Whether you’re going to Asia for the first time or as a seasoned visitor, we have three properties you won’t want to miss.
We begin our tour of Asia on the island of Koh Samui, a stunning part of Thailand, famous for its lush jungles and beautiful Buddhist temples and shrines. The particular hotel we’re going to explore is near Wat Kunaram Temple which boasts a mummified monk. Before Luang Pho Daeng died in 1973 he directed that his body be displayed in the temple as a reminder of the transience of human existence. Of course, if this is not quite your scene you can always go elephant trekking or zip-lining through the jungle or explore the colours of nature at Samui Butterfly Garden. This is all well and good but what about the hotel itself?
Well, it sticks like glue to everything that’s wonderful about the Conrad brand while offering distinctly local Thai tradition. Conrad primarily offer smart luxury which is an effortless fusion of life, business and pleasure. They really like to inspire guests and their website tagline pretty much sums this up when it states, ‘Never just stay. Stay Inspired’. This all brings us neatly to the very inspiring Conrad Koh Samui.
Everything starts with the natural surroundings. The first thing you may notice about the hotel is that it sits in an elevated position overlooking the pristine blue waters of the Andaman Sea. These views are then woven into every villa. Yes, that’s right, there’s no rooms or suites here – only villas. Only the very best accommodation will do. You may have gathered from the term villa that these are spacious dwellings and you’d be right. In fact, there’s not one without a private pool, balcony and oversized bathtub. When it comes to where you stay, this is not about starting at the bottom and working your way up but rather starting at the top and working your way up.
Much more could be said about this stunning beachfront hotel including the way the views follow you everywhere even while you’re being pampered in the beautiful spa but we must continue our journey now to wonderful Malaysia.
Welcome to Langkawi, famous for its beaches, jungles and rainforests. It's at the heart of one of these rainforests that we find a truly unique treasure, The Datai Langkawi. Staying here puts you steps from Datai Beach, one of National Geographic’s top 10 beaches in the world.
Being in a rainforest has distinct advantages for all of you who love wildlife, particularly creatures you have only read about or seen on TV. There are dusky leaf monkeys, tokay geckos and even flying lemurs.
Okay, so your surroundings are good but what about the property itself? Premium architect Kerry Hill designed The Datai Langkawi to honour the 10-million-year old rainforest. He wanted to work with nature and was careful to build The Datai in step with it, not disturbing this beautiful natural haven.
The Datai’s 122 luxurious rooms, suites and villas are divided into three areas; Canopy, Beach or Rainforest Collection. The Canopy Collection offers large rooms and suites with breath-taking views over the rainforest canopy while the Beach and Rainforest collections are rather posh, rather large and rather well-endowed villas with views to match their names.
Lovely place to sleep, great for wildlife and the beach, picturesque surroundings but is there anything else? Yes, there’s still more. As a food lover, I can’t really put into words the culinary offerings but I’ll certainly try. Firstly, by way of introduction, you may never have eaten to views like this before, they are simply stunning.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from here, by the pool, beach and lobby (and even the lobby isn’t your standard hotel checking in area by any means). The Gulai House offers the real deal when it comes to Malay dishes but then adds a perfect touch of Indian flavours. I suspect you may not have eaten anything in a building supported by 30-metre-high stakes, let alone gourmet Thai but that’s exactly what you’ll enjoy at The Pavilion.
So onto our final property. For this we must head back to Thailand, to a city in the mountainous north of the country. Founded in 1296, it still retains its original walls and moats and has enjoyed a history as a cultural and religious centre. Home to hundreds of beautiful Buddhist temples, the name of this wonderful place is Chiang Mai which means “new city”.
It is at the very heart of this ancient place that you’ll find the resort of Tamarind Village. There’s a genuine kindness throughout in the service you receive here that works perfectly with the soft and gentle surroundings of this quiet part of the world.
This charming boutique property is comfortable and stylish throughout while being architecturally true to the original designs of the ancient city, even going as far as using traditional materials the original builders of the city would have used. As you enter the building by way of a bamboo archway you can tell you’re in a special place.
In continuance of this ambiance, the 42 rooms and suites are surrounded by flower-filled courtyards and offer genuinely thoughtful touches such as embroidered tribal caps, hand-made lacquer boxes, carved antique chests and cabinets and tribal artefacts.
There are, of course, modern luxuries too including marble baths, outdoor showers and large private terraces with sun beds. In fact, it’s this fusion of ancient and modern that works so effortlessly in Tamarind Village.
In conclusion, no property here is better than the others. In fact, they all stand so independently in their uniqueness that I would strongly urge a visit to every single one. What left an indelible personal impression was just how far these stunning places had gone to become palaces of relaxation and how intricate design and detail had worked together so effortlessly in each property to bring about an atmosphere and ambiance that stays with you long after the end of your holiday.