Hotels and accommodation

BANGKOK: As fragments of light appear on the tourism horizon and to get you and your hotel in the best shape possible for when you re-open there are many factors to consider as markets around the world now slowly ease off travel restrictions. Ensure you have everything covered so you’re ready for a successful re-opening. 

As you start to prepare for next year’s budgets it is imperative that hotels make their budget work harder for them. With the challenges presented by Covid-19, now more than ever will be the time to review your hotel technology solutions to create an agile environment that sets a higher bar of technological excellence moving into the future.

I have cherry picked and summarised the best advice which may prove a useful ✔️check list in our new world. Bereft of so little knowledgable advice to hoteliers and tourism stakeholders, I hope my 40+ years as a hotelier can sort some of the wheat from the chaff.

In the beginning 

•To ease anxiety of both the staff and guests, additional training of front-facing employees is encouraged. With hotels re-opening simultaneously, a focus should be on the uniqueness of the hotel brand and offers, to allow differentiation between hotels emerging from the lockdown. When bringing an establishment back to operational standards, after closure – partial or otherwise – travel partners and their customers need to be sure they are entering a safe and reliable operation that has maintained standards and offers competitive value for money. 

•Ensure that all stakeholders – such as banks, operators and suppliers – are aware of, and on-board with, the re-opening plan.

•A safe environment with SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and precautions in place are on the top of your trade partners’ lists. Agents may want to inspect your property before placing their clients in your rooms. Yes, they’ll want to see plenty of hand sanitisers, masks, social distancing and controls at the pool. They also need to know your front-line staff have been trained on safe hygiene procedures. 

One Step at a Time

•No one expects you to be able to re-open the doors and return back to 2019’s numbers immediately. A slow climb will take place. As hotels gear up to welcome their guests back, re-opening plans should be more conservative (and realistic) rather than hopeful and expectations will have to be constantly adjusted.

•Everyone needs to take precautions, be aware of your environment and ensure you protect your manpower, yourself, and your clients.

•Keep an eye on the quarantine requirements at both ends of the travel journey and the opening of air bridges (if any), to ensure adherence as well as the guest’s seamless experience.

•Recovery will take place one step at a time. Hotels need to plan for the future and work closely with local and overseas travel partners. Touch base with your partners today to keep the harmony you had going from disappearing. There is a need to rekindle relationships from both sides. You need to say “hello” today and send a more informative email next week. Keeping your establishment alive in their minds is of great importance. Be the first seen, not the last. They may have been wondering where you have you been all this time. You need to keep your name out there to ensure you still have friends once international business returns. 

COVID Policies and Procedures

•Hygiene standards will no doubt change, permanently. That said, the guest experience must not be sacrificed while the hotel ensures the high health and safety standards. 

•F&B will also change and continue to evolve. 

Buffets are now discouraged; guests’ expectations and hotel service levels will need to be managed accordingly. In-room dining will pick up, with a preference toward contactless room delivery. 

•There are numerous COVID hospitality policies. Discuss with your travel agents and tour companies what they are expecting. A few hotels have created their own policies based on 2020 updates. Ensure that you transfer travellers Covid-safe from the airport to their hotels and back again. Having a solid policy should keep you in line with expectations, and people will have trust in hotels that are ready and have prepared for the future.

PMS

•Given the current pandemic, many elements of your operations will have been adjusted so this maybe a good time to look at Property Management Systems (PMS) and update software or shop around to see what’s available. A time maybe to renew or replace? Also if your guest contact technology is outdated or simply does not meet expectations, the cost of ignoring could be critical to the long-term bottom line of the business. The virus has taught us that contact-free technology is here to stay. Digital commerce, home delivery and food-to-go for instance lead the way in cash-free transactions. They adopted  their customer-facing and operational payments processes to the current environment, optimised the customer payment experience and built reliability and trust. 

•Hotels will now have to look at cloud-based and integrated solutions and the possible use of a non-human interface mechanism. With that said, keep in mind that the use of technology should not compromise on the personal touch and guest experience. 

Vehicle Safety

•Agents will question whether transportation providers – public or private – are insured, and have done regular safety checks on their vehicles?

OTAs and Marketing

•OTAs witnessed a huge drop in revenue and will try to make this up, as would any company in the world. They have huge marketing budgets, and will entice you to join them. Be careful, and make sure what they offer covers your costs and a lot more. Trying to fill rooms is one thing; keeping your cash flow alive is another, and most properties will not have an adequate cash flow for a while once doors open. OTAs may attempt to revise previous contracts that only fit their agenda. Remember this, plenty of properties went with prepayment schemes and now they are looking for their money back but due to Covid and by crying, “force majeure” the OTAs have been found lacking. Meanwhile, establishments still have to pay their staff and stay alive.

•Those who remained open, have been working with domestic agents and DMCs. These are the partners, who helped you during the hard times, and with whom you should build a stronger bond looking towards the future. 

•Sales and marketing efforts should be based on travel and booking trends, as well as the opening of the travel market. Marketing teams should be quick to adapt to the changes and new trends, and embrace the use of digital platforms for both sales and marketing efforts.

