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GAME ON Afternoon Tea at NOTCH8 by Jenn Chan

Notch8

 

Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver has done it again! With the new season, comes a new theme. Notch8 has decided to combine our love for classic board games with delicious cocktails and finger foods and transformed the Private Dining Room into a Games Room! From Wednesdays to Sundays, you'll be able to put your pinkies up with game inspired Afternoon Tea along with going head to head with your friends on your favourite games.

 

Aside from their popular Afternoon Tea, starting this Friday at 7pm, and every Friday until November 17th, they will awesome be offering "Tipsy Tea", which offers its guests fun cocktails, delicious bites, and an evening of competition, whether it be a game of Snakes & Ladders, or a competitive game of Monopoly!

 

Board Games
GAME ON Afternoon Tea
GAME ON Afternoon Tea
Miss Scarlet : Tangueray Ten Gin, Rosebud Tea Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Jam, Egg White

Miss Scarlet : Tangueray Ten Gin, Rosebud Tea Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Jam, Egg White

GAME ON Cocktails

 

Here's everything that's offered on the GAME ON Afternoon Tea Set, from the creative tier acquired from the UK, to the creative finger foods created by Chef Will, to the fun & games-inspired names, this set comes together beautifully. Amongst one of my favourites is the Chess-nut Tart and the Go Fish Niscoise Sandwich.

 

GAME ON Afternoon Tea: Go Fish - Niscoise Sandwich, King Me - Double Stacked Blini, Game of L.I.F.E. Sandwich, Chess-nut Tart, Double Domino Lemon Tart, Red Velvet XO Macaron, Raspberry Heart Shortbread Card, Valrhona Top Hat Chocolate Mousse, Checkmate Battenberg Cake, Chocolate Checkers Coin

GAME ON Afternoon Tea: Go Fish - Niscoise Sandwich, King Me - Double Stacked Blini, Game of L.I.F.E. Sandwich, Chess-nut Tart, Double Domino Lemon Tart, Red Velvet XO Macaron, Raspberry Heart Shortbread Card, Valrhona Top Hat Chocolate Mousse, Checkmate Battenberg Cake, Chocolate Checkers Coin

King Me - Double Stacked Blini | Smoked Salmon, Caviar, Herb Cream Cheese, Baby Dill

King Me - Double Stacked Blini | Smoked Salmon, Caviar, Herb Cream Cheese, Baby Dill

Go Fish - Niscoise Sandwich | Ahi Tuna, Shrimp, Olives, Green Beans, Poached Eggs, Baby Potatoes, Anchovy Olive Tapenade

Go Fish - Niscoise Sandwich | Ahi Tuna, Shrimp, Olives, Green Beans, Poached Eggs, Baby Potatoes, Anchovy Olive Tapenade

 

Game On Afternoon Tea runs from September 20th – November 26th, 2017, Wednesdays
– Sundays at 11AM, 1PM & 3PM. Adults $59, Children $29.5 (ages 12 & under).

Game Night Tipsy Tea runs Friday evenings from October 6th – November 17th, 2017, at 7PM. $75 per person. Guests must be 19+ years of age.

I hope to see you there!

 

GAME ON Afternoon Tea at Notch8
 
Words & Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Travel: Movenpick Bangkok by Jenn Chan

Movenpick Bangkok

 

I was a water baby. Turn around at the beach and I was neck deep. Leave me to my own devices at home and I'd draw a bath. To this day I retreat to the water to recharge and refocus. That's why pools are so important to me! Mövenpick Bangkok has a really nice rooftop pool. Ultra comfortable chaise lounges sit in a specially designed area in 2 feet of water at the edge of the deep end. I posted up there for hours and hours and never once felt the scourge of FOMO; fear of missing out. Surrounded by lush greenery and a fully stocked bar there is no reason to leave. Ever.

 

Movenpick Bangkok Rooftop Pool
Movenpick Bangkok Rooftop Pool
Movenpick Bangkok Rooftop Pool

 

The lobby of the Mövenpick screams luxury. The tiling is so intricate and time consuming that the average home owner or non-mega corporation hotel builder would have a hard time justifying the cost. Here's how the conversation with your contractor might go: "we can put the marble in a regular pattern and liven up the design through wood details on the walls and crown moulding OR we can lay it in a pattern undecipherable to anyone save for those well versed in the matrix and that'll run you around... 40-50 times more." Tough pill to swallow, but the end result speaks for itself. The folks at Mövenpick decided to do the kaleidoscope tile AND ornate wood work. Everywhere. It's truly a feast for the eyes!

 

Movenpick Bangkok exterior
Movenpick Bangkok exterior
Movenpick Bangkok Check-In Counter

 

A bedroom is only as good as its bed. That sounds obvious, right? Well it clearly isn't obvious to everyone because I've stayed in a lot of places where the TV was the big expenditure. Or the bed frame matched the end tables, which matched the wardrobe which matched the dressers which matched the coffee table which matched the... you get it. And then you spring onto the bed only to find a limp, lifeless spring mattress. Maybe a puff of dust flies up. Maybe bed bugs. Maybe it's a hide-a-bed couch and you wonder what you've done to your friend or family member to subject you to this torture. "Why is there a bar directly in my back?" you ask yourself as you re-examine your life choices. At Mövenpick they spend money to make money. This bed is money! Combine that with an amazing spa-like bathroom, meticulous cleanliness and modern conveniences and you've got a home away from home you may never want to leave!

 

Movenpick Bangkok Room
Movenpick Bangkok Room

 

What do humans need to live? If you thought to yourself "food and water" and neglected to think about sleep and oxygen you better take a sober second look at how you're living your life. While I didn't try the water, though I'm told locals drink it and live long lives, I can attest to the food; delicious! The included breakfast buffet has something for everyone and the food is very high quality and fresh. This is not a place that sees so few guests it keeps its ingredients frozen to avoid spoilage leaving you with a reheated burger that feels like an icicle in the middle or veggies that don't quite make that satisfying snap noise when you bite into them. Everything at Mövenpick is top shelf! The perfect combination of service, location, ambience and luxury make this hotel a perfect option whether you're visiting Bangkok long term or it's a pitstop on your way to the lush paradises of Thailand's north and south. Highly recommended!

 

Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast
Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast
Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast
Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast - Omelette Bar

Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast - Omelette Bar

Movenpick Bangkok
Movenpick Bangkok
Movenpick Bangkok Views

Movenpick Bangkok Views

Movenpick Bangkok Views
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Travel: 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Jenn Chan

The Original 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai

The Original 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai

 

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai won Best Hotel in Asia from Travel & Leisure's in 2016. That is a big deal, really big! Travel & Leisure is the premiere publication for travel! It is not difficult to see why they won either. The service is excellent, the grounds are stunning and the location is prime. 

 

The incredible service started even before we graced their grounds. 137 Pillars sent a car for us to our previous hotel. A car with leather, massage seats. Yes, that's right. JC also insisted I mention the cold towel and bottles of water they provided for the ride.  Having stayed in a completely different part of Chiang Mai we were delighted to see a completely different, and significantly better, area we may never have had occasion to venture to. Nawarat Bridge is mere minutes walk away, it's beautiful, and the surrounding Ping River area is filled with shopping and great restaurants!

 

As we pulled through the gates past the unassuming, white outer walls we were floored by the elegance of the entryway and the floating reception area surrounded by water. As we were led to our villa the plush, tropical vegetation and its fragrant aroma makes you forget where you are. 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai is a self-contained, tropical oasis! The beauty of the grounds cannot be overemphasized! All 30 of their amazing villas face to the centre of the property where a Borneo Company house, built in 1889 and boasting 137 pillars to support it, stands in all of its teak splendour. Now a posh restaurant, gym and small museum it has been restored to its 19 century glory and is absolutely beautiful. They don't make them like that anymore.

137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai
137 Pillars Grounds

137 Pillars Grounds

137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai Grounds

 

I would live in our villa. Add a kitchen in the walk in closet and the suite would sell for $1 - 1.1 million dollars in my neighbourhood. And it would sell quickly! The claw foot tub in the elegant bathroom overlooks a romantic outdoor shower. The deck, complete with ultra comfortable rocking chair, has a nice view of the croquet course and refreshing ceiling fan hums away over the plush patio couch. The bed is like sleeping on a cloud and the air conditioning was quiet and strong. So necessary in Thailand!

