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Autumn Mooney is a photographer/photo editor & travel writer based in Sydney, Australia. Having worked in glossy magazines in Sydney, London, Dubai and Singapore, the charm of wanderlust continues with reviewsinternational.com
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For contemporary upmarket accommodation near Singapore's Chinatown roll your suitcase to Wangz Boutique Hotel, a stylish art hotel. Wangz Boutique Hotel could probably double as an art gallery (with beds,) where hip, and comfort combine to make your stay in Singapore delightfully and inspiringly colourful.
Also located close to Singapore's business district, (in Tiong Bahru to be exact - Singapore's heritage area which is 7 mins to Orchard RD and 25 mins to Changi airport by taxi,) the hotel proudly opened to guests in December 2009. Converted from an historic church owned building with shop housing, now with 360 degrees of a strikingly modern aluminium-clad façade, Wangz Boutique Hotel gleams against the sun - your cabbie won't miss it! Walking inside shows off a vibrant interior flavoured with artworks blending art deco and straits settlement design, set to ambient jazz music. In fact, arriving here is like arriving at an art gallery slumber party, a fashion that continues through all levels of the hotel and dining areas.
The rooms portray a funky urban-retro feel with generous colour use in designer furniture, chic lighting and textured wallpaper features. Ambient music is piped in rooms to complement ambience - with a volume control you'll be listening to French fusions & 50's style jazz sounds. Otherwise utilise an ipod docking station to your own tunes. You can relax in front of a large (37 inch) flat screen TV showing 13 channels with DVD player. A trendy desk area with universal sockets and complimentary high speed Internet is handy if in town for business.
If you're thirsty, there are tea and coffee making facilities and an in-room glass rack for wine and champers (if you missed duty free, alcohol is avail in the mini bar, which also offers complimentary soft drinks.) Make complimentary local calls from the comfort of your Sealy Posturepedic bedding. (Love a good brand!) Soon you will find yourself Lazing around in a terry bathrobe provided with soft slippers on your feet, while perusing the Pillow Menu. Or you might pop down to the fitness centre for a mini workout on treadmill, weights and fitness ball. Back in your room, step into the floor-to-ceiling glassed bathrooms, and lather yourself in Molton Brown bath amenities. Dry off with large soft towels and modern hair dryer, as supplied. A luggage holder lets you rest large suitcases and makes for an easy level when sifting through that suitcase choosing what to wear. Leave you valuables in the electronic safe (which does fit a laptop,) before enjoying an evening on the rooftop bar.
Stepping onto the rooftop bar called Halo is refreshing and dazzling. As you gaze across a panoramic Singapore city skyline, (best seen as the sun sets and into the night,) jazz and bossa nova music play and a cool breeze will likely blow your way in Singapore's predictable high temperatures - if not then the air-con machine will! This is a great spot to try a fruity cocktail (Halo has many modern cocktails, I recommend the Singapore sling.) A large screen for exciting moments like the world cup, (on my visit!) or a jazz night means not only hotel guests will frequent here, - which I think is a nice opportunity for mingling.
Nectar is the restaurant downstairs, serving modern cuisine with Asian influences and are able to serve dishes on the rooftop for something different. But if you prefer the air-con and a quieter ambience, sit in the usual dining location, inside. Surrounded by more colour, imagination is continued in the serving of food. Dishes are creativity presented and of a fine tasting cuisine. I recommend Sirloin of Angus beef fillet in pepper Madeira sauce served with parsley potatoes, vegetable melange & dashed with port wine reduction. For dessert, Molten Lava chocolate cake with earl grey tea ice cream. At breakfast take your complimentary newspaper along to enjoy your complimentary continental breakfast at Nectar Restaurant.
As you dine, you'll no doubt glance at the artworks on the wall - Wangz boutique Hotel actually houses a private collection of art pieces specially commissioned and worth approx $S400000. Artists such as Anthony Tan, Hijran Seyidov (who counts royalty among owners of his works) and P. Gnana (whose art is in the private collections of the President of Singapore, plus the Singapore Art Museum
I recommend a stay at the Wangz Boutique Hotel to sophisticated travellers who fancy a chic moment in a heritage area, and like to look at art of the floral kind.
My night at Phuket's Baan Rim Pa Group dining experience involved one sunset, three restaurants, multiple celeb stories and my very satisfied belly. Dashing out of the hotel lobby to my waiting taxi, the resort manager asked where I was hurrying. ‘Baan Rim Pa' I answered, not really having time for this conversation. Reading my mind he replied that I'd best hurry ‘so as not to miss sunset.
The Best Western Resort and Spa on Bangtao Beach, Phuket, offers a comfortable holiday area for your relaxing break, just 25 mins from the airport.
When you stay at a Best western hotel, you're usually booking for the assurance of knowing what you're in for - affordable comfort, and very reliably. Booking online can be a risky task, I remember finding amazing seaside huts in beautiful Goa at an outrageously cheap price for a large group of my friends, but on arrival watched my friends faces drop as we realised I had actually booked us all in for a week's stay at crumbling huts - hidden from the ocean, with bring-your-own-lock, and the toilets...may as well have been buckets. We actually ended up having an amazing time, bonding over the situation and spending more time outdoors than sleeping. But the experiece definitely made me aware online photography is not always to be trusted. So I knew, when checking in to The Best Western Premier Bangtoa Beach that I was staying at a brand name - which a good reputation for an economically cheery stay.
