A boutique farm-stay destination in norther Thailand has provided a good example of how a business could involve the community every step of the way. It thrives on showing respect and fitting in with local ways of living. It’s secret: City and local people stand to gain from each other’s presence and coexist in peaceful harmony with nature.
An architect from Bangkok recently started the boutique farm-stay in Mae Rim District, a 15-minute drive from central Chiang Mai. In a unique way he adapted to be in sync with the new environment and still remained very much in vogue. How did they do it? The answer can be found at the wholesome destination called “Chic 39.”
Farm stay owner Jak “Joke” Ladpli said his was an interesting piece of architecture in the middle of a lush landscape. Chic 39 is offering guest accommodation and operating in conjunction with the surrounding community. It thrives on a simple concept — Make the space modern and keep decor local.
“Call it modern local if you will,” said Joke. “As newcomers, we respect the community, its people, and their ways of life. In our hearts we are modern, kind of like a man donning business attire. But such a formal outfit would be out of place here. The contrast would be too obvious. So we chose a modern cube-shaped design, and paired it with materials that represented local values and wisdom.”
“That’s the metaphor defining our design concept. Like a business outfit made of folk fabric known as “Mo Hom,” the hotel building offers textures and finishing touches crafted of materials that are readily available locally. They include bamboo, palm tree trunks, and old-fashioned corrugated sheets.”
The farm stay involves the community in its day-to-day operations. Joke said: “In this area 4-5 villages are actively engaged in flower farming. Having done it for several generations, the growers produce cut flowers for a wide variety of decorations, from shops to hotels to even food. Especially yellow chrysanthemums, they prefer to grow them during winter months.”
At night the weather is cold, and the flower farm is aglow with colorful neon lights. “If you don’t feel like going to bed early, just hang out and enjoy the views,” Joke said, adding, “In fact, the lights are left on for a good reason. Increased exposure to light helps flower stems grow longer before they are harvested the morning after. “If you are an early riser, put on a pair of boots and go help the planters harvest some flowers.”
Take your dream hotels and put them on the best locations, and you’ve got a beautiful enchanting place. Introducing three new boutique hotels you need to visit in Singapore. One of them is a Philippe Starck-designed exclusive hotel located on a quayside that has transformed to become a fashionable urban area.
/// Singapore /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham, The Warehouse Hotel
– M Social Singapore –
Located on the riverside at Robertson Quay, M Social Singapore is the brainchild of world renowned designer Philippe Starck. Its avant-garde atmosphere in every room and public area is inspired by the Memphis style. Such a perfect blend of textures, bold colors, and luxury accents is aimed at the millennial generation. The hotel’s main target group comprises young adults of the early twenty-first century who have dominated most of the technological world. Taking its concierge role to a new level, a robot butler named “Aura” is on hand to serve you a bottle of drinking water and a towel if you want it delivered to your room. The in-house restaurant Beast & Butterflies is a separate unit from the main lobby. The design provides more privacy for dining away from the heavier traffic of the main area. Stylish decor and alluring lighting ideas make it a perfect place to meet for business or just chitchatting and taking in beautiful river views.
Recommended for: Active business persons, admirers of Starck’s design
An oasis of clam, the hotel beautifully ensconced in central Singapore has earned a reputation as the city’s living sky garden. Not only is it the center of visual interest, the distinctive bright tower with vertical gardens is originally conceived as safe haven for birds. The façade is crafted of aluminum cladding designed to filter light, provide shade, and promote natural air movement, making the boutique hotel a perfect place to wind down from city life outside. The Oasia is admired for sleek interior design and friendly earth tone colors. Apparently, it has become the icon of tropical vertical gardening currently trending across the Region. It’s the brainchild of WOHA Architects, a group specialized in green buildings on large scales.
Recommended for: Business persons who care about hospitality and convenient locations
Built in 1895, the Warehouse Hotel sits on the bank of the Singapore River at Robertson Quay. The beautifully restored heritage building was once upon a time a warehouse in an area that was the hotbed of secret societies, liquor distilleries, and underground activities. Today the former warehouse on the quayside has transformed to became one of the stylishly unique destinations offering the finest experiences in the history and attractions of the community surrounding it.
The renovation project was the idea of the owners, The Lo & Behold Group, and the design firm Asylum. Together they turned the old “godown” into an ultrachic exclusive property showcasing the heritage of the island nation. Drop into the open bar with stunning views and an intimate atmosphere. It’s worth a visit.
