First Published in Wanderlust Expat Life & Style Magazine by Mandy Smith
Optimal health requires a delicate balance of exertion and relaxation — one without the other can leave you feeling physically exhausted or mentally sluggish. Stay fit and give your body a chance to rejuvenate, too, with these BKK recommendations.
The Racquet Club $$
This family-friendly facility caters to athletes of all ages. From the diehard gym-rat pumping iron before work, to the postpartum mama striving to get back in shape, to the teenager burning off steam at the end of the school day, The Racquet Club is an outlet for anyone wanting room to run in this concrete jungle.
The Racquet Club combines the familiarity of a community recreation center with the excellence of a cutting-edge gym. Choose from a variety of group classes— spinning, aerobics, power pump, yoga —if camaraderie compels you. If you prefer to work through your set solo, stick to individual machines and private studio space, Are you a gym-goer looking for a challenge? Try the Thai boxing classes; or beat your personal best swim time in the club’s massive outdoor pool.
Got a competitive streak? Meet the guys after work for a little squash tournament, or dust off those racquets and take to the tennis court with your sweetheart. If you have fitness goals you’d like to reach, experienced personal trainers can help hold you accountable to achieve them. The Racquet Club made a name for themselves recently with their newly-revealed Urban Playground: a massive, one-of-a-kind rock climbing and bouldering facility. Here you can really put your strength training to work. Automated belay systems allow even the novice climber to shimmy up to the summit without previous experience or a support person with you. Simply grab your rented gear (all of which is available through The Racquet Club) and make an afternoon of it for an upper body workout and adrenaline rush. Shuttle service from Phrom Phong BTS makes The Racquet Club easily accessible. Membership fees are similar to other gyms in the city, but the facilities are expansive.
The Mandarin Oriental Spa $$$$$
“The best spa in the world” is a lofty claim. Nevertheless, leisure and travel magazines bestow this title on The Mandarin Oriental Spa, time and time again. Between their elite status and the boasting rights of having catered to Pierce Brosnan, David Beckham and Elizabeth Taylor, they have certainly made a name for themselves.
This sumptuous refuge for relaxation is located opposite the Mandarin Oriental hotel — just a short boat ride across the Chao Phraya River. Recognized as the first spa to open within a hotel property in Bangkok, the history here is rich and the design dramatic: Traditional monochromatic Thai architecture contrasts with lush tropical gardens that greet you the moment you disembark your private ferry. Once you’ve arrived, prepare to be pampered with no expense spared, and observe the decor, aroma and personalized service unmatched by any other. (But beware: The Mandarin Oriental Spa may just forever spoil the fun of a budget foot massage among the plethora of parlors along the main drags of Bangkok.)
Privacy and pampering are preeminent at the Mandarin’s massage suites. Before your treatment starts, you’ll find dual steam rooms and showers that set the tone for tranquility. Choose from over 40 therapies or treatments designed to invigorate or unwind, stimulate or de-stress. For special occasions, splurge on a package program that will allow you to relax and rejuvenate over the course of the day.
Whether you select a massage, facial, beauty treatment —or some combination of these luxuries — the experienced therapists will personalize your care to ensure satisfaction, complete with the Mandarin’s signature cucumber eucalyptus eye mask and a refreshing pomelo salad sampler at the close of your visit. Savor the silence for a few blessed minutes with tea or a juice in the Re-laxation Lounge following your massage and soak up the serenity. Real life can wait a few more minutes while you kick back in an automatic massage chair and thumb through a magazine.
Bookings available Monday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
48 Oriental Avenue
+66 (2) 659 9000 ext 7440
My girls know me well – I was born in the wrong century. With a taste for the finer things in life, Id be very content to live the “Downton” existence with afternoon tea time and garden parties and evening wear and dance cards. And with that in mind, they treated me for my birthday to an indulgent afternoon with all the pomp & circumstance you’d imagine royalty enjoyed on a daily basis in the Victorian era. Teatime at The Chocolate Buffet Sukhothai Hotel!!
