Beyond Room Service
Weary of wine tastings and cooking classes? These four Southeast Asian hotels go the distance to offer their guests special experiences that are worth getting excited about.
By SANA BUTLER
Published on Aug 3, 2010
THE MARINA MANDARIN, SINGAPORE
The Experience Meet an artist inside the comfort of your hotel. The Marina Mandarin Singapore is the first and only five-star hotel in Southeast Asia to offer an artist-in-residence program aimed at supporting Asian artistic talent.
The Lowdown For six months, the hotel provides the resident a studio on the fourth floor (across from check-in, near the row of shops) to showcase his or her work. Guests are encouraged to wander in and observe the creative process first-hand during certain weekday and weekend afternoons. “Several guests sit for hours to watch me draw,” says Joshua Yang, one of the past residents. Guests enjoy discussing art in an informal space, without aficionado intimidation, says Yang, whose artwork includes looping lines drawn with black ink on plain white paper. “I’ve had someone ask me how many pens I use [in my art],” he adds. The answer? Three.
6 Raffles Boulelvard, Marina Square; +65 6845 1000; www.marina-mandarin.com.sg
JW MARRIOTT PHUKET RESORT & SPA, THAILAND
The Experience To help keep its youngest guests busy and entertained, the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa launched in 2006 a circus-training program for children run by a real circus crew from the United States.
The Lowdown Open to children between the ages of four and 12, the daily program consists of one hour of training in the morning between 10 A.M. and 11 A.M. Junior can sign up to learn essential big-top skills such as trapeze swinging, tumbling, clowning, juggling and forming a human pyramid. Class size is determined by the trainer, but no one is ever turned away. Advance booking is required. There are also daily rehearsals in the afternoon for two to three hours in preparation for a grand finale performed for parents held on Friday nights. Any child who has taken lessons for three consecutive days can take part in the show.
Moo 3, Mai Khao, Talang; +66 76 338 000; www.jwmarriottphuket.com
INTERCONTINENTAL BALI RESORT, INDONESIA
The Experience Cultural performances are run-of-the-mill in Bali’s hotel scene. But at the InterContinental Bali Resort, you can be the performer—rather than just the spectator—thanks to a raft of lessons devoted to the island’s vibrant cultural traditions.
The Lowdown Want to learn how to move your hips with the sinuous grace of a Balinese dancer? Then try your hand at ancient dance moves Monday and Saturday afternoons between 2 P.M. and 3 P.M. and absorb step-by-step instructions on how to flutter your fingertips like a butterfly. Other favorite classes include semedi, or Balinese meditation, on Saturday mornings at 8 A.M. and bayu suci, a mix of Balinese self-defense and tai chi that’s taught every Sunday and Thursday morning. Confirm the day before with the concierge.
45 Jalan Uluwatu, Jimbaran Bay, Denpasar; +62 361 701 888; www.bali.intercontinental.com
THE PENINSULA BANGKOK
The Experience Any chef worth his mettle will tell you that presentation is as important as what’s on the plate. Break away from the pack of Martha Stewart acolytes and learn how to decorate your table Thai-style at The Peninsula Bangkok.
The Lowdown The Peninsula Academy offers a cornucopia of lessons focused on Thai culture, including vegetable and fruit carving, an ancient art once practiced by women of the royal household, and flower arranging. Learn how to transform watermelons into roses and onions into chrysanthemums. Or don an apron, grab some pruning shears and have a go at fresh flowers from Bangkok’s famous Pak Khlong Talat flower market at the academy’s half-day flower-arranging class.
333 Charoennakorn Road, Bangkok; +66 2 861 2888; www.bangkok.peninsula.com