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OpenThread / Hotel Service / Hotel Heaven / Anantara Hotels / Phuket Hotels / Thailand Hotels / → All Tags
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:
That’s because it’s a separate entity – done by Infinite Luxury, a Phuket-based, English-started design company. Kata Rocks will open November 28 on the southern end of Kata Beach, with a slightly different feel than Ibiza and Mallorca Rocks – it’s for grown ups, for starters. Think a bunch of those modernist houses from the Hollywood Hills transplanted onto the hillside (and beachside) of Phuket. In fact, there's more than a hint of Malibu to it, too.
The aim at Kata Rocks, rather than to get blasted and dance like Leo DiCaprio, is to indulge in “effortless and luxurious relaxation” – now that’s something we can get behind. Accommodation is in 34 individual Sky Villas rather than rooms – and they look fantastic, with bright white, modern interiors, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea, TVs set into the ceiling and – get this – their own private pool.
Hotel Delays / Hotel Openings / Koh Samui Hotels / Thailand Hotels / Sheraton Hotels / Starwood Hotels / → All Tags
Sometimes there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. At least, so think Starwood, who are on track to open a Sheraton in Koh Samui. It will join their current roster: a W Retreat, a Le Méridien, and Vana Belle, part of the Luxury Collection.
The Sheraton will take over the current Imperial Samui Beach Resort, which had 141 rooms. It’s on the same beach as the Vana Belle, and only two hotels away.
Unfortunately, all good things come to those who wait. The Sheraton was down to open in December, but it’s not yet listed on the Starwood website, and (HT Flyertalk) it’s now showing up on Starwood’s forthcoming hotels list, and is down for March 2015. Although, since it’s not yet available to book, even that may be optimistic.
Hotel Hype / W Hotels / Phuket Hotels / Thailand Hotels / Starwood Hotels / New Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
This will be the third W Hotel in Thailand and fortunately, it does seem a bit different from the other W hotels out there, at least in terms of layout. The interior offerings are W all the way.
Here's how the property is described:
W Retreat Phuket will be located on Koh Yao Noi, one of the largest islands in the Phang Nga Bay archipelago between the eastern coast of Phuket and western coast of Krabi on the mainland. The W Retreat will provide an integrated lifestyle experience with 79 standalone villas, starting from 155 square meters in space. All villas will feature private outdoor areas and plunge pools as well as superlative views of the limestone cliffs that dot Phang Nga Bay.
W Retreat Phuket - Phang Nga Bay will also offer a lobby lounge, an all-day dining restaurant and a specialty restaurant and bar. It will feature 120 square metres of modern meeting and event space; FIT, a well-equipped workout facility and swimming pool; and a contemporary spa with six treatment rooms. The W Retreat will be accessible from both Phuket International Airport (HKT) and Krabi Airport (KBV), with a fleet of high speed sea vessels, a private jetty and helicopter landing pad for ease of guests transfers.
And don't forget about Whatever/Whenever service! We'll circle back with more news on this property...in 2017.
Riverside room in the Krungthep Wing
Like Los Angeles, Bangkok is a city that seems to go on forever, sprawling out over a total area of over 600 square miles. This means that there’s no shortage of hotels and no shortage of neighborhoods. But if you’re looking for the finest lodging in the city, it doesn’t get much better than the Shangri-La.
Although its location puts you well outside the city center and quite far from many of the attractions (such as the Grand Palace), cheap taxis, nearby river taxi and public transit stops allow guests to maintain their mobility while indulging in the five-star comfort of the Shangri-La. We don’t need to say much more in that sense – the Shangri-La’s reputation for luxury definitely precedes it – but given that the property in Bangkok has two separate wings with two separate entrances, you might be wondering which is the best room to book.
Killer View / Thailand Hotels / Krabi Hotels / Centara Grand Hotels / Centara Hotels and Resorts / → All Tags
The Thai beachtown of Krabi is located two hours east of Phuket, offering visitors a handful of national parks and barrier islands to explore in the Andaman Sea. The 192-room Centara Grand Krabi is the area's most luxurious property, and it's also the most secluded, tucked in at the base of a national park and surrounded by cliffs on both sides.
