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Last week, Peninsula Hotels struck a deal to build a new luxury hotel out of the former Burma Railway Building in Yangon, close to the famous Scott's Market (a "major" tourist attraction.)
Specifics of the hotel, such as how many floors, guest rooms and even when it will open have yet to be determined, but the hotel will open as part of a mixed use development. Since the building's original architecture was created in an elegant colonial style (way back when the British called the country, Burma), Peninsula isn't going to mess with it too much.
Below, you can see a photo of how it looks today as well as a future rendering above.
This is a major hotel development for Myanmar, located in Southeast Asia and bordered by China, Thailand, India, Laos and Bangladesh. That's because up until 2011, the country had been under harsh military rule and its people severely oppressed.
Trade sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union were only recently lifted, thanks to the presence of a new civilian government, yet there have been some new incidents between the country's Buddhist and Muslim populations.
Now that Myanmar's iron-fisted miltary dictatorship has decided to free a few political prisoners and re-open its doors to foreigners, let the luxury hotel invasion begin!
First up at bat? Southeast Asia's Apple Tree Group, whose international hotel portfolio includes a colonial-era steamship, a villa built by the grandson of a Laotian king, and a thatched roof ecolodge along the Mekong in Vietnam, is shooting for an April 15th opening of its "highly anticipated tented luxury lodge" on the shores of the Irawaddy River in Bagan, called… wait for it…Bagan Lodge.
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Christmas merriment isn't reserved for countries in the global west, though Europe and North America certainly have cornered the market on gingerbread houses and chintzy decorations.
In far reaches of the world, hotels cater to a clientele of locals, expats, and tourists alike who enjoy their fair heaping of tinsel and egg nog. Today we're focusing on three Asian hotels spreading yule tide joy in spades, some sticking to tradition, some contributing their unique cultural touch to the holiday.
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Anthony Bourdain and other devil-may-care foodies might not be happy about this news but we respect Peninsula Hotels' attempt to do the right eco-thing by banning the Chinese delicacy of shark fin soup from their menus.
After California governor Jerry Brown passed an act banning the from possession, sale and distribution of imported shark fins in the state, Peninsula decided to launch their own ban at all their hotels, even the ones in Asia, starting on January 1.
Clement K.M. Kwok, CEO of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited (HSH) which is the parent company of Peninsula said in a statement:
“By removing shark fin from our menus, we hope that our decision can contribute to preserving the marine ecosystem for the world’s future generations. As Asia’s oldest hotel company, we also hope that our decision will inspire other hospitality companies to do the same and that our industry will play a role in helping to preserve the bio-diversity of our oceans.
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Seen at the Novotel Gare du Lyon in Paris
UPDATE: We goofed. Accor Hotels has been providing free WiFi in all their hotels in France since July 1, 2010.
We'd like to think that this latest bit of news from Accor Hotels in France and Marriott Hotels in Australia and Asia had something to do with our Hotel WiFi Report which we released on Tuesday, but never matter, we're just happy that finding free WiFi at these hotels just got a hell of a lot easier.
First up, Accor Hotels has told HotelChatter that
starting since July 1 of 2010, all their hotels (about 1,400 total) in France will offer free WiFi. This includes the brands Hotel F1, Ibis, All Seasons, Mercure Hotels, Novotel Hotels, Pullman Hotels and Sofitel Hotels. They also have plans to roll out free WiFi progressively at their hotels in Europe. Sadly, in America, you will still have to pay at Sofitel hotels.
Going to gamble or eat a Portuguese egg tart in Macau anytime soon? Perhaps you should swing by the new jewel on the waterfront, the just-opened Mandarin Oriental Macau. With 213 rooms and suites in the hotel, this hotel in the Las Vegas of the East is ready to give others a run for their money.
In particular, this baby sits very very close to the Wynn Macau, which we visited early last year. At the time we also passed by the only Mandarin Oriental Macau at the time, which is now simply the "old one." The new tower has souped up hotel technology, beyond awesome views over the water and to Macau's space needle, and an spa and pool to make up for the fact that this hotel is one of Macau's only non-gaming properties.
Time to wish the luxurious Amandari resort on the tropical paradise of Bali a very happy 20th anniversary! There are a bunch of special events happening during October to celebrate the anniversary, including a photo exhibition, some joint events with the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, screenings of old films on Balinese culture and some special meals on the actual anniversary weekend, 21-23 October.
A recent visitor to Amandara asked a very sensible question: is it still luxurious twenty years on? The resort was closed for three months earlier this year, but the changes were not all that extensive – even the décor, after some discussion, remained the same, because they wanted to continue the links to the traditional culture there.
While Australians are combing the globe for who best can fetch the mail out on a lonely Great Barrier Reef island, Sheraton Hotels has already awarded two women for doing way more than fetching the mail, indeed for being the biggest workaholics in the Asia Pacific region.
In a contest similar to the Great Barrier Reef job, avid office drones were encouraged to submit essays describing their lives devoid of vacations and family quality time. The two winners, Rachel Zhang Yi of China and Tee Yan Ven of Malaysia, both garnered a massive percentage of votes by turning their entries into something of mini-blogs, documenting their daily schedules and stresses. Yan Ven especially sounds desperate for some time off, saying: "my work takes up 90% of my time, and while I really enjoy what I do, this competition has given me a reason to reward myself and remind myself of balancing my work and social life."
Although their prizes don't include months off to live in the middle of nowhere, they will at least be treated to a pampering vacation with three other family members or friends at a Sheraton resort of their choice. We're rooting for Fiji or the Maldives!
[Photo: Sheraton Asia]
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Accor Hotels in the Asia Pacific are getting ready for a three-day sale--they say there'll be a million rooms in 250 hotels up for grabs at rates discounted by more than 75%. The sale runs from February 24 to 26 and is for stays between April and July.
Right now at the super sale website all you can see is a tantalizing "Coming soon", but we'll be there early on February 24. We're after an Adelaide hotel room in May and we'll let you know what kind of bargain we snag.
Who doesn't love superlatives? We're crazy for knowing what's the most expensive, tallest and most haunted of hotels, but the simple title of largest hotel goes to the First World in the highlands of Malaysia. As the star attraction of the region known as Malaysia'a answer to Las Vegas, the First World boasts a staggering 6,118 rooms, having surpassed the MGM Grand's measly 5,690 in 2006 for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Los Angeles Times reported today that the Walt Disney Co. is looking to plan a modest theme park in Seoul, Korea complete with shops and restaurants. As we reported earlier, in September, Disney expects to open the 210-acre theme park in Hong Kong, China. However, Disney is also trying to finagle a deal for a park to open by 2010 in Shangai. After that, they plan on building a Shangai Disney resort--what else?. Cross your fingers it's a replica of the Port Orleans French Quarter.
· Hong Kong Disneyland Hotels Open For Bookings [HotelChatter]