Summary

Your goal during re-opening is to reduce your losses. To do this:

– Work with local travel agents and DMCs, and create a lasting bond.

– Do not expect room rates to immediately return to 2019 levels, as you may find yourself with no partners or contracts. Raising rates must be mutually agreed upon from both sides. Increase rates over time, and check with your partners on what they are selling, and at what rate to prevent unnecessary losses. Seek a win-win for both sides during re-opening.

– Build your occupancy step by step.

– Control your manpower and budgets. 

– Emphasise your uniqueness 

– Check all licences and insurance are in order and renewed where applicable. Include vehicles. 

– Take a look at technology use in the workplace and F&B offerings. 

– Communicate clearly to all stakeholders of your plan to re-open. 

– Review regularly your COVID hygiene policies. 

– Look at cloud-based and integrated solutions and review PMS. 

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Living abroad for travel, career or family is still the norm, for 310,000 Aussies. However, with coronavirus sweeping the globe, expats are flocking back home to Australia from Europe, US, the UK and Asia to a relatively normal lifestyle despite the pandemic. 

While Covid-19 restricted Australian residents from returning during the height of the outbreak, around 398,000 Australians have returned since mid-March 2020 [2] and numbers of residents have been steadily increasing since October 2020.[1]  Australia continues to have one of the lowest worldwide infection and mortality rates from the virus and the Australian Government has invested more than $3.3 billion into four separate agreements for the supply of proven, safe and effective vaccines. At the time of print, Australia has already received over 25,000,000 does of Covid-19 vaccines, sufficient for 50% of the population to receive a 2 dose regime with more on the way. [3]

It seems the vaccine rollout is spurring on confidence in the Australian property market as well as gleaning interest from overseas buyers. Sean Hughes, director of one of Australia’s top performing real estate offices, Realmark Coastal, recently reported a dramatic increase in the number of buyers bidding on unseen properties in an effort to beat future price hikes. “Quality Perth properties are still in high demand and people are increasingly comfortable with buying homes they’ve only inspected online and we’re still seeing offers above market price and fielding multiple offers on residences.” Sean says. [4]  

According to a survey undertaken by Knight Frank[5] 64% of expats, said the global lockdown had influenced their decision to buy a property in their home country. With real estate prices set to rise over the next year and property demand only increasing, many may even consider a return to the land down under to prepare for a more secure future in a post-Covid world. 

One development Sean and his team are very much looking forward to helping buyers capitalise on, is a stunning over 55s strata title opportunity in Scarborough, Western Australia. Altum is the epitome of luxury, tailored to suit those who value a lock and leave, maintenance free lifestyle less than 450 meters from one of Perth’s best beaches, Scarborough Beach. Boasting an indoor heated pool, concierge, gold class style cinema, gymnasium, yoga and Pilates studio, a massage treatment room, lounge, private dining, wine room and so much more. “If another lockdown comes, I would like to know my parents are not only safe but thriving in a luxurious setting where they can still exercise and enjoy their lifestyle with minimum disruption” says Altum owner builder Michael Lawson. 

There are only 43 apartments across the two towers still available. With no exit fees, and stamp duty rebates of up to 75% available until construction starts, there is real incentive to join your fellow Aussies choosing to return home to live the resort lifestyle, that luxury apartment living provides and indeed a lifestyle that many have become accustomed to living abroad. 

The McGrath Report 2021, analysing trends in the Australian property market, observes expats taking up new opportunities to work remotely from Australia and predicts others will come home for the health benefits post vaccine rollout, with expats returning home likely to drive the demand for owner occupied premises.[6] While the world hopes a vaccine will restore a sense of normality, perhaps it’s also a window of opportunity to consider what you envisage the future may look like for you and your family. No matter how far or wide you roam, we look forward to welcoming you back home. To learn more about Altum’s over 55 luxury apartments, click here.

[1] Media Release: 18/01/2021 Australians continue to return home https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/australians-continue-return-home 

[2] Media Release: 16 October 2020 DFAT More flights helping Australian return https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-release/more-flights-helping-australians-return

[3] Australian Government Department of Health 17 February 2021 Australia’s vaccine agreements | Australian Government Department of Health

[4] FEATURE ARTICLE: Feb 7, 2021 Lockdown sparks 37 offers in one day – new level of Perth property demand https://www.therealestateconversation.com.au/news/2021/02/07/lockdown-sparks-37-offers-one-day-new-level-perth-property-demand-says-realmark

[5] Research Article: Knight Frank June 10,2020  COVID-19 sparks expat re-evaluation https://www.knightfrank.com.au/blog/2020/06/10/covid19-sparks-expat-reevaluation

[6] McGrath Report 2021 https://issuu.com/mcgrathestateagents/docs/mcg013_mcgrath_20report_202021_digital_all_fa_2_sp

Kindly visit the page for more information – https://altumliving.com.au/home-is-calling

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Top rated tourist destination in Thailand

Phuket as a resort island is probably one of the most attractive and commercialised tourist destinations in Thailand. Its strong appeal comes from the sandy beaches with clear blue water for excellent snorkelling and diving experience. Its abundance of fresh seafood encourage local and expatriates tourists to flock to the island annually for relaxation and favourable cuisine. Viewing breathtaking sunsets on the gorgeous beaches under the all year round warm climate, to be followed by the vibrant nightlife in Patong allure to all visitors. One of the latest hot trends over Instagram in Phuket is a “Floating breakfast with a view”.