 

137 Pillars House Suite

137 Pillars House Suite

137 Pillars House Suite
137 Pillars House Suite Bathroom
137 Pillars House Suite Bathroom
137 Pillars House Suite Patio
137 Pillars House Suite Private Pool

137 Pillars House Suite Private Pool

137 Pillars House Dining Room

137 Pillars House Dining Room

137 Pillars House Dining Room
137 Pillars House Dining Room
Lobster Udon

Lobster Udon

Beef Tenderloin Burger

Beef Tenderloin Burger

 

Do you think 2016's best hotel in Asia has good food? Do you? Well it does. 

Incredible food actually! We were delighted to indulge in one of the best meals of our nearly 2 month Southeast Asia adventure. We started with a lovely cheese platter; blue cheese, Brie, cheddar with plum and shallots. We also ordered the 137's chowder, assorted seafood in rich white and Truffle soup base. It was delicious and hearty and fresh as a sly comeback. Foie gras is French for fatty liver. It was very tender. Like Elvis belting out a love ballad tender. We paired everything with a Lindeman's Henry's Sons Vrut Cuvée which was the perfect compliment to the cheese platter and extended into the seafood chowder and Foie gras course seamlessly.

 

 

137 Pillars Dining Room
137 Pillars Dining Room
137 Pillars Dining Room / Piano Bar
Cheese Plate with Wine Pairing

Cheese Plate with Wine Pairing

137 Pillars Seafood Chowder

137 Pillars Seafood Chowder

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

 

The main event was a Veal Angus Beef and some beautiful Lamb Chops. A filet mignon with a white truffle infused whipped potato and port wine beef jus. Picture mashed potatoes, fluffy piles of potato goodness, now add truffles and consider the awesomeness multiplies by 100. The lamb was very fresh and was amongst the best I've ever had. The dish disappeared quickly so I can only assume she concurred.

 

Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops

Veal Angus Beef

Veal Angus Beef

 

The service at 137 is top notch. The property is flawless, the pool is a perfect oasis and the food cannot be beaten! It is difficult to find a negative to 137. Out butler Toto was very helpful and a quick text answers all of our questions. It is amongst my favourite hotels of all time and you will not regret visiting!

 

137 Pillars Grounds at Night

137 Pillars Grounds at Night

137 Pillars Grounds at Night
137 Pillars Pool at Night

137 Pillars Pool at Night

137 Pillars Pool at Night
 

Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan

 

Travel: Empress Hotel Chiang Mai, Thailand by Jenn Chan

Empress Hotel Chiang Mai

 

The service at the Empress Hotel in Chiang Mai will dazzle you! We were welcomed warmly by their very gracious front desk staff and showed to our room where a beautiful bouquet waited and a bag full of Thai snacks. A good start to a lovely stay!

 

Empress Hotel Chiang Mai

 

The room was very clean and well appointed. Lighter hardwood floors contrasted with the dark wood paneling and beautiful embellishments. The bar is well stocked and the work space is very functional. The bed passed the comfort test with flying colours as I sank into its plush duvet. The washroom offers a very clean, modern oasis away from the humid Thai heat outside.

 

Empress Hotel Chiang Mai Room
Empress Hotel Chiang Mai Room
Empress Hotel Chiang Mai Room
Empress Hotel Chiang Mai Room
Empress Hotel Chiang Mai Room
Empress Hotel Chiang Mai Room

 

Speaking of oasis from the heat; the Empress pool is among the best in Chiang Mai!  Our room offered a beautiful view of it from the 21st floor and the area bustles with happy guests laying out on chaise lounges and enjoying frosty cocktails from the pool bar. People swim laps as children frolic in the shallow end and weary travellers swap stories of their Southeast Asia adventures leaning against the pool's edge with Thailand's famous Singha beers clinking in celebration.

 

View from the Room

View from the Room

Empress Hotel Swimming Pool

Empress Hotel Swimming Pool

Empress Hotel Swimming Pool

 

The Chao Nang dining room is raucous spot where Empress staff entertain guests with sing alongs and delicious food. Each course of our culinary experience came served by a kneeling waiter who also bore gifts. I was presented with a lovely pair of elephant salt and pepper shakers which I will cherish and Jenn received some lovely pearly jewellery which she is actually wearing as I write this. The food is top notch and there will certainly be something for everyone whether you opt for a set menu or explore the large buffet. The freshness really jumps out at you!

