Welcome to my blog. I hope you like it.
Newest entries are first with older posts in order below
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October 2010...

I am in China for a month, working and touring. It is an amazing place. What they have done in 15 years is a feat unimaginable to most of us in the Western world.

My friends Anthony and Joanne Chadwick from New Zealand are here. I had no idea that they were living and working in Beijing. Anthony is now the manager of The Opposite House in Beijing, designed by the Japanese architect Kenyo Kuma. Anthony and his wife own a tiny, but wonderful, hotel in Queensland, New Zealand, The Azure Inn. I stayed there a few years ago and recorded an interview with Joanne. Please visit their websites by clicking on the name and have a look. . Our world has become so very small.

Click HERE for my interview with Joanne Chadwick

Alyce and friends in Beijing, China

In the picture I am with Pat Schoenfeld, Monica Wombald, and Anthony. Monica's daughter is attending Peking University and served a brief time as an employee under Anthony

My Book
12 Chef's interviews
 

December 2009


My latest project is a course for Psychiatry students. It is the brain child of Dr. James Groves, and I am the blond on the side. We meet once a month and discuss different parts of Hamlet, showing film clips and stopping to discuss how the residents would treat the separate characters as patients and what their diagnosis would be. See it here: www.shakespearereadsfreud.com
There are papers with text and essays about the thinking of the different psychological aspects represented.

November 1, 2009

Welcome to the world of Esalen. It is a wonderful centre for theory and research. The Institute was established for the development of human resources.
I've been on the board of trustees for several years. It is a non-profit institution. We just finished our donor’s weekend with many exciting participants and guests.
Below are some slides from the Esalen event called Vision and Visionaries: The Alchemy of Transformation. In attendance were Robert Reich, NY Times columnist Bob Herbert, Isabelle Allende, Radio Host Mark Skalsky and many others. MORE HERE

 Visit the Esalen website at www.esalen.org

October 6, 2009...NYC

More about Jude Law HERE

Jude Law is now performing Hamlet in New York City. The town is buzzing about his sterling performance.

I first met Jude as a very young man and was impressed with his thoughtfulness and concern for his craft of acting. At that time he had largely done theatre work. Since then I've seen him perform Hamlet in London, and I saw the previews for the New York show.

This interview was recorded In August at the Wyndam Theatre in London following his performance of Hamlet. He was wonderful. In this interview we discuss the psychology behind Hamlet, and how it related to him personally. Click the button to hear the interview.


September 25, 2009...NYC.
I have returned to New York.   I am teaching as a Visiting Senior Tutor at Massachusetts General Hospital for Harvard Medical School this year. The course is given by psychiatrist, Dr. James Groves, and this year we are studying Hamlet.  I plan to use the Jude Law interview in the class.

Jim is probably one of the most gifted psychoanalysts I know and rather good at Shakespeare also. Our course is called "Shakespeare Reads Freud." It is an elective and open to all residents. If you would like even more information you can browse The Shakespeare Society here in New York. One of my favourite lecturers is Ruth Carpenter who teaches all the plays. www.shakespeare society new york.com.

September 3, 2009...LondonJude Law is now appearing in London at the Wyndham Theatre to do Hamlet.  I plan to meet do an interview about his performance, and I will use the interview in a seminar that I'm planning for Harvard Medical School.  We talk about the psychology behind Hamlet's behavior. In October Jude will perform Hamlet in NYC.  I'll be there.

September 10, 2009...NYC.
My interview this week is with iconic Shakespearean theatre actor Bille Brown, 57, and yes, that's how he spells it. He studied drama at the University of Queensland, and worked for many years as a writer and actor on stage before getting his first film job in 1995 in the film "Fierce Creatures." Click HERE for the interview

July 24, 2009...London. This is the 3rd anniversary of my website.
I have lived and worked in and around Holland Park since the late 70’s. It's one of my favorite places, and I wanted to share it with you. It's right in the center of London, but it has a very rural village atmosphere. This is true of a lot of areas of London, but Holland Park is a bit more leafy as it was in the past the centre of a racetrack.
 
My National Health Clinic, the Notre Dame, where I worked so many years, was located at the top of Portobello Road and Westbourne. Maggie Thatcher closed it when she was Prime Minister.

The famous Notting Hill Carnival is just up the road and our whole area becomes one big party for the weekend. It is as though you have gone to the Caribbean for a week.

Probably the prettiest part of the whole neighbourhood is Holland Park itself. It has playing fields, a small art gallery, the Holland Park Opera House, and a lovely restaurant and coffee shop.

