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It may not look much, but what it represents is pretty huge.
This is a plate of turmeric, which I was handed the week before last during my stay at the Anantara Phuket Layan, Anantara’s newest Phuket hotel, which opened in January in a cove at Layan, near Bangtao Beach.
Why was I handed a plate of grubby roots? Because the previous day, I’d learned that in Thailand, turmeric is a widely used remedy for mosquito bites (FYI: it works brilliantly). So the following morning, I asked the breakfast staff whether there was any turmeric in the kitchen. No, they said, but we can go and buy some for you if you'd like. I said no thanks, and thought no more of it, going off to the beach to itch. Twenty minutes later, a member of staff rushed up, proffering this plate of turmeric. Now that is customer service.
Of course, service standards in SE Asia are always head and shoulders above those in the West, but Anantara Layan really stood out, even by Asian standards. Over the course of three days there, here’s what various members of staff did:
Hotel Openings / Hotel Renovations / Avani Hotels / Anantara Hotels / Jumeirah Hotels / Lux Hotels / Maldives Hotels / Mozambique Hotels / Mauritius Hotels / → All Tags
Hotels in exotic locales (starting with M-), they’re just like buses. You wait for one to open, then three come along at once.
It’s not quite as idyllic as Medjumbe – but then that bar is set pretty high. Instead of on a private island, it’s in the north of Mozambique, in pretty Pemba (a sandy peninsula sticking out from mainland Africa). Pemba is also the gateway to the Quirimbas archipelago, where Medjumbe is. Also, Avani is Anantara’s sister chain. Maybe time for a sibling visit?
The hotel sits on the headland overlooking the Indian Ocean, and all 185 simply styled rooms have terraces or balconies, overlooking either the ocean or the gardens. There’s a bar, two restaurants and a Grab & Go deli and “coffee corner”. There’s also a fitness center, spa, tennis courts and not one but four swimming pools. A room this weekend starts from a very reasonable $245.
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Is it Robinson Crusoe’s island? A previously undiscovered atoll in some warm ocean we just found on Google Earth?
No, it’s better than either of those. It’s the brand new Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort & Spa. Just that island. Just that hotel.
The hotel and its 1km-long, 300m wide private island form part of the Quirimbas archipelago off Mozambique. That’s a 45 minute flight from Pemba for you and the inhabitants of the other 11 thatched villas on the island. (And if you’re wondering, there are 32 islands in the archipelago, along with coral reefs and an aquatic national park (think dolphins and turtles as well as neon fish.)
The villas have private hammocks and pools, even though they’re bang on the beach. The design is posh rustic – nicely understated. You won’t want to move from your private space, of course, but if you do, there’s also a main pool, bar, lounge bar, spa and restaurant.
Up on the Daily Mail's site last week was a story about a Saudi prince who reportedly booked up all three of the Anantara Resorts in the Maldives from now through the middle of March, effectively kicking out any other guests who had reservations during the same time as his stay.
The story originated on MaldivesFinest.com and was moved along by a TripAdvisor review from a guest whose reservation was cancelled because of the resort buy-out.
The rejected guest wrote on TripAdvisor:
Our reservation was cancelled with NO notice and we were informed only AFTER we contacted them. Back in December we booked the Anantara Veli in an overwater pool villa for a four night stay in early March. Three weeks prior to our departure we emailed the Anantara Veli to confirm our airport pick up and a few other details.
As a result of our email to Anantara and a call to our booking agent we finally learned that the hotel had simply cancelled our reservation and, I assume, those of many others. They did this without apprising us of this cancellation.
Here's what Anantara finally told us: In essence they said they now have a booking for the period including 19 February until March 15 which, after negotiations, developed into a request for total private island buyout of Anantara Veli and Naladhu. Not "I'm sorry", not "we should have notified you", not "how can we make it up to you". Just "this is now the situation".
Apparently, the guest was offered accommodations at a different resort but he turned them down.
Let's have a look at the location before we get into the property. Hoi An is one of the Vietnam's UNESCO World Heritage sites and is best known for it's colonial architecture, traditional handicrafts, vibrant art scene and romantic café culture. The city itself calls the banks of the Thu Ban River home and truly makes it part of the charm.
Anantara takes advantage of the colonial history by staking claim to a group of French, Dutch, Chinese and Japanese influenced buildings that house all of the 93 rooms and suites that feature killer river views and balcony day beds to relax in the warmth of SouthEast Asia. If hanging out in the plush digs is more your speed, each room is two-stories with an upper bedroom and bathroom, leading down to a lower lounge that opens onto it's porch. Yeah, this is luxury.
