THE RITZ-CARLTON, KOH SAMUI, THAILAND

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fullsizeoutput_12deThe Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui opened only a few months ago and is located on a hill enjoying beautiful views.

The resort offers all suites and pool-villas only and hosts its  own Spa Village with private cabanas, a private pool and plenty of treatment rooms. I stayed in an ocean-view King Suite which was 93 sq. metres in size and offered a stunning view over the property and the ocean.

The resort is of a fairly large size and after check-in at the arrival lounge you are taken to your Suite by an electric buggy. Buggies are available day and night and be called at any time to move around the hotel. Walkways can be pretty steep and long depending where your suite is located.

The resort suites and pool villas are tastefully decorated and offer all luxury amenities of a modern hotel. The Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui offers several restaurants and dining options. I tried several of them and the food that I tasted was delicious. I would especially recommend the Pak TaI Restaurant which offers live entertainment every day.

The Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui has two small private beaches as well as an awesome, large infinity pool. There is also a swim reef to discover where you can swim and feed the fish which I found to be a unique experience. Muay Thai and Yoga lessons are offered and a gym is also available.

The resort offers a sunset cocktail hour every day at the arrival lounge platform where guests can enjoy a sip and meet other guests. Another highlight for me was the fantastic breakfast at Shook! Restaurant. It offers an extra wide range of freshly cooked bakery and other breakfast items. Fresh vegetable juices, organic egg dishes and Asian favourites are on offer as well. This breakfast buffet is one of the largest I have ever seen and everything tasted so good.

One of the best assets of this hotel are certainly its staff members. Everybody I met was most charming, open and always ready for a chat as well as offering the famous extra-mile that Ritz-Carlton hotels are famous for. They always called me by my name and made sure I always felt comfortable and being well taken care of. I can only congratulate the Management for such eager staff members and hope the service level will stay as high as it is right now.

A fantastic new resort to the already top-notch Koh Samui resort world with a 6* service.

 

http://www.ritzcarlton.com

 

 

 

MIRACLE FIRST CLASS LOUNGE, SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT BANGKOK, THAILAND

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There have been some serious changes at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport during the last few months. Bangkok Airways have recently opened their new international departure lounge and now two new, large Miracle Lounges have just opened their doors. The dated Thai Royal Silk lounges remain open near gate D2 and in each C and E piers and will be hopefully refurbished and refreshed in the near future. The new Miracle Lounges are located near gates D6-D4.

Several airlines which do not have their own lounges at Suvarnabhumi Airport use the new Miracle Lounges. They are open 24 hours and the Business Class Lounge is also available for public use for a fee which offers 2 hours of usage.

I visited the First Class Lounge and it is divided into a food and beverage section and a relaxation area. The food section offers bar-style tables as well as dining tables which are more suitable for eating. They have a fully stocked bar available for self-service and soft drinks and coffee/tea are available as well. The food offering is changed during the day. I visited late morning and a selection of breakfast items, salads, snacks, cakes and ice cream was available. There is also a station with different food savouries and an open kitchen where a chef prepares fresh noodles according to the guest’s wishes.

Shower facilities and restrooms are conveniently located in the lounge. The relaxation section of the lounge was deserted and was a great place to unwind after the airport procedures which can be rather stressful and time consuming at Suvarnabhumi airport. I really enjoyed having a quiet moment for myself before boarding my flight.

The lounge has a beautiful modern decor and is a perfect spot to have a rest and chill out. I really enjoyed my stay and I did not miss the lack of sleep/resting rooms, although the lighting in the lounge was a bit too bright for my preference.

 

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http://suvarnabhumiairport.com

PARK HYATT, BANGKOK, THAILAND

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I visited the new Park Hyatt Bangkok on a busy weekday where it was booked with  a high occupancy of 80 %. The hotel is part of the new Central Embassy Complex which hosts many high-end brand-name stores, restaurants and more. Due to its architecture, the Park Hyatt Bangkok is anangled, irregularly shaped building and its corridors and hallways are curved and windy.

The rooms, however are large sized with most of them having a breathtaking view over the park. The bathrooms are ultra-modern, bright and have extra-large showers. (Photos show standard rooms) The design of the hotel is state-of-the-art and represents a big city hotel with timeless decor.