This Best Western is actually a resort and spa - even better. A bright blue lagoon laden with several cute dolphin statues lets kids splash in the pool, while adults chill on surrounding sun beds. Facing the lagoon are tropical palm trees bordering a large block of suites, where guests can dine on room service from their balcony, enjoying the holiday atmosphere. The beach is directly in front of the resort, so if you fancy a swim in the ocean or some sand castle action it's simply a five step stroll past the restaurant - where a full continental buffet breakfast begins every day. If sunbathing isn't your style, there is a library with books, magazines and newspapers, or fitness equipment at the gym. The spa offers a fine menu of massages and pampering.
The rooms here are clean and colourful. My room had thick orange curtains, perfect for stopping the early morning sun waking me up. A modern fridge stocked with mini bar treats, large kingsize bed, desk for working (if you must) and table and chair dining set create a fine room for any short break. A complimentary fruit basket greeted me, with several aqua bottles too. The bathroom is simple, but clean and modern with a western flushing toilet, yay! Room service is available, and I recommend the chocolate mousse. What I don't recommend is indulging in too much (be warned - it's that good, you'll want to!)
A stay at The Best Western Resort and Spa on Bangtao Beach won't set you back an arm an a leg like some of the luxury hotels can, (but watch the extra's) and lets you enjoy your Phuket holiday in a setting that is just what the doctor ordered.
Andara Resort Villas is Phukets' hottest new luxe villa stay, a chic urban hotel infused with subtle contemporary Asian flavours and ultra-exclusive Hollywood luxury. Guaranteed: you won't want to leave.
Located near beautiful Kamala Beach, along a strip known as the ‘Millionaires Row' area, glamorous homes and hotels cascade mountainside towards the bay, as fashioned by Europe's Monaco or the south of France. The Andara is the newest arrival, and boasts 26 deluxe pool villas with 37 divine pool suites, each facing the bay with dramatic ocean and mountain views.
To get there, a fancy air-conditioned transfer car collected me with chilled refresher towel, ice water and a soundtrack of trendy Buddha Bar beats to listen to on the way to the Resort. Adorned with exquisitely chic Asian infused décor, the hotel foyer is just begging for a glossy magazine photo shoot. Magnificent gold buddha statues tower ceiling-high, lit up with trendy and charismatic ambience to decorate the walls. A stylish boutique garment store and deluxe winery featuring acclaimed vino in a modern and elegant setting complement the grand entrance.
A futurist bespoke buggy will take you up the hill to your suite or villa, I was staying in a Pool Suite, and my expectations were beyond astounded when I entered the outrageously large abode. Before me lay an LA condo that belonged to a Hollywood star, had I died and woken up famous, and was there a divorced Brad Pitt waiting for me in the next room? This suit is so spacious I could play football in it, so LA g-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s I forgot I was in Thailand, and with my own infinity pool and panoramic views, massive divine and dreamy bed, flat screen home theatre, and ipod docking station - just so heavenly. I had to check this wasn't really a villa.
Being escorted to view the Villa area, I imagined it couldn't get much better. How wrong I was. Perched on top of the world, or so it seems when you sit on the fancy platform lounge setting, by a double sized private infinity pool, you can't help think you could be sitting in a trendy music video right about now. Basically the villa area is a magnificent mansion, with elaborate decor. A personal chef and housekeeper are on call around the clock for those lucky enough to stay here. With it's 6 bedroom, I imagine these special people would be a large wedding group, someone of royal status, or someone of great fame - complete with their entourage troupe.
The staff at Andara are all very helpful and exceptionally qualified at their job. Hand selected from the best of the existing hotels in Phuket, it shows. As close to two weeks prior to my visit Feb 2010, the dazzling premiere party was held, where Andaras' general manager, Andew Whitaker, graciously included invites to the finest of his competing hotels. Many declined, in protest to loss of their favourite staff. Well, new staff do have to come from somewhere! Regardless, the party was an overnight success, I can tell from asking anyone in town about the Andara, ‘Oh yes, big party, fireworks and shows.'
In the evening I stroll down to the restaurant. Seated inside or al fresco dining, your gaze wanders past the fountain water feature, past the pool bar, to where you must spend some time later - the resorts main infinity pool area. Stylish black bed-lounges with shading umbrellas are set amongst lush palm trees and purple boganvillea. If you want, a trained masseuse from the Spa can massage you while laying in the serenity here.
The wait for my food to arrive wasn't long. Most people assume I'm vegetarian when ordering tofu, but I just really like the taste - and have a high standard of how it should be served. Boy, was I glad I ordered the silken tofu at the restauant called Silk. Infused with soft Thai flavours on a bed of white rice the tofu felt like err - silk, melting in my mouth. I ordered it the next day. I am dreaming of it now. Damn it, can I go back please? For dessert I recommend the indulgently rich chocolate mousse, just divine. Silk was famous in it's own right in Phuket before relocating within Andara. Cuisine is Thai or western, whatever you fancy. At the rear is a trendy urban bar, coloured with a fine coctail selection.
If you're like me and easily eat too much food, there's a fancy new fitness centre to work it off the next morning. This gym is so large you may ask if they have relocated a Fitness First studio to the grounds. Shiny new state of the art cardio equipment and weights stand, perfect for slogging away the calories. Daily activity classes are held, only I can't decide between morning yoga or stretching. Lazing-by-my-private-infinity-pool is the class I choose, it's a new one! A stay at the Andara Resort Villas in Phuket is an unforgettable experience, which I recommend to anyone and everyone - you will like it here.