Our Selection of Accommodation Choices for November
Here is this month’s fantastic selection of accommodation choices from around the region, as seen and experienced by our Khiri Travel team, who are always eager to share with you their discoveries.
Villa Mahabhirom in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Villa Mahabhirom, a boutique resort property of 14 villas, is a unique collection of ancient wooden buildings that were dismantled in central Thai provinces Suphanburi, Ayutthaya and Nonthaburi and rebuilt in a homey fashion in Chiang Mai, the former northern capital of the Lanna Kingdom.
On our inspection visit we entered the property through the gates on a walkway lined with bamboo bushes. The mix of industrial-minimalistic grounds and natural bamboo has resulted in this being called the ‘Zen walkway’. The main building housing the lobby and reception is on one side and faces another old double story house at the opposite end of the pool. We were told that this was Villa Doi Suthep, the only house facing the eponymous mountain – very well known for its large temple overlooking the city.
Traditionally, wooden houses are perched on sturdy posts to protect the interior from flood water during the wet season. Our room was a Deluxe Villa which could be reached via wooden stairs extending to a wooden deck connecting three villas. The room was split into four separate areas. The ‘lobby’, a square space, located immediately by the door, the bathroom, the slightly elevated study area and clothe storage level. And the bedroom. These elegant rooms feature either king size or twin beds, bedside tables, two rattan chairs with table in between – and a television set mounted to the wall. If you are looking for a truly unique Chiang Mai experience amidst history, seclusion, art and stylish foods and beverages, you will certainly enjoy your stay at Villa Mahabhirom.
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
Created with sustainability in mind, Song Saa Private Island is an exquisite island retreat that embodies the true meaning of an island getaway. Only a 35-minute boat ride from the port of Sihanoukville, it is set in a truly pristine location with its own private beach, spacious wooden villas, and spa facilities – all surrounded by a preserved coral reef – a real opportunity to detach from the world and tune into simple luxuries.
It is Cambodia’s first luxury private island resort, but it’s not just a swanky vacation spot. Founders Rory and Melita Hunter wanted to create a sustainable sanctuary in this remarkable tropical environment, and “ensure the protection of the natural environment and the support of local communities is central to Song Saa’s ethical charter.” The resort has therefore teamed up with local villages and established Cambodia’s first marine-protected area, managed to international standards.
Built with reclaimed timber and materials from the mainland, the resort’s design and architecture reflects its commitment to sustainability. Each villa is a private sanctuary; a refined blend of thatched roofs, linen-draped canopy beds, up-cycled décor and repurposed furniture. Discarded oil drums find new life as lamps. Driftwood serves as a table or bench, while salvaged wood from old fishing boats and factory yards forms the resort’s decks, floors and beams.
Now, there’s a holiday you can feel good about!
Kaliandra Sejati Eco Resort and Organic Farm, East Java, Indonesia
Established in 1997 to support the foundation of the same name, this exquisite resort is a unique accommodation that promotes community-based tourism (CBT). The aim is to encourage local communities to stop illegal logging by offering alternative employment in tourism and a chance for a better life.
Guests get to experience unspoiled nature and learn about some rich cultural traditions through such activities as gamelan lessons, making herbal teas and dying fabrics. The property, inspected by our team at Khiri Travel Indonesia, is divided into three styles: Javanese or Balinese cottages and European villas.
The organic farm is a prime feature of the resort as is the resident peacocks strutting around the grounds. Fruit and vegetables produced on the farm are used in the resort’s restaurants and also sold in the cities. The foundation works with local farmers from the surrounding villages to grow organic produce that is then marketed for them on a fair-trade basis.
Luang Say Residence, Luang Prabang, Laos
Surrounded by arresting mountain scenery in the ancient royal city of Luang Prabang, the elegant 5-star Luang Say Residence offers guests 32 French colonial-style luxury suites set in eight pavilions, with facilities that include a 20-meter freeform swimming pool, a library, the 1861 terrace bar, and La Belle Époque fine dining restaurant.
The 28 lavish Pioneer Suites include king- or twin-size beds with soothing views from an open terrace and bow windows. Guests on the first floor can enjoy stunning mountain scenery, while ground floor suites look out onto lush tropical grounds. En suite bathrooms also open up to the gardens with plenty of natural light.
The four Explorator suites, situated on the upper floor of the main residence building, can accommodate couples or small families in complete comfort. Each suite has a twin- or king-size bed with ample living space, including a lounge area – equipped with a writing desk and divan – that opens onto a private garden-view terrace. Bathrooms are extravagantly plush with large eggshell lacquer bathtubs, walk-in showers and double vanity units.
Khiri Travel Laos’ inspection team was particularly impressed by the location’s arresting mountain scenery that can be enjoyed from the open terraces and exterior lounges, as well as the hotel’s La Belle Époque restaurant – a French-style brasserie serving a delicious selection of signature dishes and Asian cuisine.
Fusion Resort Nha Trang, Vietnam
This all-inclusive 5-star concept resort with its convenient beachfront location is a one of a kind resort in Nha Trang, Vietnam’s premier beach destination. During an inspection by Khiri Travel, the resort’s GM highlighted the all-inclusive concept of the resort. Guests can stay in the Ocean Pool Villas located on the beach and have everything catered to their needs such as the spa treatments and 5-star cuisine (included in the room rate). Lunch or a romantic dinner can be served at each of the villa’s small private courtyards.
Fusion Resort Nha Trang is strategically laid out so every unit enjoys an uninterrupted ocean view. Each luxurious seafront villa has a private pool and a stunning view of the beach and sea beyond. Located only ten minutes from the airport, the resort is just far enough away from urban areas to provide a convenient location, but still able to offer a tranquil and relaxing natural environment.
Art of Sand in Ngapali, Myanmar
The Art of Sand resort is built to fit in with its environment, set amid coconut palms overlooking the white sandy shores of Ngapali Beach; one of the most pristine stretches of shoreline in Southeast Asia. The Art of Sand is the newest addition to Ngapali’s choice of high-end accommodation and follows the concept of its nearby sister property, the popular and long-established Sandoway Resort.
Art of Sand offers warm hospitality in a relaxed stylish atmosphere, with many features and services to enhance your stay. The simple elegant design of this two-story property beautifully combines traditional concepts with contemporary lines and modern facilities. Spacious guestrooms are broken into Garden and Beach Front accommodation, featuring locally handmade hardwood furnishings, windows and framed doors. Art of Sand also has a charming restaurant overlooking Ngapali beach, with free-flowing cocktails and snacks before dinner. It’s a great location to sit and chill under the palms with friends or family.
Homestays in Sri Lanka
For travelers intent on trekking to scenic spots in Sri Lanka’s hill country, here is an important consideration regarding homestays and local hospitality. A cardinal rule when traveling is that money can’t buy the best experiences. This can also apply fully to hotels. Who has not gotten the feeling sometimes that staying in a hotel can be an impersonal affair where the buffet breakfast is best forgotten?
On a recent trip to the highlands of Ella in Sri Lanka’s hill country, Khiri Travel set out to find some trekking routes to Little Adam’s Peak and to the higher Ella Rock. While there, we decided against staying in a hotel preferring instead to try some local homestays. It was one of the best decisions we could have made. This is what we found: warm, heartfelt hospitality, spotless rooms, and beautiful views of a waterfall and a train crossing a tall bridge between the mountains. We also enjoyed a delicious breakfast of curd and tropical fruits as well as farm fresh eggs. We felt at home so much so that it was hard to leave our host families!
Ella is also a stunning green mountain landscape with plenty of hiking routes from easy ones for families with kids to demanding ascents for serious trekkers. By staying at local guesthouses, your clients know their money is going directly to the family owners rather than to a big hotel chain. Serious foodies should also try the rice and curry at the community-based village restaurant, Mahiru. One of our Travel Designers who joined us in Ella said that Mahiru is one of the best he has tried in his life and he is Sri Lankan!