If you are looking for a Thai touch you will be disappointed here. But if you are looking for a downtown hotel located in the central Bangkok Sukhumvit area you will be happy with its location. Most places in Bangkok can be easily reached from here by BTS Skytrain or Underground MRT services.

I find this a very chic hotel with stunning views and a perfect downtown location.

 

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https://www.hyatt.com

SANCTUM INLE RESORT, MYANMAR (BURMA)

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Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar and offers some of Asia’s most fascinating markets, pagodas and a remarkable collection of 1,000 ruined stupas at Inhein Village that date back to the 13th century. Fresh fruit and vegetables and are grown near and on the lake and some local garment manufacturers can be visited.

I arrived at the Sanctum Inle Lake Resort from Taunguyi by boat to the hotel’s own boat jetty which made it quite a unique experience. I stayed in a cloister deluxe room which had a wonderful view over the hotel gardens and Inle Lake.

At Sanctum Inle Resort arches and cloisters reference the monastic life. The hotel has integrated all of the modern comforts, from plush beds and air-conditioning, cable-televisons, minibars and Wifi. The bathrooms are large and feature a separate bathtub and a rain shower. (However the water pressure was very low and the hot/cold water regulation was a bit of a challenge. Unfortunately, this could not be fixed during our stay.

The hotel’s Cloister Bar is partly a bar, partly a lounge and offers everything from cocktails to wines and beer as well as the entire menu of The Refectory restaurant. The Refectory Restaurant offers Shan State culinary delights such as noodles, soups and salads from the hotel’s own gardens. There are international dishes available as well.

The hotel has a beautiful infinity pool which offers a stunning view of the sunset over Inle Lake. The hotel has a gym and bicycles are available to explore the surrounding area.

I tried a massage at the hotel’s Sanctuary Spa. The massage  was aromatherapy style and my request to do it on the softer side was very much adhered to by the therapist. (She did however not let me choose the oil as offered in their Spa-menu).

The hotel caters to individual guests as well as smaller and larger groups of travellers. The hotel promises a place of inner peace and calm and serenity in their brochure. This is kind of conflicting with selling their rooms to larger groups. While seeking peace and relaxation one could be disturbed by the arrival of forty to fifty people in a group invading the pool area or the breakfast room at the same time.

I had a pleasant stay at this new hotel in Inle Lake and all staff members I met were friendly and helpful. The food that I tasted was delicious and nicely presented.

If staying at Inle Lake, I would most certainly stay at the Sanctum Inle Lake Resort again and would add two or three days more to the stay for relaxation and unwinding.

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http://sanctum-inle-resort.com/

AIR KBZ, MYANMAR (BURMA)

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Air KBZ is a privately owned airline based in Yangon. Air Kanbawza, known as Air KBZ, was established in June 2010. The airline is owned by Myanmar’s Kanbawza Bank and operates 4 ATR 72-500 and 5 ATR 72-600 aircraft, seating is 74-78 seats.

I checked in at Yangon’s new domestic airport terminal for an early morning departure to Heho. Baggage check-in and security check were fast and efficient and there was still plenty of time for a coffee at the terminal before boarding 15 min before departure. The flight departed on time and a small snack was served. The cabin was clean and tidy and I enjoyed having a good view from a window seat. Baggage was delivered quickly once all passengers walked to the small terminal building. The return flight went smoothly and departed on time. I enjoyed both flights and I think Air KBZ is a good choice for domestic travel in Myanmar. I have used Myanma Airlines (not existing anymore) and Yangon Airways previously. My preference would clearly be for Air KBZ.

 

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http://www.airkbz.com

PAN PACIFIC HOTEL, YANGON, MYANMAR (BURMA)

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On a recent stay in Yangon, I took the opportunity to look at the newly opened Pan Pacific Hotel which had its grand opening in December 2017. The hotel is part of the new Junction City shopping complex which is a totally new experience in Yangon. The mall is a large, western-style shopping mall with brand names which have never been available in Myanmar before. There is also a western-style supermarket with many brand-name items from Thailand and around the world.