Recommended for: Trendy Travelers and creative professionals
Wanting to be close to nature yet still enjoy the comforts of home? Malaysia offers a whole range of rainforest resorts of an almost otherworldly beauty. Hop on the new travel trend of treehouse-inspired retreats! Here are some of the most picturesque destinations to give a try.
– JapaMala Resort / Tioman Island, Pahang –
This boutique resort is one of Tioman Island’s most popular holiday spots. Take a step into an amazing new world of tastefully-designed villas, and it’s easy to see why. Nestled amidst lush rainforest greeneries, JapaMala Resort’s gorgeous villas are made for a truly relaxing vacation getaway.
Enjoy a scenic soak in the open-air bathtub, or take a dip in the picture-perfect pool if you prefer relaxing in the outdoors. For more information on JapaMala Resort, click here.
– Malihom Retreat / Balik Pulau, Penang –
Located in the quieter part of Penang Island, Malihom is home to eight Thai-style granaries that have been converted into fully-equipped accommodation options. Unaffected by the passage of time, the beautifully renovated island resort offers modern comforts in a charming traditional setting. The secluded resort is the perfect place to practice the forgotten art of doing nothing. Gaze at the unbelievable view of the surrounding hills from the rooftop terrace. Or if you have an afternoon nap in mind, get comfortable in one of the rattan hammocks and snooze away.
For more information on Malihom Retreat, click here.
– The Dusun / Seremban, Negeri Sembilan –
A serene eco-resort, the Dusun is home to hilltop bungalows with spectacular views of the surrounding Berembun Forest Reserve. Nature lovers will appreciate the salubrious open-air room, complete with a balcony to reap the health benefits of moderate sun exposure.
Enjoy the cool morning mist before whiling away the day any way you like – whether it’s a spot of yoga in your room, a mid-day dip in the infinity pool, or a barbecue with family and friends.
If you’re planning a summer holiday getaway, check out these awesome beach houses in the ASEAN listed on Airbnb.
/// ASEAN /// Photography: Airbnb
– Deeksha Bali Beach Surf House / Indonesia –
This two-story house is perched atop a cliff overlooking Bingin Beach in Bali, an island known for yoga retreats. The beach house is inaccessible by car. So, you need to climb a long flight of stairs to get there, but the great sea view from the living room is surely worth it.
Brother Island is for rent, not just a bungalow, but the whole island! You can enjoy the beach, snorkeling and fresh seafood from local fishermen. If you want to taste Robinson Crusoe’s lifestyle, the staff can teach you how to catch your food from the sea in the traditional Filipino way.
The sea is a stone’s throw away from these houses. Here you can while away the hours in one of rustic Khmer cottages. They are part of Sok Son Beach Resort in Koh Rong, Cambodia. The white-sand beach in front of the cottages is quiet and still in good shape. You can lie on the beach all day like it’s your backyard.
If the wooden bungalow is not your type, there is a well-furnished apartment in Vũng Tàu, a town on a peninsula east of Ho Chi Minh City. The modern apartment boasts a cozy balcony, where you can chill out and soak up the views of both the ocean and the mountains in the backdrop
These villas are located on Koh Chang, one of the largest islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Inspired by traditional Thai architecture, the steep-roofed houses feature a relaxed Oriental ambience. The only thing that comes between them and the beaches is a lovely garden, an oasis of calm by the sea.
The highlight of this resort is a long line of villas that jut out almost a kilometer into the sea. Time on your hands, go for a dip in an overwater infinity pool, or enjoy other activities like sailing, yoga, even badminton. Conveniently located, the resort lies just an hour away from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
In the old town of Ipoh, a stylish boutique hotel not only blends into its historical surroundings, but also contributes to restoring all its former glory. Check this out.
/// Malaysia /// Story: Wuthikorn Suthiapa /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham /// Design: Ng Sek San
The history of Ipoh dates back to 1880 when Hakka immigrants arrived for work in tin mines and made a permanent home here. As mining industries continued on the decline, the once exuberant town was losing its luster. A pleasant twist of fate, the waning days of Ipoh attracted the attention of many designers, who banded together to keep the old-world charm from disappearing. Giving it their best shot, they succeeded in bringing Ipoh back in the limelight.
