. We just hope people like our wines.” The truth of that statement was to come with the tasting of the eight reds supplied by Ron Batori, and some even hand-carried, wrapped in Ron’s sox and jox, he told us!

It was certainly an evening of reds and an evening of gasps when the prices of the bottles were read out by Ranjith, culminating in the 1989 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac which had a ticket price of 120,000 baht per bottle - wholesale! That is a 750 ml bottle. The first Jeroboam of this vintage apparently selling for USD41,000, which is roughly 1.7 million baht at current exchange rates. “Yes, waiter, you may open it now and let it breathe a little, and if you spill one droplet I will kill you with your cork extractor.”

Monsieur Thierry’s hope that people would like his company’s wines was upheld, though there were many ranges of opinion, as there always is with such a personal factor as taste in wines. While everyone drained their glass of the 120,000 baht Chateau Mouton Rothschild, it was not the ‘wine of the night’ for some of the Wine Club members, though it was for the majority! For me, the winner by a short cork, was the Escudo Rojo, Maipo, 2001, matured for 12 months in oak barrels, and retailing under 3,000 baht, from the Le Cadet, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001 at 2,500 baht. But then, perhaps Miss Terry has a cheap palate!

For all those amateur vignerons or winemakers who might like to produce their own variety of the 120,000 baht Mouton Rothschild, the breakdown was a follows - Cabernet Sauvignon 77%, Merlot 11%, Cabernet Franc 10% and Petit Verdot 2%. Oh, by the way, you do need to grow your grapes in some special regions of Bordeaux in France and you are not allowed to irrigate either. It is probably cheaper to dig deep and ask Ron Batori’s Ambrose Wines to bring you in a bottle!

The Royal Cliff Wine Club’s second anniversary was certainly an evening to remember.

Visiting Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawalee

Elfi Seitz

Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawalee celebrated her 46th birthday on July 13. She usually celebrates in Bangkok, but this year the Princess honored Pattaya with Her presence when she chose to receive congratulations in her home near the Asia Hotel.

Chonburi Governor Pisit Khetphasook, Pattaya’s Mayor Pairat Suthithamrongsawat and many top-ranking politicians came to humbly offer their happy birthday wishes to Her Royal Highness.

Our group waits in anticipation to pay tribute to Her Royal Highness. (From left) Dieter H. Pr้court, Nittaya Patimasonkroh, Peter Thorand, Malinee Sarimran, Chayaporn Pechsawat, Elfi Seitz, Malinee Suwansanee and Marliese Fritz.

Many organizations and clubs were also invited to participate in this Royal event. The president of the YWCA Bangkok /Pattaya, Nittaya Patimasongkroh applied on behalf of her club to be one of them, and after receiving acceptance, invited Malinee Sarimran, Chaiyaporn Pechsawat and me along with her. Since the YWCA often works with the Rotary Club of Taksin Pattaya, President Dieter H. Precourt, Charter-President Peter Thorand and treasurer Marliese Fritz also attended this exclusive party.

The two hour wait to get into the restricted area, and the additional two hours of excited anticipation once inside, went quickly, as we were all treated kindly with snacks and cool drinks, giving us an opportunity to mingle with the other guests. Various officials greeted each other and other guests while white -clad navy officials stood confident and strong. My eyes were drawn to the exotic colors of beautiful gowns and glittering jewels the Thai ladies wore.

After the governor from Chonburi, accompanied by the mayor of Pattaya and many other high-ranking officials paid their tribute to Her Royal Highness, it was then our turn to enter the terrace of the house, where the celebrations took place.

Standing in line with many handsome navy officers, one after the other we were allowed to kneel in front of the Princess to give her fresh flowers and/or sums money to go to her many charity projects. In return, we each received a very special Buddha image from the hands of Her Royal Highness. She then addressed each group by name (what a marvelous memory) and then thanked all for wishing her happiness on her birthday.

Princess Soamsawalee even repeated Her words in English for us four farangs to understand.

The only part of the proceedings that left me a bit disappointed was that taking photos was not allowed at the ceremony.

Exhausted, but ecstatic, after a long day, we all rushed home to tell our families all about this wonderful experience.

Tourism and culture representatives visit Underwater World

Songklod Kaewvisit

On their recent trip to Pattaya to promote the marathon, two representatives of tourism and culture, Miss Personality and Miss Thailand 2003 first runner-up Suphinya Chayaputi, and Eakchitra Khammeesrisukh, second runner-up, made some time to visit the new Underwater World in Jomtien.

The ladies were led into a glass tunnel and were delighted with the thrilling scenery of a variety of fish and other marine life, and were very impressed with this fine facility.

Which is more exotic and beautiful, the tourism and culture representatives or the tropical fish?

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) assigned four pageant winners, these two plus Miss Thailand 2003 Chalisa Boonkrongtham and Miss People Chanida Sattabut, to endorse tourism throughout Thailand and neighboring countries. They are scheduled to visit many places in the kingdom to urge people to go out and travel.

First runner-up Suphinya said, “When people start to travel more, our economy will improve. Plus, there are so many wonderful things to see in Thailand that it makes our job a real pleasure.”

As representatives of their country and culture the pageant winners are promoting TAT’s many projects including its latest ‘Unseen in Thailand’ campaign. Their visit to the city was one of their missions to endorse the tourism sector here.

Before they left they agreed, “Pattaya is one of the best holiday spots in the country and we will spread the word.”

Skal International