Here my girls and I (and our dapper little escort) partook of afternoon high tea in style. Two adjacent rooms with parallel buffets, one sweet and one savory, are laden with the the choicest of culinary delights. Delicate tea sandwiches, crispy spring rolls, salmon croissants, seared tuna bites, fresh sushi, giant prawns, seasonal fruits, exotic olives and nuts are amongst the savory selections and kept our palate balanced so we could frequent the other table; an extensive selection of all things seductively sweet! The name says it all, “The Chocolate Buffet” does not disappoint with every conceivable truffle and trifle. Eclairs, cakes, pastries, fondue, macaroons, creme brûlée, fruit tarts and even an assortment or sherbets and ice creams tantalize the insatiable craving for just a bite more of something sweet. And it just wouldn’t be high tea without scones and clotted cream, of which we partook more than our share!
But the real highlight of the whole experience is the trolly manned by Swiss pastry chef Laurent who hand crafts custom hot chocolates for guests from a wide assortment of cocoas from around the world. He will educate you in the varying flavors of chocolate from the robust to mild, acidic to earthy, bitter to sweet and then concoct according to your preferred taste, a demitasse cup of the richest hot chocolate you’ve ever experienced. Top with cream or a dollop of hazelnut or swirl of caramel or sprinkle of chili or dusting of sea salt for a blend unique specifically to you. (Swiss Miss will forever be ruined in your list of guilty pleasures!)
And as our afternoon drew to a close and we felt that we could not bear to look at one more chocolate chip (for our lack of self control,) the courteous staff, knowing it was my birthday, presented me with a lovely chocolate cake in celebration of the occasion. We blew out the candles and boxed it up to take home to the littles who were feeling very left out that we’d spend the entire afternoon in the likes of “Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory” without them.
I do feel I should have been born in a century where afternoon high tea was a daily pleasure, but how in the world did those ladies live in corsets? We were grateful for the “breathing room” of our loose fitting dresses as we made our departure after 3 hours of chocolate indulgence! Ill be coming back for special occasions, but my figure would suffer greatly if I had this little luxury every day! Recommending this at the top of my list of “things to do in Bangkok”!
It was an unparalleled treat to be invited as guests to the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok last week. With C on the road for an extended trip, I was a bit worn out from the task of being a single-mom for play practice, swim meets and homework. I surprised C by picking him up from the airport when he returned from three grueling weeks of travel in India and whisked him away to celebrate his birthday.
What a treat to reconnect and debrief and get a bit of pampering and relaxation….uninterrupted by little people!
First stop – Lunch at Grand Hyatt’s You and Mee was divine!
A popular Thai fusion restaurant that boasts some of the Asian cultural classic favorites as well as creative spins on traditional fare. A great place for local business personnel to grab a tasty lunch and meet clients. C went with his go-to-favorite, Pad Thai and I ordered a creamy coconut chicken curry with crunchy noodles – exquisite and bursting with flavor!
Ill be honest here, C has traveled a lot in his days and stayed in more than your average number of hotels. Granted, he’s been in some sub-par locations (the first time he took me to India, we pulled back the sheets and discovered hair on the pillow of the hotel we were staying the night at….ewwww!!) But globetrotting has allowed him to experience some first class joints as well!
To say that he was impressed by the Grand Hyatt is a pretty good indication that the this hotel is exceptional. The staff, accommodations and amenities definitely raised the standard and set the bar high. The special touches and attention to detail made us feel like guests rather than simply tenants.
Strawberry tarts at bedtime, flowers in our room, lavender sachets with the turn-down service, and a pillow menu! For real? Little confession here….Im a pillow hog! I have to have 5 pillows to myself to sleep. So this was the epitome of luxury for me. C rolled his eyes as I ordered up a couple extras.