The resort is a combination of low-rise buildings and individual villas built up into the cliffs, and the real treat comes from the balconies of the rooms that sit up the highest: A breathtaking killer view that looks out over the resort to the ocean and rocky coastline. Looking the other direction at night, the sky lights up and the palm trees silhouette against the clouds.
If that triathlon preparation is making you want to punch something, or you’ve done your swim-cycle-run madness and still have some energy left, perhaps a round of kick-boxing may appeal?
Rather than a sweaty back alley gym, Four Seasons Hotels brings a more pleasant option with the installation of a Muay Thai boxing ring – with sea views – in its resort on Koh Samui. It’s best not to let yourself be distracted by the views though, as the hotel can pair you up with a resident muay thai champ to train you in the “art of eight limbs”, using fists, feet, shins, knees, and elbows.
X2 Resorts is a design-conscious chain of luxury accommodations in Asia and Australia, ranging from villas, to intimate resorts, to extended stay rentals. This July, X2 will open the industrial-strength doors to its latest resort destination, X2 River Kwai (yes, that River Kwai), located in Kanchanaburi, about 90 minutes west of Bangkok.
The locality is forever memorialized in WWII history and on film. It is here that the Japanese set up base camp for POWS to build the Thai-Burma Railway and the "Bridge on the River Kwai." The 1957 film of the same name won seven Oscars, four BAFTAs, and three Golden Globes, and is an eternal classic. The recently released Railway Man tells quite another embracing story, also shot on location here as well as in the UK and Australia.
Hotel Club Lounges / Hotel Renovations / Grand Hyatt Hotels / Hyatt Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Bangkok Hotels / Thailand Hotels / → All Tags
Over on Jaunted, you can get our inside looks at some of the world’s best airline lounges, so we thought we’d do something similar here and start talking about some of the hotel lounges we’ve frequented for our series on Hotel Club Lounges. Today, we're having a look inside the recently renovated Grand Club Lounge at the Grand Hyatt Erawan in Bangkok, Thailand.
While the mixed-use complex that will eventually house the Park Hyatt Bangkok is still going up, the Tony Chi-led renovations at sister hotel Grand Hyatt Erawan are now complete, including the 17th floor Grand Club lounge facing Radjadamri Road.
A small number of rooms are located on the same floor, but if you have access to the Grand Club, it’s worth seeing whether you can get one – if not there – on floors 16 or 18. These are connected to the 17th by a staircase, which beats taking the elevator up and down. We loved some of the artwork on display, like the sculpture above at the entrance.
Budget-brand Tune Hotels has been aiming to spread like wildfire from its origins in Kuala Lumpur, bringing core values of 5-star beds, power showers, and cleanliness for wallet-friendly prices to 100 hotels around the world by next year. We’ve checked it out in London, and have our eye on their plans in the United States, but what is Tune like outside a major capital? Does it still deliver for a non-city stay?
We tested just that by staying the night at Tune in Patong, Phuket – one of the more recent additions to the brand. On the western coast of the island, Patong is one of the major tourist centers of Phuket (more on that later) and the Tune is about ten minutes’ walk from the main beach. A taxi from Phuket airport takes about 45 minutes.
The question we've been asking about the Caribbean -- whether or not the addition of hotels to an island is a good thing or a bad thing for tourism -- is quietly being answered in Bali.
“Many tourists complain about the current condition of Bali. Too many buildings make them feel uncomfortable as it is too crowded. Buildings are everywhere and it is hard to find green areas,” Indonesian Tourism's Bali chairman Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya told Bali Daily last week.
As we speak, the Indonesian Tourism Industry Association (GIPI) Bali chapter is asking local governments to implement and invoice a moratorium on hotels. Bali currently has over 90,000 rooms and is facing both issues of space and demand.
Hotel News / Hotel Openings / Beijing Hotels / China Hotels / Rosewood Hotels / Bangkok Hotels / Thailand Hotels / Luxury Hotels / → All Tags
Not only did we ogle Rosewood London last week (hopefully just phase one in Europe for the group), we also picked up some additional news: a first few snapshots of the rooms at Rosewood Beijing (coming next year) and the exciting update that another hotel is being planned for Bangkok.
Both hotels sound like they will be rather unique; the building in Beijing “will recall a mountain profile with contrasting volumes and shapes” and Bangkok promises 650-square foot Pool Sky Villas, with large terraces and private plunge pools (!!).