Hotels and accommodation

Earlier this week Expat Life was in Bangkok for official functions, a business dinner and a hospital visit and I stayed at the excellent Hyatt Regency Sukhumvit alongside Nana BTS.

The hotel is still relatively new at 4 years old but has rapidly established itself as a key destination hotel in the middle of Sukhumvit under the stewardship of Indonesian GM Sammy Carolus.

I arrived Sunday afternoon and on Sunday night the 30th floor night bar was throbbing to the beats of DJ’s and filled to the gunnels with 30 something Thai HiSo’s enjoying cocktails and the music of a Belgian private group called ….. that arrange one of the coolest parties in town every Sunday. Tickets are available at …..

Far too old for the likes of that Expat Life enjoyed some delightful views and perhaps one too many cocktails on the 29th floor but I slept like a baby whilst the youngsters upstairs partied the night away.

The following evening the top 3 floors were booked for a private wedding party. This is a GM that realising that room nights are down because international visitors are not yet coming to Thailand in any great numbers seems to maximise his hotels facilities.

I attended a private dinner the following night along with 3 top international businessmen from the famous Khao restaurant. All four of us were suitably impressed by the delicious food and the superb service provided by the hotels staff.

In my humble impression there is no other hotel in central Bangkok that rivals the Hyatt Regency Sukhumvit. I heartedly recommend it and know that you will be as impressed as I always am.

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Live your life uniquely under the embracement of 4 uniqueness of living at the VIVE, the spirit of modern living by the Land and Houses.

THE UNIQUE DESIGN 

In the unique spirit of the modern minimalism, the VIVE represents a breakthrough in a sense of home through its sophisticated unity of modernity and nature. A daring architectural language that seeks completion in harmony with nature. The execution of this masterful design application is evident through the encapsulation of natural landscape in its impressive panoramic view of the living area at the double-volume height of 6.5 meters and with an expanded width of 12 meters. 

On a much private space, the ‘Double View Master Bedroom’ also opens to the landscape more than the conventional singularity and reflects as another genuine attempt to broadly connect with nature. The formal design vocabulary of the architectural façade is the automated-adjustable panels for a customized protection to both the sunlight and privacy.

THE UNIQUE ME 

An architectural language that lives beyond the stereotype of the conventional house for a unique expression of individuality. The VIVE celebrates all unique individuals with the ‘Identity Room’ to create the private world in your own language. This is achieved by the designation of the detached living unit in the midst of a lush garden. A sanctuary to return to who you are when the world outside just wants to change you.

THE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE 

The concept of ‘Lived and Touched by Nature’ allows every space to uniquely experience the connection with the garden of lush surroundings, and to provide that comfort of the natural light that is vital to our body. The application of ‘Open-Plan Concept’ interconnects all interior spaces with the precision to support each space for a harmonious balance between the active lifestyle and the passive relaxation.

On the outside, the openness of the double-courtyard designated to the house front opens up a versatile/multi-purposes spaces that connects the ‘Pave Active Court’ and ‘Green Passive Court’ to accommodate any desired activities. There is also an additional personal courtyard of resort ambience for the private getaway, 

Not to overlook is a sense of complete security via the ‘Home Automation’ system that puts full control under the use of smartphone. From the front gate, the air conditioning, light quality, to CCTV and many other safety features.

THE UNIQUE COMMUNITY

At VIVE, the emphasis in the design of clubhouse with the first-class facilities and the free – form swimming pool provide places to relax and socialize in this unique community. The VIVE also offers the extended connection to the best amenities within a short drive to shopping malls, schools, hospitals, as well as easy access to major roads and tollways network. 

The locations of the VIVE are now in 3 locations:

VIVE Ekkamai-Ramintra offers an exclusively designed 3-storeys detached houses with the starting price of 40 million baht. While other 2 locations, VIVE Bangna with the starting price of 30 million baht and VIVE Rattanathibet-Ratchaphruek with the starting price of 28 million baht both offer the options of 2 uniquely styles of 2-storeys house.

