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Bangkok Life

Central World back in business

Luc Citrinot, eTN  Aug 16, 2010

BANGKOK, Thailand (eTN) - Shopping fans can take a breath of joy again: Bangkok's glitzy Central World shopping mall is due to reopen by the end of September. The complex became the unfortunate symbol of Bangkok’s past violence in May when it was torched down during the clash of the Army with the Red Shirts. Images of its blackened shell went all around the world on television news programs.

Central World mall will not be back in its total integrity, as the side where Zen Department Store used to be was burned to the ground. But the rest of the shopping complex, which suffered only from minor damage, will again be back in business. Until today, only Isetan Department Store is currently in operation.

Central Pattana Plc (CPN), a Thai giant in retail and hotel business in the country and owner of Central World, spent some Baht 2.8 billion (approximately US$88 million) for the reconstruction and renovation of the entire mall. "We want CentralWorld to return grander and better and are improving the retail space to make it more modern, beautiful, safe, and environmentally friendly," explained Kobchai Chirathivat, president and CEO of CPN, at a recent press conference.

The reopening will be carried in three phases. The first phase will welcome visitors again from September 28. It integrates up to 90 percent of the shopping mall's total space with some 350 tenants able to reopen their premises. In November and December, the sixth and seventh floors, with all food outlets, will be back. The heavily damaged Zen Department Store will see its renovation work completed only by August 2011. Mr. Chirathiwat has promised that the reborn shopping mall will be even better than before, integrating innovative designs such as a "Spring Season" atmosphere by using water and more natural light. Security systems and fire prevention systems have also been upgraded.

Central World is Southeast Asia's largest lifestyle shopping destination with 550,000 m² of retail space. Its architectural quality – without being exceptional, has been compared to other recent shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, or Singapore - nevertheless, it stands over Bangkok’s usual average. Lots of glasses and white minimalist structures characterize the mall, which has turned into one of the most attractive sites in the city center for both tourists and visitors. Central World has played host for various fashion shows, as well as the Bangkok Film Festival.

To celebrate the event, the Centara Grand Hotel, integrated to the mall complex, will launch special promotions. Despite its proximity to the torched mall, Centara Grand Hotel was not damaged and reopened just a week following the arson last May.

Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at Central World will offer a series of promotions in the fourth quarter of this year to coincide with the first-phase reopening of Central World. Centara Grand will introduce special food and beverage promotions, spa packages, and attractive discounts on rooms up to the end of the year. “Our hotel and convention center are already reporting high levels of occupancy and business, and this is going to increase with the reopening of CentralWorld,” said Gerd Steeb, president of Centara Hotels & Resorts. “Ratchaprasong is one of the high points of any tourist’s visit to Bangkok, and CentralWorld is the single largest shopping attraction in the district.”

“CentralWorld is at the heart of the Ratchaprasong district, the shopping center of the city. And to reopen our shopping center is a sign that confidence is returning quickly to Bangkok and the Ratchaprasong district,” told CPN president and CEO.

Central World back in business
Central World, early August 2010 / photo by Luc Citrinot

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