Princess to preside over charity dinner
‘Thailand’s place in Asia is unique’
Six Senses Yao Noi’s Film on the Rocks
Chedi Chiang Mai switches to organics
Six Senses Yao Noi dining open to everyone
Economic outlook for Thai spas — 2011 onward
Meet Anantara’s Chef Don Lawson
Six Senses’ Soneva Kiri Eco Villa Earth Award
Tamarind Village offers mothers 50% discount in August
Cruising the Venice of the East

Princess to preside over charity dinner

HRH Princess Soamsawali will preside over a special charity dinner at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai on Saturday, August 27.

The dinner will take guests on a culinary journey through the secrets of Thai cuisine, with dishes created for the event by celebrity food expert, chef and writer ML Sirichalerm Svasti, popularly known as Chef McDang.

Proceeds from the event and live charity auction will go to HRH Princess Soamsawali`s Save a Child’s Life from AIDS project, under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society. The project was created with the prime objective to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It provides medicine to pregnant women who are affected with AIDS.

The event will be held at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai Cooking School, beginning with a cocktail reception at 6.30 p.m. and followed by a five-course dinner paired with fine wines. The menu will feature Chef McDang`s creations.

Tickets are prices at THB 3,500. The resort has created a special package who would like to retire to a guest room after dinner. The overnight package includes one night’s accommodation in a Lanna Pavilion, breakfast and dinner tickets for two people. Government tax and service charges are extra.

For reservations, contact Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai at 66 (0) 53-298-181 or by email at fb.chiangmai@fourseasons.com

‘Thailand’s place in Asia is unique’

By Dr. Michael Moreton

Dr Moreton, a British graduate, trained as an obstetrician and gynaecologist in Montreal, Canada. After practising in the U.S. and Canada for many years, he went to China where he established the first Western-style maternity units in Beijing and Shanghai. He is now the International Medical Co-ordinator at the Bangkok Hospitals in Bangkok and Hua Hin.

Thailand’s reputation as a preferred destination for medical care is complemented by the country’s status as an attractive vacation destination.

In addition, many multi-national companies and International agencies have chosen Bangkok to be their Southeast Asian headquarters because of its reputation as a city that is a pleasant place to live. In 2010, that image was tarnished by political circumstances which were unfortunately magnified by inaccurate reporting by the media.

Thankfully, that is behind us. National elections have been held and, although enthusiastically sensationalized, were relatively peaceful. A new government is in place and democracy has been preserved.

The international hospitals were completely untouched by any of the disturbances, and the patients that came to Bangkok hospitals were quite safe.

People asked me then whether the streets were safe — I had to say that I could not be totally reassuring, foreigners will insist on hiring motor-bikes and falling off them. The injuries to foreigners in Asia are, for the most part, self-inflicted and have no political connections.

Thailand is a country that is well qualified as a destination for the patient seeking medical care. A country’s ability to provide care for non-residents is necessarily built on the structure created to treat its own people.

Only a country with well-trained professions working in a system that embraces excellence, and is well organized and ethical, can hope to build a system to treat visitors coming to that country for medical care.

Thailand’s place in Asia is unique. As the only country in Southeast Asia not to suffer the indignity of colonization, it has been a self-confident, outward looking, internationally minded country since its foundation. It has succeeded in combining its own inherent sense of warmth and hospitality with a well-educated medical community and modern medical technology.

For over a century Thai doctors have been training in the west and then returning home to introduce and integrate their new skills into the Thai system.

This ensures that the International hospitals remain on the cutting edge of medical progress. It also has the benefit that many of these advances are incorporated into the government system to treat the people of Thailand.

Thailand has a long history of treating foreign patients. The first hospital to be built in Bangkok specifically to treat its foreign residents, BNH Hospital, is now over a hundred years old.

The major hospitals Bangkok Hospital, Samitivej Hospital and Bumrungrad have been directing their energies to the International market for over twenty years, and forty percent of their patients are now international. Many of these patients are foreign nationals residing not only in Thailand but in the surrounding countries who recognize Thailand as having excellent medical care.

