thailand

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: Mövenpick Resorts Bangtao Beach, Phuket, Thailand by Jenn Chan

Mövenpick Resorts Bangtao Beach, Phuket

 

Mövenpick is named for the German word for seagull, Möwe, the w pronounced like a v, and the skillful way it 'picks' its food out of mid air. Originally a restaurant specializing in upscale food quickly and at reasonable prices when Mövenpick expanded into the hotel world they brought those same philosophies with them. The Mövenpick property at Bangtao Beach is special. A collection of luxurious villas and rooms surrounding a beautiful Infiniti pool with views stretching out over the gorgeous Andaman Sea.

 

Welcome Thai Flower Bracelet

Welcome Thai Flower Bracelet

Mövenpick Resorts Bangtao Beach, Phuket

As we entered our 2 bedroom villa, with its private pool and gourmet kitchen, we are struck by the blue glimmer of the sea as we look out over the pool. The living room is spacious and modern and flows well with the adjoining kitchen and dining area. The master bedroom has a very serene feeling looking out over lush vegetation and our private patio dining table. The ensuite is very spa-like and our hosts had a bath drawn for us with fragrant, local flowers swimming in it!

Living Room
Dining Room & Kitchen

Dining Room & Kitchen

Welcome Fruit Basket & Towel Art

Welcome Fruit Basket & Towel Art

Second Bedroom
Second Bedroom
Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom
Ensuite with Bathtub

Ensuite with Bathtub

The grounds are lovely, quiet and very private. The pool forms the central mustering point and smiling guests flock to cool down and relax in the poolside cabanas. Families mix with couples on a romantic retreat and singles posted up at the swim up bar. Bangtao is the part of Phuket where relaxation isn't only encouraged it's unavoidable.

Walk through the Resort Grounds

Walk through the Resort Grounds

Mövenpick Resorts Bangtao Beach, Phuket
Mövenpick Resorts Bangtao Beach, Phuket

 

Travelling as much as I do I have become adept at spotting the differences between good resorts and great ones. Some properties have luxurious accommodations, but their staff lack training or grace. Some places you stay are dirty or outdated, but the food is good and the staff friendly. Mövenpick Bangtao has beautiful rooms, excellent, long tenured staff, and their food is fresh and the ingredients are high quality; the trifecta! From the breakfast buffet where there will no doubt be options to please everyone to the incredible Palm Restaurant Mövenpic's gastronomy roots are evident.

 

The Palm Cuisine Restaurant at Mövenpick takes great pride in their Thai food! We were in for a treat when we made reservations and left the menu up to the Chef. It started with Meang kham, an ages old Thai tradition. Wild betel leaves wrap a mixture of peanut, lime, dried shrimp, ginger, shallots and Thai chillis all covered in a shrimp-based, sweet and salty sauce. The heat from the chilies melds with the sweet and salty sauce and offer a stark contrast to the lime and ginger. Very delicious!

 

PALM Cuisine Restaurant

PALM Cuisine Restaurant

PALM Restaurant
Amuse Bouche - Meang Kam

Amuse Bouche - Meang Kam

Prawn cakes arrived next smelling like a slice of heaven deep fried! Crispy brown on the outside and packed with prawn goodness inside. It comes with a lovely plum sauce with just the right sweetness to compliment the delicious cakes. This appetizer is a very solid 8.5/10!

 

Shrimp Cakes

Shrimp Cakes

 


Poe Tack is a seafood hot and sour soup loaded with seafood. Loaded. Alongside it came the Pla Sam Rod, a Snapper fillet in sweet and sour sauce. I have had some bad experiences with hot and sour soup. Some too hot and some too sour. Some tasted like sweat. Yes, sweat. The Palm's offering hits a good balance and it is full of plump and delicious seafood; fish, mussels and gigantic prawns that look like they could sink a ship. The Snapper tastes like it was pulled from the waters that lie some 200 feet away and recently. Fresh, tender and delicious.

Tom Yum Soup with Seafood

Tom Yum Soup with Seafood

Snapper Filet

Snapper Filet

 


Khao Neaw Ma Muang is a mango, sticky rice, coconut milk and sesame seed concoction. Jenn devoured hers and found the mango to be "soft and yummy". She then devoured mine as I slept, jet lagged, on the crook of my arm at the table. Not my finest moment. In all we both loved at our experience at the Palm and recommend it without hesitation!