If the video does not play, click HERE to see it on YouTube 

The flowers are beautiful all year round. In the 90’s the Japanese put in a Koi pond and a waterfall. We have peacocks and other birds in the park. The peacocks are so vain that they do their annual mating dance in the Japanese lawns as though they know instinctively that this is where they will look the most beautiful. There are usually about 5 of them displaying at one time.

When the sun shines, all of the English come out to sunbathe and the park looks like a giant seal rock with very white albino humans lying about.

If you are a back packer we have one of the nicest youth hostels in London. It is located in the center of the park yet just five minutes away from Kensington High Street with lots of shopping and restaurants.

If you are ambitious you can walk from Holland Park to Kensington Gardens into Hyde Park and be in the center of London and Park Lane. Then if you really feel like it, you can continue on and cross over to Green Park, the Palace, Westminster and Trafalgar Square; seldom leaving a green and leafy park. Not bad for a major city in the world.

There is a major red route, which is one of the central arteries to the City of London. This means lots of cars and noise, yet only ½ block away all is quiet and serene in my beautiful Holland Park, London.

UK Holland Park website

A Walk Around Holland Park

MORE ON HOLLAND PARK HERE

Friday April 3rd
My yoga teacher, Nancy Roberts, is featured this week. Not only is she an extraordinary yoga teacher but she was and is an entrepreneur.
Originally in the pizza business, but now she has written crosswords for yoga. If you have as much difficulty as I do in struggling with the names of the poses, these puzzles will help you learn and have fun. Check out Nancy's website and see if you wouldn't like to try some. www.nancylynnroberts.com.

Nancy teaches group classes, private classes and workshops in a fully equipped, private studio in Santa Barbara. Click HERE to listen Here's Nancy striking a pose at the Taj Mahal

Nancy Roberts at the Taj Mahal

Monday, March 16, 2009
I have posted my photos of the wedding I attended while I was in Viet Nam recently.
Click Here for the story and my photos. Click HERE for more pictures.

Friday March 13th.
Today I posted my interview with Frank Goss. He's probably one of the most enigmatic men I know. He loves art and knows it very well; yet he has led and still leads an adventurous life.
His café, which is connected to his art gallery, has the best food and atmosphere in Santa Barbara and yet it is a hidden secret. Just across from our beautiful courthouse with a viewing tower. From there it's just a short walk to downtown with all of its wonderful shops and a nearby park where you can sit and read. What more does a person need other than a companion to enjoy these things with? If that's what you want be sure to visit Frank Goss at his Cafe for lunch. Listen and enjoy.

