Thailand Travel Guide
The Amari Buriram United football club will open a 60-room football-themed (soccer) hotel in Thailand later this year, aimed at increasing sports and leisure-related travel.
The rooms will overlook a mini-soccer field and a pool, and although details are a bit vague at the moment, it seems the bathrooms will be designed after a "player's changing room." Hopefully the sweat-soaked sock smell is not included! To further replicate the team-style amenities and way of life, the in-house restaurant will feature bench-style seating.
While we admit that parts of the concept sound hit or miss (aka the locker room bathrooms), this property seems poised to attract both casual and fanatic fans on a game weekend. Which makes us wonder: Are you surprised this concept hasn't caught on in the States yet? Couldn't you totally see Yankee Stadium with a 100-room hotel attached? Not just a Howard Johnson or a Holiday Inn close by -- we're talking an official Yankees Hotel. Or a Dallas Cowboys or Boston Red Sox establishment around the corner from the stadium?
Check out that balcony. Would a soak in that tub not immediately make you feel so much better about your day? Such is your option at the spa at the Regent Phuket Cape Panwa, specifically in one of the signature couple’s treatment rooms. Being the first new Regent hotel to open in a number of years, we swung by recently when we were in the area to check out how the renaissance of the group (now continued with a second opening in Bali) is coming along.
We arrived in the midst of a pretty impressive (and seasonal) thunderstorm, with sheets of rain cascading down like nobody’s business – when it rains in Thailand, it RAINS. Luckily those thunderstorms also tend to clear out in no time, chased away by the strength of the sun. Set in the far less developed south eastern part of Phuket, the hotel consists of 105 rooms – a combination of Pavilions, Suites, and Pool Villas – scattered on a hillside tumbling down to the Andaman Sea.
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So Worth It? A HotelChatter Review
After giving you a peek at the hotel couture the Sofitel So Bangkok serves up with their uniforms, now we can reveal the full details of the property, and we have to say, this Sofitel is a doozy. Allow us to break it down for you:
Lobby Layout: The main lobby is located on the ninth floor and after being a bit confused how everything worked, we finally walked into a large room with a giant wooden slab reception desk and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lumphini Park. With plenty of cozy seating, the lobby doubled as the bar featuring bespoke cocktails in a super chic lounge setting.
Check-in: Keeping up with current trend of having a seat while checking-in, we settled into one of the plush sofas and sipped our welcome drink of lemongrass and cucumber while handing over our passport and credit card for incidentals. The process was speedy and efficient and still warm and welcoming.
The hotel bike might be the ubiquitous amenity these days for tooling around town or the resort grounds, but in certain climates – and hilly terrains – a less strenuous alternative might be preferable.
We came across the perfect solution recently at Amanpuri – the original Aman Resort – in blisteringly hot Phuket, where getting around is both a breeze and breezy, courtesy of a fleet of semi-open buggies fashioned out of ripped up Nissans. Available any time at the main entrance or just a call away, you can be whisked to your room, back to the lobby and the main pool, down to the beach club, up to the spa, or to the top-of-the-hill gym with endless views over the surrounding area.
There's no question we were enamored with all of the shiny objects the W Bangkok had to offer us from the moment we stepped foot into gem-toned guest room. The one thing that managed to take us away from the glitz and glam trance was on the bedside table. No, it wasn't the notepad and pen, it was their high-tech wireless tablet that's like a little handheld butler.
The tablet, tempting us with the message, "Do what you want, I'm yours" couldn't get into our hands fast enough. After a few minutes we were trying out all the different settings from the do-not-disturb sign to the climate control and even the preset lighting option; all right from the comfort of our dragon-emblazoned bed.
As much as we like shiny new hotels and seeking out the latest places to lay our heads when we’re traveling, there is something about hotels that have seen the years come and go, withstood trends rushing in and passing just as quickly, and over time been woven into the very fabric of a city.
That’s why we sought out Mandarin Oriental Bangkok recently, one of the city’s oldest luxe hotels, having had its place on the banks of the Chao Phraya River since 1876 – that’s more than a hundred and thirty years of history. Specifically, we headed to the Author’s Lounge, so named in honor of the various literary greats that have walked through the doors of the hotel (from Somerset Maugham to John Le Carré and Joseph Conrad to Barbara Cartland).