 

Dessert: Mango & Sticky Rice

Dessert: Mango & Sticky Rice

If you're travelling to Phuket treat yourself to a few nights away from the craziness that is Patong Beach, the tourist trap of the island, and unwind in Bangtao. One of the longest beaches on the island and strikes a good balance between resort living and local flair. Mövenpick is an excellent choice to take it all in and you will see why they win countless awards for their hospitality and are rated in the top 10% of luxury, 5-star resorts worldwide!

Mövenpick Resorts Bangtao Beach, Phuket
IMG_3045.jpg
Mövenpick Resorts Bangtao Beach, Phuket
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Travel: 137 Pillars Suites & Residences, Bangkok, Thailand by Jenn Chan

137 Pillars Bangkok Lobby

137 Pillars Bangkok Lobby

Luxury. What does the word mean to you? To me it's an amalgamation of images from old time movies, chic resorts and modern day reality real estate TV shows. The rich woods of old meet the sleek stone, floor to ceiling glass and modern accoutrements of the new millennium. 137 Pillars Suites and Residences Bangkok is luxury. Period.

My name is Scott Michael Allan. The Scott Michael, I'm told, was meant to meld together à la Billy Bob in a two name, first name soup. In trouble as a young man my mom would string them together menacingly, but outside of that it's usually Scotty. I'm named for my paternal grandfather William John Allan. I understand that's confusing. An early settler of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada his Scottish brogue took some acclimating and hence "Scottie" was his handle and it evens adorns his grave stone in like quotations. Bjorn Richard Richardson, if 8 year-old schoolyard bullies were the same in his day and country of origin, might have taken similar taunting as a young man. Now the General Manager of highly regarded 137 Pillars Bangkok if those bullies could see him now! Bjorn is a lovely man; kind, enthusiastic, humble and accommodating. I have no doubt he will nurture the young hotel into a dominant force in the Bangkok luxury boutique hotel market. The property is amazing!

Pulling up to the front doors in our taxi we are inundated by smiling faces in full doorman regalia. You enter the lobby and you can see where the money has gone. Seemingly 100 foot high ceilings, giant slabs of wood adorn the wall behind reception, a 30 foot high Thai tapestry begs attention peering from behind velvet ropes and smart furnishings form cozy conversation nooks along the floor to ceiling windows. First impression, check!

137 Pillars Bangkok lobby
Leonowens Club

Leonowens Club

Welcome drinks at Leonowens

Welcome drinks at Leonowens

We are whisked to the intimate Leonowens Club for a welcome drink and friendly conversation before being taken to our room. I played it cool when our host opened the door, but this suite would suit royalty! A beautiful living room with all the technological advances I, as a Canadian from a world class city, have come to rely on. The couch, chairs and dinette are very comfortable and the art, some a little risqué, really ties the theme of the room together. The bedroom is dominated by a large, extremely cushy bed that feels like sleeping on a fluffy cloud. It's adjacent to the futuristic washroom where the toilet greets you by lifting its own lid and spouting a stream of water to clean itself. 137 Pillars had the bathtubs custom made and they resemble a giant soup bowl big enough to comfortably fit three. The bathroom is a perfect 10/10!

Thonburi Suite

Thonburi Suite

Thonburi Suite
Thonburi Suite Welcome
Dinette
Thonburi Suite

Thonburi Suite

Master Bedroom
Ensuite

Ensuite

 

On the roof lies the favourite pool I have ever swam in, in my life. An Infiniti pool that looks like it blends right into the cityscape behind it. A perfect temperature and the views. Oh the views! You could spend an hour looking off each side and still see something new the next time you gazed in that direction. This pool alone is worth the price of admission, it is simply breathtaking! The 27th floor pool boasts similar views and its huge, marble pillars give it a Romanesque atmosphere. The large jacuzzi beside it is warm and inviting and guests could be seen with smiles permanently plastered. Across from the pool you will find the soulful Jack Bains bar and Nimitr restaurant. The dark woods paneling and matching dark leather chairs wouldn't look out of place on the set of Mad Men and this scotch and cigar bar is a luxurious space to retreat to after your meal at Nimitr.

