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We briefly mentioned it last year, but now we can actually give some more details on the recently opened Vana Belle Koh Samui. This serene beach location will turn the most tightly wound person into a relaxation machine with it's private beaches that practically hand-shake the neighboring rainforest for an uber-luxury escape.
Each of the 80 suites and villas comes with a private pool and big terraces to take in the big blue; and blue the water is. With complimentary WiFi throughout the entire property, you can't go unconnected if that's your thing, but we question your travel motives if that's the case.
Since the island is one of sixty in the middle of Ang Thong National Marine Park there won't be a shortage of breathtaking views of the surrounding Gulf of Thailand and defy anyone to claim boredom here. Opportunities for exploring the hidden caves and coral reefs that the warm water has to offer.
Although we're suckers for killer hotel views, we ordinarily wouldn't be so desperate for a sweet eyeful that we'd climb a tree. But Thailand's Soneva Kiri By Six Senses on remote Koh Kood island makes hanging out Tarzan-style sound appealing with its unusual new treetop dining experience.
As part of its treepod meal, you board a rattan bird's nest, fasten a leather seatbelt and get hoisted 16 feet into the native massang trees, where you will dine among the leafy foliage. The vantage point promises to be fantastic, as you'll get a bird's-eye view of the water and the trees.
As of tomorrow, there will be a new Intercontinental resort to choose from in Thailand: the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort.
Hua Hin is about two and a half hours south-west of Bangkok, and being home to the Summer Palace of the Thai royal family gives you a good hint that this is a bit of a beach paradise. The InterContinental Hua Hin is located right on the beach along Petchkasem Road, apparently a famous strip for vacationers.
It has 119 rooms, a bunch of luxurious-sounding suites and three beachfront villas with their own plunge pools. The resort also houses an infinity pool and a beach-side fire pit where you can enjoy a barbecue.
The area around Hua Hin sounds like a quieter alternative to the well-known trails of other Thai destinations like Phuket, but just as beautiful. The local architecture sounds pretty photogenic and there are temples to visit, monks to watch and night markets to shop at.
We did some daydreaming in anticipation of the opening and found there are still rooms available, starting at $154 per night.
If inspiration and wellness are what are missing in your life, then it just might be that a trip to Thailand is what you need. More specifically, you should try the all-very-different wellness retreats that Chiang Mai's Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi have got on offer.
Scheduled to run at various dates between November this year and February 2010, the retreats each have a different focus but a common goal: to get you living a healthier and fulfilling life. Of course we think our life will be pretty fulfilling just by having a vacation in Thailand, but if you want more, then take your pick from one of the four.
With the state of emergency lifted and mid-April's unrest easing, it's time to start looking at Thailand again. And one of the things we love about it is that it can be a shopping paradise as well as an R&R-on-the-beach vacation destination.
We got tipped off about a clever "joint venture" hotel deal, put together by the Sukhothai Bangkok and the Rayavadee resort in Krabi. They've picked up on our shopping and beach combo desires and put together a five-night deal including two nights in the city at Sukhothai and three nights on the beach at Rayavadee. The package includes all kinds of extras like breakfast, a dinner at each location, shopping coupons in the city and a massage at the beach, transfers to both Bangkok and Krabi airports, and – in Bangkok only – free WiFi (once you get to the beach you should be keeping your laptop packed away).
The deal comes up to 86,900 Baht ($2,400) for a double for the entire five nights and inclusions. That's not bad considering both the Sukhothai and Rayavadee belong to the Leading Hotels of the World group and sound like above average places to stay.
The global economic downturn can be a major vacation crasher and local political protests can put a damper on the idyllic. But those challenges can also bring travel expenses to the amazing price of...zero. It's almost like low season is the new high season! Case in point: the massive coastal resort area of Pattaya in Thailand.
Free hotel rooms are being offered to local and international travelers from May 1 to October 31 in an attempt to fill their 20,000 hotel rooms. Helping things along is Thai Airways: they're offering a free night to business-class passengers staying not only in Pattaya, but also in Bangkok, Samui, Krabi, Hua Hin, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Economy class passengers get a free hotel stay if they book via the Royal Orchids Holidays program. Those flying from LA before May 20 can score a free domestic flight to use within Thailand.
With business slowing in a big way in tourism-dependent areas like this, hotels aren't the only price slashers: restaurants and shopping malls within these areas are also participating in the deep discounting. Guests can enjoy prices drops up to 50 percent. Get on it while you can.
The new Outrigger is the Outrigger Serenity Terraces Resort Phuket in Chalong Bay, a quiet part of Phuket. It's all set to open on April 2 this year and they have an opening special for two nights with room upgrade and a few meals starting at 13,000 Baht ($360) for the "Serenity Room", and triple that if you want the best of the best--a two bedroom beachfront suite.
