Tag: Hotels

Indigo Bangkok

Rooftop Pool/View at Indigo Bangkok

We ended our trip in Bangkok and by this point knew we would probably need to be saving some cash. Hence – we ended up at Hotel Indigo Bangkok – where we could use Katy’s employee rate. Understanding we would only have just over 48 hours in Bangkok, we wanted somewhere convenient, but clean, and this hotel definitely met the mark.

Here is what I would say about the Hotel Indigo Bangkok:

  • Overall: 8/10 – The hotel is in a great location (actually just across the street and one block down from the US Embassy – which is something you should always be glad not to have to use – but nice to know it’s there!) and was very clean and updated.
  • Notes:
    • Very reminiscent of some of the nicer/trendier Indigos we have been to stateside (Indigo Lower East Side NYC for instance)
    • The one HUGE surprise that we were so impressed with was the rooftop bar/pool combo
    • Hotel Indigo Bangkok Rooftop Pool View
    • We ended up going both during daylight as well as at nighttime and each view had its own reasons to make your jaw drop
    • Otherwise, the room was well-appointed and had everything we needed
    • We ended up cashing in on Katy’s IHG employee rate, as well, so we couldn’t beat the price even if we tried!

Til Next Time,

Michael

Panoramic Pool View at Koyao Resort

Panoramic view at the infinity pool at Koyao Resort

After we wrapped up at Santhiya, we caught a Tuk Tuk over to one of the piers on the North side of the island to take a longboat transfer (costing a couple hundred Baht) to the pier on the South side of Koh Yao Noi. From there, we caught a public Tuk Tuk to Koyao Resort, and felt much more at ease almost instantly as we saw the surroundings on the short ride (10-15 minutes) to our resort property. This property was called the Koyao Island Resort, and was the #2 ranked hotel on the island (besides, no real surprise here, the Six Senses resort just up the road).

Here is what I would say about the Koyao Island Resort:

  • Overall: 8/10 – Very nice (and refreshingly quaint/quiet) resort with a lot of “free” amenities that are actually fairly valuable
  • Notes:
    • The island itself was a big shift from Koh Yao Yai; it was much friendlier, much more energetic, with a lot more character and small “hole-in-the-wall” type shops and restaurants
    • Reminded us a lot more of Tulum, which is what we thought we were signing up for in the first place (so, expectations came close to meeting reality!)
    • The staff at this resort were much more accommodating, perhaps because it is maybe only 10% the size of Santhiya (I would guess there are 20-30 rooms total at this resort, instead of the 200+ at Santhiya)
    • Daily activities are offered free of charge, and we ended up lucking out with a 4 hour longboat tour of several surrounding islands with a few of our fellow guests. The fact that the resort puts this together once a week is such a great amenity because, otherwise, you’d have to shell out at least $100 to do that as a couple anywhere else. The time was right, too, we decided we couldn’t do a full day on a boat (especially if the sun was out and it was hot). So this was the perfect way to quench that thirst for boat excursion without having to give up a full day (and a full stack of Thai Baht)
    • The infinity pool was great, and we enjoyed cooling off in it after we got too hot
    • Rooms were very well-appointed, and the biggest hidden gem from my perspective was the insect zapper tennis racket (I had WAY too much fun with this)
    • The food was a bit better than Santhiya, especially the quality/freshness/selection at breakfast buffet (side note: you could tell the head chef took pride in his work as he would stand out and greet guests and help prepare specific selections that were requested by guests). Katy could live off of the pancakes here!
    • Overall, we felt much more at home and at peace/relaxed here than we had previously

Til Next Time,

Michael

Room View at Santhiya

Stunning panoramic views from our room at Santhiya

For our first stop in the islands off of Phuket, we chose to stay at a place we found online that had stunning views. This place was called Santhiya, and it was on the island of Koh Yao Yai.

