sojourneys


The Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok, Hong Kong
December 31, 2007, 8:25 am
Filed under: Hong Kong, hotels, Kowloon, Langham Place, Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok, reviews

Hotels in Hong Kong are aplenty, from the typical backpackers inn to fabulous temples of luxury.  The Langham Place Mongkok exists on the upper end of the spectrum, boasting some smart, well-appointed features without completely depleting one’s budget.

The Langham Place Mongkok markets itself as “Hong Kong’s first modern Chinese Art hotel” and interesting, sometimes quirky contemporary Chinese art adorn the hotel at turns and corners.  One of the most fascinating has to be an installation piece by the “Red Guard – Going Forward! Making Money!” by Austria-based Jiang Shuo, which makes a sardonic statement juxtaposing the blind worshipping of Maosim during the Cultural Revolution in China vis-a-vis the relentless pursuit of materialism in contemporary society.

Rooms, like most Hong Kong hotels, are smallish, but the abundant use of glass, with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the city as well as one side of the bathroom looking out into the room, expand the sense of space.

Facilities are first class.  A well-equipped fitness center features running machines facing the cityscape, which provides much motivation when one is going through the paces.  The roof-top swimming pool is temperature-regulated in the winter, offering magnificent 360-degree views of the city.  Free-access computers–both Microsoft and Mac machines–are available, although there can be a wait at times. 

Generally, service is efficient and thoughtful without being obtrusive.  Rooms are made up in the morning, and there is also an evening turn-down.  The best part about staying at the Langham Place Hotel Mongkok is that it is connected to a sprawling mall with a supermarket in the basement, a surfeit of restaurants for all budgets, and covered access to the Mongkok MTR.

Check out also the Langham Place Hotel blog here.

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Laguna Holiday Club, Phuket, Thailand
December 13, 2007, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Laguna, Laguna Holiday Club, Laguna Phuket, Phuket, resorts, reviews, Thailand

On the tide of an economic boom, Phuket is awash with private villas and mixed-used developments, and the Laguna Holiday Club belongs to the latter.  It is a small property located within the lush Laguna Phuket–launched in 1987 as the first integrated resort in Asia–and features hotel rooms and private apartments.

The main life of the resort is the scenic swimming pool, which gains its pristine views from of its adjacent propinquity to a lagoon and the wide expanse of the Laguna golf course.  As a boon to families with children, the pool comes with a tube slide.

Some of the hotel rooms are of a studio apartment configuration, which while basic, are spacious and open out to the golf course.

Rounding out the facilities is a small exercise room.

The lobby adjoins the property’s only restaurant, which is an open-air all-day eatery.  It serves an interesting hot stone menu in the evening.

Service is generally brisk and efficient, and the hotel is good for a weekend jaunt, but not much more beyond that.



Industrial Art Reimagined – Indigo Pearl, Nai Yang Beach, Phuket
December 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
Filed under: beaches, hotels, Indigo Pearl, Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is witnessing a construction boom, but much of it is of the plebian, vanilla variety.  Barely 15 minutes from the airport, rising out of a disused tin mine at the crest of Nai Yang Beach like a phoenix is the area’s piece de resistance, the Indigo Pearl.

The hotel is very new, and it is clear that some of the kinks weren’t quite ironed out.  The hotel staff for example, could not seem to locate a non-smoking room despite two futile trips amid the pouring rain, before finally settling on an upgraded accomodation.  Fine linens, pool views, a large tub situated near the foliage-sheltered balcony, and a luxe-sized room all combined to make the minor inconvenience more than worth it.

 

While the beach is not much to shout about, there is no lack of recreational options within the hotel’s immediate environs.  There are three pools (one was under construction), a well-equipped gym boasting Technogym equipment, and four excellent dining options.

Comprehensive amenities aside, the hotel is dotted with whimsical art, fixtures, and furniture pieces–and sometimes, all three fuse.

Despite the distinctive interior design theme, the overall external arhitecture is a relaxed contemporary Thai, allowing a sense of ease as you stroll its lush, verdant grounds to explore the nearby beach.

Thanks to Thailand-based designer Bill Bensely, the Indigo Pearl‘s post-industrial look is reinterpreted to fantastic effect.  The use of cast iron, exposed wooden beams, Punka Wolla fans, all combine to evoke chic without being suffocating.  It is a hotel to come back to.