At the present time the largest group of medical travellers comes from the Middle Eastern countries, but an increasing number of people from Myanmar and Cambodia are seeking care in Bangkok. A large number of patients are now coming from east Africa as well.

Thailand’s formula is to offer courteous, competent, and compassionate care at an affordable cost. These attributes are further enhanced by the world-renowned graciousness of Thai hospitality. Almost every patient who enters a hospital comments on the communicative abilities of the doctors and the gentleness and kindness of the nursing staff.

It is a policy of the Thai government to be supportive of the work of Thai hospitals in providing medical care to foreigners. The leading hospitals have worked to provide a welcoming attitude to visitors and their families.

The hospitals are well placed and easily accessed from the areas where foreigners live or stay. The hospitals run elaborate concierge services, meeting patients at the airport and bringing them either to hotels or to the hospital.

Bangkok Hospital has a dedicated helicopter and is able to perform air evacuation for patients from all over Thailand and neighbouring countries. Arrangements have been made with local hotels for accommodation of outpatients or families and also have serviced apartments, on site, for this purpose.

The concierge departments help patients with visa issues should they outstay their visa, or re-book airline tickets when necessary. Hospitals have aviation medicine consultants who can facilitate repatriation, sometimes with accompanying doctors and nurses.

Bangkok Hospital has a referral center and receives several hundred enquiries daily by email and telephone from throughout the world. A telephone hotline with English-speaking agents is available 24 hours a day. Patients may also ‘walk–in’ either to emergency rooms or request an appointment at a primary care or specialty clinic.

The international hospitals are dedicated to providing comfortable access but even at government hospitals foreign patients can receive treatment if necessary. Of course, in these hospitals, the ability of the staff to communicate in English may be very limited. They often provide initial care and then make arrangements to transfer the patient to an international hospital.

Patients outside of Thailand or in distant parts of the country may use assistance companies to facilitate their transfer and admission to the hospital. This is usually initiated by patients seeking assistance from their insurance companies and are arranged to be brought to Bangkok.

Over the years, the assistance companies and hospitals have developed a cooperative attitude, and these transfers are achieved very smoothly.

Relationships with medical Insurance companies and travel insurance companies are essential in modern medicine. For international hospitals, there are the added complications of multiple companies in different countries, and in different time zones.

Thai hospitals have developed a reputation for quality ethical treatment and relationships are excellent. Hospitals have large departments dealing with third party payers. They obtain approval for admission and treatment plans and guarantee of payment for patients admitted in emergency situations, and are able to obtain pre-authorization for elective admissions.

This is essential not just from the hospital point of view, but also to provide peace of mind for the patient. Bangkok Hospital has developed some special relationships notably with CFE – the French agency that pays for care for French nationals outside of France – and has direct billing agreements with over 90 international Insurance companies, 50 of them in Europe.

Six Senses Yao Noi’s Film on the Rocks

Film on the Rocks – the fist event of its kind in Thailand – will feature four days and three nights of film screenings, local activities and lively conversation at Six Senses Yao Noi, Dec. 16-20, 2011.

Tilda Swinton, cultural activist and producer, and Weerase Thakul, film maker and winner of the 2010 Palme d’Or, will curate the inaugural Film on the Rocks event and present film titles during the screenings on the rocks of Phang Nga Bay under the stars. Emerging filmmakers will be chosen by Weerase Thakul at the event.

Activities and conversation will take place with the participating of Waris Abuwalia, Jefferson Hack, André Saraiva and Olympia Tan with local villages and sea gypsies of Yao Noi.

Six Senses looks to Film on the Rocks to become a source of creativity and not just a backdrop to its interest in the environment. Six Senses has pioneered the idea of intelligent luxury and environmentally sustainable eco-tourism as it continues to support cultural exchanges on its properties worldwide.

For more information – steve@sixsenses.com

Chedi Chiang Mai switches to organics

GHM Hotels has embarked on a spa-by-spa makeover, starting with The Chedi in Chiang Mai and replacing its current products with new organic lines, and a green philosophy.

The process continues through the end of the year.

