Travel

Descent into baloney we must fix

Boisterous bullfrogs wake me up earlier than usual. They’ve been going literally since three in the morning, went on for 30 minutes, stopped and started again at six, they haven’t stopped since. I am not in favor of killing them but I’d love to figure out a way to get them outta here. Yesterday, a chicken guy (he called himself that) came and took three of them away but they were immediately replaced by four others. As I said, they’re ‘bull’-proportioned and I tried to physically wrangle one of them away and he mauled me. That wasn’t so smart. I’mContinue reading “Descent into baloney we must fix”

K House

Way beyond Galle and past Ahangama and Matara in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka is K House, a secluded beach front property surrounded by lush Indian Ocean flora and open ocean views. It is where minimalist architecture of two villas effortlessly blend into nature and stand in comfortable distance to provide intimate privacy within. I was in Sri Lanka over an extended weekend to visit and talk-shop with the proprietors of four boutique hotels in Boosa, Galle and Ahangama but my real intent was to get to K House with as much weekend left to take in the architectureContinue reading “K House”

Yakumo Saryo – in cloud eight

My taxi ride is getting longer, going deeper into nondescript residential neighbourhood.  I pass by some oppressive modernist gymnasiums of 1960 Tokyo Olympics era … and then it keeps going again. Finally I’m dropped off curb side in front of a gated residence (again nondescript) and I wonder “is this going to be another sit and eat what I’ll give you” in an underwhelmingly minimalist restaurant. I walk up the steps through a small courtyard and greeted by Sugimoto-san, in perfectly bleached chef’s robe with a mild, forced smile. I’m here on a field trip of sorts to prepare for ourContinue reading “Yakumo Saryo – in cloud eight”

Belitung EcoBeach and surrounding islands

When Davide (pseudonym) first made an appearance in my office with an hour notice and announced he owned one-tenth of Belitung Island and that he’s wanting advice for developing that area as socially and environmentally responsible project, I only had two questions – first, where in the heck is Belitung (I’ve been in hospitality for 20 years in Asia and never heard of it) and second, ”ya that environmentally, socially… you and everybody else”. Then I forgot about it for months until he called me again when I was sitting in the back of bus in Singapore. Second time, IContinue reading “Belitung EcoBeach and surrounding islands”

Hotel KOO – collection of seven rehabilitated machiya’s in Ootsu

KOO is a collection of seven rehabilitated machiya’s (traditional Japanese townhouses) refurbished with modern furnishings, some as private villas and others with two or three separate guest bedrooms creating 13 units in total. Japanese machiya’s are small – typically around 1,000 sq. ft – and split into two levels.  Insisting on key features such as […]

Tsingpu Retreat – The Walled, Yangzhou

Sun sets and the contours of this horizontal modernist compound come to life.  Architectural up-lights raise lit columns along the perimeter, down lights flush the layered brick walls and guest rooms and dining hall become punctuating light boxes.  I don’t know quite how to describe Tsingpu Retreat The Walled as a hotel. It’s certainly a modernist architectural marvel which reinterprets Chinese brick housing into a low-rise, flat roofline compound walled into grid formation hotel rooms. Lyndon Neri tells me the introverted grid scheme was part of a solution to the development restrictions to preserve the structural footprint of houses that existed there.  RealContinue reading “Tsingpu Retreat – The Walled, Yangzhou”

Trunk Hotel, Shibuya

It’s a common misconception for would be travellers to Tokyo that this city of super abundant creativity and modernity has numerous well-designed, boutique hotels.  Well … there aren’t.  There’s probably many reasons and this blog isn’t meant to be for real-estate finance mundane so I’ll curb it to a couple of inter-related reasons: prohibitive land/development cost (which forces to build ‘up’ – read many 100’s of room count) and developer’s (most of them being large real estate firms with salarymen punting risk free ideas) formulaic development approach.  Resulting phenomena are either Four Seasons on top of metro stations or whatContinue reading “Trunk Hotel, Shibuya”

House of Finn Juhl, Hakuba Hotel

It’s a wet late fall day in Hakuba and rain drizzles as the temperature falls in the valley. Hakuba, the site for 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, is not known for beautiful lodging options – in fact far from it – so I’m particularly delighted that a new, design minded lodge quietly opened its doors. House of Finn Juhl is usually a name given to Finn Juhl showrooms but this showroom is a hotel kind. The smallish five-room (six if you include Owner’s Room which is reserved for the four partners of the estate) lodge is a shrine to Finn JuhlContinue reading “House of Finn Juhl, Hakuba Hotel”

Road to Capella di Vitaleta

Unexpected yet direly needed relief from punishing summer heat, cool northern breeze moves in on a cloudless day. Val D’Orcia in mid-summer is an utterly beautiful expanse of golden wheat fields where harvest just completed and hay rolled up neatly doting the valley. Drive up north from Bagno Vignoni and veer off right just south of San Quirico D’Orcia is three kilometres of meandering dirt road with picture perfect Tuscan mis-en-scene on either side to Capella di Vitaleta.  Various shades of wheat fields are marked by cutting and subsequent ploughing and the remaining stubble and open soil create crisscrossing patternsContinue reading “Road to Capella di Vitaleta”

23 hours at Phum Baitang, Siem Reap 

4pm.  It’s a clear, big sky, tall clouds late afternoon in Siem Reap and jovial yet consummately polite staff in the pared down reception shelter is much needed refreshment in the punishing heat. Staff in all white linen lounge top and wide-legged pants gracefully sweep the timer flooring and hands you a cold, jasmine scented towel. Khmer for “green village,” Phum Baitang is an elegant contemporary hideaway sprawled in eight acres of gardens and rice ponds and I’m here for less than a full-day transit visiting the management team.  Down the wooden plank stairs and off to my villa 17,Continue reading “23 hours at Phum Baitang, Siem Reap “

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