My work is both challenging and rewarding, often exhausting but at the same time inspiring. Because of the projects I handle and the clients that my company has the pleasure of working with, my wife S (who is also my business partner), my colleagues and I are often required to bounce around the region. Sometimes, we’ll be required to be on site for up to a few weeks, but most often our trips are short. We try, as much as possible, to get the most work done in as little time as possible. That means, when going for meetings in neighboring countries (like Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand), we sometimes fly in and out on the same day. Other times, we’ll be stringing together a series of overnighters. One night in one place, and the next in a different city or country. My most hectic work trip in recent memory was a nutty race across Japan during which a colleague and I had meetings with hoteliers in 12 different cities in just 14 days.
Recently, S and I had to do a spot of work in both Bangkok and Bali. We decided to see if we could squeeze everything into just 3 days, 1 in Bangkok and following 2 in Bali. Partly because of the kind of work we do, and also because of a personal interest in the hospitality industry, we’re always keen to check out new and/or exciting properties when travelling.
In Bangkok, we spent a night at the very cool, newish Le Meridien Bangkok. Ever since I had read that Le Meridien had appointed Jerome Sans as its Cultural Curator and worked with him to re-invent their hotel brand, I have wanted to stay at one of the new properties. I had once met Sans briefly, when I visited the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, of which he was one of the directors until 2005. Having admired what he had done to create a contemporary art space, I was eager to see what he would do to a hotel. Le Meridien Bangkok is very cool. Sans has smartly merged the artworks he has commissioned to become part of the check-in and living experience of the hotel — as opposed to, for example, a clumsier strategy of just placing artworks throughout the hotel, hoping guests will stop and look. The design of the hotel and the rooms are contemporary, functional and ultimately comfortable. The staff were all very nice. And the rates were, given what we got and the very central location of the property, excellent and affordable. Le Meridien Bangkok is a hotel I’ll definitely stay in again and again.
In Bali, S and I decided to check out Kayumanis Ubud. Two years ago, we had celebrated our wedding anniversary at Kayumanis Ubud‘s sister property, The Gangsa. We had a fabulous time then and were eager to see if the larger Ubud property would be as private and plush. I should say that I had actually visited Kayumanis Ubud in early 2007, but only for a quick site inspection and a chat with the General Manager. Back then, the property was also much smaller. It had just 9 villas, one of which was being used as the hotel’s restaurant. Today, Kayumanis Ubud boasts 23 gorgeously rustic villas, as well as a fabulous spa, nestled across a wooden bridge from the main resort.
Of course, this trip was more work than pleasure but we still found the time to enjoy our all-too-brief stay at the resort. The hotel staff were super-sweet and had upgraded us to the “Kayumanis Suite”, which in an all villa property, simply meant we had been put in their newest and largest one-bedroom villa. The grounds of the villa were huge, with a large wooden deck / al fresco living room, part of which hung over our impressively large kidney shaped infinity pool. Next to the pool was a warm water jacuzzi. Manicured lawns linked the pool to the deck and the main house, which housed the very comfortable, glass-walled master bedroom. One of the things I like so much about the Kayumanis properties is their commitment to giving guests a lot of space and ultimate privacy. High stone walls surround each villa, ensuring that couples can, well, do whatever they want within their compound.
Our villa was, as you can imagine, fabulous. As was the service we received. S especially liked all the little touches, like jars of homemade cookies and drinks (hard and soft) that were free flow and included in the room rate. I like that the resort makes car service within Ubud available to all guests free of charge. It made running back and forth between the property and appointments a breeze. It also meant that we didn’t have to worry about booking taxis when wanting to slip into town for some shopping and for meals.
We did take some time out from our work schedule to sample the spa. Within minutes of the obviously relaxing massage I was receiving, I was snoring away (or so S tells me). I truly recommend the spa to any of you that do decide to check into this property.
Kayumanis Ubud‘s restaurant specializes in Thai food as well as Balinese food. We enjoyed sampling dishes from both cuisines. Of course, I couldn’t leave the property without having my favourite Indonesian breakfast staple, bubur ayam. Theirs is really delicious and S and I had a long discussion with the resort’s chef on how he made his and what ingredients he uses. It was very interesting to learn his recipe, which is completely different from the bubur ayam recipe I follow at home (from one of Sri Owen’s books).
Sadly, our stay at Kayumanis Ubud was too short and because of appointments we had made, we weren’t really able to take advantage of the really well-thought out range of activities they offer. S wants us to return so she can attend the half day cooking classes with the property’s head chef, whom she really got along with. She also wants us to do the 6 hour spa-wellness experience — that combines spiritual and physical activities and then ends with some serious pampering in the spa — that they offer.
Me, I’d simply be happy to return just to sit in the pool and gorge myself on more good Balinese cuisine.