Monday, 7 June 2010

SukoThai, SukhoChinese, SukhoMoroccan, etc

I really didn't expect to find something so lavish in design touch in Sukhothai, the original ancient capital of Thailand. Dig out the history books, there have been a few over the years.

From the outside, this hotel presents traditionally Thai, with its steeply pitched shingled roof. (That in itself is something of a relief, because their sign at the turnoff  is sponsored by Pepsi and I wondered what I was getting myself in for!)

But then Tharaburi Resort just gets increasingly delightful from there. The airy lobby with its floor-to-ceiling doors, bowls of floating petals, and intricate mosaic murals, make you feel like you're visiting a rich Thai friend's grand home. Which, in a way, you are.

You see Khun Wiwat started this off as a very modest guest house, based on one original wooden building. He was a refugee from the corporate world, having cut his teeth in the Big Six accounting firms (is it still the Big Six or have they mergered and acquisitioned themselves into lesser firms now?). He chose a great spot, only a three-minute cycle ride from the Sukhothai Historical Park site I blogged about the other day. The bicycles by the way are free, and even if they weren't they get a lot of miles to the gallon anyhow.

Soon Wiwat was overflowing with business. And this is where the Tharaburi really hit its stride. He called in some designers who went to town which is handily only five minutes the other direction. No, seriously, they created what I call 'instant history' ... something that looks like it's been there forever, but is actually  new.

The corridors have ancient-looking black-and-white Chinese patterned tiles. Some of the rooms are in the style of old Thai teak houses. But then, they've added some rooms in a classic Chinese theme, with rounded archways shrouded in drapes, lending an air of mystery to the room. Another is done out in Morroccan style, with lush cushions and vibrant colours and dark woods. Still others are done in classic Thai ... think golds and purples clashing beautifully, with giant parasols sunk into the ceiling. Jing jing!

All these are surrounded by what can only be described as an infestation of frangipani, and placid lily-covered ponds.

'It's like waking up in another country,' mused my companion, looking through the intricate window panelling at the lotuses (or should that be lotii?) outside. Indeed it is exotic. But the atmosphere overall is unmistakably Thai. Especially the down-home friendly service, mainly handled by one really helpful and smiling guy who pops up magically in reception, in the restaurant, wherever and whenever you need him. Because, yes, it really is that intimate.

In fact if this place were any bigger or busier it would be ruined. Then maybe they could include it as part of the main Historical Park?

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