For more information please all 1198 or visit our website at www.lh.co.th

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I write this from the terrace of what could be a castle in a fairytale. A German Palace in the style of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, or a French chateau in the wine region of the Loire. The expansive manicured gardens stretch out before me for as far as the eye can see and beyond them the valley of Khao Yai National Park.

The wind is fresh, clean and the skies are clear looking over the first tee of an 18 hole golf course at the Movenpick Khao Yai, probably one of the very best views that I, a country boy from England, have ever see in Thailand.

Set in 2,000 rai on the edge of the National Park 180kms – under three hours above Bangkok en route to Nakhon Ratchasima is the most beautiful white walled multi turreted classic hotel. Beauty like this is rarely seen in Thailand. I think that the owner must have visited France and Germany and seen similar buildings set in green and verdant lands and returned to Thailand with that vision in his mind. He then set about building it for the residents of Thailand.

Now here, Thailand’s residents can be whisked away to a land of dreams and fairytales. Natural beauty is no stranger to Thailand’s residents but this has been created or assisted in the most scenic of settings.

I was lucky enough to meet the French General Manager Benoit Metanomski and it was no surprise that the owners have chosen a European to lead his team of hospitality staff. The Movenpick brand is renowned for its excellence in cuisine and the food quality is first class. The chef Antonio …….. is Italian and his Thai Executive chef Amorn (Jackie) ……  have both worked in some of the best hotels in the world to reach this nirvana. 

The hotel was originally called My Ozone but 3 (?) years ago the management contract was awarded to Accor the French based international hotel giant. I truly cannot find the words to do justice to this beautiful edifice. A monument of design. It’s impressive entrance guarded from the hordes of Thai ‘instagramers’ that would surely plague the chosen few that have paid for such serenity.

Our room was immaculate and equipped with fresh white linen and towels, comfortable furniture and every luxury you would expect in a 5 star hotel. It was busy despite the lack of international tourists so obviously word has travelled fast and the domestic residents – both Thai and expats want to experience the luxuries of high society.

They are opening an Italian signature restaurant upstairs so I hope to visit again soon to sample the excellence but in the meantime I have pleasant memories of my all to brief visit and highly recommend a visit to explore the area, the flora and fauna and what must be a candidate for the cleanest air in Thailand. 

Movenpick Khao Yai 

https://www.movenpickresortkhaoyai.com 

334 Moo 6, Tambon Wangsai, Amphoe Pakchong, 30130 Nakorn Ratchasima, 04 400 9100

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Asia – November 10th, 2021: Best Western® Hotels & Resorts will wow travel lovers once again this month with the launch of its 11.11 Sale, which offers 11 full days of fantastic discounts with up to 50% off at hotels and resorts in many exciting destinations all across Asia.

Available to book from 9 to 19 November 2021, for stays through 31 March 2022, this enticing promotion ensures the lowest available rates, starting from less than USD 30 per night! So, whether you’re craving a blissful beachfront break, a chic city staycation or an energizing out-of-town escape, Best Western Hotels & Resorts can provide the perfect deal for your next getaway.

 

Amazing rates of under USD 30 per night can be booked at a wide range of world-class midscale hotels in many highly desirable Asian locations, such as Best Western Plus Wanda Grand Hotel in bustling Bangkok, Best Western Patong Beach in beautiful Phuket, and Best Western Kuta Villa in blissful Bali. Whichever property you choose, every booking will include complimentary Wi-Fi, creating seamless, stress-free escapes.

SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western Sukhumvit 2 promises stylish stays in the heart of Bangkok, while SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western AC Luxe in Angeles City will keep you fully connected in the Philippines. These two contemporary hotels are both offering rates of under USD 50 per night in the 11.11 Sale, and offer personalized service, exceptional amenities and the warm welcome you expect from SureStay Plus®.