The Grand Hyatt has just recently completed a renovation project on their rooms in which we were guests. Plush beds, aesthetically pleasing decor and waterfall shower all catered to comfort and style. Gorgeous travertine tiles in the bathroom wove a neo-classic thread throughout the structure of the rest of the hotel as well.
Access to the club lounge was enjoyed for happy hour and morning breakfast (when we finally woke at a hour we’ve not slept till in….about…..11 years). And we’re not talking muffins and coffee here! A delicious salad bar, cheese trays, omelet station, fresh french breads and croissants, hot appetizers and classy wine assortment.
Oh, and chocolate mousse of which I partook without a touch of guilt…..because how often do we really get to eat chocolate out of crystal stemware?
We skipped our planned morning workout and headed straight to the pool in the morning…there’s time for the gym tomorrow, but probably not time to lounge in the sun! Decadence! So relaxing to just get to hang out with this hunk and soak up a few rays!
Dinner with our friends who manage the Hyatt was one for the books! It was not a meal, it was a dining experience that was unforgettable. If you’re looking for a place to entertain special guests or to share brunch as a family on a Sunday, Tables is your spot! Live classical music welcomed us as we stepped off the elevator and we were ushered into a dim mood-lit European style spacious restaurant and introduced to the concept of table side cooking.
Our Swiss chef Michele and debonaire server Iljas went out of their way to cater to our every whim. Never have I been waited on so properly while being entertained so thoroughly! A perfect blend of class and fun. One of the youngest and most accomplished chefs in his field, Michele graciously offered suggestions from the menu and served us course after course of exceptional food both visually appealing and tantalizing to the palate.
We watched as he assembled the most attractive Caesar salad Ive ever consumed and graciously told us the history of Caesar Cardini for whom the legendary salad was named….lets be honest, storytelling from a guy with a swiss accent is intriguing! Scottish Smoked Salmon was a perfect accompaniment to our salad alongside Tuna Tartar with Avocado. Next was to-die-for Lobster Bisque. Don’t even want to know the calorie count…too good to care!
Our entrees left me forever dissatisfied with my own homecooking. The flavor was unsurpassed! Succulent Lobster Thermidor, Roasted French Vendee Spring Chicken and melt-in-your-mouth Chateaubriand Australian Black Angus Tenderloin….there are no words! The preparation of our meal on the copper countertop, carving of our meat and education of what is involved in creating truly amazing dishes left quite an impression!
Every dollop of cream and intentionally placed garnish made for an unforgettable dining experience. I’d forgotten what it was like to take time with a meal. No child’s meat to cut for them. No spills to clean up. No food fights. And no complaints or dishes to clean. Fun to play the part and wine and dine with the other side for a day. (And by the next day, I was ready for sticky peanut butter kisses and whipping up Kraft Mac n’ cheese again.)
The “frosting on the cake” of our ritzy dinner out was topping off the night with Cherry Jubilée garnished with vanilla bean ice cream. I’m a confessed chocoholic, but there was nothing that could possibly have complimented our meal more tastefully. Absolutely delightful. And the ice-cream chocolate covered truffles brought to our table frothing on a bed of dry ice as a final flamboyant touch to the evening satiated that chocolate sweet tooth of mine. C and I will be going back to Tables for special occasional date nights!
You dont have to go far to feel like you’ve left big-city crazy Bangkok and enjoy an oasis of refreshment while still enjoying the access to this thriving metropolis! Its a Songkran Special right now! If you cant skip town for the week, take the family for a staycation and some water fun. Grand Hyatt’s special this week includes a water gun “survival kit” that your kids will love, buffet breakfast, 1,000 baht hotel credit and discount on Family room for kids (so you can go as a couple to dinner at Tables and cash in the credit toward a great date-night) Terms outlined below:
And if you can’t pull it off this week, check out Hyatt’s Staycation package which C and I enjoyed outlined below. Its good through the 5th of May. Early check in and late check out allows you maximize your time. Plan a little get away!! This 5 star luxury hotel comes with our 5 star approval and endorsement!!