The one thing I will say leading into this was that the airport>hotel transfer was a blatantly miserable experience. From the time we got off the plane, it took probably the better part of three hours to get settled into our room. We first met someone outside baggage claim, only to have to wait in a staging area. Then, we were walked over to a secondary staging area, where we waited on a private shuttle (with two other couples also staying Santhiya). Not so bad, yet… Then, once we got over to the marina, we had to wait (yet again) while the team checked us in and scanned our passports. Nearly one hour later, we were loaded onto a boat and brought over to the island. Then, upon disembarking the ferry (which took around 20 minutes), we had to yet again (you guessed it) wait some more to get formally checked in. At this point, I think I had to provide my physical credit card for a third time (side note/pet peeve: you already have my card on file – just ask me if you can use that instead of continuing to shake me down for my card; I’m not trying to dine and ditch on the tab!), and we soon thereafter began the trek up to our room (which, we found out later, was much more than a hop, skip, and a jump). Exhausting, right??

As far as the review… Here is what I would say about Santhiya:

  • Overall: 6/10 – Stunning views, very cool architecture, but then the resort (and the surrounding town for that matter) fall short
  • Notes:
    • The architecture and resort itself as awesome – so much hand carved wood abounds, and even the fact that it’s literally built into the side of a small mountain/cliff setting is incredible
    • Having the get around the property on wood-wrapped trucks or tuk-tuks was a bit of a pain, but since our room was near the middle of the resort, we also had the option of short 5-10 minute walks (when the weather cooperated)
    • Views were especially incredible the further “up” into the resort you went; the views from the top pool and the breakfast area were amazing
    • Service was good, not great, but we can attribute most of that to being an Asian culture (whereby you will not be bothered for things like additional drinks, the check, etc); you simply had to ask for things and then they were very efficient about it
    • Food on property was, again, good-not-great; the breakfast was pretty typical for buffet style, the lunch was great depending on where you went and what you got (although it seemed a bit pricey – but we later realized this is just the island/resort effect and having recently adjusted from a much cheaper place like Chiang Mai)
    • The village itself, beyond the resort, is an odd town; it has heavy muslim influence and a severe lack of other dining or drinking options
    • Checkout was somewhat non-eventful, although it’s always fun to see just how much money you had shelled out in a short three days at a property like this; there’s always a momentary sink in your stomach after you do the high level conversion in your head (if you know what I’m talking about, isn’t that the worst?)
    • We did find one hidden gem in the town though: Odys Cafe. Cannot recommend this place highly enough if you ever find yourself on this island! The owner shared his life story, we spent several hours there one day (due to a rain storm), and even went back again for dinner

Til Next Time,

Michael

Intercon Hong Kong

Lobby Bar views out towards Hong Kong Island

As I said before, while Katy calls it our “Honeymoon”, I can’t bring myself to call our trip that – since I know we went on a proper (albeit shorter), very nice trip just after our wedding. Given that it was just over one year later, I considered calling it the “Anniversamoon”, but just came up with Asiaversary for our trip’s title instead.

Our first stop on the expedition was Hong Kong, and we knew we wanted to stay at one of the region’s (if not the world’s) most iconic hotels – the Intercontinental Hong Kong. We got to use Katy’s IHG employee rate, which saved us quite a bit, although it did not get us a harbor view. They apparently charge quite a bit on the upsell to get you in a room with the Hong Kong Island view. Oh well!

As far as the review… Here is what I would say about Intercontinental Hong Kong:

  • Overall: 8/10 – Great hotel as long as you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg
  • Notes:
    • Phenomenal location, stunning views, and a great price (through Katy’s employee rate discount)
    • Views are possibly going to be obstructed soon by a new mixed use complex next door
    • Proximity to helpful public transit stations is an advantage, and leaves this hotel very closely situated to quickly get onto and off of Hong Kong Island (if you, like us, want to tour around SoHo or Lan Kwai Fong (the Bourbon Street of Hong Kong)
    • Pool area is very nice, and has several extremely helpful staff members (who will legit help you plan your visit and suggest places that are in your strike zone of interest)

Til Next Time,

Michael

Mi Amor Restaurant

The architectural dream of a restaurant at Mi Amor.