If you’re seeking a refined travel experience, Best Western Premier® invites you to enjoy “The Premier Life” in some of Asia’s most extraordinary destinations. Highlights include Best Western Premier Sapphire Ha Long, the brand-new waterfront hotel overlooking the stunning seascape of Ha Long Bay, Best Western Premier Bangtao Beach Resort & Spa on Phuket’s golden coast, and Best Western Premier Panbil, a spectacular landmark in the heart of Batam.

Wherever you choose to travel, Best Western ensures the highest standards of health and hygiene with our “We Care CleanSM” program, which is based on expert advice from governmental agencies and independent bodies. This comprehensive program addresses every aspect of the in-stay experience, from guest room and common area cleanliness to contactless procedures and more, while maintaining our industry-leading guest service.  

Be sure to check out the 11.11 Sale from Best Western Hotels & Resorts! This unmissable promotion is available for bookings made from 9 to 19 November 2021 only, for stays taken through 31 March 2022. 

For more information about Best Western Hotels & Resorts in Asia, please visit www.BestWesternAsia.com.

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Last weekend I went ‘walkabout’ as our Australian friends say. As a break from the Royal resort of Hua Hin I thought I would see how Pattaya is preparing itself before it’s official opening on November 1st.

I stayed at the excellent Holiday Inn on Beach Rd easily accessed from the expressway and in my impression ideally placed at the northern end of Beach Rd.

Check in was efficient and painless and the concierge delivered by luggage to my room on the 21st floor whilst his colleagues valet parked my car.

The room was impeccably clean. IHG have created a programme called IHG Clean Promise https://www.ihg.com/content/us/en/customer-care/clean-promise they are committed to high levels of cleanliness and are partnering with industry experts and have implemented stringent protocols and guidelines throughout the hotel. 

Cleanliness has become possibly even more important than service! Its something that they get many enquires and positive comments on and is obviously top of mind for guests as they choose a place to stay. 

The room was well appointed, had firm and soft pillows, a simple but functional luxury bathroom equipped with a power shower, plenty of charging points throughout the room for my multitude of electrical gadgets and a balcony looking out over the bay of Pattaya as I believe all rooms in the front building do.

That evening the hotel provided a seafood buffet with more choice than I have room to mention and as it was pouring with rain it was full, mainly of Thai family guests. I ate far too much then waddled back to my room.

The staff throughout the hotel were polite, efficient and you could tell had been well trained. From the cleaners, the chefs and restaurant staff, the concierge and security staff. They all seemed happy to serve and assist which shows that the management team are doing an excellent job.

The Holiday Inn Pattaya is ready for November 1st to welcome back guests – domestic or international, if the city of Pattaya still needs an awful lot done before it is ready to reopen.

IHG, which was the largest hospitality provider in the world, before all of the mergers and acquisitions. Holiday Inn’s owners, have 14 hotels in Thailand and hopefully will help lead Thailand’s recovery plan. The current government administration in Thailand should perhaps take more notice of how the commercial sector operate their businesses. They could learn a great deal.

Book now at www.holidayinn.com/pattaya or toll free 001-800-656-888 www.holidayinn.com

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The last 16 months have been extremely tough on us all with Covid-19, loss of travel and interaction with those that we love, lockdowns lack of normality, economically…

For an old man like me that has a bad back, diabetes, war wounds too many to mention, and recently informed by the surgeon, an arthritic right hip that needs replacing, one of the many pleasures of living in Thailand is the access to quality massage, spas and wellness treatments.

Currently in Hua Hin I decided that I needed a little pampering and where better than Let’s Relax – the only publicly quoted spa massage centre in Thailand. They have two centres in Hua Hin – one at Market Village and the other at Soi 100 so I chose the latter. I have attached the menu and chose the body scrub and aroma therapy. 

The facilities at Let’s Relax are first class. Safety and security uppermost in these difficult times. I was temperature tested and had access to sanitiser as I entered and everywhere inside. The entire building was impeccably clean, the staff wore uniforms and were caring, attentive and gentle. The menu was comprehensive and I chose the two hour body scrub and aroma massage therapy.