Among the projects aimed at restoring glory to Ipoh was Sekeping Kong Heng, a small boutique hotel designed by Ng Sek San, an internationally renowned Ipoh-born architect. The charming small hotel is tucked away on the upper floors of a three-story Colonial era shop-house complex in the old town. The first floor is reserved for a famous local coffee shop known for a variety of Chinese-style coffees and Ipoh’s favorite dishes. Its food menu includes the noodle dish called Hokkien Mee, satay, and spring rolls. Its existence guarantees that hotel guests will never run short of delicious foods and beverages.
To check in, know that the entrance to the hotel lobby is located on a small alleyway. Sekeping Kong Heng offers three types of accommodation — standard rooms, a family room and glass boxes. With its location, hotel guests can expect the authentic Ipoh experience. They wake up each morning to the heavenly smell of coffee being brewed fresh in the shop below. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The same applies here. Come breakfast time, expect to eat with locals and like locals do. Time well spent is time spent exploring this and other alleyways a stone’s throw away.
The hotel’s time-honored appeal blends seamlessly with Ipoh’s old-world ambience. It’s obvious the Ipoh-born architect has intended to keep this part of town like it has always been. In the process the hotel’s existing structure is left intact. A loft-style twist adds contemporary feel to the hotel’s interior, while patches of greenery adorn the exterior walls keeping the building cool. Open-concept design provides easy access connecting the café to retail shops and a flea market nearby. The architect’s thorough understanding Ipoh’s lifestyle is manifested in the way the hotel is neatly restored. Sekeping Kong Heng now contributes in its small way to breathing new life to the old city.
Perched atop an abandoned marble yard in Nakhon Ratchasima, the boutique hotel affords views of the rocky landscape. The old rock quarry became inactive after the gleaming stones had been extracted. To create a unique and pleasant setting, the owner went to great lengths to ensure every aspect of the surroundings was kept intact. Hard terrain dictated that accommodation units be built strong like rock. That’s what makes the Nhapha Khao Yai Resort look like no other.
Over time nature goes to work, and the old marble yard comes alive turning lackluster cliff faces into a kaleidoscope of colors. Aptly named “Grand Villas Chom Hin Pha,” the guest lodges at the top boast 90 square meters of well-appointed rooms looking out over the pinkish brown rocky landscape.
If you prefer quirky, unusual locations, the “Villas Ping Pha Hin” are definitely your must-visit. The 40-square-meter cube-shaped lodges are placed inside the rock forest. Ingenious design takes advantage of the existing cliff faces, turning rock formations into naturally beautiful walls. The rocky surroundings turn out to be nifty temperature control inside the interior living spaces.
And not to worry about rainwater leaking in during storms. The gaps between natural and built environments are sealed tight while a system of gutters are in place to ensure storm water runoff is drain out fast.
Interior design is at the heart of the boutique hotel on the rock. Every unit showcases handcrafted wood furniture by award-winning designer/carpenter Yutthana Bumrungkit.
To make every visit feel like the first time, each villa is designed to highlight a different ambience and character. Together they turn the unique hotel into a thriving, delightful escape. Everywhere paintings and sculptural masterpieces abound. It’s like walking into a museum and actually living history.
Understandably the owner hopes that his unique hotel will one day turn into an attractive art venue in the Region.
2017 looks to be a great year as more exciting attractions are being added to the Nhapha Khao Yai Resort.
Indulge in sensual pleasures and experience the excitement at one of the most romantic hotels in the Region. Living ASEAN takes a sneak peek at ten of them for Valentine’s Day. Check this out.
/// ASEAN ///
– Conrad Bali, Indonesia –
There is nothing like Infinity, a wedding chapel at Conrad Bali. Its simply stunning design is a one-of-a-kind romantic scene for the betrothed. The steel-framed glass wall on the north side, which stands for the bride, is designed to go hand in hand with the marble south side that represents the groom.
Located at Nusa Dua on the southern coast of Bali, the hotel offers five-star services with large rooms, beautiful gardens, and a spectacular beachfront. You will love traditional Balinese wisdom at Jiwa Spa, a wellness destination set in a peaceful water garden. That’s reason enough for an unforgettable experience.
Soak up the ambience of a rainforest on rock-strewn mountainsides looking out over the ocean. The villas at L’Alyana are set on exclusive and private locations with spectacular views of the lagoon and Ninh Van Bay. The wholesome destination features a private pool for each villa, plus the main infinity pool, full spa facilities, and fine dining.