On our final night, we ended up at Mi Amor (again, because La Zebra had burned down). Let me be the first to say that I am truly saddened about what happened at La Zebra (fortunately – nobody was hurt!), but feel SO LUCKY to have gotten the opportunity to be put up at Mi Amor for no added cost. This place was MAGICAL.

Here’s the review:

  • Location: The location is off the beaten path, actually North of the majority of the other resorts – almost all the way back up to the Tulum ruins. Given that this was our final night and we just expected to basque in the luxury, we were totally fine with this. But be warned that if you’re wanting something that is pedestrian friendly and “in the heart of it all”, you’re going to have to trek a ways from here to get there. An oddity of the location is that there is no real beach in front of the property – rather, it is built into natural rock/cliff formations (again – a great change of pace and something that proved to be extremely majestic).
  • Facilities: The facilities are unreal. Everything from the dining room (pictured at the front of this post), to the rooms themselves, was top notch. You can tell the staff takes great pride in the level of quality in this property. While we did not partake in spa activities, those facilities looked unbelievable as well.
  • Amenities: The amenities were outstanding. It all started with our “welcome” cocktail (prosecco), and progressed nicely where it seemed like every turn – there was something waiting for us. First off, the property utilizes miniature hut/cabanas that are a huge upgrade from other properties that just have palapa roof huts and daybeds. This is the best of both worlds as it incorporates both (picture below). The restaurant was terrific as well. We opted to dine on site (a change from our usual pace of exploring other resorts/areas for food due to lofty prices in some resort facilities), and did a sampling of 6 or 7 of the appetizers which turned out incredible.
  • Staff: The staff were top notch. Even a level higher than we had come to expect in other areas.
  • Rooms: The rooms are stunning. We had our own private plunge pool that was jetted and heated. A great way to relax. At night, they brought around hibiscus tea to go along with turndown service, which was a phenomenal touch.
Mi Amor Cliff Cabana

Mi Amor cabanas were tucked into the terrain and provided comfort and a sense of privacy.

Mi Amor Seared Tuna

Seared tuna – lunch with a view!

Mi Amor Jetted Plunge Pool Plus Bohemian Rattan Hanging Chair

Our Jetted Plunge Pool Plus Bohemian Rattan Hanging Chair

IMG_2785

Stunning sunset panorama from atop the cliffs at Mi Amor.

Til Next Time,

Michael

El Pez Pool Rules

On Thursday, we ended up at El Pez because our original property at which we were set to stay (La Zebra) burned down the weekend before our arrival. More to come on that experience (ultimately, a great one) at another time. But now – on with the review!

Here’s the review:

  • Location: The location is great. It’s closer to the entrance/North end of the beachfront road, but still very accessible to many key attractions for us (including Mateos’s!).
  • Facilities: The facilities are a step up from others in my opinion. I believe this is probably related to the fact that this hotel is part of a professional hotel group (The Colibri Boutique Hotel chain). The service, the appointments, and the views were definitely a step up.
  • Amenities: The amenities were great. Aside from an expanded selection for our “welcome cocktail” (something each property does give), the inclusion of other elements (e.g. beach bag for towels, etc) were all nice touches. The included breakfast was by far the best here; the yogurt/fruit/granola plate was outstanding.
  • Staff: The staff were great. Check-in, Check-out were a breeze (perhaps even easier than Viento de Mar), and the service in the restaurant was a bit quicker than others.
  • Rooms: The rooms are spacious and comfortable. Each room has stunning ocean views, so it’s hard not to like.
El Pez Welcome Cocktails

Our welcome cocktails at El Pez.

El Pez Pano

Stunning views out into the bay (where sea turtles come to lay eggs once a year) from the restaurant deck.

Til Next Time,

Michael


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