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.

Emirati Safari

Who would think of setting out to the Emirates for a Middle Eastern road trip? You might not have until now but with the fantastic option of luxury hotels opening in a number of the lesser known Emirates, I was very excited to set off on a Middle Eastern adventure visiting new properties in the ever growing exciting metropolis, Dubai, and its grown up sophisticated sister, Abu Dhabi.

Anantara Dubai is one of the newest and exciting luxury openings on the exclusive Palm Jumeirah. The over water villas are the first of their kind in the UAE and the lagoon access rooms are a perfect option for those who prefer a pool dip rather than plunging in the ocean, accessible right from your room!

The view from one of Over Water Villas

The view from one of Over Water Villas

Everyone is always struck by the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff who make you feel like a veritable Sheik during your stay!

Anantara’s unique culinary and gourmet experiences are a must try for foodie guests and those looking for a bit of an adventure at Anantara Dubai The Palm. T

Dining by Design is a very special dining experience….expect lanterns on the beach and endless courses of exquisite food. We had the Arabian experience so were lavished with delicious mezze!

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Fans adorn the ceiling of the private dining room at Mekong

The Spice Spoons Culinary Journey was led by the charming Chef Piroon Pumicome, who guides you through a three course Thai feast that you enjoy for lunch. We made a deliciously fresh green papaya salad (make sure you go easy on the chili…I was far too ambitious), green curry made with a fresh curry paste (the store bought version will never be the same!) and mango rice pudding. If you weren’t proud enough of the fruits of your labours you are also awarded a certificate and given a bag of treats to go home with!

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No trip to Dubai is complete with a trip to the souks where you can feast your eyes on piles of spice and gold…..

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The Beach House is a relaxed dining option by the beach. Check out the Octopus Carpaccio – one of their signature dishes!

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Next stop was the fabulous Desert Palm Dubai, nestled out of town and in its own haven of stables, polo fields and beautiful scenery.

Desert Palm is one of the world’s leading polo venues. In fact from the 18th – 22nd February, they are hosting the Cartier Cup, when the hotel  will be overtaken by a gorgeous and glamorous crowd.

Make sure to take in one of Desert Palm’s famous afternoon teas over a game of polo. Gosh, how civilised!!

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Taking in a chukka

 

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Where do I start?!

Abu Dhabi was the second stop on the Emirati Safari. Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara provides the Abu Dhabi traveller with a very interesting option. Set upon an enormous mangrove marsh, guests can ride across its waters with Ali who tells tales of UAE history or try kayaking at Abu Dhabi’s only kayaking venue.

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I was most impressed by its Anantara Spa which houses Abu Dhabi’s largest hammam. Try out the hammam experience for total relaxation after a long journey or day at work. Have a drink at the rooftop bar that looks over the mangroves for a perfect end to the day.

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A short flight away from the city of Abu Dhabi is the small private Sir Bani Yas Island, that was set up as a Wildlife Reserve by Sheikh Zahed in the 1970’s. Anantara are the only hotel group to have properties on the island making it feel exclusive from the moment you step off the tiny plane.

Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara was the first property on the island, a 64 room hotel perfect for families with numerous activities on offer and a superb spa.

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Anantara’s Al Sahel Villa Resort is Anantara’s newest opening on the island – a South African savannah right in the heart of Sir Bani Yas Island. 30 villas look out on to the Arabian Wildlife Park so prepare to open your curtains in the morning to an inquisitive gazelle or beautiful peacock. The Savannah Grill & Savannah Bar serve up the finest steaks and catch of the day.

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Over the mountain range is the Anantara’s Al Yamm Villa Resort, 30 villas tucked away along the Arabian Gulf coastline (Al Yamm means by the sea). 10 of the villas are set in front of a mangrove marsh and the rest open their doors straight on to white sands and crystal blue waters.

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Al Yamm villas are so tranquil and it is such a romantic spot for escapist couples wanting to feel like the only people on the island. The hotel’s Olio restaurant serves up gourmet Italian cuisine. I went for the Al Yamm Seafood special – a plate piled high of fresh lobster, king prawns, sea bass and juicy mussels.

And of course there is the unforgettable safari, an unmissable activity on the island where some of the world’s most beautiful creatures are almost at arm’s length.

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The Palm Jumeirah from the sky. See you next time, Dubai and Abu Dhabi!

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