Hotel Coffee / Hotel News / Anantara Hotels / Resort Hotels / Maldives Hotels / Thailand Hotels / → All Tags
Anantara Resorts has begun to sell "naturally refined" coffee beans in some of their hotels in the Maldives and Thailand, but you're going to want to read the fine print on this one: They're made from beans that have been digested and pooped out by elephants. Anantara isn't the first with Bali's Ayana resort doing strange things with coffee, cat bladders and their bowels, but they're certainly the priciest. For $1,100 a kilogram, or approximately $50 a cup, travelers can enjoy what is currently the world's most expensive coffee. The digestion of the beans apparently breaks down the proteins that cause bitterness, claiming to make this cup of Joe go down as smoothly as it no doubt comes out of the elephants.
Anyway you slice it, Anantara Resorts gets the last laugh with this one. The irony in the fact that you are paying 50 times what a cup of coffee should cost in an effort to drink what comes out of the back end of an elephant cannot be overlooked. We had to chuckle when we saw that they decided to name it Black Ivory Coffee, as if we needed any spacial imagery for this one.
Are we down? In theory, yes, but not for that price - it's just ridiculous.
Does dunking a donut in elephant dung coffee do anything for you? Let us know in the comments below!
[Photo: Anantara Resorts]
The über-luxury resorts of Anantara will now be pampering guests visiting the tropical vacation destination of Sanya in the Hainan province of China. The new hotel is a mixture of top-notch Asian service with the endless summer of Southern China.
Anantara guests are usually treated to lush jungle and beach front views all in a secluded paradise environment. This resort is no different. Sitting in the shadow of low-level mountains between the South China Sea, there is no doubt that your shoulders will relax once you step foot on the grounds. Of course, the signature namesake spa can help with that too.
The entire hotel is a purpose-built facility that offers guests the option of large rooms, suites, and private pool villas spread over 122 rooms. The pool villas face the ocean with individual access to a secluded pool and come with a personal host to ensure every need is met.
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As if you needed any more reason to think about beaches and long walks on them after this last Memorial Day weekend, you need to see this sunset view at the The Anantara Resort in Seminyak, Bali. We may have give you the full tour of the property last week, but the crowning highlight is literally the tippy-top of the hotel: their half-indoor, half-outdoor restaurant SOS Supper Club.
Really, there's no need to "save our ship" as the SOS acronym means, but rather it's just a cute name for a ridiculously well located dinner spot. The Anantara sits right on Seminyak Beach, right in the key zone called the "sunset coast."
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We noticed it right away: security is tight at the Anantara Resort in Seminyak, Bali, but of course that's the case around the island. The security stood out here, however, because the hotel occupies what is possibly the best position right on the beach and naturally people want to check it out. To gain the coveted access you've got to be a guest, and for two glorious nights recently we were.
As we said yesterday in our video tour, all rooms here are suites59 suites and 1 penthouse, with nightly rates starting around $450. So what'd'ya get for that? Flip through the photo galleries to see everything...
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Having just returned from the Indonesian exotic paradise island that is Bali, we are not only tan, but tapped out. It'd be so sad to come all the way herea 16-hour flight from New York, plus a layover in Hong Kong, plus another 5-hour flightto have to stay in a hotel less than breathtaking. So yeah, we went all out.
This week we'll be sharing peeks into the hotels we chose for our Bali sojourn. First up: the Anantara Resort and Spa, which sits right on Seminyak Beach, an area famed for its sunsets, its surfing and its superior resorts.
At this Anantara, even the lowest category of room is a suite, with a sitting area, balcony (with outdoor bathtub!), massive bathroom and so many little extras that we couldn't even manage to take all the soap bars (Lemongrass and Ginger or Ylang-Ylang Patchouli, yes there are several varieties of soap).
Memorial Day is almost here, but if you're in the eastern United States, you've probably already noticed the arrival of higher-than-average temperatures and days streaked with the sun's rays. If you were in Bali, Indonesia however, that would be pretty much everyday, and your hotel's front yard would look a little something like this.
The name of the game on Bali is infinity pools, ideally spilling out not too far from the breaking surf. This pool, at the Anantara Resort on Seminyak Beach, ticks all the boxes.
Drooling yet? This is just a tease, as next weekbefore you scamper off to Memorial Day funwe'll have full photos galleries of this pool, this resort, and a whole slew more on Bali.
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COMO Shambhala Estate - Ubud
Traveling the world doesn't mean that your faith needs to have the out-of-office autoreply. Last year we showed you the hotel temples of Thailand. Now, we bring you the religious corners of the hotels we visited in Bali.
Bali, unlike other islands in Indonesia, is predominantly Hindu in faith and each hotel and resort in Bali has it's own temple to pay respect to gods. On our recent trip to the tropical island we took note of the prominently placed temples at our accomodation.