Taking a family trip last December to Phuket, we were looking for a rejuvenated vacation. With our previous visits, we have enjoyed the friendliness of the southerners. The history of Phuket as a trading place has encouraged the local communities to foreigners. With this trip, instead of visiting the famous landmarks, we had the sense of adventure to explore some unbeaten tracks.

According to Ms. Nopparat Aumpa, SAVP & General Manager, Banyan Tree Phuket and Banyan Tree Bangkok, “Phuket has so much to offer, that even those that live here try something new almost every weekend, we still do not know it all! Our island has so much more to offer than the 10 attractions that pop-up on internet searches, yes those are still a must to visit, but we always recommend our travellers to submerge themselves in the local community and traditions and not just visit attractions for a photo or as a check on their list. In my opinion, it is only when you understand the local heritage that you truly understand the destination.

Scot Toon, Managing Director of Asia corporate office from The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts also recommended, “There are many different beach experiences, hidden beaches to larger bays with lots of water activities or go shopping in the boutiques at Boat Avenue in Cherng Talay, all worth coming back repeatedly for. Additionally, there is old Phuket town with beautiful galleries and local boutiques, or visit the Little Bukit Organic Farm, organic produce, goats and other farm animals for the kids to play with and a little cafe.

Cycle tours or trekking the hills, with so many places to explore, means you can’t do it in one trip.”

Arthorn Vanasantakul, Managing Director Hotel and Tourism Business from MBK Hotel & Tourism Company Limited echoed, “As a world famous destination, Phuket has so many attractions that will always entice both international and domestic visitors; beaches that are amongst the best in SE Asia; a vibrant nightlife and top quality restaurants; scenic mountains and forests. And, of course, the island is renowned for its golf courses, and our Tinidee Golf Resort Phuket and Loch Palm Residence is located alongside two of the most famous – Red Mountain and Loch Palm. So, apart from miles and miles of white sand beaches and the azure waters of the Andaman Sea, Phuket offers a plethora of activities that keep visitors entertained.”

Krating Cape (Laem Krating viewpoint) 

In Phuket, one of the new popular destinations to see the sunset in Phuket with a 360 degree panorama view is at Krating Cape. The starting point to Laem Krating viewpoint is Baan Krating Phuket Resort. The walk takes around 30/40 minutes to the final destination. The walk along the beach path requires crossing the rocks and climbing up the hill slope, hence, proper hiking shoes are highly recommended. The compensation for the trekking route is the chance to take memorable photos of the gorgeous view. We suggest going there two hours before the sunset, and then to start hiking back before the sky gets dark. There is a rock that looks like a sailboat where the locals refer as “sailing rock”. This marks the sunset viewpoint, where the Nai Harn beach, Windmill and Promthep Cape are in full view.

Pa Hin Dum (Black Rock viewpoint)

Pa Hin Dum is high up to the mountains that overlook Nai Harn beach and Yanui beach with an outstanding view. There is a dirt road that leads to Black Rock viewpoint. A sign for Nui Beach sits opposite to the entrance. Parking is available near a big rock with the painted words “Pa Hin Dum”. It takes a walk of around 20 minutes along the long trail about 200 metres to the viewpoint. As the pathway to the viewpoint is quite steep, safety hiking shoes are highly recommended.  

Hidden Rock ond

The Rock Pond is located in Kamala area. This place is a calm and peaceful spot that should be experienced with the sunset over the sea in the distance. There is a short hike down to the pond, so again proper walking or hiking shoes should be worn. To enjoy the sunset fully and taking remarkable photos, the best time is around 5pm.  Another option to appreciate the clear water and relax in the pond is to spend a few hours and arrive early at 10am. However, on the days with strong winds, the visit to the Rock Pond should be avoided as the high waves pose danger.

Big Buddha (Pra Phutta Ming Mongkol Ake Nakiri)

Pra Phutta Ming Mongkol Ake Nakiri or Ming Mongkol Buddha is one of the most famous landmarks in Phuket. The 45 metre tall white marble statue on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata is visible from far away. A panorama 360 degree view of the island covers Kata, Karon beaches, Chalong Bay and more. As with all visits to other Thai temples, foreign visitors should remember to dress respectfully and avoid beachwear, shorts and miniskirts. The suggested time to view sunset is around 6pm.

Phuket Old Town

The history of Phuket Island was one of the major trading routes between China and India, with assembled from Arabs, Chinese, Indian, Malay and Portuguese traders. Phuket Old Town, for its architecture, museums, shops and restaurants is a “must see”. The Phuket Town weekend night market is popular with both locals and tourists, offering all sorts for sale from fruits and street food to clothes and old curiosities. When we wandered around the old town, the Sino-Portuguese influence is visible everywhere even until today, with construction of many large mansions or shophouses that possess interesting combination of Chinese and colonial architecture. Colourful Chinese shrines and Thai temples are scattered around the town. 