Monday March 16th 

About 6 months’ ago I was having my nails done at my local salon in Santa Barbara, Tina’s Nails on Milpas. The staff in the shop is just wonderful and we have become quite chatty and friendly.
I was telling Kathy, my manicurist that I was going to Viet Nam in four months. She said, “ You should come to my wedding” As one does I said, “ Sure, I will try to see if our schedule will fit around the wedding. However, I said, “I am with a group so it probably will be difficult.”
Kathy gave me two telephone numbers explaining they were local mobiles in Viet Nam and not to ring them until I arrived.
As you may know, if you have been reading the diary the flight from New York to Abu Dhabi is 24 hours. Then you have to fly to Bangkok and on to Hanoi in Viet Nam. By the time, we actually arrived in Viet Nam I was pretty shattered. So I did not ring Kathy right away besides, I had no idea where Kathy lived in Viet Nam. Was it North? Was it South?
The second day, I dialed the numbers and Kathy answered. I gave her our schedule and she explained that in fact the one-day we were in Wue was actually the day of her wedding and I should come.
I checked with her to see if it was a formal wedding and she said it was. In fact, it was to be a traditional wedding with local finery, which I could rent from a local wedding shop. When we arrived in Wue that evening, before the wedding I ask the hotel to help me hire a costume. They said they would arrange for someone to come and pick me up in 15 minutes. I dropped my case and ran downstairs, thinking a taxi would be waiting. Instead, there was a young girl with two motorbike helmets.
Now, in Viet Nam there are thousands of motorbikes, it is the major source of transportation. The people abide by few rules of the road and are erratic in their driving habits to say the least. My heart sank as I thought, well, if I die on the back of this scooter at least it will be a different death. It was rush hour in Wue and it drizzles there most of the time, hence the wonderful rice crops.
The ride took us about 15 minutes through dense and swerving traffic. The Vietnamese are mostly quite small so I loomed over the tiny girl driving, looking like Gulliver’s Travel Giant.
The wedding shop was very nice and the dresses for hire were beautiful. There was only one problem ‘the giant’ did not fit in any of them. Finally, we found one dress, which actually worked, and a beautiful one it was. However, there seemed to be a lot of dialogue about a ‘corset’.  My advisor explained in English that I needed to be smaller on the top so we had to go to another shop for the corset. It was back on the scooter and off to another shop, which turned out, to be lingerie shop and we obtained what was needed. After we arrived back at the wedding shop we had another big problem. I was too tall for the trousers.
The solution reached was to make an elastic drop around the hip. A bit like the rappers wear so the trousers drop away from the waist and hit their buttocks. This made them ankle length instead of Capri trousers.
I arranged a car in the morning to take me to the village where Kathy’s parents lived. It was a forty-minute drive there and back. I had to be at a restaurant by 3:00 prepared to travel with my group. Our Chinese guide, Johnny was quite nervous I would not be back in time to take the coach, which was driving us to Danage and really did not want me to go. I was determined to attend the wedding at all costs!
The road to the village was not particularly good and it was raining quite heavily when we left the hotel. It really did not matter because the scenery was spectacular. Miles of rice fields with water buffalo and locals working in the fields. The young children, of whom there are many as schools are not free in Vietnam so the poor children do not attend classes. They ride the buffalo on their backs either standing or sitting. Most of the people wear a straw hat that is conical in shape with a drawstring to keep them in place.
We arrived at Kathy’s house, which was on the main road at about 9:30 am. It was garlanded with flowers and when you entered there were table and chairs for the luncheon, which was to follow the wedding. A small disco band was set up and a tub holding champagne for the reception.
I was whisked off upstairs to watch Kathy dress and have her hair done by a hairdresser from Hanoi. Kathy is very beautiful as you will see in the photos but her hair is particularly eye catching. Coal black and very long. The hairdresser wound it into a lace like bun near the top of her head as there is a special hat that is worn for the ceremony and the knotted hair fits inside encircled by the band.
I went downstairs after she was ready and joined the family members, and the other young people from Santa Barbara.
We waited for the groom to arrive bearing gifts and the wedding cake. There was a priest or a monk not quite sure what his title was but he certainly was important. The bride’s family greets the groom and his male family at the door with the bridesmaids.
The ceremony then begins and there is an exchange of gifts to the bride from the groom’s mother, the groom and the bride’s mother. These were beautiful diamond earrings, a necklace and a bracelet.
The bride made tea for her mother and the priest said a prayer. Then the rings were exchanged.
Some of us gave gifts of envelopes with money; only the ones visiting from another place gave these, which included me.
After the blessing there was to be a lunch, a singing party with the disco which gladly I missed as I cannot sing a note! The bride has three wedding dresses, a traditional Viet Namise dress, a Western dress which you can see on their website (Bob please add link) and then one to do the karaoke.
Sadly, I had to go to meet my tour and continue on to Da Nang where I was to meet Jason and his wife Sarah the next day. They had come for the wedding and live in the city. I looked forward to meeting them there to celebrate Tet, which is Chinese New Year.
I hope you enjoy sharing the wedding with me and their  wonderful family. Here's the photo slide show.

 Click HERE for wedding pictures, the honeymoon and more

Friday March 13th.

Today I posted my interview with Frank Goss. He's probably one of the most enigmatic men I know. He loves art and knows it very well; yet he has led and still leads an adventurous life.
His café, which is connected to his art gallery, has the best food and atmosphere in Santa Barbara and yet it is a hidden secret. Just across from our beautiful courthouse with a viewing tower. From there it's just a short walk to downtown with all of its wonderful shops and a nearby park where you can sit and read. What more does a person need other than a companion to enjoy these things with? If that's what you want be sure to visit Frank Goss at his Cafe for lunch. Listen and enjoy.

February 27th
Today I posted my interview with Vicki Riskin. I met Vicki when I first came to Santa Barbara. A mutual friend of ours, Nancy Koppelman, kept telling me about this amazing woman. The three of us met for lunch and Vicki and I found we had many things in common.
Psychology, Buddhism, and a love affair with Tibet cemented our friendship. Vicki actually goes there all the time to help the Tibetans. I had visited twice and climbed there. I also had a journey to Dharamshala when John Cleese did a BBC Special with the Dali Lama.
Vicki is, as you will hear, an extraordinary talent. Enjoy the show.

February 16th...President's Day.