The room had been prepared and I was escorted it and left to shower. Clean towels, soft music and an aromatherapy steamer set the scene perfectly. The therapist dressed in a white trouser suit uniform was very pleasant and scrubbed my body with coffee, my choice from the 6 or so options. I was then left to cleanse my body and laid down for the massage. The bed was warmed electrically I guess, which was a lovely touch I thought, and the lady was a professional masseuse and eased my aching body. It was so good that I wished that I had opted for a two hour aroma therapy.

Looks like I shall have to come again.

https://letsrelaxspa.com 

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To: His Excellency General Prayuth Chan-o-cha

Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand

Government House

1 Pitsanuloke Road, Dusit, Bangkok 10300

Dear General Prayuth,

  • Amid the third wave of the pandemic, which recorded over 2,000 infections a day and daily deaths climbing to double digits, I understand that the government is facing the monumental task of pulling the country out of its COVID-induced economic crisis. In the meantime, Thailand has no international travelers and the hospitality industry is struggling to survive on the domestic market alone. Minor International operates in the tourism sector, so I can offer some specific thoughts and speak on behalf of this critical industry that accounts for up to 20% of Thailand’s economy. I would like to make the following specific comments and suggestions:

  • Accelerate vaccine rollout for both Thai and foreign nationals: The mass immunization program must be accelerated at full speed. Not only is it essential for most Thais to be vaccinated by the end of this year, but foreign nationals in the country must also be vaccinated without delay. The Chinese government has already sent vaccine doses to Thailand to inoculate Chinese citizens living here. The government should encourage other foreign embassies (e.g. the United States, Australia and other European nations) to assist their citizens urgently, especially those nations with excess COVID-19 vaccine supplies. Once their home populations have been inoculated, foreign countries should also provide vaccines for their citizens abroad. The Thai government’s urging through the foreign ministry can help achieve earlier herd immunity in Thailand. The recent news citing a potential delay of the second dose appointment for AstraZeneca is already causing concern about slippage in vaccination timeline. The government should ensure that the country has procured sufficient vaccines from multiple sources, to accommodate the population as scheduled. Different varieties of vaccine brands should be considered as the outbreak situation in the country is still evolving.

  • Allow vaccinated tourists to enter the country without quarantine: Nationwide quarantine free entry will be crucial to the success of Thailand’s re-opening to tourism. Merely shortening the length of mandatory quarantine will not be sufficient to revive tourism. Moreover, quarantine-free entry should not be limited to specific areas (e.g. the top-six tourist zones) but should be applied throughout the country. Fully vaccinated travelers from safe countries have much lower risk to transmit the virus and should be allowed to travel freely, as long as they have negative test results, remain masked and are tracked. Any quarantine requirement for such travelers will make Thailand uncompetitive against other tourism destinations that allow convenient entry.
  • The re-tightening of quarantine rules back to 14 days was unwarranted, considering the lack of evidence or reports that the third wave of COVID-19 was a result of the recent easing of quarantine rules to 7-10 days. Most new infections are local transmission (e.g. from entertainment clusters, prisons and high-density communities). I also hope that the government will still adhere to the Phuket Tourism Sandbox scheme, which is scheduled to welcome fully-vaccinated, COVID-19-free travelers to Phuket without quarantine on July 1st. With the vaccination drive well under way, the initiative should be able to launch on schedule. The success of this pilot scheme will be the turning point for our country’s reopening. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should initiate reciprocal travel agreements with low- to moderate-risk countries for quarantine-free entry by vaccinated travelers. Such reciprocal agreements are a necessary stepping stone to eventual full scale re-opening.

  • Speed up vaccine passports’ approved list and ease visa measures: The government should immediately establish a clear system on acknowledgement of vaccine passports from international visitors. As a global travel destination, Thailand should accept proof of vaccination from as many internationally endorsed COVID-19 vaccines as possible. Process of entry should be simplified and streamlined, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs collaborating with international airlines and other related parties. Process of entry for foreigners from countries that were allowed to enter Thailand without visa requirement since pre-COVID-19 period should now return to the same condition as long as they possess a vaccine passport and a negative COVID- 19 test result. Certificate of Entry (COE) and other documentation for entry application may no longer be necessary.