Phuket community is creative with new concepts of cafes and restaurants to events, markets or shops constantly emerging. There are always fresh delicious treats to bite into. The streets seem to evolve and at each corner, there is new street art to upload on instagram.  

Phuket’s natural beauty is undeniable. All visitors will certainly activities that suit themselves. Enthusiasts of scuba diving and snorkelling can enjoy a full day with only a short boat ride to any of the less known islands which offer perfect bays and amazing scenery.  Alternatively, lazily hanging around any hotel pool to wait for the gorgeous sunset is a pleasing option.  For me, getting up at 5am in the morning it took only five minutes to a beautiful lagoon golf course, to experience an incredible sunrise sealed for a memorable trip!

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The majority of Thais have no plan to travel during the long weekends, a recent poll showed.

A Bangkok Poll survey by Bangkok University on “Thais’ travel plan during long weekends” found that more than half — 54 per cent of respondents — have no plan of travelling in December, while Chiang Mai is the most popular destination among travellers.

he poll, which surveyed 1,137 respondents nationwide and was released on Thursday, found that among the reasons for not travelling during long weekends were: Having to work/study (20 per cent), having financial restrictions (11.7 per cent), and having health problems (8.8 per cent). Some 25.2 per cent of respondents, however, said that they planned to travel during the long weekends in December, while 20.8 per cent said they were still uncertain.

Chiang Mai is the most popular destination among respondents (25 per cent), followed by Chiang Rai (9 per cent), Nan (6.6 per cent), Phetchabun (6.4 per cent) and Loei (5.1 per cent).

When asked about the government’s measure to stimulate tourism, 67.9 per cent of respondents said they were aware of the “Rao Pai Tiew Gun” (Let’s travel together) campaign, while 32.1 per cent said they were not aware; 61.4 per cent of the respondents said they had not registered under the campaign, the main reasons being: Do not know how to use the app (18.5 per cent), the registration process is too complicated (15.5 per cent), the room reservation process is too complicated (3.5 per cent).

When asked about their opinion on the effectiveness of the government’s tourism stimulus campaigns, 55.2 per cent of respondents said that these measures were effective and would result in more people travelling, while 44.8 per cent said that they would have only a minor impact on the tourism industry.

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Exclusive for Expat Life Readers FREE
Cash Voucher 500 Baht for 2 nights stay

Booking & holiday period: 1 Dec 2020 – 31 Mar 2021

Conditions:

Applicable for 2 nights stay
at Junior Suite Pool View

Room price based on regular rate on hotel website

Cannot be combined with other special promotions

For reservation,
please contact:
032 616 777
www.marrakeshresortandspa.com

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As the story goes, teatime began in 19th century England when trendsetter, Anna the Duchess of Bedford, invited her friends to a clandestine snack to quell their hunger before dinner. Since guilty pleasures are hard to resist, every society lady was soon hosting her own afternoon tea. 

This upper-class indulgence eventually became an everyday tradition which made its way from Britain to Bangkok, complete with pastry laden trays, fine teas, and savory delights galore. After all, teatime turns an ordinary afternoon into a celebration, so it’s easy to see why we love this indulgent affair. 

Since Bangkok offers a dizzying array of afternoon teas, choosing the perfect one can be tricky. Luckily, we’ve gathered Bangkok’s Best Hotel Teatimes to suit various occasions and moods. This popular British pastime has gotten a fresh spin thanks to Bangkok’s talented chefs and beautiful locations. Each tea service has its own unique vibe, so you’ll always enjoy a new experience. Pinkies ready? Discover where to sip in style. We are sharing tea services with the finest flavors, newest offerings, and most inspiring ambiance.

Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel – Three Teatimes in an Enchanted Garden

Where: Fancy an indoor picnic? Well, you are in for a treat! The Lobby Lounge evokes an airy urban greenhouse where decadent tea services make bustling Bangkok seem worlds away. Relax amongst cascading greenery and arched windows which bask you in oodles of natural light. Afterwards, walk off each delicious calorie strolling the gardens. 

Website: www.kempinski.com/en/bangkok/sindhorn-hotel/ 

What: Choose between three distinctive tea sets: Classic. Vegan. Thai. Each concept shares thoughtfully prepared bites such as an indulgent Caramel Praline & Chocolate Plaisir, vegan Grilled Asparagus & Chickpea on Beet Chips, or Thai Steamed Fish Dumplings. 

When: 2pm-5pm, daily. Friday-Sunday you can order the classic Chevaa Afternoon Tea presented in a handcrafted tree and served in two styles: The Indulgence (think innovative updates on European pastries) and the Guilt Free (vegan set) for all you plant-based foodies. The Thai Afternoon Tea is served all week with gourmet bites from Michelin-starred Saneh Jaan.  

