Thursday, January 14, 2010


As we know (or should know) here in Napa Valley, hospitality goes a long way. They have it down in Thailand and Laos. The places our group stayed each had their own unique brand of hospitality, befitting the gentle and graceful people who staffed the establishments. We were always greeted with welcome drinks, and bowls brimming with fruit were at the ready in our rooms. Any request - however outlandish or trivial - was met with an eager smile and ready accommodation. It all seemed so dignified, and I felt very spoiled.

Here's the run-down of the places I stayed, in case you're curious:
  • Royal Princess, Chiang Mai Thailand (Average hotel but in a great part of town; located right in the heart of the fantastic night market.)
  • Phowadol Resort and Spa, Chiang Rai Thailand (Loved this place - fantastic, roomy lakeside bungalows. Far from the city center, but offered shuttles.)
  • Luang Say Lodge, Mekong River Laos (Stunning resort with individual bungalows overlooking the river. Gorgeous location, far from anything, reachable only by boat. Downside: the walls were paper thin - you could hear everything your neighbors were saying or doing.)
  • Kamu Lodge, Mekong River Laos (The only solar-powered lodge in all of Lao. I found the place to be gorgeous and serene; would have loved to stay longer. The rooms were all safari tents, complete with stone-lined bathrooms. Others in my group found the tents to be lacking - I loved them. It was like upscale camping, complete with the amazing jungle chorus singing you to sleep at night. The open-air dining and lounge pavilions in the middle of the rice paddies couldn't have been a more lovely place to relax. Again, you could hear your neighbors and every movement of the extremely loud tent zippers - but I didn't care. The lodge employs and largely supports the adjacent village; it's a model for the country's growing eco-tourism efforts.)
  • Villa Santi Resort and Spa, Luang Prabang Laos (Perhaps my favorite place we stayed. Beautifully appointed rooms, an immaculate and refreshing pool and spa, wonderful restaurant. It also was a distance away from the heart of town, but offered shuttles. Barring the shuttle, it was only a quick and cheap tuk-tuk ride into town. Located amidst lush farms, with beautiful views of mountains, lotus-covered lakes and steaming rice paddies. Can I go back please?)
  • Lao Plaza Hotel, Vientiane Laos (A big, modern, urban hotel. Nice, but nothing to write home about.)

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