L’Alyana Ninh Van Bay is situated 16 km from Nha Trang’s city center. It offers airport shuttle service for smooth and easy transfer.
– Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand –
Set on mountainous terrain in northern Thailand, the Four Seasons Tented Camp stands at a tri-point where the borders of Burma, Laos, and Thailand meet. The sumptuous hideaway boasts spectacular mountain trails surrounded by bamboo jungles. Here you can chillax in a luxurious tent setting, and indulge in traditional Thai-style massage on a private sundeck while listening to a chorus of birds and frogs in the river below. Trendy jungle-style weddings and honeymoon activities are among many romantic events designed for couples joined in matrimony.
The hotel’s 44 private villas reflect the Balinese idea of paradise, a place of serene natural beauty. Each gorgeous villa boasts a sense of discrete luxury combining contemporary design with Balinese décor, signature handcrafted furniture, exotic fabrics, open air dining space, and spectacular master bathrooms. Tastefully done to fit in with pristine surroundings, it’s true jungle paradise for lovers.
The boutique island resort is founded by Dedon, a European brand of handcrafted luxury outdoor furniture. Its design is based on the “barefoot state of mind” as the guiding principle. The holiday retreat is located on Siargao, one of the Philippines’ most pristine tropical islands renowned for great surfing reefs. Crystal clear waters and white sand beaches with coconut trees combine to make this romantic island resort a perfect escape from it all.
For over five decades “Suan Sampran”, also known as the “Rose Garden,” has been the admiration of everyone. The rich, well-cultivated piece of real estate is also home to a waterfront hotel that many have come to love. Nestled on a 170-rai plot on the beautiful Tha Chin River, the Sampran Riverside Hotel is a real gem.
Only the name has changed. The famous Rose Garden is now known as the Sampran Riverside Hotel. Everything else remains the same — great atmosphere, beautiful garden, and cozy accommodations. The main hotel building and six Thai-style homes at the water’s edge have undergone complete makeovers. Apart from modernistic interior design and new décor ideas in some corners, the warm and inviting ambience is there like it’s always been. The Sampran Riverside carries on the tradition as a salubrious destination with views of the river, the garden, and the unhurried way of life of the surrounding community.
The Thai Village Zone is the hotel’s latest attraction designed to take visitors on a journey back in time. It offers plenty of activities that afford the chance for individual participation. They include traditional textile weaving, flower garland making, and umbrella painting. For those who love going to the show, there are folk art performances, music, cultural storytelling, children’s games, martial art performances, and the famous Thai elephants show.
The new name was timed to coincide with an entirely new concept in property management. The hotel owners, now the third generation, have decided it was time to go green because nature was home and it deserved to be well looked after. Damask rose farming needed a lot of chemical fertilizers. So the management decided to gradually do away with it. In the process, the land traditionally used for rose cultivation was reduced to just a few small plots. The rest, about 30 rai, was transformed into a thriving organic farm. It was a win-win situation for all. For the hotel workforce, it meant better health and wellness. Nowadays fruits and vegetables are picked fresh every day, enough to meet the needs of four restaurants on the premises.
The organic initiative is called the “Sampran Model”. The concept reaches out to agriculturists in the vicinity. The hotel acts a go-between man connecting farmers in Nakhon Patom to consumers both in and outside the community. It encourages agriculturists to avoid using chemicals and set up fair trade markets to promote sales. On weekends it puts on special events to make fresh fruits and produce available to consumers.
Our team had the opportunity to catch a ferry ride to the opposite side of the river. We landed on a thriving fruit orchard that was organically cultivated. Anirut Khaosanit, also called the local wise man, was kind enough to share his knowledge and years of experience on organic farming. His was a mixed-species vegetable farm, where morning glory, eggplant, climbing wattle and luffa are grown using compost made from green waste.
There was never a dull moment. Our day in Sampran was packed with stories and activities. From the vegetable farm, we proceeded to nearby Sook-Jai Market and Rim-Klong Market looking for delicious meals that were made fresh the traditional way. There were plenty of those.
Once a rose garden on the Tha Chin River, the newly renovated hotel has grown and become an awesome destination offering upscale accommodations and exposure to cultural exchanges. The Sampran Riverside no doubt has discovered that going green is the way forward. It translates into happiness for all. Pursuing the sustainable path not only benefits the hotel and its guests, but also contributes significantly to the betterment of society to which it belongs.
