Monday, 29 August 2011

Red Ginger, Ao Nang Thailand. Where red means go and green means stop.

Red ginger is a popular exotic flower in the south of Thailand. Even the very name is wildly exotic, isn't it?

And a particularly large red ginger can be found at Ao Nang, in Krabi, Thailand. How large? As large as a 60-room boutique hotel in fact.

And Red Ginger Chic Resort is as exotic as the name suggests ... a haven of designery touches and surprising flourishes that titillate the eye. The warm red colour concept is milked to the maximum -- starting with the welcome drinks -- and their signature cocktails are all, hic, ginger based.

Something about the feel screams Straits Chinese or Peranakan ... something more akin Singapore's Chinatown, or Malacca or Penang, than Amazing Thailand, but it works. And works well.

Splashes of orange and perfectly placed greenery make it modern. Asian. Tropical. Think wicker hanging lanterns, open wooden slat screens, billowing muslin screens and bamboo ceilings. Inner city chic by the sea. Frangipani overhang the pool.

If that doesn't whet your appetite to come here, perhaps the next paragraph will ...

At Spice Restaurant, seafood and international produce is sourced from local fishing boats, and they help locals by buying vegetables only from nearby markets, Khun Orn Panida -- the hotel's articulate reservations manager from nearby Had Yai  -- tells me over a sumptuous dinner.

First spicy prawn starters come out. They do like it kick-in-the-pants hot down here. Then, an interesting chicken-and-bean crispy affair to keep us going until the chicken coconut soup arrives. I'm almost full already but battle on bravely (OK, dived in if the truth must be told!) to the main seafood dish, bass with pesto pasta and mussels, dripping in a rich Hollandaise sauce.

She tells me the chef (who's not imported either) has a bit of a reputation and they run cooking classes here.

And Red Ginger takes its eco-responsibility very seriously. Whereas most hotels post a lame note to encourage you to re-use your towels, here they incentivize you. Each time you recycle you get a token (actually a seed). Collect 3 in your stay and get a free drink, jing jing. Probably red, probably with ginger in it, definitely delicious!

While they are still working to achieve Green Leaf Certification, they already use Green Leaf-certified shampoos, and left over fruit and vegetables from the kitchen are turned into soap.

If you are here on a Wednesday, you'll see the staff all wearing grey T-shirts with a green message on it: they go and clean the beach with school kids, or plant trees at the local school. Guests with a twinge of a responsible conscience can buy a package and join in. Their sister hotel up the road, the Pakasai which I'll blog about soon, does the same.

So let me sum it up for you here: basically if it's Red say Yes to More. If it's going Green: say No and ReUse, Reduce and Recycle it.

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