Archive - June 2012

Back to Nature at Soneva Kiri
Nominations for Thailand Spa & Well-being Awards 2012
The nightmare of Hell Fire Pass
All-you-can-eat dim sum at Déjà Vu Pullman Bangkok
TripAdvisor Awards for Six Senses/Evason
Anantara’s pampering and elephant polo package
Mandarin Oriental’s family fun package
The Soneva Kiri Experience Package

Back to Nature at Soneva Kiri

SONEVA KIRI is offering a Back to Nature package, starting at $500 a night per villa – from now until the end of Sept. 30, 2012.

The package includes transfers from Bangkok airport in the resort’s eight-seat plane and breakfast as well as a number of luxurious experiences such as breakfast among the tree tops in the Tree Pod dining table, weather permitting and availability, 50-minute spa treatments, Thai cooking classes, scuba diving classes and complimentary ice cream and chocolates.

To qualify, you must book for more than three nights.

Soneva Kiri is Thailand as it used to be, unspoilt and abounding with natural beauty. It sits on the island of Koh Kood in the Gulf of Siam. It may be the fourth largest island in Thailand but it is the least populated.

It is Thailand as it used to be unspoilt, abounding with outstanding natural beauty and bursting with life. It’s home to incredible wildlife, monkeys, sea eagles, enormous butterflies and birds. There are hidden waterfalls splashing down through the forest into secluded coves; private sandy beaches shaded by palm trees and calming views out over the blue waters of the Gulf of Siam.

At this time of the year, Thailand’s weather is varied with rains and pleasant breezes complementing the blue skies and hot sunshine – a time when the jungles and the waterfalls may be seen at their best.

For further information: please contact: Soneva sales director Craig McMahon at or

Nominations for Thailand Spa & Well-being Awards 2012

NOMINATIONS CLOSE FRIDAY, JUNE 29 for the first-ever Thailand Spa & Well-Being Awards 2012. If you haven’t nominated your favorite spa yet, you can obtain a nomination form from a registered spa operator. Spa product suppliers, distributors and manufacturers can request details from or visit

Purpose of the awards, said Andrew Jacka, president of the Thai Spa Association, to promote Thai spa industry standards, creativity and innovation and to recognize at least 20 deserved companies or individuals.

Entries will be voted on by event exhibitors, spa operators, consumers and the Thai Spa Association Board. Event exhibitors will have one vote; spa operators, 10 votes; consumers, eight; and the Thai Association Board, one vote.

The Awards Night is being organized by the Thai Spa Association with the support of the tourism Authority of Thailand and KPMG Phoomchai Audit Ltd.

The awards will be presented at a by-invitation Night of Nights gala dinner on Sept. 20, 2012 at Impact Convention Centre’s  Grand Diamond Ballroom. The black tie event coincides with the World Spa & Well-Being Convention 2012, which is also  being organized by the Tai Spa Association

The nightmare of Hell Fire Pass

IF YOU HAVE a bad heart or hip problems, don’t even think about it. Walking from the Information and Display Centre to Hell Fire Pass, about an hour’s drive from the River Kwai in Thailand, is a nightmare of steep, unforgiving concrete steps that seem to go up forever.
From the Information Pavilion, the walk takes 10 or 15 minutes – if you’re in good shape. But if you’re not, take the alternative route that requires the services of a van and driver.
But if you want to stick it out, be prepared for some pretty challenging climbs. In the toughest areas, you’ll find metal railings on both sides of the steps to help you along before reaching a rocky level path and then, another wall of stairs before descending finally down a long twisted flight to the pass, itself.
Voices cry out from the past as you walk through the pass – a lone rose inserted in a drill hole by relatives of a POW that never made it home, a broken compressor drill still stuck in the rock where it was left almost 70 years ago, and here and there, a wooden tie peeps up from the gravel. In the middle of the pass, a tree has taken root and grown up in the middle of the rocky railway bed.
That’s when you find out that there are only two ways to get back – by the way you came or by van.
“Walking back is easier,” I was assured by one of the tour guides. Unfortunately, I believed him and was barely able to stagger back on my car.
On the way back, I kept thinking of the prisoners-of-war who had to make their way back to camp after an exhausting shift under brutal conditions day after day. If you pause along the way, as I did, you can hear the birds and cicadas in the bamboo grove that has grown up around sections of the pathway.
Hell Fire Pass was the longest – and deepest – along the entire length of the Thai-Burma Railway. It was also notorious as one of the worst places of suffering and cruelty faced by the POWs.
The cutting was planned by Japanese engineers and carried out by the prisoners.
It became known as the Hammer and Tap, because of the constant sound of hammering by the POW crews. who kept working long into the night by light from torches and fires, reminding more than one POW of a scene out of Dante’s Inferno.
Their suffering is retold in a series of display panels in the Information Pavilion, built by the Australians after the war to document the sufferings of their servicemen who toiled at Hell Fire Pass.
As you enter the pavilion, you are asked to take your shoes off. This is customary in Thai homes and temples.
This is how one of the panels describes the work of the POWs: “If you stood at the top of the cutting, you could see fires at intervals of about 20 feet and the shadows of the Japanese, wearing Foreign Legion caps, moving around and beating the POWs with sticks. Many of the POWs were almost naked under their slouch hats, moving rocks around and hammering. The shouting and bellowing went on all night ….”
Work gangs were divided into three groups: Moving gangs, who cleared the earth; tap men, who drilled deep holes into the rock for blasting and explosives; and rock rollers, who cleared the rubble after each blast.
Men worked all day, even through Monsoon rains, stopping only at midday for lunch. And later, when the Japanese decided to speed up the process, the gangs were required to work through the night.
“Each morning, as the POWs arrived on the job, the Silent Basher, a guard, went down their lines, never uttering a word, punching the POWs in the head and face to make sure they were suitably motivated for the day’s work,” Gunner Keith Harrison, 4th Anti-Tank Regiment of Australia, was to write later.
Work on the pass started on April 15, 1943 – ANZAC – the day Australians remember their war dead. Many of the POWs fell sick and died.
Reinforcements had to be brought in, continuing to work under “Speedo” conditions until the cutting was completed and rail-laying teams took over. Hundreds of men were working at the site at any given time.
Interestingly, the Japanese paid the POWs working on the railway. Hourly rates were low and payment at the whim of the Japanese. The POWs used the pay to buy extra food and contribute to camp funds to buy medicine and food for the sick.
The POWS were led to believe they were going to rest camps. Even sick POWs were asked to fill their quotas. By the time they reached their camps, most of the POWs were in poor shape and their possessions stolen from them. In fact, they had to build the camp and start work on the railway almost immediately.
“All we knew was that they want a work party to go to Thailand. It was supposed to be a land of milk and honey – with plenty of food and very little to do,” wrote Geoff O’Connor, D Force.

