Archive for the ‘Hotels and Resorts’ Category

A double whammy

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Hotels and Resorts
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It’s raining cats and dogs and every other living organism known to mankind. Whilst I recognise the need for moisture to sustain life on this planet, would it be too much to ask if the rains can be kept to a more convenient time frame, say from 11 pm to 6 am ???

Why a double whammy you ask ? Well when it rains, cycling is out and when it rains, kite flying is out too. Accompanied by lightning, there is the risk of frying one’s kite as well as oneself.

OK one good thing about the incessant rains is that this rant will end with some photos of a nice hotel we stayed in recently. If anything, it’ll give some nice ideas on interior decoration like designer rain showers for the bath.  And I’ve also stumbled upon the slideshow feature for WP. 2 good things about the rain today which I might add is easing up. Yippee !

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In another world

With the opening of the gargantuan $6 billion Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort* at Singapore’s Marina Bay, our ‘little’ skyline has changed dramatically over the last 5 years. New skyscrapers, a new marina, a promenade and a new coastal highway, parts if it an undersea tunnel will keep our building contractors very very busy. One good spin off from all this building is that some parts of downtown are now more open to cycling. It’s actually faster to cycle when traffic is moving at 12.5 kmp/h. Parking and driving, looking  for an expensive lot sucks, cars can’t drive on the very wide promenades, walking sucks even more as, well, you’d have to walk a lot, in the unshaded areas.

*MBS IR = politically correct term for CASINO. Yes after many years of resistance, and debates, money talks and conscience walks……… but why am I complaining, we’ve got another (yes) posh hotel room and restaurants to try out. I could not even bring one of my folding toys to ride around the Fullerton Bay Hotel. They sent a 3 month old Mercedes E250 to pick us up from home and back.

A balcony view of the MBS and the bay

36 shots of Nespresso coffee for 24 hours. Just about right. Tea is for women

A spanking new throne with a phone to tell someone about the spring loaded toilet seat

Bath time with Ms Rice. A motorised screen will roll down to cover the glass window if you’re shy

Designer suds

See through weighing machine. Hide it if you like an afternoon ‘high tea’

High tea….see what I mean ?

The 5th floor pool with the ‘old’ city skyline. 50 laps ought to work out yesterday’s tea

OK dear this is better than cycling home. You win. We did !

A name with many twinking lights to get you wondering

Down in the depths of Serangoon Road or rather Singapore’s ‘Little India’ we chanced upon a quirky establishment billing itself as just ‘Wanderlust’ A bronze plaque on a ground floor pillar gives some insight into the building’s history. It was old, it was a former boys’ school, (in the 1930’s) it was imposing in it’s heyday and I believe if it’s been gazetted as a conservation building by our urban planning authorities, it cannot be torn down.

However, gutting the insides totally and turning it into a hip hotel and restaurant, while leaving the exterior in it’s refurbished splendour is OK. Besides it’s cheeky name, one has also to ‘wonder’ what dining and spending a night here will lead to. You will need 29 nights to try out each different themed room.

We had a room, rather loft with some ‘vegetation’ on the ceiling. Officially, it’s called the ‘tree monster’ The steel ladder made for a good workout!

On the lower level, there’s a bath and toilet, and a flat screen TV to the right of a small desk. There’s a larger 42″ TV in the loft… fighting over the remote

The bath is a tight squeeze with a view of the street below, or of yourself if the shades are up

I got a bit dizzy looking at all that mosaic

Had a peek into the ‘princess’ themed room. Double glazed windows as in our room to keep the street noise (unsuccessfully) out

I don’t know what to make of this but it’s not leading to a diving board, but another loft bedroom

The jacuzzi at the back of the hotel

Presenting the sleeping quarters and anything else that I’ve left out. Notice that the word ‘crap’ does not apply to places like this ?

One of our neighbours. I don’t think he’s a rice farmer

Our humble bedroom. It was much larger than this looks

Next to the bed is an I Pad like tablet device that controls ALL the villa’s lighting and and temperatures on both floors, and of course the motorised day and night curtains. Other small remotes work the Bose sound system, CD/DVDs, and  TVs

A study in the corner of the bedroom

There was a $20 charge for in room wifi, which was somewhat OK for places like this in 2006 but FF to the present, that’s ridiculous, but heck you’ve already run up a daily bill of $1000 or more…….get smart, go to the library or just forget about the outside world.