Why: “Teatime in the Lobby Lounge is a wonderful place to connect socially or meet for a classy business meeting. It truly is a culinary journey. I loved escaping within the lush landscapes, chic décor, and architecture. It’s an oasis in the heart of busy Bangkok.” – Amy Patcharaporn Anantasuk, Real Estate 

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“What a breath of fresh air! We started with an eye-catching lemon sorbet. The bright flavors introduced this extraordinary experience. I would recommend it because of the beautiful setting, high standard of food, and value-for-money. You also can’t beat perfectly baked scones with cream and jam.” – Nicky Kim, Chef

How Much: 750++ Baht per person 

Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel – Afternoon Delight: A Teatime & Spa Retreat

Where: The Anantara Siam invites you to pamper yourself with their Afternoon Delight package. In addition to a 90-minute massage at the world-class spa, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous Mariage Frères Afternoon Tea nestled within the Lobby’s plush couches, frescoed ceilings, and floral arrangements. Did we mention the live piano music? You might just float out. 

Website: https://www.anantara.com/en/siam-bangkok 

What: Pssst… this is an amazing deal! Choose to spa before or after your tea service. The self-care continues with a classic English spread featuring dainty finger foods and Mariage Frères tea with Thai-inspired blends made exclusively for the Anantara Siam. Sip an Eléphant Blanc black tea as you pluck blueberry crumble tarts and tuna ekura blinis from the tiered tray. Bliss!

When: Afternoon tea is served daily from 2pm-6pm. The Afternoon Delight promo continues through December 2020.

Why: “The Afternoon Delight is a relaxing, joyful retreat for both women and men. It’s worth noting that the spa uses Total Body Tonic massage oil known for its antibacterial qualities and a beautiful niche brand, Biologique Recherche, for facial services. I will definitely return.”  – Tina Derkse, International Makeup Artist www.savourbytina.com 

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“I loved the calm atmosphere as I entered past the lily ponds. The teatime was a fun mix of colorful flowers, attentive service, and elegant presentation of treats.” – Neeranuj Wongwasin, Jewelry Designer 

How Much:  Afternoon Delight Package is 1,800 Baht net per person (90-minute massage + Afternoon Tea Set) // Classic Afternoon Tea Set (Mon-Fri) is 850++ Baht per set for two people // 

Afternoon Tea Buffet (Sat – Sun) is 950++ Baht per person

Rosewood Bangkok – Teatime with a Fancy French Twist

Where: Bring your cravings for exceptional French pastries to the Afternoon Tea at Rosewood Bangkok. This “English affair with French flair” features a rotating selection of delectable creations from their award-winning Executive Pastry Chef, Florian Couteau who recently won Iron Chef Thailand. The Rosewood’s stylish serenity provides the perfect backdrop for standout bites that are both chic and scrumptious. 

Website: www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/bangkok 

What: Gather your besties for a degustation menu filled with goodies like Mandarin Sorbet with Candied Citrus and finger sandwiches stuffed with blue crab, preserved lemon, and smoked salt. If you’re still parched after the extravagant service, champagne is on offer. Oh, how civilized!

When: Wednesday – Sunday from 3pm-5:30pm. Nan Bei is the weekday venue. Lakorn European Brasserie is the weekend setting.  

Why:  “This was the perfect afternoon. I loved the exquisite sweet to savory options. Each confection introduced a new taste and texture. The melt-in-your-mouth Rum Baba cake with Chalong Bay Rum and fresh matcha and vanilla cream was unbelievable. The charming bottle of coconut syrup that accompanied my ginger tea was a simple, thoughtful addition. Details create memorable dining experiences.”-  Ellyn Louise Ahlemeyer, Author & Acupuncturist

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“This sophisticated, but relaxed teatime felt like being in a Parisian hotel with an Asian twist. The city views are impressive while the artwork from notable Thai artists was the perfect complement to the edible art that were served.” – Rachel Pickel, Lawyer

How Much: 950++ Baht per person 

Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit: History, Flavors, & Flowers Tea Service 

Where: You’ll have plenty to talk about as you explore Bangkok’s vibrant history at the Sukhumvit Gallery Afternoon Tea. The past meets the present through vintage photographs, modern art, and bold flavors. Wander the photography exhibit to learn about the fascinating history of Sukhumvit Road, the city’s most important thoroughfare. Tea is served amongst historic images. Compare the sights of old Sukhumvit Road with the new as you gaze through big windows at today’s cityscape overlooking the most modern thing Sukhumvit has to offer – the BTS skytrain. 

Website: www.hyatt.com/hyatt-regency-bangkok-sukhumvit/bkkhr 

What: Take a tasty peek into Bangkok’s history at this Thai-inspired teatime. It was designed by renowned floral artist, Sakul Inthakul, who cleverly infuses contemporary Thai art into the tea trays and flowers. Sample savory throwbacks to Thai childhood favorites including curry puffs as well as new takes on Thai tapas such as sa-koo-sai-moo. Save room for sweets like mango-based petit fours which are served with organic coffee or tea from farms in Chiangmai and Tak.  

