CTLS Cultural Center holds dramatic grand opening
On Sunday 23 November, the much-anticipated CTLS Cultural Center was officially opened, with a glittering ceremony officially opened by the governor of Chonburi. The center, an ambitious collaborative project between husband and wife team Chris and Tewi Gleeson, is primarily aimed at showcasing the various forms of Thai dancing (known as khon), covering all four geographical areas of Thailand.
Chris and Tewi Gleeson are the founders and operators of the highly-regarded CTLS language schools, based in both Bangkok and Pattaya, and this project has been a labour of love.
The main entertainment room has seating for around 270 people with most tables seating between seven and 10 persons. The high ceilings and light colours give it an air of spaciousness while the buffet-style food is of good quality, and certainly encourages patrons to go back for a second course.
To the trained eye, of course, each dance from the various regions is distinctive. To the untrained eye, much may appear similar, but in reality, it doesn’t take a lot to recognise the styles of clothing and the form of dance and musical accompaniment are indeed separate.
The Thai puppet part of the show is well worth the price of admission. A pair of puppets bedecked in classical costume are handled by a group of people dressed in black and in their hands become almost life-like. Part of the attraction is the way the handlers move through the audience to interact with diners.
Apart from the Thai puppetry, there is the dancing covering the four geographic regions of Thailand: North, North-East, South, and the Central Plains.
Chris and Tewi plan to present a variety of shows from each region that will be rotated on a daily basis, so everything from the food to the dancing will be in synergy.
The opening night featured dance from the south and the north-east with a final spectacular act that looked to be part of the Ramakien series of stories.
All told, the plan is to have entertainment three times a day, with shows at midday (to 1:45pm), 3:00pm (to 4:45pm) and 6:00pm (to 7:45pm). Already there has been great interest from major tour groups, many of whom have taken up block bookings.
This is no real surprise given that the CTLS Cultural Center is quite unique to the Pattaya area.
The centre had its beginnings in 2012 when Chris and Tewi purchased 17 rai of land in the Huay Yai district, with the aim of building it to promote Thai culture. The land came with an attached lake and around this they decided it would also be good to construct a spa, in which traditional Thai massage could be taught.
Work began on the project in May 2013, and while the building was scheduled to be ready by June, delays meant the opening had to be put back a few months. CTLS will have outlaid around 40 million baht in constructing the centre.
The spa will be centred around the large lake, with salas set up for massage or just to allow visitors to relax. In the gardens of the spa there will be an outdoor stage and a 5m x 5m cooking area, a six-person sauna and spa baths, all set in the wonderful gardens.
To reach the CTLS Cultural Center from Pattaya, head down Sukhumvit Highway to Soi 13/1 in Na Jomtien, take the turn-off to Phoenix Golf and Country Club and drive a few kiolmetres towards the junction with Road 331. The center is clearly visible on the left.