The nice bonus at the Outrigger Serenity is that they own their own yacht, "Lady Anita", which guests will be able to use for dinner cruises and island hopping; if it's already in use, there's always the speedboat or at a pinch, a catamaran or kayak. Or stay on dry land and use their WiFi (although we're not sure that having WiFi on a tropical island is such a good thing).
Just for the record, this picture's also a promotional one but like their videos, it's a bit more natural than what many other hotels provide--it makes us happy that they haven’t photoshopped the clouds away.
Thailand Resorts / Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / Anantara Resorts / Phuket Hotels / → All Tags
Surely you thought we were clever and hilarious for the "Sea Cow in Si Kao" headline, but we must give credit where credit is due.
To the cute and funny folks over at the upcoming Anantara Si Kao in Si Kao have been using this clever and hilarious line as part of their marketing efforts for their soon-to-open Thailand property.
Located on Chang Lang Beach, the hotel is opening up in December -- hot on the heels of the Anantara Phuket -- in an area famous for its manatees.
Opening up later this year, the Anantara Phuket Resort & Spa is away from the overly-touristed Phuket areas, and will be at the Mai Khao Beach on the northern shore of Phuket instead. They're putting the finishing touches on 83 villas that each have their own infinity pool (we love this) and are arranged around a lagoon in the style of a traditional southern Thai village.
We've just been sent one promoter's opinion of the top ten spa treatments in hotels across the world. We're not inclined to believe everything we read, but some of these spa treatments do sound like just what we need. Right now, please.
Picking the most expensive treatment on the list--on a per-minute basis, that is--would bring us to the Alvear Palace in Buenos Aires. They've just opened a new spa and fitness center and have a special on an "exclusive cellular radiant treatment" facial, guaranteed to make you look younger (of course), at a cost of $205 for just one hour.
Better value can be had at the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin in Thailand, with day packages starting from just $250. Their Barai Spa has light therapy, massage and even "sensual water experiences". If you're after something a bit more physical, the Chuan Spa at the Langham Melbourne offers "a blizzard of therapeutic leg-centric techniques", which almost sounds frightening.
But for proper relaxation, our vote goes for The Tides Zihuatenajo in Mexico which combines a Swedish-style massage with the use of heated tiger clam shells, gently massaging your whole body. $150 for an hour isn't the cheapest on the list by far, but it sounds the most gentle option.
[Photo: Travis S.]
One more luxury resort to tempt us is open on the Gulf of Thailand. Belonging to the Design Hotels portfolio, the Alila Cha-Am just opened on February 1st. It's only two hours south of Bangkok which makes it pretty easy to reach, yet the quiet of the beaches and pool villas sound like more than a world away from the bustle of the city.
Design is, of course, an important aspect of the Alila Cha-Am. Thai architect Duangrit Bunnag, well known in his country, has designed the 79 villas and rooms and there's a focus on "clean lines and strong geometric forms", which sounds pretty modern, but the materials are mainly wood, limestone and marble, and that seems to ground it back in normality, too.
You want to feel like you're somewhere you can relax, not on an architectural hunting expedition. By the way, they're claiming that the beach this resort fronts is the longest beach in Thailand--but we can't confirm or deny this.
Special packages at Alila Cha-Am--and at other Alila resorts--are known as Alila Experiences and they sound intriguing: along with culinary and cultural excursion, they also offer intimate couples' celebrations and "active lifestyle pursuits". We're curious to know more about all of these, but not yet sure that we want to sign up for one. In the meantime, low-season room rates are starting at $176 a night. Not bad at all.
The Langham Hotels group has just added a fancy eco resort to its collection by converting the Rawi Warin Resort & Spa to be the Langham Place Eco Resort and Spa at Koh Lanta, Krabi in Thailand which will open in January 2008. We're talking luxury resort with an eco-friendly policy, which always seems a little bit tricky to manage ... surely really caring for the environment would mean a little less luxury?
Whatever your political opinion, Krabi's Langham Place Eco Resort is definitely a place for a luxurious sunny holiday. The villas at the resort have a private plunge pool, and guests from all rooms have access to the four main pools. There are also six different restaurants and bars to keep the hunger and thirst at bay.
As for the green side of things, the Langham Place Eco Resort runs according to six conservation principles, basically looking at renewable energy, recycling, conserving water, getting involved with local people, protecting the local habitat and purchasing requirements in an environmentally friendly way. From a distance it's hard to tell how strictly these policies are implemented, but it's all got to start somewhere.
· Langham Signs First Hotel in Thailand [Asia Travel Tips]
· Langham Place Hong Kong Deals [HotelChatter]