  • Provide free or low-cost COVID-19 testing for the public: Knowledge is key to fighting COVID-19. The cost of testing should not be an impediment to safeguarding the health of individuals and communities. Knowing who, when, and where someone is infected is essential to stemming the spread of the disease. Testing international travelers will also act as a first line of defense.

  • Promote public confidence in the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines: The success of mass vaccination depends largely on public trust in COVID-19 vaccines. The government should work with partners and support community organizations to enhance public knowledge on the importance, urgency and safety of vaccination. Vaccine information should be released timely and with full transparency to enhance trust and confidence.

  • Rollout co-payment scheme for hospitality staff with monthly salary: The government should use the Social Security Fund (SSF) to assist employees in the hospitality sector. Although technically employed, many hotel staff are struggling with significant losses of income caused by COVID-19 and considerable numbers resort to increasingly unsustainable personal debt. Hotel operators are doing their best to stay afloat and not lay off staff. They want to retain skilled workers who will be in high demand when the sector recovers. However, under current rules, the only way for hotel employees to receive financial aid from the SSF is to resign or be laid off. During this ongoing third wave, the heavily hit tourism sector has yet to receive any social security compensations which were previously given during last year’s lockdown.

  • Allow corporate losses to be carried forward for ten accounting periods: On top of the current five-year tax loss carry forward, the government should consider allowing an additional five years to carry losses forward for businesses devastated by COVID-19. This pandemic has triggered the most serious economic crisis since World War II. It will take many years to recover and resume normalcy. Allowing losses to be carried forward for ten years would hasten recoveries. Some countries in Europe such as the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have already allowed businesses to carry over their losses for an unlimited number of years. Moreover, other measures that the government may consider implementing include reduction of utility charges for medium to large businesses, especially those in the tourism sector as well as extension of tax cut on land and buildings by 90% for two additional years. Value-Added Tax for the hospitality sector should also be waived or reduced in order to boost domestic tourism. Adjusting VAT is ideal for its convenience and immediacy. Last year, the United Kingdom cut its VAT on hospitality services from 20% to 5%. Similar measures were applied in Germany and Austria. The impact of the pandemic is still ongoing, and many countries are further extending the period of relief measures to ensure that the sector does not collapse. Such policies will give tourism businesses the much-needed helping hand in surviving COVID-19. The National Economic and Social Development Council recently predicted that it could take up to five years before Thai tourism will fully recover, indicating that all help and support must gear toward this fragile but critical sector. Once again, thank you for your consideration of my comments. My suggestions are offered in good faith and with the best interest of Thailand at heart. I pledge my full support as Thailand makes the critical next steps of reopening the country and re-starting the economy. I look forward to doing what I can to support your government’s efforts to tackle this unprecedented crisis.

Yours Sincerely,

William E. Heinecke

Chairman

Minor International PCL.

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I found myself taking a tour of the wide open spaces of Esan recently, the agricultural heartland of Thailand. I hadn’t been there for many years and so much has changed in this area – the roads are all either four lane carriageways or in the process of being widened. The out of town shopping malls seem to have blossomed in all of the major towns.

I made the mistake originally of visiting the major towns like Ubon Ratchathani and Surin and although new hotels have sprung up, there really is not a need to travel city to city. 

Later in the week I arrived in Buriram which has been put on the map by Mr. Nevin Chidchob and his family who have invested heavily in sports and the infrastructure. I then found the serenity of X2 Vibe Buriram and decided to base myself there and travel outwards from the city each day.

Football is the mainstay of the city and it seems that everyone in Buriram province is proud to wear the blue shirt with the club logo on it. Thunder Castle is their home and it is an impressive stadium on the outskirts of the city.

The family then built an international racetrack behind the stadium and now host MOTO GP and frequent domestic and international events and again it is an impressive racetrack and spectator facilities. I wonder how long it will be before Mr. Chidchob captures Formula 1 motor racing. 