“We’ve always had a holistic spa concept – but until now the choice of suitable product lines has been limited,” says Brenda Ramen, GHM’s spa director.

“Savvy spa goers are demanding alternatives to chemically based formulations. If I wouldn’t put it in my body – why would I put it on my hair or skin?”

The new line-up from GHM – Voga, Ila and Spa Ritual – is approved by both the USDA and the UK Soil Association. They contain no harsh chemicals, no parabens and no toxins – products that go beyond pure and natural to organic.

“Change,” she adds, “can be good – but only if you’re moving in the right direction. At GHM, we’ve always been holistic, as opposed to cosmetic, which is much more salon style, and much more chemically oriented and all about quick results.

“Long term, these kinds of products are not good for you.”

The body wants and needs certain chemistry. The wrong chemistry is toxic because cosmetics leach into the blood, he says.

In terms of treatments, health takes precedence over wealth. It used to be the other around. Only now, it’s trickled down to the cosmetic industry.

GHM has an Asian-inspired spa concept. “What does that mean? If you get a cut in Indonesia, for example, you put turmeric on it. It’s a natural antiseptic … and when I got Dengue fever, I got a white spot. I started taking fresh turmeric, a little poultice, and now it’s filled in. Turmeric is anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, a good blood purifier.”

Six Senses Yao Noi dining open to everyone

The Hilltop Reserve at Six Senses Yao Noi in Thailand – once the private haven for the rich, the famous and royalty – is being opened to all guests for cocktails, dining or just taking in “the most exceptional views in Asia”.

The Hilltop Reserve is perched high on the hillside of the island, offering uninterrupted views across Phang Nga Bay.  Guests are greeted by a 246-square-metre infinity pool, complete with a two-storey water slide that extends seamlessly into the deep blue sea beyond.

Outdoor and indoor dining areas will serve both classic international and contemporary Thai dishes that use the freshest local seafood and herbs and vegetables from the resort’s organic gardens. Sunset cocktails are served as the waters of Phang Nga Bay change color. There are also plans to hold open-air cinema nights, with a screen set up in front of the “epic backdrop”.

The Reserve’s 56 villas, some turned to the view, some within the green tropical jungle. All are built on stilts, Each has a private pool, specious rooms and offers total privacy.

Yao Noi is 45 minutes away by speed boat from Phuket or a short hop by helicopter

Economic outlook for Thai spas — 2011 onward

By Dr. Kriengsak Chareonwongsak

The spa industry is enormously important to Thailand’s economy with its capacity for huge nationwide revenue generation and its association with a variety of industries and numerous workers in the business.

Thailand’s spas potentially attract foreign tourist revenue by more than 24,000 million baht per year, according to Naew Na Newspaper; with the local Thai market garnering approximately 2,000 million baht per year, according to the Weekly Manager 360 in 2009.

The spa business provides health services with high potential growth because Thailand combines a positive blend of hospitable, smiling and service-minded spa workers with favorable natural resources.

Teamed together, the spa industry has now become one of Thailand’s government-supported industries. Moreover, it is a health care service that the government has targeted to make Thailand a “Center of Excellent Health Care in Asia, 2003-2011,” being expected to generate revenue for the country by at least 100,000 million baht, according to Naew Na.

Thailand’s past Spa business proved to be a steady growth industry, with its average growth potential at 10-20% per year due to health concerns in society.

While the trend of Thailand’s spa business from 2011 onward will depend on many involved factors, if we will consider just two main factors – economic outlook and the implementation of government policy – we will find the following projections:

Economic trends

In the second half of 2011 into 2012, Thailand’s economy will likely grow as a result of many industries, previously affected by a raw materials shortage after Japan’s horrific earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, having stronger exports in the second half of the year following Japan’s recovery, which has been faster than expected,.

Clear and consistent policy implementation by Thailand’s new government will from now on encourage higher private sector confidence than in the past, both in consumption and investment. This will be beneficial to all business in Thailand, including the spa business.

While in the past, the major group of spa customers was foreign tourists, with Thai customers representing only about 20% of Thailand’s total spa industry income, in relation to all industry groups, according to Naew Na, it is likely at present, with the country’s situation beginning to return to normal conditions, that Thai consumers may be drawn back to Thailand’s tourist sector and spend more in spa services.

