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Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort

By Nicole Long

We have a new signature hotel partner in Chiang Mai – the Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort.  This resort offers everything our guests are looking for – a charming boutique property near the historic part of Chiang Mai along the Ping River waterfront, with good service, and a traditional aesthetic.

Nestled down a small soi (street) on the Ping Riverside, next to the Chai Mongkon Temple and a 5-10 minute walk from the Night Market, is a charming hideaway – the Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort.  This newly opened boutique property (Dec 2016) is half-wood Lanna-Colonial style and reminiscent of the traditional Thai house design from the late 19th century.  Forty-one out of the 45 rooms have a private balcony that overlooks the hotel’s tropical gardens and tranquil swimming pool, which is in view of the 100 year old Rain Tree.   The rooms are beautifully decorated with wood and rattan furniture, with accents of local textiles and handicrafts.  The four colonial suites are located in a heritage style house, with a private infinity pool and overlooking the Ping River.  They are individually themed (British-Indian, Burmese, Chinese and Siamese) and provide a private balcony, separate living space and a giant, luxurious bathroom with dual sinks, a rain shower room and a freestanding claw-foot bathtub.

In addition to the pool, the resort’s facilities include a full service spa, outdoor gym, library, conference rooms and laundry services. The Time Riverfront Restaurant, which includes a 360 degree rooftop bar, offers afternoon high tea and Thai Lanna/International fusion cuisine. The restaurant, located next to the 100 year old Rain Tree and the Ping River, gives guests one of the best views for breakfast.  Make sure to arrive early in the morning to sit at one of the much sought after riverside tables – you won’t regret it. The majority of the staff have worked at 5 star properties in Chiang Mai so you can be assured you will be receiving excellent, personalized service.

The resort is definitely what it claims to be – a romantic boutique hideaway.  Guests are given the opportunity to feel and experience the surrounding nature, traditional Lanna culture, warm Thai hospitality and ultimate relaxation.

From the Ground: New Hotel – Fusion Suites Saigon

By Jay Austin

The new boutique Fusion Suites Saigon is now open!  We are excited to offer this new Saigon hotel option to our guests, as we also book their sister property, the Fusion Maia in Danang.  This property includes a unique ‘all-inclusive’ and restorative philosophy, so all of the rooms are suites, daily spa treatments are included with each stay, and the Fresh Restaurant and Zen Rooftop Restaurant offer healthy, fresh and delicious food and beverage options with great service.  (We love their breakfast menu!) In keeping with the relaxing and restorative concept, calming music plays down each hallway.

This is a great mid-range hotel option for young couples and families on a budget.  Although the property doesn’t have a swimming pool, they have a Family Suite which has a bedroom just off the parents’ room with bunk beds for younger children – a very unique feature in Southeast Asia! The suites also include a kitchenette with spacious and bright rooms.  This property overlooks Tao Dan Park and the Bitexco Financial Tower, and the property offers good views of the fireworks shows from their rooftop.

Cambodia’s Beautiful Beaches – The Lazy Beach Hotel

By Courtney Ridgel

If you desire tropical white sand beaches without Thailand’s crowds and pricey hotels, look no further than Cambodia’s Lazy Beach Hotel – a beautiful property on the island of Koh Rong Saloem, off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Julia Cuthbertson and Carlos Jimenez traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia for their honeymoon in March.  In Cambodia they discovered a private paradise at the Lazy Beach Hotel and shared their experience below:

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Julia Cuthbertson looking out over Lazy Beach

Lazy Beach, located on Koh Rong Saloem island in the Gulf of Thailand, was the perfect island getaway to cap off a fabulous trip. The slow 2.5 hour boat ride from Sihanoukville was just the beginning of a few days that were fabulously slow and restful. We were greeted at the dock by Chris, the wonderful owner, who brought us to the bar for a welcome drink and to meet the staff.

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The path to the restaurant, which is open all day long
Our bungalow was just feet from the water
Home, Sweet Home!
Home, Sweet Home!

Our bungalow, positioned about 50 feet from the beach, came complete with 2 hammocks and a sitting area on a large porch, and 2 queen sized beds outfitted with mosquito nets. Although the bungalows are being renovated, ours was an older model, and harkened back to a simpler and more rustic lifestyle. The property generator only turns on from around 4 or 5 p.m. until dawn, so you can charge electronics and use the fan at night, but not during the day. WiFi has not yet arrived to the island and I am hoping it stays this way. We had two friendly (and stunning) spotted gecko friends that alternated between our porch and our bathroom the whole time.

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There are many places to relax, read a book and sip a fresh fruit smoothie
One of the colorful local boats
One of the colorful local boats moored off the beach

The rustic nature of Lazy Beach was appealing to us from the beginning and was definitely what made our experience there so special. Without any programmed activities, emails to check, pictures to post or high-end amenities, the hardest decision to make was where to be… lazy. Whether snorkeling, reading, lounging, playing cards, or going for a walk, we were utterly relaxed but never bored. One day we walked 20 minutes to Saracen Bay, a beautiful beach on the other side of the island, and the next we did a short (and vertical) hike up to a lookout point that gave us the most spectacular views of Lazy Beach and beyond. The last night we went swimming after dinner and were amazing by all of the bio-luminescent plankton that surrounded us.

We had the beach to ourselves
We had this beautiful beach all to ourselves
Julia taking in the sunset
Julia taking in the sunset

The bar and restaurant is in a large, beautiful and recently renovated villa and the kitchen is open continuously all day. The menu is varied, with a mix of traditional Cambodian and Asian dishes and some more international/western offerings as well. We thought the food was absolutely delicious, and we enjoyed eating it while lounging in all of the different areas of the villa.  Wandering up from the beach for an afternoon smoothie became a quick habit of ours. The staff was lovely, service was quick, and they were extremely accommodating.

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The dining room at the Lazy Beach
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Freshly made spring rolls

Chris, the owner, told us that development on the island is happening at lightning speed (which we could see in Saracen Bay). For now, Lazy Beach is the only resort on this particular bay and we hope it stays this way for as long as possible. It felt like true luxury to find ourselves, at times, completely alone on such a beautiful beach in the warmest, most inviting country.

An end to another perfect day at the Lazy Beach Hotel
An end to another perfect day at Lazy Beach