My friend Bruce Goldstein took me to a great place. It is the Club Cache in the Edison Hotel. Bruce is the director of the Film Forum another of my favourite places. He was giving out two free tickets to Breadlines and Champagne their series this month. He sang! I had no idea he could do that. Please check out Film Forums website here:

http://www.filmforum.org/films/breadlines.html

I go regularly, and last night I saw the unedited version of Baby Face with Barbara Stanwyck. It's very racy with quite sordid moments.
If you are in the New York area by all means go and hear Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks. They play wonderful Big Band music (11-piece band) for dancing at SOFIA’S RESTAURANT - Club Cache at the Edison Hotel* here in NYC.

I first went last Monday night and it is so great. A lot of the local couples, young and old, come to dance. They look so professional and some probably are. Dressed in the fad clothes of that age even the ‘spat’ shoes, their feet swirl and tap to the orchestra music.
One man of a certain age came in his tuxedo and joined the band to play the clarinet and it was magic.
You can dine there also. So spend the whole evening, listen to great music and enjoy the scene.
Their records are available on CD. My personal favourite is "Cheek to Cheek." However, they are all worth purchasing and listening to. LIsten to their music by clicking here: myspace.com/VinceGiordanotheNighthawks

Below is my journal about my recent trip in January toViet Nam via Dubai in Arabia

 

 This is a slide show of the pictures from my trip. I took over a 1000...so more to come.

We arrived in Abu Dhabi* on January 9 after a 15-hour flight on Air Etihad. This is the new Arab State Emirates line. They have been open for 5 years and their business is like flying first class on any other airline; beds with body massage function, fantastic wines (try Jean-Claude Boisset Mersault, 2006 and Chateau Labegorce Margaux, 1998) plus the friendliest staff.

Our hotel was the Hilton and I would not recommend it very highly except for the fantastic swimming pool.

Upon our arrival in Dubai our dear friend Markus Draxler sent his driver so we could meet him for lunch and see the city. It is a city of skyscrapers extraordinaire. I only wish we could have taken a helicopter ride and if I went there again that is exactly what I would do. I think the only way to really appreciate the concept of what they have created is by air.
We took photos from afar of the Buri al Arab. However, at 2,000 dollars a night we declined from becoming their guests. There is shopping centre with a ski slope, whoops, forgot to take a photo sorry!
I Had a wonderful swim and to bed as the next morning very early we were to leave for Bangkok.

Arrived in Bangkok, Thailand to probably one of my favourite hotels in the world. The Mandarin Oriental**.

The hotel is a partially new facility but still feels like the old days. You can book to stay in an author’s suite, which is the oldest, part and so charming. Also, they offer afternoon tea in the atrium. Great massages and treatments are available. You take a little ferry across the bay to arrive for your treatment of choice. Very funny to see men and women in flip-flops and dressing gowns getting on a ferry dressed so oddly.
I had a Thai massage, which is my choice always when in Indochina. We then went to a hotel cocktail party where we met the manager Kurt Wachtveitl, who has been there since 1962. My friend Roz Jacobs, who was my traveling companion, had known all of his friends because she was a buyer for Macy’s in the 60’s. Very rare at the time for a woman to travel alone in such exotic locations.
That night we met our group in the Baan Noi restaurant. We are a group of 15 people plus the lecturer Olivier Bernier and the tour leaders Christine Pagnani and Johnny Chung from Academics Abroad. TO BE CONTINUED….

*Dubai info: Dubai (in Arabic: دبيّ‎, transliteration: Dubaīy) is one of the seven emirates and the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. The Dubai Municipality is sometimes called Dubai city to distinguish it from the emirate. Written accounts document the existence of the city for at least 150 years prior to the formation of the UAE. Dubai shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates within a federal framework, although each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions such as civic law enforcement and provision and upkeep of local facilities. Dubai has the largest population and is the second largest emirate by area, after Abu Dhabi.[5] Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to possess veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature.[6] Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum dynasty since 1833. Dubai's current ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE. The emirate's revenues are from trade, real estate and financial services.[7] Revenues from petroleum and natural gas contribute less than 6% (2006)[8] of Dubai's US$ 37 billion economy (2005).[9] Real estate and construction, on the other hand, contributed 22.6% to the economy in 2005, before the current large- scale construction boom.[10] Dubai has attracted worldwide attention through innovative real estate projects [11] and sports events. This increased attention, coinciding with its emergence as a world business hub, has also highlighted human rights issues concerning its largely foreign workforce.

