Hidden Jewels Unveiled in the Hills of Phuket…..

The Residences at Anantara Phuket Layan

Every once in a while, you walk into a space so brilliantly put together and thought out that it leaves you speechless. The newly unveiled Residences at Anantara Phuket Layan are a true design triumph carved into the quiet Layan hillside – a project sustainably carried out so that no trees were cut down in its creation.
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These fifteen three to seven bedroom Residences are vast – beautiful rooms with high ceilings and sumptuous beds that seem to have no end. The shared social spaces are elegant and perfect for all sorts of occasions – whether it be a formal dinner in the airy dining room, to a laid back barbecue next to the pool. The Residences also come with their own butler and private chef making a stay here the absolute epitome of luxury in the comfort of a totally private space, away from prying eyes.

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The stunning infinity pools are a joy and days can be enjoyed doing laps up and down them or just cooling off and taking in the views out to sea.

All Residences guests have access all facilities at the Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa, a gorgeous property at the bottom of the hill with two brilliant dining options – Dee Plee (keep a few hours free to indulge in the glorious breakfast) and Sala Layan.

A room dedicated to cured meats and cheese

A room dedicated to cured meats and cheese

Yumm

Yumm

Superfood Corner at breakfast

Superfood Corner at breakfast

For something really special, book one of Anantara’s signature design concept, Dining by Design – we had Dining by Design dinner on the beach, lit by the light of the stars above and lanterns leading all the way to our romantic spot in front of the sea.

Dining by Design at Anantara Phuket Layan

Dining by Design at Anantara Phuket Layan

A Pool with Diamonds

A Pool with Diamonds at The Residences

Nightly rates at Anantara Phuket Layan Resort and Spa start from £670 on a B&B basis. For information on rates at The Residences, please get in touch with the Grifco team.

A Shining Beacon on the Bangkok Riverside – the new AVANI

AVANI Bangkok Riverside Hotel

AVANI’s Bangkok Riverside Hotel is the AVANI brand’s first purpose built hotel and the exciting flagship to shine in its growing portfolio.

AVANI Bangkok Riverside night view rendering

It sits in an enviable location on the Bangkok riverside, and looks out on to some of the best views from the city and offers travellers of either business or pleasure, a brilliant new and fresh offering, completely different to anything else in the city. It is hard to miss as it stands like a bright beacon on the riverfront.

Get whisked to the 11th floor for a seamless check in, noticing the high ceilings and open breezy spaces that gives the whole hotel a relaxed, sophisticated feeling in a contemporary setting.

The fabulous lobby

The fabulous lobby

The brand’s tagline is “The Details That Matter” and this resounds with every element – from the straightforward but fun rooms to the social spaces that will appeal equally to those wanting a drink at a cool bar, a business person looking for a quiet corner to work to just wanting to grab a quick and healthy snack from the Pantry @ AVANI.

AVANI Bangkok Riverside Hotel

AVANI Bangkok Riverside Hotel

Head up to the rooftop to a truly breathtaking pool that feels like swimming in the sky and enjoy a drink at the bar, soaking in the buzz and lights of the city.

Pool with a view

Pool with a view

AVANI is an upscale brand offering a truly five star service, offering a seamless guest experience and far surpassing all traditional expectations of a four star hotel.

Riverview Room

Riverview Room

Nightly rates at AVANI Bangkok Riverside start from £95 on a B&B basis.

If you’re staying at the AVANI, make sure to make the 30 second walk to Anantara Bangkok Riverside too….

Pow

…for a spot of Muay Thai boxing with a pro…

Hydroponic Garden being built at Anantara Bangkok Riverside

….or gardening. Hydroponic Garden being built at Anantara Bangkok Riverside.

Anantara Bangkok Riverside Hotel

….or just for a dip. Check out the pool at. Anantara Bangkok Riverside Hotel

There is also another fabulous Bangkok property that has just undergone a huge rebranding, the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, that can be found across the river. This grande dame of Bangkok is also a must.

Hillary Clinton's preferred suite.....

Hillary Clinton’s preferred suite at Anantara Siam…..

A double double bed? We're in!

A double double bed? We’re in!

Enjoying Anantara Siam Bangkok's spa

Enjoying Anantara Siam Bangkok’s spa

 

Golden Triangle – the land of Three Countries

Anantara Golden Triangle Resort

The northern part of Thailand borders with Myanmar and Laos and in this corner of the world lies the Golden Triangle, a magical rural area where Anantara’s Golden Triangle hotel lies, complete with one of the world’s most spearheading Elephant Camps.

Walking with Giants

Walking with Giants

In a world which is becoming thankfully more sensitive to elephant tourism, Anantara’s Elephant Camp is continually applauded for the work that is done there to protect and save elephants that are brought in from the streets, where they are brutally forced to beg or perform.

These gentle giants now live happily in the 1,200 hectare resort, where they live alongside their faithful mahouts, who tend to them daily – tasks of which include feeding them and taking them down to the river for frequent baths to keep the eles hydrated. Elephants are incredible creatures, each with distinct personalities and it is so nice to see their eyes shining cheekily as they happily go about their new lives at Anantara’s  Elephant Camp. The mahout’s wives keep busy by spinning silk and creating fabulous scarves and souvenirs.