When:  2pm-5pm, daily

Why: “This experience stands out for blending traditional Thai roots with modern influences. Teatime is served on a custom-made tray depicting a bridge along Sukhumvit Road, which you’ll see in the gallery’s photos. The traditional Thai “mali” flowers represent Sukhumvit’s bustling energy. Each detail shares Sukhumvit’s story. I want to bring my parents here. It’s also a great deal for the price.” – Swita Charanasomboon, Marketing Director APAC

How Much: 950++ Baht per set for two people

Banyan Tree Bangkok: An Oriental High Tea in the Sky  

Where: Make your way to the aptly named Vertigo Too on the 60th floor where an expansive skyline provides a dramatic backdrop to the Orient High Tea. Delightful delicacies riff on Chinese flavors. If possible, snag a window seat for a birds-eye view of Bangkok.  It gives a whole new meaning to the term “high tea.” Enjoy the groovy, live acoustic music.  You might just find yourself singing along. 

Website: www.banyantree.com/en/thailand/bangkok 

What: Teatime begins with bottles of tea leaves to awaken your senses. Simply smell and select your blend. Get ready for a light-hearted tea service with a sense-of-humor that extends throughout the East meets West theme. Numerous dishes arrive in a BIG dim sum basket that’s sure to put a smile on your face. The playful presentation continues with a menu tucked inside a lucky, red hong bao envelope. What fun! The distinctly Chinese nibbles include Pork Dumplings with Seared Foie Gras, Crispy Duck Salad Rolls with Beijing Sauce, and Red Bean Belgian Waffles with Chantilly Creme & Black Sesame Paste. 

When: Saturdays & Sundays from 1pm-4pm

Why: “Come for the peaceful surroundings, picturesque views, and exotic teatime. The presentation in  the massive dim sum steamer was a nice touch. It switched-up your average teatime to a creatively engaging meal. I especially enjoyed the egg tart which wasn’t too sweet and had a lovely pastry crust. The entire experience was fantastic.” – Amy Wondurack. Senior eCommerce Manager

How Much: 888++ Baht per set for two people.

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For lunch at the Siam Anantara on Rajadamri Rd such a civilised place to have Sunday brunch. As ever the restaurant is full… fresh seafood oysters, rock lobster, salmon, tuna washed down with Champagne – gosh I love living in Bangkok!
So many choices and alternatives – from each of their signature restaurants plus their street food special. I shall follow with Peking Duck, rare roast beef and various sides. Staff excellent and very attentive thank you Daniel Simon GM oh and in case you wondered I am a paying guest!
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The Royal Cliff Hotels Group is located between South Pattaya and Jomtien on the cliff top overlooking Cosy Beach, the Gulf of Thailand and looking out to … island. The theme and motto of the destination is the State of Exclusivity and Fascination.

The four hotels are set on a 64 acre beautifully landscaped exclusive estate set in a tropical paradise – the flora and fauna lovingly cared for daily by the legion of estate staff. 145kms or 90 minutes from Bangkok and 3kms from the City of Pattaya – far enough to offer tranquillity and a good nights uninterrupted sleep but near enough should you want to party the night away…

The Royal Wing Suites and Spa set on the oceanfront offers ultimate luxury in 85 private suites on 8 floors – one, two and three bedroom suites in one of the finest boutique hotels. It is always rated as one of the top three hotels in Asia on TripAdvisor and you will be totally spoilt by the myriad of exclusive services on offer. It has won over 100 awards from prestigious travel organisations in recent years.

The suites offer unrivalled views across the Gulf of Thailand. The elegantly appointed interiors feature a timeless Thai inspired decor. Each suite has a living room and a separate bedroom with a circular Jacuzzi and a private balcony.  

Upon arrival you will be met by an exotic fruit platter and homemade praline chocolates and given a choice of pillows. You will have already specified your choice of beds: king size or twin with fresh white linen. They offer a complimentary unpacking and packing service. Live like royalty whilst on holiday.

The Royal Wings Suites have a private swimming pool but guests are welcome to use any of the seven swimming pools on the extensive hotel complex and the fitness suite and tennis courts. Your sun loungers will be reserved by the side of the pool for your entire stay.

You can choose to take breakfast in the [email protected] or on your private balcony. Have lunch in the same restaurant, in your suite or alongside the swimming pool. Dinner is served at the fine dining restaurant Caprice or again in your suite.

For a family group of six adults you can book a Presidential Heritage Suite that has three luxurious bedrooms and three matching marbled bathrooms with walk in showers and circular Jacuzzis. Soak away the pleasures of the day whilst watching the tropical sunset on the horizon with a cocktail or a glass of chilled Champagne.

Presidential Suite guests have the added facility of a 24 hour butler to serve your every wish. Their mission is to make your holiday one to remember.

Presidential Platinum Suite with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Inspired by the opulent essence of Thai culture, reconnect with the entire family and discover beauty, tranquility and ultimate relaxation within the confines of your elegantly designed suite boasting unobstructed views of the sea in the best 5 star beach resort in Pattaya.

Tucked away among this new standard of luxury, take your comfort to new heights as you bask in rejuvenating massages, feast on delectable gourmet dishes and soak in an open air Jacuzzi as glorious sunsets over the Royal Wing’s exclusive beachfront takes your breath away at your very own beachside sala ( open Thai-styled pavilion).

With remote working becoming part of the “new normal” use the hotel as your second office whilst entertaining and being in the company of the extended family. The hotel offers high speed internet and every necessary aid and technology available. You will find it the perfect environment.