All-you-can-eat dim sum at Déjà Vu Pullman Bangkok

PULLMAN BANGKOK KING POWER is offering a special All-You-Can-Eat dim sum yum cha lunch at its Déjà Vu restaurant – every Saturday and Sunday from 11.30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The menu starts with soups like braised pith with fish maw or Mini Monk Jump the Wall, followed by a steamed dim sum buffet with items like prawn dumplings, siu mai, BBQ pork buns, chicken feet with back bean sauce, as well as sea crabs, river prawn and shrimp in live cooking style, or steam with soya sauce, deep-fried with spiced salt, poached, stir-fried with curry powder or steamed with garlic black bean XO sauce. And for dessert: Mango pudding and sweet sesame dumpling in ginger syrup.

For bookings of eight or more, Déjà Vu offers a complimentary Peking Duck.

Price is 888 BHT per person. For more information, call 02 680 9999 or go online at

TripAdvisor Awards for Six Senses/Evason

Five Six Senses and three Evason Resorts have received the Certificate of Excellence Award from TripAdvisor.

The Certificate of Excellence award honors hospitality excellence and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.

In making the award, TripAdvisor noted:

”The winners are determined by those who matter the most – your guests. The key to winning the award is consistently excellent service: properties had to maintain an over-all ranking on TripAdvisor of four out of five. The volume of reviews in the past 12 months was also a determining factor.”

Six Senses Winners:  Six Senses Yao Noi Beyond Phuket, Six Senses Samui, Six Senses Zighy Bay, Six Senses Con Dao and Six Senses Laamu.

Evason Winners: Evason Hua Hin, Evason Ma’In Hot Springs and Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang

Anantara’s pampering and elephant polo package

IF YOU’RE PLANNING to take in this year’s 11th annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, you may be interested in Anantara Hua Hin’s Pampering and Polo Package.

The package includes lunch and a spa treatment at the pitch, having your picture taken with players and enjoying VIP premium access to all areas.

Prices start from 9,000 BHT a night and also incude accommodation in one of the resort’s premium rooms; daily buffet breakfast for two; round-trip transfers between the resort and the pitch; and a special elephant polo shirt.

The offer is good for stays only from Sept. 12-16 – the dates of the tournament.

Mandarin Oriental’s family fun package


MANDARIN ORIENTAL in Chiang Mai is offering a family fun package that includes two nights’ accommodation in the resort’s suites or villas. The offer is value from June 1 to Oct. 31, 2012.

Rates start at $1,300 and include two nights’ luxury accommodation; daily breakfast for two adults and two children; round-trip airport transfers; a roll-away bed or sofa bed for children; daily complimentary ice cream for children; unlimited free use f the resort’s tennis courts and bicycles.

To book, call 66-53888-92933 or visit: www.mandarinoriental,com.

The Soneva Kiri Experience Package

ALL THAT’S BEST about Soneva Kiri has been gathered into an “all in” Soneva Kiri Experience Package that is now being offered to guests from now until the end of August.

The package includes the most spacious villas in Thailand and an array of memorable experiences like Koh Mai Si Discovery; a trip to a local honey farm to see the bees and try local honey, which is used in many of the dishes served at the resort, including one of its ice cream parlor’s 60 flavors; a jungle trek to see the hidden waterfalls or the Kao Rica Rub – King Rama V Buddha Rock; or a trip to Koh Rang, the coral island, on a snorkeling trip; kayaking to Klong Yao Ki among the ancient mangrove forests’ and cooking classes, learning fresh, healthy Thai recipes to take home at the Cooking Hut.

The package also includes daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, prepared with fresh, organic ingredients from its own gardens and prepared by Michelin-star rated Chef Stephen Quinn.

Also included is the flight to and from Bangkok, where you’ll be met by the Soneva Kiri team and flown to the island in the resort’s own eight-seater aircraft. Soneva Kiri is the way Thailand used to be. It is the fourth largest but least populated in Thailand, remote but now accessible by the resort’s private plane – about an hour from Bangkok.

The package is available from now until Aug. 31, 2012, with prices starting at US$1,140 a night per villa.

For further information, email Craig McMahon, sales director at


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