This is an Amazing Thailand travel blog (as a gateway to the greater Mekong region) with insider reviews of hotels in Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai and beyond. Tips on how to travel Thailand, and where to travel in the Thai kingdom. So use JING JING to plan your travel to Thailand -- ie flight to Bangkok -- find the best time to travel for festivals, Muay Thai, a local Thai Thai restaurant, and lots of fun stuff the Thais are famous for from Patong to Patpong to Phitsanuloke.
When the garden corridor of a hotel is called 'Art Avenue' you know some serious design work has gone into the place. Such is the case at the brand-spanking-new Kirikayan Boutique Resort, smack dab in the middle of Chaweng Beach. Why even the tissue boxes in the rooms look like Philippe Starck got together with Salvador Dali on a serious bender one crazy summer evening ...
This resort has just opened in December. In fact, some workmen still busy themselves with drills in the lobby as guests arrive for their cold towel and refreshing welcome drink. That's cutting it fine! But arguably the most refreshing part of this hotel is its staff: summery smiles and an infectious enthusiasm all round. Little touches like bead anklets round off the casual nautical-but-nice blue and white outfits (no black-tie stuffiness around here).
The overall appearance is, not surprisingly, tropical Asia. But more generically South-east Asian -- almost Chinese with all that red -- than Thai. And down Art Avenue there's the (tick the box) infinity pool looking right out over the magic emerald water of Chaweng Beach.
The rooms are fabulous in the real sense of the word: striking swatches of silk and daring feature walls complement the black, gold and white of a massive glass screen mural (see photo) which separates the bedroom from the bathroom. The bed is king-sized but the room is not. Space is at a real premium here unless you upgrade to the Sunrise Terrace with its seaview deck and open-air jacuzzi. Samsung has done a roaring trade with most hotels of this upscale nature; too bad they didn't throw in a DVD player while they were at it.
The bathroom is another work of art in itself. The basin tap features an intricate perspex and chrome mixer that looks like it was rebuilt from some sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci, or the early Egyptians, trying to figure out viaducts. Rain shower but no bath tub.
It's best then to spend your time lolling -- I like that word: lolling, lolling, lolling -- around the pool deck where daybeds with super-thick cushions make it all too easy for the day to slip away, for you to fall asleep, and for you to get burnt to a shade of red a lobster would envy. Yes, that did happen to me, thanks for asking. (Frangipani trees are among my favourite in the world. But for all their lush beauty and evocative romantic aroma they afford little shade.)
The pool menu scores highly with its banana shakes and cajun calamari (although, ethically, I prefer free-range calamari). However, and I'll put this down to teething problems in the F&B department, it took 20 minutes for the shake to arrive and 20 minutes to be told they were all out of calamari. Jai yen yen as they say in Thai -- chill, bro. But prices are very reasonable: 80 baht for a plate of pad Thai is good considering it's peak season at a top resort on Chaweng Beach. I like hotels that don't try and turn you upside down and shake your pockets clean because you are a 'captive' audience.
Speaking of jai yen yen, there are four massage salas around the pool, surrounded by lotus ponds, where skilled masseuses will evaporate the cares of the world. And suddenly that slow banana shake doesn't seem like the end of the world anymore.
And that, dear readers,is the real art of hospitality ...