Email [email protected] call 038 250 421 or check out the website www.royalwingsuites.com

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I love Avani Hotels and Resorts. It was not by accident that we chose to celebrate my 50 something birthday at the Avani Pattaya. 

Their hotels are full of vitality, with a youthful vibe that is infectious. Especially when you are looking for the perfect getaway and you want to feel young at heart, but not one of those sad old birds and out of place!

Fast forward through, the most crazy six months the world has ever seen, and I walk into the Avani+ Samui. It is as bright and as fresh as the ocean breeze that greets you. Along with a warm welcome from Eve and Louise on the front desk, it immediately feels like a great place to relax and unwind. 

It is on the less explored Southwestern side of Samui. They say this other side, is ideal for those hoping for peace and quiet. They have kind of lost their sales pitch here these days, as nowhere on Koh Samui is exactly busy… well, unless you are at the back of the queue for Coco Tam’s on Bophut Beach!

Here is the place to hop on a scooter and whizz around the quiet roads to explore the calmest Koh Samui that you have ever known. These days when they say calm – they mean really calm. Even I am tempted by scooter island life!

This hotel was officially opened at the end of 2018. It still maintains a fresh faced exuberance, charm and style, everything feels new and fun. There are selfie murals around the grounds for an insta moment to be had at every turn!

Will you take a wander with me?

Avani pool villa

Cheers to the best welcome drink, a coconut açaí bowl with a frangipani flower…

The hidden indulgence of this room is to lie on the bed looking straight out to your private swimming pool and outdoor terrace.

The room is presented by Nat from housekeeping, who has left her photo on a message board, together with ideas for your stay such as the SEEN Beach Club. The wooden door hanger which says “sorry about the mess” is an added bit of fun.

The room is light and bright, I like the beach painted wood style and soothing neutral colour tones, with the pop of turquoise and yellow cushions. It is a big grin all around as I set off to explore.  

The spacious bathroom has two grey bathrobes hanging on the wall at the end. It is another nice design touch but also a hint to put on a robe and chill…..! There is a good sized rain shower, room for two, just saying, and his and her washbasins. Everything smells divine! It is either the patchouli/sandalwood aroma of the soap, or maybe the essential oil burner in the corner or both! Oh and I must not forget to mention, the softest whitest fluffy bathmats ever….. love the Avani.

Two perfectly tightly rolled turquoise pool towels remind me I have plenty of unwinding swimming options. Will it be the beachside pool or the infinity pool? I am tempted to stay at home and just step outside to my own private pool!

In the corner of the master bedroom, a daybed with more yellow cushions looks perfect for reading a book or a binge watching movie session. 

My room has been cleaned and disinfected by Ecolab presented by Avani Shield. I like the peace of mind knowing that a hotel is serious about its hygiene.

Essence restaurant

Chef was given free rein to cook me my delicious dinner. They offer me a perfect menu of crab cakes with Asian coleslaw, panfried Tasmanian salmon, followed by chocolate brownie and ice cream. It is perhaps a safe and predictable choice but I am happy with the fresh, honest cooking from their Thai and international fusion menu. They have also maintained a strong interest in plant based food, even though their Ko Ko cafe had yet to reopen.

For those looking for romantic private beach dining this can be arranged and looked gorgeous.

The beverage pool truck 

A converted VW camper van is a fun place for poolside cocktails and there is also the option to enjoy the sunset drinks at their rooftop lounge.

Breakfast

I enjoyed my breakfast, there were plenty of all the usual choices, so you will not be disappointed. Their special menu offers scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and a Thai omelette with pork. 

Next time I would order a breakfast float (at extra charge) for breakfast on a large tray to enjoy in your pool. How the other half live!

Avani spa

Whilst the spa was probably designed to be chic and stylish I found it a little understated in comparison with the opulence of many, these days. However let’s face it, it is what happens when you have your eyes shut that really matters. My ‘gentle rhythms massage’ was really good and very relaxing.

Avani fit

There is a well equipped gym which offers a few machines, dumbbells, balls/bands, etc. They also offer free bikes for rent.

Avani beach

This a traditional and beautiful working Samui bay with boats moored and a low tide that disappears a long way back. The beach itself is nothing special with its coarse sand, and with much in the bay waiting to reopen. I came to the conclusion why leave a beautiful resort?

Koh Madsum island

The complimentary Avani traditional long tail boat, to the unspoilt sands of Koh Madsum island is a must! It is a lovely island for swimming in the crystal waters and meeting the island’s latest attractions and photo sensation – a family of pigs! You cannot even begin to imagine the fuss that is made of these happy pigs on a tropical island. If you decide you need a perfect cocktail for your ‘piggram‘ this can be ordered along with your lunch.

My stay at the Avani+ Samui, was just the good dose of salt sea air that I needed. Thank you to Minor Hotels and Cindy, resort manager of Avani+ Samui resort and her wonderful staff for a lovely stay. It is thoroughly recommended!

