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June 9, 2008 By: Mark Rogers

Bangkok is one of my favorite cities—easily one of the most exciting capitals of the world. The same elements that make it so appealing—its fast pace, sensual overload and sultry climate—can also make it overwhelming after a long day. If you think you have clients who could benefit from having a cool, green oasis to return to at the end of the day, definitely book them into the Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa. When I dropped in last week I was reminded of some of the upscale tropical resorts I used to cover in the Caribbean and Riviera Maya. To find a comparable resort in the middle of Bangkok was a real surprise.

manohra luxury cruise

A Manohra luxury cruise ship

The 11-acre Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa is on the quiet side of the Chaophraya River. It was built 15 years ago and, instead of showing its age, it manages a mellow vibe. If the resort was a person, it would be someone who is comfortable living in their own skin. All of the 413 rooms have balconies, including the 94 suites, and have either river or garden views. Another feature that is bound to please homesick clients is a pair of familiar restaurants—a Benihana and a Trader Vics. I don’t think anyone is flying to Bangkok to dine at Trader Vics, but I’m also pretty sure that if someone is in Bangkok for a week or more, Trader Vics is going to be just what the doctor ordered on at least one of those nights.

mieng kam

A dish of Mieng Kam

I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the resort’s dinner cruises on the river. These are operated by Manohra Luxury Cruises aboard restored antique rice barges. The dinner cruises depart from the Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa pier, making it a really convenient option for a very special dinner. The word “barge” may not conjure up an evening of luxury, but the experience is high-end all the way. The barges are ultra-deluxe, with 100-year-old teak hulls, topflight service and lavish appointments. A highlight of an evening cruise is the scenery along the way, one lit-up temple after another. The dinner was amazing, especially the first course, a traditional dish called Mieng Kam. Imagine a plate containing a small bowl of Thai vine leaves surrounded by tiny dishes of dried coconut, ginger, dried shrimp, hot peppers, red onion, peanuts, diced limes with the peel still on and a small dish containing a pungent sauce. The trick is to fold the leaf into a kind of origami bowl and then fill it with whatever combination of ingredients strikes your fancy. You then fold the leaf over and eat it in one bite. It’s unusual and delicious at the same time—not to be missed.

The Manohra Luxury Dining Cruise is an all evening affair at a very reasonable price of about $70 per person. I think almost anyone would enjoy the experience, but it’s an especially good recommendation for romance-minded couples.

The Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa has a Mandara Spa with nine treatment rooms (two of these are suites). Advance reservations can be made by contacting the Spa Manager, Premjit Phothiwaraparn (66 0 2476 0021, [email protected]). The travel agent liaison for the property is Sraithong Boonburaphong, cluster assistant director of sales – leisure (66 2 476 0022 ext. 1741, [email protected]).

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