**Mandarin info:  http://www.mandarinoriental.com/ · The hotel contains 358 rooms plus 35 suites. The only part of the original 19th century hotel is the 2-storey Authors’ Residence whose upper storey houses suites named after Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward and James Michener. The River Wing contains deluxe two bedroom suites named and themed after former guest or personages associated with the hotel including: Barbara Cartland, Gore Vidal, Graham Greene, Wilbur Smith, John le Carré, Jim Thompson, Graham Greene, Captain Anderson, Norman Mailer, Giorgio Berlingieri and Thai author Kukrit Pramoj. Other suites are named after ships associated with the early Bangkok trade such as Otago (once captained by Joseph Conrad), Melita, Vesatri and Natuna.

January 1, 2009
Dear Listeners,
As we enter this New Year, which is presenting a challenge to us all both personally and universally, I would like to remind you to be kind to your neighbor. Do a good deed for a stranger and give to your favourite charity. With the downfall of the markets they will need you more than ever.
I hope you all are happy in the New Year. It is not always easy to keep a good frame of mind during holiday seasons. However, look around. See if your family, friends or acquaintances need something. Help others and you will not be able to worry about yourself. Everyone wins! HAPPY NEW YEAR

December 26, 2008...A Christmas Story 2008

It was Christmas Eve and I had just watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” with my grandchildren. Being an American who has lived abroad for 30 years, I thought perhaps that I had changed. It is amazing what your ‘roots’ do to you. I am still just as soppy as ever. The film is in black and white and my 9 year old grandson kept saying, “Will it be in colour soon?”
It is a very long film and the story unfolds slowly. There are angels, which as a child I always believed in and loved. You may ask “What do you mean by angels?” I suppose I would say they are the people who give.
I lived for a while in Santa Barbara, California and I had the pleasure to share the podium at a book fair with Catherine Ryan Hyde who wrote Pay It Forward. The book had a big impact on me. Because this Christmas I have a chance to Pay It Forward.
Here’s the story. On Christmas Eve, before watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” with my grandchildren, we all went to a shop called Wal-Mart. We do not have these in Europe, and they are extremely large. I have been to them twice before. We needed stocking stuffers and many other things. They had them all. But I needed something much more important. I had already bought my grandchildren a learning kit on how to play the guitar, and I knew we could get a guitar at Wal-Mart.
A very helpful clerk showed me where they were and even volunteered to wrap the guitar. She then left it at the check out desk for me to collect, so the children would not see it. However, we had bought an immense amount of goods and in the process of checking out we forgot the guitar.
I did not discover this until after Wal-Mart had closed at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. In a panic, I rang to explain that it was my major gift for the grandchildren. The security guard who answered the telephone was so kind. She explained that I could not collect the guitar until December 27 at 7:00 am. I must have sounded distressed, because I was. What a twit I had been to forget the guitar! She said “Hold on for a moment”. She came back on the line and asked how far away I was.
Shouting, to my son, he explained we were 20 minutes away. I knew that was much too long for them to wait. Instead she said, “Never mind just come.”
We jumped into the car, and because traffic was light on Christmas eve, we arrived in about 12 minutes without speeding.
As I walked up to this huge store, security guards everywhere gave the constant refrain: “Lady, we are closed” I simply said: “It’s the guitar.” If you have ever watched Get Smart on television you may know I felt like Don Adams going through the steel doors and I had the password.
When I arrived at the desk they were so lovely. I said, “If I could give you a group hug, I would.” Unfortunately, much to my chagrin, the guitar they brought me was not the one I had chosen. Nothing like being picky when you are holding up security! However, one of the young clerks said he knew the one I meant. We all waited as his footsteps rang through the empty store as he went to collect it. And when he appeared there it was, the guitar. I was so relieved, I had found the ‘big’ present or rather they had found it for me.
I had the foresight to bring cash, but when I took the money out of my pocket to pay, this young man holding a walkie-talkie and my guitar asked me a very odd question: “Are you from the South?” I explained he was absolutely right about that, and I told the whole story of coming from afar and waiting to buy the guitar because it was too big to carry on the airplane.
He looked at me and smiled and said, “I have the pleasure on Christmas Eve of giving you this guitar for your grand children at no charge.
I burst into tears. How can be people be so kind? Of course they can, even when the world is falling around us with mortgages being called, banks crashing, motor companies going broke. Still at my age I believe in angels, and I had just met one.
His name was Jonathan Cruz and he is the manager of Wal-Mart in Kennet Square, West Chester, Pennsylvania. But, you know angels receive gifts also and it is my turn to pay it forward. Could you please go to www.walmart.com and write a note to the management. Tell them you think he was the best manager ever on Christmas Eve.
I had the pleasure of telling my grandchildren this story on Christmas Morning. I told them they should be as giving to others as the gift they had received. I reminded them that they had cried at the end of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
So may you be happy, may you be well, may you be safe on this wonderful holiday. Enjoy your family and friends and have a Happy New Year