State policy

During Thailand’s recent election campaign, the PueaThai Party announced policies that would have both positive and negative impacts on spa business. Short-term positive policies included a visa waiver for countries in the Middle East and Japan, plus a revival of relations with Saudi Arabia that could increase the number of tourists and visitors to enjoy Thailand’s spas in the future.

In addition, some policies were also mentioned that could result in long-term benefits for spas, including the building of infrastructure, double-track rail lines to connect ten metro suburbs of Bangkok, high-speed trains to Korat, Rayong, and Chanthaburi, an airport link to Pattaya, and plans to improve Suvarnabhumi Airport to be the Aviation Hub of Asia, etc. These developments will facilitate tourists with quick and easy access to spa services and indirectly promote tourism and the spa industry long-term.

Meanwhile, the policy of reducing corporate tax from 30% to 23% will allow entrepreneurs to profit from operations or to expand and develop their businesses. However, it is still unknown when the government will implement this policy and how it will actually happen.

For some policy that might adversely affect the spa industry, such as a minimum workers’ wage at 300 baht a day, increased base salaries for Bachelor’s graduates working with a starting salary of 15,000 baht, and increased base salaries for civil servants and state enterprise employees.

These policies, in some aspect, may increase people’s purchasing power; however, higher wage costs, especially for labor and other spa business operating costs may lead to higher inflation. Thus, higher wages and salaries may not increase consumption in spa services, but increased operating costs will decrease competitiveness, making it difficult for spa business owners to compete both domestically and internationally.

The Spa business in Thailand has good prospects consistent with a world that is interested in health. If the spa industry receives appropriate support and strategic development from the government, it will surely generate large income for the country in the future.


Meet Anantara’s Chef Don Lawson

“I cook because it fills something inside me,” said Chef Don Lawson in a recent interview. “There’s no better feeling of satisfaction and gratitude than knowing my guests are leaving with the feeling Wow. That was a wonderful experience.”

Chef Don is based on the island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Siam at Anantara’s Bophut Resort and Spa, where he has free rein to dish up distinctive Thai and Italian flavors for guests. He has been at Bophut since it opened in 2004.

“To be successful,” he adds, “you have to be 100% committed and instead of counting up the long hours I put in, I stack up the results to remind myself just how far I’ve come.”

He’s a stickler for perfection and just as adamant about pushing the envelope when it comes to food.

“If you never try, you never know. As a chef, it’s essential to never get discouraged. As I say to my students, if you make a mistake in cooking – as we all have – think what an amazing lesson you’ve just learned and use that to your advantage.”

He recalls his first monthly pay cheque of 80 Australian dollars as a 17-year-old apprentice at the famous Southern Cross Club in Canberra, Australia. “The money didn’t last long but it felt good being paid for doing something I love. And with a bit of extra effort to show how serous I was about progressing, the executive chef saw my potential.”

His recent infused paring with tea giants Dilmoth, he also inspired an Anantara Tea Guru program. This flair has become instrumental part of a dedicated team of culinary experts at Anantara in developing new concepts and signature dishes.

Chef Don’s culinary creativity has taken him to all four corners of the globe and his initiatives are now seen at Anantara resorts, setting a benchmark for new and innovative dining concepts.

Six Senses’ Soneva Kiri Eco Villa Earth Award

A prototype of Six Senses Soneva Kiri  Eco Villa was singled out as one of the five unique installations being showcased at the 2011 Earth Awards.

The five-day festival ends on July 31 and is being held in the gardens of Clarence House, London. The Earth Awards are part of the Prince of Wales’ Start initiative, which invited Earth Awards to showcase the winning innovations.

All five designs address the challenges of facing the world today due to climate change – with immediately implementable ideas. The original Eco Villa was designed by one of Six Senses’ architects, Louis Thompson – a prototype zero carbon emissions structure that showcases a number of experimental environmental technologies and uses locally sourced building materials.