The Pan Pacific hotel is a tall building and offers a number of different room categories and several food and beverage outlets. The hotel has an executive floor with lounge. There is a gym and a swimming pool available. Room rates are still competitively  priced and will probably not increase significantly as a Kempinski Hotel will open its doors soon. A Peninsula Hotel is also due to open on the same street in the future. The hotel occupancy was only 25 % on the day I visited. Pictures show different room types and the executive lounge which was deserted that night and there was also no food on display due to lack of guests.

I found the rooms pleasantly decorated, all of them with nice bathrooms. The rooms are bigger in size than the average hotel room in Yangon and some rooms/suites offer wonderful river or city views.

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https://www.panpacific.com/en/hotels-resorts/myanmar/yangon.html

EXCELSIOR HOTEL ERNST, COLOGNE, GERMANY

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The Excelsior Hotel Ernst with a view of Cologne Cathedral, the Dom, was built in 1863. Carl Ernst was the constructor and first owner of the hotel, which was formerly called “Hotel Ernst”.  Eight years later, in 1871, Carl Ernst sold the hotel to Friedrich Kracht. Four years after buying the hotel, Kracht died and his wife and son, Carl Kracht, had to manage the Innenstadt hotel. Meanwhile, the hotel had become part of Cologne’s better society, and in 1884, Carl Kracht was appointed Prince of the Cologne Carnival – a big honor in Cologne. From early times, the hotel had famous guests, such as German Emperor William I and American artist Andy Warhol.

In 1889, Carl Kracht married Emma Pauline Baur of the Swiss Hoteliers family Baur, who owned both the famous Hotel Baur au Lac and the Savoy Baur en Ville. Carl Kracht and his family lived in Zurich and he managed the Hotel Baur au Lac. After his wedding, he appointed a general manager to take care of the Hotel Ernst’s operations.

From 1908 to 1910 the Hotel Ernst was rebuilt and re-opened as Grand-Hotel Excelsior Hotel Ernst with at the time unparalleled comfort: 100 rooms out of 250 had a private bathroom. In 1918, after World War I, the British Army moved into the hotel and used it as their headquarters during the occupation of the Rhineland. On 31 December 1926 Excelsior Hotel Ernst celebrated its second re-opening after the British army left. During World War II, a part of the hotel was damaged and the owner family was very concerned to rebuild it as soon as the war was over. So, another re-opening took place after the end of World War II.

In 1986 a new wing was constructed. The hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World group and the Kracht family is still the owner.

My check-in was pleasant, swift and the agent escorted me to the room and explained  all features of the room.

My room was a Grand Deluxe room in the Hansewing. It was generous in size with a comfortable bed, a working desk, an all-inclusive minibar and a good sized bathroom.

The hotel has a piano bar and two restaurants, both of which are famous. Restaurant taku has one Michelin star and offers modern Asian cuisine.  The hotel’s second restaurant is the famous Hanse Stube restaurant.

Hanse Stube restaurant is well-known for its elegant and friendly atmosphere. It is an award winning restaurant  and has become famous in Germany.  People from Cologne, as well as international guests, have been enjoying innovative French cuisine combined with regional influences at this restaurant for decades.

I had breakfast at the Hanse Stube restaurant which offered a wide choice of food and freshly prepared egg dishes. The service was a bit unconfident and slow but that may have been due to the fact that only a single staff member was on duty at the time. It was early morning and only about 4 – 5 guests were present but the full buffet was available.

There is a small gym with a sauna, steam room, rain and a cold shower  and a relaxing room available on the top floor. The gym is impeccably clean, featuring plenty of towels, drinking water, fruit and all necessary items for a relaxing evening after a busy day.

The Excelsior Hotel Ernst is a very pleasant hotel. Modern, centrally located, just opposite the Dom and 2 min walk from the main train station and the Rhine River. The staff I met were friendly and helpful. The hotel tends to get very busy during Fair times and enjoys many return guests.

I can highly recommend the Excelsior Hotel Ernst in Cologne if you are looking for a luxury hotel with an excellent location and distinguished service.

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https://www.excelsiorhotelernst.com/en/5-star-luxury-hotel-in-cologne.html