[dropcap size=small]S[/dropcap]umptuous leather sofas, timber and brass detailing on desks and a gorgeous book-matched Volakas marble counter. Complimentary breakfast on Mondays, a free weekly shoulder massage and a nightly “turndown service” of a trolley offering warm cookies. The makings of a new Park Hyatt, perhaps? Not quite. The Great Room is in fact a co-working space, spread over 15,000 sq ft on the 10th level of tony office development One George Street, replete with breathtaking wrap-around views of the cityscape.
But the similarity to a luxury hotel is not by chance. Prior to this project, co-founder and CEO of The Great Room Jaelle Ang led the development of Bangkok’s uber-posh Capella Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel and Four Seasons Private Residences.
“When you walk into a well-designed hotel lobby,” she explains, “it feels different from conducting business in a stiff and grey office. You feel an elevated sense of purpose and connection with people. Like today is the day you are going to sign that deal, or meet that special business partner.”
Members I spoke to agree. Tom Sweeney, managing partner and CEO of Kai Capital Partners, settled in a six-worker dedicated office in The Great Room after trying out another provider of such spaces. He says: “There is a certain magic in this place – from its design, colour scheme and beautiful layout, to the incredible service from Jaelle’s team. We all feel very welcome here.”
And the interaction with other members has already borne fruit. He is particularly pleased with one encounter, which led to an introduction to, and gained his firm an audience with, a very high-level government official with whom they are now collaborating.
Another member, Peter Wong, was smitten by the “five-star hotel, suave boardroom, grand library, corner office all in one” after he saw The Great Room in a magazine and visited it. However, he couldn’t sell the idea of a company relocation to his co-workers, who were more conservative about sharing spaces. So he moved in without them.
“My colleagues find it amusing,” shares the manager at a boutique hedge fund, “but we respect one another’s idiosyncrasies. Due to travel, we communicate mostly digitally anyway.”
What’s intriguing is the diverse clientele that The Great Room draws. Obviously, you get the design-conscious set such as boutique hotel collective Design Hotels and Swiss hospitality schools Les Roches and Glion having offices here. But after work, non-resident club members such as Bank Julius Baer’s South-east Asian vice-chair David Lim and Mercury Group’s founder Tjin Lee check in for drinks and networking. On the cards: a major global luxury fashion house, slated to occupy a 20-person room.
The common thread that holds them together is great design, which is often invisible, yet leads to very tangible good feelings. As Wong aptly sums up: “I believe that environments impact us, consciously or otherwise. With a cast of international, cosmopolitan members, its setting is highly energising.”
The Great Room
One George Street, 10th Floor