Sonu Shivdasani, chairman and CEO of Six Senses Resorts and Spas, said he was honored to have Soneva Kiri by Six Senses’ Eco Villa selected for such a prestigious event.

“The Eco Villa is a naturally attentive design and to see it recreated in beautiful British surroundings, really shows how adaptable and versatile the design and concept are. At Six Senses, we naturally strive to create pioneering designs – ones that can play a part in changing the world for better in future years.”

The replica villa will later be relocated to Lydeny Park Estate for public viewing and where it will become home to a permanent centre for learning about sustainable practices.

This year’s event was free for up to 10,000 guests.

Start was initiated by the Prince of Wales in 2008 as a new project to raise awareness about the consequences of climate change by presenting tangible solutions that everyone can easily integrate into their daily lives and achieve a more sustainable lifestyle.

An international competition was launched to identify examples of sustainable design in six different categories – built environment, product design, systems, fashion, social justice and future.

Six Senses operates 15 resorts and each is operated and run on Six Senses’s core principle of SLOW LIFE, which stands for Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome, Learning, Inspiring, Firm, Experience.

For further information – sophy@sixsenses.com

Tamarind Village offers mothers 50% discount in August

Tamarind Village Spa at Chiang Mai has a special offer for mothers throughout August – a 50% discount on any massage treatment. The Village Spa at Tamarind Village, Chiang Mai is a sister hotel of Rayavadee, Krabi.

Mother’s Day in Thailand is celebrated on Aug. 12 every year – but the discount applies to mothers from Aug. 1 to the end of the month.

Tamarind Village Spa’s main massage treatments and normal price for each:

The 90-minute signature massage — 3,200 bht; traditional Thai massage — 1,200 bht; traditional Thai massage with hot herbal compress – 1,600 bht for 60 minutes and 2,400 bht for 120 minutes; The Village hot stone massage – 2,800 bht; aromatic elemental massage – 2,200 bht; head massage – 1,600 bht; and back, neck and shoulder massage – 1,600 bht.

Cruising the Venice of the East

With the launch of Anantara Cruises, there’s now a way to see a side of Bangkok very few people get a chance to experience.

It includes a cruise around Bangkok’s intricate network of waterways, canals and rivers aboard a restored 100-year-old rice barge offering five-star luxury and amenities.

You’ll be able to see locals living on the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, creating vivid snapshots of a bygone age in between glittering temples like the Temple of Dawn, landmarks like the Grand Palace and the Royal Bargees Boathouse, striking bridges and building that reflect the city’s evolution over the past two decades.

Two of the century-old barges – Anantara Song and Anantara Dream – have been painstakingly rebuilt from teak and restored to add to the lure of a real Thai adventure.

Guests can join the two-night, three-day Ayutthaya Adventure, accommodating up to hour couples on the Anantara Song or reserve it for private charter.

The 20-metre ultra deluxe river boat, dubbed the Orient Express of the River, blends warm teak, padua and mahogany to complement the custom-made furniture covered with Thai silks and cottons. Oriental rugs were chosen alongside Thai and Southeast Asian art, sculptures and artefacts. Many accessories were sourced from artisans along Thailand’s rivers and canals and even remote rural areas.

Both barges were renovated to provide privacy and comfort. Separate crew quarters give guests the feeling that they have the boat to themselves. Guests reside in air-conditioned staterooms filled with five-star luxuries.

Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are served on the upper deck, which has been built into an expansive lounge and dining area with a full bar.

Guests can choose between two tours – Ayutthaya Thousand Golden Temples Tour and the Ang Thong Mystic River Tour.

Anantara Dream voyages also offer luxury discovery experiences such as a private cooking class; an onboard yoga retreat; a Thai wine-tasting class; a self-guided walking tour at various points along the way; even learning the art of sailing the old river barge on the “river of kings” from the captain.

How much?

BHT 69,000 net per cabin in the case of the Anantara Song for the two-night, three day package. Or BHT 230,000 for private charters.

Anantara Dream is available for private charters only – BHT 200,000 net for 1-4 passengers for the two-day, three-night package.

For further information: bangkokcruises@anantara.com or               www.bangkok-cruises.anantara.com

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