 

Empress Hotel Chao Nang Dining Room

Empress Hotel Chao Nang Dining Room

Mai Tai in a Pineapple

Mai Tai in a Pineapple

Prosciutto & Melon Balls 

Prosciutto & Melon Balls 

L'angostine Salad

L'angostine Salad

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Dragonfruit TukTuk

Dragonfruit TukTuk

Surprise Dessert

Surprise Dessert

The service is what sets Empress apart from other hotels in Chiang Mai. It is centrally located, only a short walk to the vibrant Night Market area, and it is surrounded by all the shops and restaurants you could ever need. There is no reason to leave! I would happily stay with Empress again and I think you should do yourself a favour and check it out!

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Travel: Amanjaya Pancam, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Jenn Chan

Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room

 

Phnom Phen was founded in 1434 and was considered amongst the most beautiful cities in the French colonies of Indochina in the 1920's. The Riverside area, which boasts the venerable Amanjaya Pancam Hotel, is a bastion of French restaurants, enchanting rooftop bars and the Cambodian Royal Palace. So thick with attractions and excitement you will almost certainly need at least two days just to explore half of it!

 

The Amanjaya Pancam Hotel has a very New Orleans feel. New Orleans was a French colony itself until it was bought by the USA in 1803 for a cool $15,000,000; the Louisiana Purchase. One would almost expect to see shiny strands of beads being tossed up to the balconies where eager recipients demonstrate their gratitude by... well give it a quick Google and you'll get the gist.

 

Our room was very well appointed. The original wood floors compliment the wood mouldings and the French doors open to reveal a lovely patio overlooking the beautiful Wat Ounalom Monastery and the Decho Meas Decho Yat, a lovely riverside pavilion with statues, vendors and kids playing in a very carnival-like atmosphere. The large soaker tub was an oasis after a long day seeing the sights! The whole bathroom is very spa inspired and relaxing. The beds are very comfortable as are the spacious seating and desk areas.

 


Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room
Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room
Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room
Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room
Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room

 

Renowned for their Le Moon rooftop bar the fare in the KWest Restaurant is gaining equal notoriety. We thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary breakfast. Growing weary of large scale buffet breakfasts it was a genuine pleasure to order from a set menu and have the food made fresh. The ingredients used are top notch and the food is fresh and flavourful. I would certainly recommend KWest if you are in Phnom Phen!

 

Breakfast at Amanjaya Pancam

Breakfast at Amanjaya Pancam

Breakfast at Amanjaya Pancam
Khmer Noodles
Iced Khmer Coffee & Pineapple Juice

Iced Khmer Coffee & Pineapple Juice

Central Location

Central Location

View from the Le Moon, Rooftop Bar

View from the Le Moon, Rooftop Bar

View from the Le Moon, Rooftop Bar

 

In all I would rate Amanjaya very high for the location, comfort of the rooms and quality of the restaurants. Phnom Phen is certainly worth a visit! Many French buildings have survived from colonial times, the Khmer monument are architecturally stunning and the Killing Fields will give you pause to reflect on your own good fortune. Tell them Jenn Chan Photography sent you!

 

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Travel: Grand Mercure Phuket Patong by Jenn Chan

Grand Mercure Phuket Patong Lobby

Grand Mercure Phuket Patong Lobby

 

How do you know which hotel is the best in town? Do you believe Google and its pay-for-play style of marketing? TripAdvisor, similarly, will up your rating for a few shekels.  Do you go by ratings? What if luxury and comfort is different to you than their raters? It's quite likely it is. My advice is to take an aggregate of all of them. Study the pictures on their website, but also check out hashtags on social media for less filtered images. When you put the Grand Mercure Phuket through these paces what you see is near universal adoration, shimmering rooms, posh villas and fantastic amenities. The Grand Mercure is the best hotel in Phuket!

 

When you enter the grand, open air lobby your eyes are immediately drawn to the classic Thai atrium surrounded by water which overlooks the spacious pool. The ceilings are 60 feet high if they're an inch and are covered in rich woods that contrast perfectly with the gorgeous marble floors. The birdcage benches dotted along the perimeter of the great entryway offer a comfortable spot to take it all in. It is impressive.