Part of the huge bathroom / dresser. Jaccuzzi # 2 is behind me

Throne # 2, also swathed with teak everywhere you look

While luxurious and opulent, all that teakwood including the vast ceilings does make one relax too easily and even brings on drowsiness, hence it’s good to venture out on to the sala, a small Thai style pavilion over looking the manicured resort padi fields. You might spot one of their 5 working buffalos. For history and culture buffs, there’s even a scheduled tour of the grounds by the resident librarian who is also a history and art major, whom we are still in touch with. She has moved on to greener pastures in Shanghai.

Walkway towards the sala on the 2nd floor

Housekeeping arrives on her bicycle

What was really impressive was that the GM of the place got around on an old Crocodile brand Thai made bicycle with GM on the number plates. So did the housekeepers. It would have been nice to get around in one of our folding bikes, I mean 60 acres is huge, but then again the golf carts were just a phone call away. I guess unnecessary sweating wasn’t an option here.

At the Spa

Even if you don’t want to fork out US$180 for a massage, you’ll be given a tour of the Spa’s facilities

In 2008 we were invited to take a look at even more suites. Tempting as it was, we didn’t stay this time, mostly because, it was an invite ‘to preview’ and not to, well stay which means we would be presented with a 4 figure bill equivalent to that of a new small car. It was like venturing into a small town, no passe villas but blocks of ‘Colonial Villas’ some with views of their own gardens and lakes ! Take a look.

Year end office parties are so much better when a small tiny envelope carries the first prize to be savoured on a tropical isle. What a lovely start to 2011. Now which bikes shall we bring ?

We’ll have to take a look at this place sometime this year. I wonder if they have a valet for one of my bicycles ?

Yes, it’s an early model, but it’s still a limo, at the resort’s reception

I don’t even know how to tag this place, I guess the word ‘kingdom’ comes to mind. In 2006 we were blessed to have entered this little Lanna kingdom unto itself. More importantly, after traveling rough and lugging backpacks around north Thailand, we checked into the very lush and exclusive Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi resort in Chiang Mai. It was huge, all 60 acres of it. The kind of place in which you don’t haggle over the room rates at reception, the staff are better dressed than you, and the, ahem , keys to the deluxe spa villa are attached to a huge heavy keychain made out of pure silver. As our room, ahem villa was quite a distance away, our backpacks and bodies were transported there by an electric golf cart. We’ll have to save the hose drawn carts for getting to dinner.

This is a library I could get used too. Between bouts of internet explorer and trolling the CD’s and DVD shelves, the always smiling librarian will come by with coffee or tea and biscuits, and of course you specify the type of coffee or tea.

This was part of the furniture in our Villa # 7

Of course they put in a sauna room behind the kitchen

and a cosy potty so you don’t have to climb upstairs

the coffee machine was locked and loaded

the ground floor living room which we passed by occasionally

the ground floor terrace and jaccuzi # 1 under the sala

Waiting outside Villa # 7 for our buggy

A large PDF map of the ‘Kingdom’ resort_map

No cookie cutter bedrooms here. Unconventional, quirky, some trying hard to be different, artsy fartsy bordering on plain weird and sometimes pricey. One thing’s for sure, they’re interesting, not lacking in comfort or amenities and definitely not crappy.

@ Niman, Chiang Mai   “At Niman is a small, hip boutique hotel in beautiful Chiang Mai. 9 individually designed rooms inspired by the rich culture of the Himalayan foothills.”

Suggestive painting over the bed @ Niman

The narrow pool from the 5th floor. Orange building next door is a travel agency

Mo Rooms in Chiang Mai : weird    ‘Art that you can live in’   Have Thb 3200 to Thb 6000 per 24 hours handy ($100 to $200)

A pool for the sun averse

Single room. Fred Flinstone would feel right at home

See the bottom left glass pane? It’s for lurking above the pool

Toilet with a view or vice versa

PuraVida in Pai, well 4 kms from town anyway. Secluded and romantic. Thb 3000, much less for me 😉

Last time we went, it was up for sale, 10 villas and gardens Thb 16,000,000 / US$480,000 or so