 

Rooftop Infinity Pool

Rooftop Infinity Pool

Rooftop Infinity Pool at Blue Hour

Rooftop Infinity Pool at Blue Hour

Breathtaking Views from the Roof

Breathtaking Views from the Roof

Pool
Jack Bain's Bar and Cigar Divan

Jack Bain's Bar and Cigar Divan

Jack Bain's Bar and Cigar Divan

Nimitr means 'special dream' in the Thai language and what a dream it is! A lavish yet intimate space with mile high ceilings and intricately placed tile contrasting with wrought iron embellishments warmed by bright patterned chairs and the soft blue lit bar and wine fridge. Our gracious server Kwang surprised us with a lovely amuse bouche; a tender fish ball with Nimitr's special Thai sauce. I generally tend to pass on fish balls. I find them sometimes rubbery and oftentimes odious, but Nimitr's offering is subtle and the Thai sauce is heavenly!

Nimitr Restaurant

Nimitr Restaurant

Amuse Bouche

On Kwang's recommendation we partook in a bottle of Sycamore Lane White Zinfandel from California and found it very nice. Strong notes of strawberry and a light cream finish and it paired very well with our first course. We ordered the Som Tum Thai, a papaya salad in rice paper with green beans, heirloom tomato and lime caviar, and Plah Goong whose presentation delighted Jenn immensely! The Som Tum Thai is a vegetarian spring roll which bursts with peanut flavour, and I love peanuts, from the 'peanut soil' which surrounds it and the tang of the lime caviar gives it a complexity that most will find very appealing. The Plah Goong comes out looking like a high school science project, but in a good way. The head and claws of the North Atlantic Langoustine remain intact, but the body looks dissected under 'glass' that is the delicious veil of lemon grass aspic. Savoury pieces of Langoustine meat and Matcha soba noodle comprise the innards and the smile didn't leave Jenn's face as she carved into the poor crustacean. A vinegar tinge coupled with a cucumber splash and they both played very well off the lemon caviar, a delight!

Rose
Som Tum Thai - Papaya Salad, Rice Paper, Green Beans, Heirloom Tomatoes, Peanut Soil, Shrimp Feather & Lime Caviar

Som Tum Thai - Papaya Salad, Rice Paper, Green Beans, Heirloom Tomatoes, Peanut Soil, Shrimp Feather & Lime Caviar

Plah Goong - North Atlantic Langoustine, Matcha Soba Noodles, Veil of Lemon Grass Aspic & Nam Prick Fluid Gel

Plah Goong - North Atlantic Langoustine, Matcha Soba Noodles, Veil of Lemon Grass Aspic & Nam Prick Fluid Gel

Plah Goong - North Atlantic Langoustine, Matcha Soba Noodles, Veil of Lemon Grass Aspic & Nam Prick Fluid Gel

We also ordered the Ox Tail Soup to satiate Jenn's abominable soup lust. The clear beef broth gets infused with Five Spice and my first slurp warmed me and made me want gallons to bathe in later in my room. Jenn loved it even more. I was careful to keep my hands and feet clear of her mouth as her hands became a blur as spoon sped from dish to mouth. It preceded our main courses by mere moments, masterful timing from a talented chef! The Gai Yang and Massaman Curry are delicious. The former a beautiful chicken dish stuffed with luscious foie gras and the latter a lamb shank braised for 4 long hours in an incredible spicy coconut curry. The chicken, definitely free range, was tender and fresh and spiced delightfully and the lamb shank, again blurred by Jenn's fast moving hands, was equally as delicious! Stuffed to the gills we skipped dessert, but we would wager our last dollar that it's amazing!

Oxtail Soup

Oxtail Soup

Braised Lamb Shank

Braised Lamb Shank

Scorched Baby Chicken

Scorched Baby Chicken


The 137 Pillars Suites and Residences Bangkok is one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. The service is incredible, the property is absolutely world class and the location is as perfect to walk to the Louis Vuitton store as it is to traditional Thai massage parlours or the local 7-11. The central location is a boon to an already palatial property! I would recommend the hotel without a moments hesitation and you will be glad you followed my recommendation!

137 Pillars Suites & Residences, Bangkok, Thailand
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan