Amelia Chee, one of the destination specialists in the Asia department, was lucky to travel through Thailand with The Tourism Authority of Thailand on a beautiful luxury FAM trip. Now that’s she’s back, she shares with us her experience on this exciting trip and tips for selling Thailand to clients.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Thailand?
That a trip to Thailand it out of most people’s budget. Yes Thailand is exotic. And yes, Thailand has some of the best beaches, most incredible hotels, incredible food…you’d think it would be out of reach for most people but the truth is, Thailand offers clients “Affordable Luxury!”
What was your favourite hotel stay and why?
Banyan Tree Phuket has it all! I stayed in a Grand Lagoon Pool Villa overlooking the lagoon with a private walled garden, outdoor nine-meter private pool, spacious bathroom, and comfortable living room area, king-sized bed, outdoor sunken tub, and indoor rain shower and served with a “floating” breakfast! I had an excellent dining experience at the Saffron, which serves delicious Thai cuisine.
Their first-class luxury spa using natural and native ingredients with a holistic focus is not to be missed during a stay here. It’s affordable to pamper yourself with a couple of the spa treatments and massages considering how far the Canadian and American dollars stretch in Asia. I had the Classic Thai massage: it’s a perfect mix of subtle stretching and massage for an hour long.
Activities wise, their cooking class under the guidance of the resort’s culinary team is fun and you get to learn about different ingredients they use for cooking. Their yoga class is well guided, the studio is clean, and the room temperature is set at a nice comfortable setting; their state of the art gym is clean, with upbeat music playing in the background. Folded towels and a water jug are kept at the front for your usage. Their Muay Thai boxing class is well taught with the proper technique of defending and striking your opponent. I was pretty impressed by how much was taught in the hour long class. The warmth, hospitality, and level of customer service from the moment I checked in to the moment I checked out is beyond my expectation. It felt like a home away from home. I would certainly recommend this property to families as well as couples looking for an intimate relaxing retreat.
Did you experience a unique stay and what were your thoughts on this experience?
The Hotel Muse Bangkok Langsuan – MGallery is 1920s inspired. The moment you step into this boutique hotel, you go back in time. You are greeted by a beautiful huge ostrich feather centerpiece display at the front entrance, dimmed lighting, and a spiral staircase on the side leading to the famous Babette’s Steakhouse Bangkok, which serves international cuisine and a great selection of wine. I stayed in the YAMA Executive Room, with dark wood décor and a city view. Hotel staff are dressed in the 1920s style. Even the porcelain sink in my bathroom was floral printed 1920s style. Their rooftop restaurant and bar has a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Enjoy the beautiful sunset, the night view with a glass of wine, and let your thoughts carry you away. A boutique hotel stay is intimate. No two boutique hotels are alike and they are smaller than other hotels.
As a Goway Asia Expert, and one that has travelled to Asia and lived there in the past, was there anything that surprised you?
It has to be how affordable it is to stay in 5-star luxury hotels in Thailand in terms of the value you get. The price difference between 4- and 5- star hotel categories is often very little and can range from $100 to $300 per night depending on seasonality, time of travel, and room occupancy. Keep in mind, if you are planning a memorable trip of a lifetime for your clients, especially those celebrating a special occasion like an anniversary, honeymoon, or marriage proposal, it’s totally worth the money they are paying. The level of luxury they experience, customer service, butler service (if applicable), and private meet and assist service will surpass their expectation. They will talk about their trip for many years to come.
What would be the perfect complement as an extension to this trip?
Although I got the opportunity to travel to some of the most popular spots in Thailand which will appear on most clients’ itineraries, and some clients may even want to include a second Asian country on longer journeys I still think extending into the less traveled parts of Thailand is a great option as an extension. I often suggest to clients to consider Chiang Rai, Sukhothai or Khao Lak if they are thinking to enhance their Thailand experience or step off the beaten path.
What would be your top 3 tips that agents should share with clients that you learned?
- Luxury is affordable in Thailand.
- Consider the value offered, rather than just the dollar amount
- A good length of stay is important – we suggest 10 – 12 days
Your clients don’t need a vacation after a vacation. It takes a day or two depending where your clients are flying from to get there. I generally design itineraries with a day at leisure towards the end. This allows your clients to reflect on what they have done and experienced, to enjoy the hotel amenities, be it on the beach or strolling through the local market, and give them a moment to stop and smell the local roses, so to speak.
Food is always a highlight when we travel. Did you have a favourite local dish?
My favourites are the Sai Ua and Khao Soi. Sai Ua is a Northern Thai grilled sausage made up of minced pork, herbs, spices, and red curry paste. Khao Soi is the most famous Northern Thai dish consisting of wheat and egg noodles in a rich and fragrant curry broth served with pickled vegetables, slices of shallots, and a squeeze of lime. It’s absolutely delicious!