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January 17, 2014

Bangkok Celebrates World’s Highest Ball Drop

By Chris Boyle

lebua_Ball drop photoWhen the Bangkok Ball Drop at lebua – Thailand’s first of its kind – landed at its resting place on its base at Sirocco restaurant as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, the whole world gasped in surprise.

Thailand had never had a significant New Year celebration before, and though the city’s skyline has always achieved unprecedented displays of fireworks on the last night of the year, New Year celebrations in the country had formerly revolved around champagne, feasts and countdowns.

Never before in the history of Thailand had there been a ball drop – not to mention the world’s highest, given the height of the building where it took place.

CEO of lebua Hotels & Resorts, Deepak Ohri, said on the night of the balldrop: “Some of our guests didn’t know there would be a ball drop tonight. We were already fully booked by the time the plans were fully realized, so we decided to make it a bit of a surprise.”

Looking around at the smiling diners, he added: “I am really happy with the results. The Bangkok Ball Drop has been a huge success.”

The lebua ball, at 2.1 meters (seven foot) in diameter, is to be an annual event, and is set to put Thailand’s capital city on the world map of New Year celebrations. “I expect it will grow of its own volition,” the CEO remarked.

In appearance, the lebua ball is similar to a football, with 20 hexagons forming its strong steel structure along with 12 pentagons, but with a transparent fabric rather than leather filling the spaces between.

The steel frame also carries the ball’s 2,950 LED lights within the ball, complemented by 50 carefully placed strobe lights. Search lights from each corner of the venue’s perimeter provided the ball with an aura and brightness that gave the latest New Year’s Eve icon a distinctly Asian accent.

The ball was easily seen for more than 1.8 kilometers (one mile), from the north east to the south east of the city, giving the icon more visibility than any other in Bangkok.

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Yet it was the guests at lebua’s three altitude-defying restaurants – the legendary alfresco Mediterranean restaurant, Sirocco; the fine dining mecca Mezzaluna; and the authentic Asian outlet Breeze, with its neon-lit central bridge – who best enjoyed the views of Bangkok’s latest New Year’s Eve phenomenon. Those who have purchased drinks at Sky Bar and Distil will also delight in a bird’s eye view.

Sirocco restaurant and Sky Bar, the ‘bar within the restaurant’, both celebrated their tenth year anniversary this December and nobody could think of a better way to celebrate than this. As fireworks filled the sky, the ball, overlooking the renowned Sirocco restaurant, seemed more like a moon than a ball, especially with its translucent fabric covering that rendered the ball more moon-like than its Times Square sister.

Feasting on New Year’s Eve at Tower Club at lebua’s three sky-reaching restaurants has always been an occasion to relish, thanks to the to-die-for views and exclusive cuisine and service. Mezzaluna’s feast is well known around town as being the evening’s most expensive restaurant dinner, while the decade-old Sirocco has been featured on countless magazine covers, not to mention as part of the most important scene of The Hangover Part II.

Meanwhile, Breeze’s neon-lit bridge is a vastly impressive venue, whose delicious Asian food matches, and sometimes surpasses, international plating standards.

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