Nandha Hotel is a cycling hotel located in the heart of Bangkok, lodging where lovers of all things vintage can enjoy their holiday surrounded by eclectic décor.
/// Thailand ///
Story: Bundaree Deewong /// Photo: Sungwan Phratep /// Interior Designer: Bangkok Day Group by Kasisin Suwattanaphim
The Nandha is named after the mother of owners Anucha and Bheema Jotikabukkana. These two have strong passions for both cycling and photography, and with a designer’s help, have expressed these favorite pastimes through the hotel’s interior decoration.
Kasisin Suwattanaphim, of Bangkok Day Group, is the designer responsible for this project. He came up with the catchphrase “Sleep-Eat-Ride,” which became the hotel’s main concept.
Above the storefront, the hotel façade features striking light blue wooden latticework with a yellow vintage bicycle hanging above its signature slogan. The latticework also acts to screen out harsh daylight. On the left corner is the loft-style Passion Café,in whose cozy, warm atmosphere guests imbibe coffee and other drinks.
The lobby interior is decorated with old collectibles such as rare bicycles and vintage cameras, making it one of guests’ favorite photo spots. The railing on the stairwell to the rooms is constructed of water piping.
Each floor has its own decorative color assigned to it: pink, blue, green and so on. Room entrances play along with the hotel’s concept, and each room even has its own bicycle bell with room number, for use in calling hotel staff for assistance.
An in-room desk is adapted from a real bicycle. There are clothes hangers made from pedals. The secretive little gimmick-like details are part of what makes this place unique and special.
The hotel offers two types of room: vintage-style with a contemporary feel and classic-style, with a warm wood décor. Additionally, for groups there is a two-storey duplex suite with two bedrooms.
For those looking for a unique experience and heartwarming hospitality, or simply seeking a cycling hotel with a budget price, Nandha hotel not to be missed.
For a traveler, what could be better than a nice hotel in the heart of the city? Pick a hotel with a relaxing atmosphere and good design. If your destination is Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, the Morrissey hip hotel is the one and only right choice to choose.
/// Indonesia /// Story: Wuthikorn Suthiapa /// Photos: Soopakorn Srisakul
Designed for high quality accommodations, the Morrissey features a gorgeous mix of Jakarta’s urban tropical ambience and ultramodern architecture. There is a hint of Industrial Loft design that comes with high ceilings, plenty of wall openings, and abundant natural light. Naked concrete finishes alternating with brick painted white, and dark-colored wood floors provide a welcome contrast between stylishly chic design and natural rawness.
The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance to interesting attractions throughout Jakarta’s CBD. The famed Museum Nasional Indonesia is less than two kilometers away, while the fashionable shopping mall Plaza Indonesia, aka “P.I.” is roughly a kilometer or 7 minutes if you prefer going by train.
If a journey back in time is for you, know that the Old Djakarta Theater, the Jalan Surabaya Antique Market, and the Taman Ismali Marzuki Cultural Center are easily accessible from the Morrissey. It’s a good idea to walk to these great attractions. It only takes about ten minutes. Having been to all of them, we had the most fun exploring the city on foot.
Along the way, take your time to experience the Indonesian versions of street food similar to the ready-to-eat meals ubiquitous throughout Asian. Highly recommended is Nasi goring, the Indonesian version of fried rice. Buy a set from the street vendor and have it cooked to order right on the spot. Another not-to-be-missed dish is Satay, especially Goat Satay. It smells good and tastes like heaven.
In case you have had a long day, the Morrissey offers plenty of cozy spots in which to relax and unwind. The Sky Lobby offers a vantage point to take in panoramic views of Jakarta city skyline. If fitness is for you, go to the swimming pool, or burn calories and build muscle on the treadmill. Take your pick. A full array of gym equipment is available onsite.
The Morrissey reception area is also home to a lobby café. Most outstanding is the architectural design that is strongly influenced by Le Corbusier, the icon of Modernism.
Fueled by tropical inspirations, guest rooms at the Morrissey showcase textured concrete finishes and brickwork in relaxing shades of white. Simple, clean design leaves plenty of room for wall openings. Frameless glass doors and panels allow abundant natural light. Such inspiring Modern Tropical details can be applied to many parts of your home.