 

Patong Beach is to Australia and Eastern Europe what Mexico is to Canada and the USA; a hedonistic beach paradise in the sun. The beach stretches for 3.5 KMs and the gorgeous white sand feels like flour between your toes. There are vendors selling locally made goods, parasailers gliding through the air and ice cold beer flows like water. It shows no signs of the devastation it has incurred in recent years. My heart goes out to all my Thai brothers and sisters who lost their lives in 2004 when a mighty tsunami hit the area, gone, but not forgotten!

 

The rooms are well appointed and each faces into the pool which is a sparkling blue. Deep soaker tubs gaze out into the soft beds and the air conditioning is an oasis in an otherwise hot and humid atmosphere. The rooms are very well appointed and the villas, which we toured but didn't get a chance to enjoy, looked to provide some quiet in the bustling metropolis that is Patong. 1 and 2 bedroom cottages nestled amongst thick palm trees with their own private pools. Yes, please!

 

Grand Mercure Phuket Patong Room
Grand Mercure Phuket Patong Room
Grand Mercure Phuket Patong Bathroom
Fruit Basket and treats in the Room

Fruit Basket and treats in the Room

 

The breakfast buffets were immense and certainly had a dish anyone and everyone could enjoy. The Bubbles Restaurant is staffed by very competent professional from the front to the back. We partook in a lovely brunch and dinner there and were very well taken care of. Our brunch started out with the Long Phuket Island which is Bubbles Restaurant's take on the (in)famous Long Island Ice Tea: gin, run, Vodka, tequila, Triple Sec, lime and coke. It was our introduction to the Grand Mercure's mixology program and it was a good one! How and why the original recipe added every liquor in the cabinet to this drink I'll never know and I don't really care; it's good! Jennifer indulged in the Grand Piña Colada in a Young Coconut: rum, Malibu, pineapple juice and coconut milk. She called it "the fire extinguisher for the Mee Hoo Gaeng Poo", a spicy crab and yellow curry dish, sublime, that will make your nose run like a faucet and I mean that in the most positive way! But we'll get into that more a bit later. Rounding out our pre meal cocktail session was the Patong Libre, their take, of course, on the Cuba Libre which consists of rum, coke, vanilla syrup and cranberry juice. Delicious!

 

Fresh Omelette  & Noodle Station at Breakfast

Fresh Omelette  & Noodle Station at Breakfast

Bubbles Restaurant

Bubbles Restaurant

Bubbles Restaurant
Pina Colada & Long Phuket Island

Pina Colada & Long Phuket Island

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Mee Hoon Gaeng Poo

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Mee Hoon Gaeng Poo

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Mee Hoon Gaeng Poo

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Mee Hoon Gaeng Poo

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine
Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Snapper

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Snapper

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Banana Blossom

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Banana Blossom

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Pork Belly

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Pork Belly

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Deep Fried Prawns

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Deep Fried Prawns

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Ice Cream with Banana Jelly, Grass Jelly & Red Beans

Jewel of Phuket's Cuisine - Ice Cream with Banana Jelly, Grass Jelly & Red Beans

 

It is hard to go wrong when ice cream is involved and Bubbles stayed fast to that tried and true rule. In all a very pleasurable experience. The dinner buffet, a once per week extravaganza dubbed Phuket Night, was incredible. Seafood, Thai food, meats, cheeses, veggies, fruits, pasta, etc... so much of everything I deigned to not describe anything because I would leave something out. If you are in Phuket, and your budget doesn't necessitate a shared room with a dozen grubby strangers, I could not recommend the Grand Mercure higher. We stayed at another location afterwards, which will go unnamed, and to say it was 1/10 the hotel GM is would be an understatement. Tell them we sent you and get at least a high five, possibly an upgrade lol!

 

Phuket's Night Market at Bubbles Restaurant

Phuket's Night Market at Bubbles Restaurant

Phuket's Night Market at Bubbles Restaurant
Phuket's Night Market at Bubbles Restaurant
Phuket's Night Market at Bubbles Restaurant - Noodle Station
Grill Station
Phuket's Night Market at Bubbles Restaurant
Mango and Sticky Rice
Phuket's Night Market at Bubbles Restaurant Dessert
Grand Mercure Phuket Patong at Sunset

Grand Mercure Phuket Patong at Sunset

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan