Monday, May 27, 2013

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO THAILAND, part 2

Our product manager Neil Bedford continues his two-week tour of Thailand, assessing old charms and new developments. The country still has everything to offer the luxury customer...

Last blog he focused on less visited areas: Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand and the paradise island of Koh Kood. This week's blog looks at the more established destinations...

Phuket

Phuket is perhaps not the most in-vogue destination right now. However, fashion goes in cycles, and when a hotel gets it right it can be a permanent classic.


Classic beachside luxury - Amanpuri.
More to follow in a later blog
Bearing in mind that many Select Collection hotels lie in romantic and secluded spots far from all development, there is magic to be found on this popular island...

And enchantment does not always have to be right on the beach...

On Thailand’s third largest island many of the newer properties are built on the hills (as there is no longer any beachfront land available to buy) above beautiful coves. This means incredible views and (because the land is considerably cheaper) more money to spend on the hotel itself. The trade-off is that beach access can be a little arduous with short transfers or a hilly walk required.


Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary - spa pool villa
Some properties are located along the beach area of Sirinath Marine National Park in the northwest of the island. A stunning natural beach with no building that can be seen and turquoise waters lapping at your feet...idyllic…but you need to bear in mind that as it is a protected area you cannot take sun loungers onto the beach. There is no beach bar and the beach itself is not the perfectly manicured and driftwood free strip that you might see elsewhere. It is more Crusoe beach...nature and wreckage can drift up...


The lovely beach at JW Marriott Phuket
part of Sirinath National Park
Finally, you have the hotels that arrived ‘first’. They got the pick of best beaches and invariably are the most expensive as they happily charge a premium for the location. In many hotels you will find a mixture of entertainment options nearby, whether it is from other hotels or simple beach bars. If you like to be able to walk out along the beach for these options or are happy to take a taxi then that will also play a factor in your hotel choice.

Your own pool and privacy above the secluded
sandy beach - Trisara

Trisara - down at the beach

So there is more to Phuket than you may have thought, and your choice of hotel is extremely important in getting the kind of experience that you are after. We suggest you share with your expert travel consultant what you expect from your holiday.

In the Thailand HOTEL CHECK blogs coming soon, we will take a quick look at some of the hotels.


Need to know

Getting there - 1 hour flight from Bangkok. Over 27 other cities have direct flights to Phuket including Stockholm (twice a week November – March).
Best time to travel - November to April sees very little rainfall and temperatures around 28c. Dec-March average only 4 days with rain per month.

Time to avoid - There is a significantly higher volume of rain in our summer months as well as rough seas causing many beaches close or swimming to be prohibited.

Why go - You can be as confident in good weather in Phuket Dec-March as any other beach destination in the world and you know you will experience great service from your hotel.


Bangkok

In some respect’s Bangkok is a city on the move and in others it is a city where everything stands still (a bit like it’s roads). The classic riverfront properties of Mandarin Oriental and The Peninsula still have iconic boats ferrying well-heeled guests back and forth across the Chao Phraya river…often as not to eat in each others restaurants!



View of the Chao Phraya river - highway for
boats - from a balcony room at the Peninsula

Meanwhile the city’s (woefully inadequate) monorail is being expanded to cover more of the city, new hotels and restaurants are popping up all the time, and the ‘new’ airport has now been in operation for several years.

Some new properties have caught our eye for the detail and feeling that has gone into their boutique accommodation. Wait and see what we choose for our Select Collection.

Need to know

Getting there - Direct flights from almost all major cities in Europe and great links across Southeast Asia, Australasia, Middle East…

Best time to travel - November to April sees very little rainfall. Temperatures stay around 30c year round.

Time to avoid - There is a significantly higher volume of rain in our summer months and you will need to borrow a hotel umbrella if you wander out. March-May are the hottest and most humid months which can be unpleasant for dining out and sightseeing.

Why go - Great shopping (whether it is markets or malls), amazing food and memorable riverfront drinking and dining.


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