 

December 20, 2008
Hi, Welcome to New York and the snow.
It snowed yesterday and was so beautiful. Unfortunately, now it is just ice and slush with all the airplanes grounded.
I went today to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Everyone is ice-skating and tons of tourists. Unfortunately, due to the crash there are lots of sales but the crash has affected the purchasing power of the consumer. Stores are not very crowded and everything marked down to below 50%.
It is so great to be back here as my favorite Italian restaurant is nearby called Mezzaluna. Feels like you are back in the old country.
We have a new era coming with Obama as our president and an economy, which must recover, from the blow of its losses. Our troops may be coming home. Peace on earth can be a wish but not a truth.
I hope all my listeners and everyone else has a wonderful Christmas, and remember to appreciate your friends and families.

November 2008

KURT WACHTVEITL: OVER 40 YEARS OF LEGENDARY SERVICE
Kurt Wachtveitl has been General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok since 1967.  A graduate of the Lausanne Hotel School in Switzerland, he studied Philosophy at the University of Madrid, as well as History of Art and Literature at the Dante Alighieri School in Rome, acknowledging these experiences has having helped him to appreciate the intricacies of hotel business. 
Prior to coming to Thailand in 1965, Kurt Wachtveitl was with the Hotel Beau Rivage in Lausanne, the Trois Couronnes in Vevey, the Suvretta in St. Moritz and the Hilton Hotel in London. 
In October 1967, at the age of 30, he was appointed General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. In his 41 years as general manager, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok transformed from a 100-room Asian legend into an international reference hotel proudly steeped in history.
Pursuing the literary tradition that resonates deep in the culture of the hotel, in 1979 Kurt Wachtveitl lead Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok in joining forces with surrounding ASEAN countries to establish the elite Southeast Asian Writers Awards (S.E.A. Write Awards). In collaboration with His Royal Highness Prince Prem Purachatra, the Italthai Group of Companies, and Thai Airways International Public Co. Ltd., this prestigious award was created to honour writers and poets in the region, showcasing its literature to an international audience.
Ever attentive to Thai culture, Kurt Wachtveitl plays an active role locally through membership in various organizations.  His vision to develop young Thai nationals in the hotel industry resulted in the launch of The Oriental Hotel Apprenticeship Programme (OHAP) in October 1990. 
Also, in July 2002, he pioneered and launched “The Oriental Professional Thai Chef Programme” (OPTC), a three-month course accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education to create professional “Oriental Thai Cooks and Future Cooks” to take on Thai chef positions overseas, and ultimately become ambassadors of Thai cuisine to the world. 
Kurt Wachtveitl is a recipient of Thailand’s Royal Decoration of Fourth Class (Companion) of the Most-Exalted Order of the White Elephant, as well as of the Order of Merit, presented to him by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1987.  He was also bestowed the French Distinction Internationale titled “Personnalite de l’année 1991” (Personality of the Year 1991) in the hotel industry. 
“We have always added new things to the hotel,” says Kurt Wachtveitl who, in October 2006, received the highly distinctive Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong, which is presented to an outstanding leader in the hospitality industry for his or her accomplishments and contributions to the hotel industry, exemplifying dedication, diligence, commitment and passion in guest satisfaction.
In 2008, Kurt Wachtveitl was bestowed the “Royal Cypher Medal” Decoration by His Majesty King Bhumibol of Thailand for his dedication and continuous support of The Royal Project under the Patronage of His Majesty. 
In yet another prestigious accolade, HOTELS Magazine, USA named him “2008 Independent Hotelier of the World” for “putting in his full, heartfelt effort for more than 40 years as the leader of one of the world’s iconic luxury hotels…” 
Kurt Wachtveitl’s commitment and dedication have created a world-class hotel that is cemented in tourists’ and travellers’ memories. In his words: “If you give personalized service, the bottom line will follow.”
Mr. Kurt Wachtveitl is married to Penny Bunnag, and they have three children: Inka, Kim, and Carla, and two grand daughters.