Mahout wives at work

Mahout wives at work

The hotel is designed exquisitely with its elephants heritage peppered throughout. Stay in one of the 3 Country View rooms to wake up to views of Myanmar and Laos across the river and walk up to the top of the hill to lay gift to the Spirit House and see a glorious view of the Mekong River. For a really spectacular arrival, guests can even choose to arrive by boat, beginning their journey on the river and then being picked up at Anantara’s dock and taken up to the hotel.

Make sure to pay visit to the Anantara Spa which enjoys natural light flooding through its ceiling to floor windows. The Signature Massage is like a gift from Buddha after a long journey getting there.

Fancy a dip?

Fancy a dip?

There are two dining options – Sala Mae Nam, serving up delicious, authentic Thai food and also Baan Dhalia, a fine dining Italian restaurant, where signatures dished are whipped up at the table….this includes a Caesar salad spun in an ice bowl and spaghetti prepared in a Gran Padano wheel!

Baan Dhalia Table Cooking

Baan Dhalia Table Cooking

Baan Dhalia Caesar Salad

Baan Dhalia Caesar Salad

Cooking in a cheese wheel

Cooking in a cheese wheel

An aspect of the Golden Triangle’s turbulent history is its part in the Opium Years, when it was one of the world’s main producers. This troubling time is carefully and thoughtfully curated in the Hall of Opium, funded by the Thai Royal Family and located across the road from the Anantara. All Anantara guests are given a ticket as part of their stay and are very much recommended.

Nightly rates at Anantara Golden Triangle Resort start from £700 on an all-inclusive basis.

Exploring the Bush in Botswana with Wilderness Safaris

Kings Pool, Wilderness Safaris“Mind Branches!” Khan, our zealous Botswanan guide, shouts from the front of our safari jeep. As we whip along the rugged foliage of the Linyanti Region with Wilderness Safaris, in search of the elusive Big 5, I realise we are a long, long way from

Lunch at Kings Pool, Wilderness SafarisDappled sunlight in Okavango Deltahome. The blistering African sun warms our bones as we turn a corner and stumble upon a tranquil watering hole, adorned with a mother and baby elephant refuelling for the day. The baby elephant trots peacefully along the long grass, chasing a bird without a care in the world. The mother protectively guides her baby with a defiant nudge of her trunk, giving us a deadpan stare as she passes by for good measure.

Elephants grazingSuddenly, a radio signal interrupts our transfixed gazes and we are fast on the move again. A lioness and her cub have been spotted nearby and the light is beginning to fade, as a burnt orange, purplish hue announces the arrival of dusk along the African plains. We arrive just in time, the lioness and her cub casually stroll out of the bush, unperturbed by our vehicle near inches away from their territory. Rolling around in the Mother & Baby Elephantsbushland and playfully batting his mother with an oversized fluffy paw, we forget for a second that these creatures are predators that could pounce any minute. ‘Try not to stand up or make any sudden movements’, Khan’s warning words jolt us back to reality. His wide toothy grin quickly puts my mind at ease as I realise that we are in no danger in the hands of our expert guide who knows the bush, and its inhabitants, like the back of his hand. After the light dissipates he seamlessly guides us back to camp, navigating twisting and turning overgrown pathways with ease.

Returning to our tented haven, Kings Pool – a resplendent safari camp bordering Chobe National Park and famed for its basking hippo residents – we let the day soak in. Aptly greeted with a feast fit for kings, accompanied by a display of traditional African dancing and singing, we gorge ourselves beyond civility before crawling into bed.

Hippos bathingSunset in Botswana

Rising the next morning to the melodious sound of bellowing hippos, wallowing in the muddy lagoon in front of our luxurious tent, we leave the camp in search of our next adventure. Following a 20-minute flight with Wilderness Air we are at our next destination – Vumbura Plains – a luxurious barefoot safari setting wrapped around a warming camp fire, opening out to the sprawling floodplains of the Okavango Delta.

Awaking at 5am the next day, having mastered our early wake-up calls thanks to Kings Pool residents, we spring into action with our guide, Emang, eagerly at the helm. Rife with activity, the Delta lives up to our expectations; within hours of our first game drive, we witness grazing zebras, giraffes, buffalo, hyenas and a group of gaggling ostriches.  Just Early rising at Vumbura Plains, Wilderness Safariswhen we think we have seen it all, we receive an all too familiar radio signal. Zipping along through the lush vegetation at full speed, we reach a towering tree. Lithely sprawled across its highest branches, masterfully camouflaged from all predators, lies a solitary leopard basking in the early evening sunlight. Captivated by the incredible beauty of this mysterious animal, we spend the remainder of our drive watching her lazing in the treetops before gracefully slipping off into the distance.

Leopard lazing in the treetops

Leopard on the move

A massive thanks to Wilderness Safaris for a fantastic and truly unforgettable experience. For more information on the camps plus their other camps in Africa, visit Wilderness Safaris.com