Here, inside its whitewashed walls, sitting on white wicker furniture, and among potted palms and bamboo, is a window to a different time, one of steam trunk travel, genteel afternoons spent at leisure between cricket matches (or so we imagine), and of course – taking high tea.
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Wow, we were quite impressed with the responses from our most recent, Guess The Hotel. Not only because we had a few contenders in the game, but we also had a winner! The hotel that uses their key cards as framed art in the lobby is Le Meridien Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Since we headed to the Northern Thai city for Songkran, the country's new year celebrations, the unique display caught our eyes while heading back to our room to change out of the soggy clothes we were in. When the streets and anybody walking on them got super soaked, we knew that we could escape into the comfort of our hotel with its opulent lobby and comfy rooms.
Even though the streets got hectic, we always received a warm smile and Sawatdee ka/krab from any of the staff and even were handed fluffy towels to dry off before we headed to the elevator. The one thing that stood out here was how welcoming the staff was, thanking us for coming to Chiang Mai and even providing personal cell-phone numbers to offer assistance during our stay. Truly an above and beyond experience.
After a questionable example earlier this week, we feel the need to cleanse our palate with something a little more refined in the hotel art category. Luckily, we came across the perfect example recently at the equally refined Four Seasons Bangkok.
Enter the airy lobby and walk straight ahead to the grand staircase in front of you, behind which you’ll find a stunning mural commissioned especially for the hotel. Hand-painted on Thai silk, it depicts in extraordinary detail the ascent of the Chakri Dynasty to the throne of Thailand.
With all of the sleek and modern design we've seen in hotels lately, there are few places that have us longing for the romance of vintage travel from the days of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Luckily, M Gallery's Hotel Muse hits the spot.
The memorable hotel brings back the mystery of retro travel and plops it right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, where it's not uncommon to see buildings from yesteryear neighboring towers from tommorow-land. The hotel is a little different in that it's housed in a new building made to look vintage, with a whole lot of turn-of-the-century flair.
Walking into the lobby were were greeted by dark wood panels, sexy lighting and iron work that would make a Paris Metro stop blush. The theme doesn't stop in the elevator. It extends onto the floor and into the room, where we felt like we stepped back to a time when alcohol was illegal and people dressed up to fly the friendly skies.
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It makes sense for a French hotel portfolio, such as Accor to recruit a French fashion designer such aslike Christian Lacroix to design not only the rooms, but the uniforms for their ultra hip Sofitel So Bangkok. As expected, these digs and outfits are So over the top while managing to maintain traditional Thai themes.
Lacroix married East and West elements into his unique designs that make each staff member a walking fashion plate. Using traditional Thai silk and silhouette the designer brings a little Paris runway show to the streets of Bangkok with his brightly colored uniforms for both men and women. Each piece is different from the next by using the basic elements and mixing and matching tops, bottoms, and sashes so everyone looks like a top model.
Last week, we gave you a sneak peek into Bangkok's shiny new W Bangkokand now we'll pull back the bejeweled curtain and show you the glam rooms. Being in a world-class city, you can expect a new hotel to have all glitz and shine; the W Bangkok doesn't fail the 'come to the party' test with its rooms fit for a jewel smuggler.
From the moment we stepped foot in the door, we knew we were somewhere special. Not only did we notice that 'new hotel' smell--it welcomed guests just 2 months ago--we may have been blinded by the shimmer and sparkle of the rhinestones, like everywhere. We will admit, we like a hotel that can successfully use lots of bling and, in true W style, this hotel has pushed the envelope.
Not interested in spending one night in Bangkok? Then head to the Thailand's resort town of Pattaya where Sukosol Hotels has just launched its third property.
Only 21 rooms, the new Art Deco-style, four-storyWave Hotelis supposed to reprise Miami Beach with big splashes of color from the blue outside walls to the retro pink Cadillac in the driveway.
There's just two room categories--the Sunset and Twilight rooms, but they all offer views of Pattaya Bay, free WiFi, and Tiffany Blue decor. The Twilight rooms are larger though, and have romantic four-poster beds.
Despite being in Thailand, the hotel has decided to go with an American diner restaurant called the Cadillac Café, but there is also the poolside Cabana Bar which will host DJs and evening parties. We're hoping that space will remind people they're in Asia.
Wave joins Sukosol Hotels collections, Siam Hotel and The Sukosol Bangkok. Rates are around 5500 Baht ($192) including breakfast.
[Photo: Sukosol Hotels]