There are a host of historic sites within easy reach of the city: Phanom Rung which is an ancient Khmer temple on an old volcano and is a smaller scale Ankor Wat. Prasat Muang Tam, a smaller more serene destination at the bottom of the hill. 

Khao Kradong Forest which is a national park again on an old volcano. Wat Khao Angkhan a Khmer Buddhist temple just over an hour from Buriram city. Phimai Historical Park and temple an ancient complex with impressive decor just 90 minutes from Buriram.

So if the sporting events and or the myriad of shopping facilities do not capture your interest you can as you can see make various visits to the surrounding towns and cities all from your base in Buriram in the heart of Esan.

X2 Vibe Buriram seems to be the best hotel in the area. Although built 5 years ago the facilities are in excellent order. There is the largest swimming pool in Buriram in a central courtyard, a fitness suite for the young at heart and the rooms are modern, impeccably clean and the staff know how to take care of their guests. An all day cafe even served complementary afternoon tea and it is off the beaten track but just 3 minutes from the highway and the major shopping facilities.


X2 Vibe Buriram 044 634 678 x2vibe.com Cross Hotels and Resorts

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Hua Hin Thailand

It may surprise many to learn that Thailand produces excellent award winning wines. Monsoon Valley is one of the very finest.

You can visit the vineyard year-round but we chose to visit for the brilliant annual harvest festival in early April to pick grapes;  ‘stomp’ grapes in the old fashioned way – barefoot! And afterwards with washed feet you can enjoy wine tasting, tapas and entertainment.

Located just 39 km from central Hua Hin we took advantage of parking the car and taking the shuttle mini van from the Vineyard’s wine bar and tasting rooms in town. The journey took 45 mins through fascinating countryside.

Once there a welcome drink of iced grape juice (non alcoholic and children friendly), a quick welcome brief before we headed off in the vineyards excellent ‘hop on-hop off’ transportation. With our guide and driver on board we were off!

Contact: Monsoon Valley Vineyard Tel: 

081-701-0222, 081-701-0444, 081-904-0555

1 Moo 9, Baan khork Chang Patana, 

Nong Plup, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110 Thailand

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Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok finally opened its doors on December 18, 2020 and wow, was it worth the wait! 

Officially named Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, the riverside urban resort is much more than a hotel. A true dining destination, the hotel launched four dining outlets and one bar led by Executive Chef Andrea Accordi. 

Dine on stage at Yu Ting Yuan, the signature restaurant at the hotel serving authentic Cantonese cuisine in style. Timeless Chinese aesthetics combine with the abstract allure of modern art to create a dramatic dining space at the Jean-Michel Gathy designed restaurant led by Michelin starred Chef Qui Xiaogui. 

The aromas and flavours of seasonally-inspired Italian dishes are served along riverside terraces reminiscent of Italy’s Lake Como at Riva del Fiume Ristorante. Dinners are taken on a flavourful journey from the North to the South of Italy. 

Also on the riverfront, the relaxed vibe of this French Tropics-inspired café sets the tone for enjoying brasserie classics with an emphasis on fish and seafood, including a wine and oyster bar at the trendy Brasserie Palmier.  Seafood towers and the fun and relaxed restaurant ambiance steal the show

At The Lounge, afternoon tea is redefined as a multi-course, multi-sensory experience. Get your cameras ready as Executive Pastry Chef, Bruce Trouyet, delivers an eye-catching tea with surprises around each course. 

The destination bar, BKK Social Club evokes the legendary glamour of Buenos Aires with a menu of bespoke cocktails, craft spirits, rare Champagnes and the finest cigars, this newcomer to Asia’s remarkable bar scene is set to make its mark. At the helm, innovative Beverage Manager Philip Bischoff, ranked #1 in Thailand and #21 in the world by Drinks International for the Bar World’s Most Influential Figures, brings his talents to the bar. 

Learn more and book your reservation today at FourSeasons.com/Bangkok.

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