Avani+ Samui resort 077 485 299

[email protected]                      www.avanihotels.com/en/samui

Little Wandering Wren stayed as a guest of Avani+ Samui resort. Her Thailand staycations can be found at www.wanderingwren.com and on instagram and Twitter @littlewanderingwren

Please quote the following code to get a special Expat Life in Thailand promotional offer: https://mhg.to/42905

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When I checked in at Suvarnabhumi the staff called a wheelchair….

63 burnt out, exhausted, stressed and in constant myofascial pain from head to foot in both legs I  acquiesced and allowed the man to push me through the airport.

With my hat pulled down and my glasses on I must have looked a sorry sight.

Arrived at Koh Samui last to leave the aeroplane and stuck in another wheelchair, collect luggage and the Kamalaya had arranged a car as they do with all their guests. Heck they even arrange flights for you if you want. I shared a car with a delightful young lady who was staying for the long weekend.

We arrived at Kamalaya and I was greeted by some lovely people who checked me in and then the monk in the cave arrived owner and joint founder John Stewart. What a lovely man. He apologised that his wife Carina was not there as she was stuck in Phoenix in the US. She is the wellness and TCM guru and he obviously does what he is told. Happy wife, happy life!

He told me that he was known as the monk in the cave and explained that he had been a monk in Nepal for many years and had met this beautiful lady who x years later became his wife. They had a business in Nepal but lost that in the revolution, moved to Thailand against Carina’s wishes at first and set up a home on Koh Samui. One day he asked his landlord who had become a friend if he would help him get to the nearby beach and the two men set too with machetes. Cutting through the deep forestation John came across a cave and his friend told John that was where the monks prayed. John knew he had found his new home.

I was taken to my villa, which was a small house, 100 metres from the beach by a little golf cart and I was pleased as the resort is set on a hillside.

The villa was lovely with a covered terrace with days beds and a table to eat, work or just take your tea at. Tea is the order of the day. Mulberry, Ginger, Jasmine and various others in the room.

They told me to call the reception when I was ready to eat although midweek I started to walk to the main restaurant. The food throughout the week was wonderful. So much so that when I do catch up with Carina the Wellness Director I shall suggest that she creates a book just for the food although I hope to convince her to share the Kamalaya ‘experience’ with everyone as I was so impressed.

I went hoping to lose some bad habits and develop some new ones, more off that later. Ate a lovely dinner and retired for the night to my villa.

The day starts at Kamalaya early as you can see through the blinds and watch the world emerge and then they encourage you to drink hot water with the limes and or lemon left in the room. Nice start and something I shall try and adopt from now on.

They frown on coffee, caffeine, alcohol, whistling and loud music, using your smartphone or tablet especially in public places like the restaurant, Wellness centre etc.
I guess that it makes sense as we are all addicted to our phones nowadays.

The golf buggy collected me for breakfast and delivered me to the restaurant there is only one so no decisions to be made there.

There were 4 ‘shots’ on offer. Kale, Turmeric, Butterfly pea and Goto something. They all have antioxidant qualities and as I could not decide which I should have I asked for them all. I need as much help as I can get!

I ate Bircher muesli with fresh fruit every day but discovered the granola, with nuts, fresh fruit and yoghurt as I was leaving so had that too.

Then poached eggs and although they have their own breads like sour dough, wholewheat, croissants and many others but I tried to kick the bread as I am a fat, old, grumpy bloke from England.

They gave me an assessment, a test. But I think that I failed as the young lady that weighed, measured, prodded and poked me did not look happy. My blood pressure was high 155 over 85 and she said I was morbidly obese… I was very sad. The said my BMI was …

They devised a Wellness programme for me and it all looked very nice and I was off and running. The steam room was a real pleasure, like a blue mosaic cave With shafts of sunlight coming through from above and a waterfall coming into a pool at one end. I vowed to come back every day as I like steam but in 6 days I did not return. There were so many things to do and my ‘programme’ kept me very busy.

Over the years I have worked with many readers, some sufis that have encouraged me to do yoga, Pilates, meditation, breathing techniques and I have always listened sceptically but now I am a convert this stuff actually works!

I had intended staying a couple of days and moving on as I have never been to Koh Samui and wanted to see so much of the island and meet so many people but after 24 hours there I was bitten.

It is quite simply the most delightful place. With lovely plant based food – I am with you Lewis Hamilton I just wish I could get it, or prepare it our better still have someone prepare it for me. I bet Lewis has someone to get his every day though… I am not that lucky!

The resort is obviously an internationally renowned and they, like everyone else at the moment, are really hurting. They are offering so crazy packages at the moment and Dwain that they would offer Expat Life in Thailand readers something special so please tell them that Nick sent you and prepare to be amazed.

Over my 6 days I loved the beach and the two main pools and wanted to spend more time at both. I kayaked out to the reef that protects their private beach and if there was anyone else on the beach that week with me it was a ‘crowded’! It felt like I was the only guest at times and that all of this had been laid on for me. Now is obviously the time to go as the serenity, the sounds of nature and the private access to all the facilities was just amazing.

I did myofascial massage, foot soak and massage, meditation, prayarama, aqua aerobics, stretching exercises, Ayurveda oil head massage, breathing exercises I am now a new man – I wish! I can’t wait to go back.

Kamalaya Wellness Resort Koh Samui, www.kamalaya.com

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